Too often I get asked this question - “What’s the best wine?” As tempted as I am to answer with one of my favorites, or one of the world’s favorites, I stop myself, because there’s no right answer to that in terms of grape, region, or producer. The answer is, in my opinion, that the best wine is the one each individual wine drinker best connects with. And often, that can take a lot of searching and tasting.
Think of it this way.
My favorite sport is horseback riding. I learned to ride when I was very young, and always had horses. Before choosing my last horse, I tried 16 different horses. They were all different breeds, different ages, they had different abilities and talents, and all looked very different from each other. It took nearly half a year to choose the right one. And then I met Roy - a 9 year old Canadian Thoroughbred, dark brown, with just the look and abilities I was hoping for. After we determined he was healthy and skilled, Roy became my horse, and at our very first competition together, we were champion. A lot of the other horses I had tried before Roy were attractive and talented, but they weren’t quite right for me - I wasn’t connecting with them. Roy and I connected immediately, and we made a great team.
|Roy and me at the Hampton Classic|
It’s the same with lots of things. We choose the music we like, based on how well we connect with it, how it moves us; the same goes for art - we connect with certain types of art and they appeal to us, and other forms of art can be hanging on a wall in a museum and we walk right past it, because it does not reach out to us and interest us. Yet someone else can walk right up to it and feel exactly what the artist was feeling at the time it was created.
That’s how it is with wine. There are some you might connect with, and some that leave no impression at all. That’s one of the things I love about blind tasting - I have no idea exactly what’s in my glass, and if I like it or if I don’t is based completely on how I perceive the wine. There are no Robert Parker scores or labels to distract or influence me, there’s nothing to prove - all that matters is whether I like the wine, or I don’t. (And what’s even more interesting to me is that on any given day, my mood might make me choose something different than I would the following day.)
|2009 Domaine Chevalier Ladoix|
From the past year, I can remember which wines touched me the most - a few Super Tuscans at Gambero Rosso last winter, a few Bordeaux, a couple of Burgundies from two different producers, a Vouvray Sec, one particular Champagne, a Sauternes, and most of the rest were those mysterious and relatively inexpensive wines from Southwest France. The wines were all different grapes, from all different regions, different styles, and different price ranges. But I connected so well with those particular wines. Someone else might not connect with all or any of them. But at those moments, when I tasted those wines, those were the ones I best connected with.
|2010 Domaine Le Capitaine Vouvray Sec|
So, are those the best wines? Some of them might be. But I feel that way because I connected with them. Everyone is entitled to their own favorites, and hopefully those wines are “favorites” because the individual wine drinker connected with those particular wines. Wine magazines and other resources can be useful, but never let a wine writer or anyone else tell you which your favorite should be. Continue to taste, and find the wines that reach out to you the best. There are so many to choose from, so we can be sure that there’s something for everybody.