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Friday, September 28, 2012

Dressed to Impress?

I was reading an article this morning, written by someone that I know through friends.  It was about a topic unrelated to wine.  Based on the general idea of the article, it should have had absolutely nothing to do with materialism.  Yet somehow, most of the article was name-dropping expensive designer items - and that had nothing to do with the topic of the story.  After reading through it, I decided the only purpose of the name-dropping was to impress the readers.  I was not impressed.

Why was I not impressed?  Well, I like nice things, and I like having nice things.  But the reason I like having nice things is so that I can enjoy them.  I’m not at all concerned with what anyone else thinks of things that I have.  I love nice clothing and accessories.  I love good handbags.  While I hate buying shoes (yes, I really am a girl, I just hate shopping for shoes and I don’t know why), I do like having nice shoes.  And I really love having nice wine.  Some of those items, including some of the wines, are expensive.  But I firmly believe that the value of something is determined by how much the person will enjoy it.

If I determined how much I will spend on anything based upon how much it will impress others, I’d be wasting my time and money.  I determine something’s value based upon how much I’ll enjoy it, and the reasons for enjoying the item vary greatly.

Often I see photos of bottle labels and tasting notes posted to Facebook and Twitter.  I’m so happy for the people enjoying them, and I love reading their tasting notes, especially on the unique bottles.  I post photos of labels and tasting notes regularly to Facebook and Twitter.  I love sharing experiences with my family, friends, and acquaintances.  But the reason I buy the bottles is to enjoy them.  I don’t care if no one is impressed by them.  I think it’s pretty obvious that I feel this way, since 90% of the time the bottle is under $25.  I’m more excited to taste something relatively unknown, and I like saving the “big wines” for occasions - although sometimes I’ll randomly open something special just to make an occasion out of it.

Want to know what impresses me about wines?  When a label sends me to the wine encyclopedia.  Of course the “big wines” like Grand Cru and First Growths and vintage Champagne are wonderful.  But I think it’s pretty impressive to hunt down a Negrette or Coda di Volpe or Prie Blanc or Malvazija.  And those wines don’t have the monetary value that the big Bordeaux and Burgundies have.  But they’re special, too.

Last year I was at a master class with the Guild of Sommeliers.  The Master Sommelier presenting the wines spoke about the wines, the unique grapes, and the terroir of the region.  He also told us that he didn’t speak the language of the local people producing the wines, but he connected with them and was able to communicate anyway, because of the wines and foods shared with him by the locals.  He told us how humble the people and their wines may appear, but their skill, knowledge, and passion are different yet equal to that of their counterparts in better known wine regions with more expensive wines that are recognized worldwide.

Is there anything wrong with buying expensive wines and enjoying them?  Of course not!  Is there anything wrong with buying other expensive consumer goods?  No way - it’s great to have nice things!  But invest in the things that make the individual happy.  Don’t worry about the opinions of others.  If you feel the need to buy the expensive wines for the purpose of impressing others, you are likely to miss out on the cool off-beat wines that you’d enjoy, but enjoy for a completely different reason.

For me, the moral of the story is to enjoy and be happy.  Don’t worry about impressing others.  I’m impressing myself when I buy a “big wine,” but I also impress myself when I buy one of those exotic wines under $20 that with one sniff or sip brings me to a faraway place unknown to many - that is, after it first brings me to the wine encyclopedia.  

Classified Bordeaux - pricey and enjoyable

Salice Salentino - off-beat Italian wine, inexpensive and enjoyable

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