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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not Quite Right

You open a bottle.

You pour it into the glass.

You look at it.  You swirl and sniff it.  You taste it.

Repeat.  And again.  And again.

Something is not quite right.  But what, then?  It doesn’t look right, or it doesn’t smell right, or it doesn’t taste right, or it doesn’t feel right?  Why?

Perhaps the bottle is corked or the wine is flat out defective - it wasn’t made correctly - something was wrong with it right from the beginning, or it wasn’t sealed properly, or for a long time it wasn’t stored correctly.  Or maybe it’s in its awkward stage.  Or maybe it’s past its peak time and is on a serious decline and can no longer show as well as it once had.

Have we tasted this wine/grape/region/producer/vineyard/vintage before?  Did we know what to expect and did the wine fail to meet our expectations, or was it just a defective bottle?

What about this - let’s say you open a bottle, and you’ve had this wine over and over and over again.  You’ve always enjoyed it, which is why you continue to open more bottles of it.  But not this time.  But it’s not because the wine is corked.  And maybe it’s not a bad vintage at all.  But something isn’t quite right.  You’re no longer connecting with this wine anymore.  What do you do?  Do you continue to open more bottles of it, hoping that you’ll go back to enjoying and loving it again, as you once had?  Do you begin to question yourself and your taste regularly now, wondering why this wine no longer inspires you?  Or do you cut off your supply of that wine, once and for all, never to return to it again?

Perhaps you’ve lost your faith in that wine.  But why?  Is it just this one isolated instance where a problem has come up?  Or has the wine been leaving you feeling less than satisfied the past several times you’ve opened a bottle?  And why?  What is it that’s wrong?  Does it no longer sparkle and shine in the glass, giving off a radiant color, or perhaps the aromas and flavors no longer appeal to you or interest you or keep you coming back for more?  Or maybe the structure no longer seems right - it’s lacking something or maybe the length and finish aren’t what you had hoped for?

Did you have unreasonable expectations?  Or did it just flat out come up short?  Or, worse, did it come up short AGAIN, disappointing you and leaving you wondering if maybe that wine just isn’t for you anymore - now what?

I love wines that inspire me.  What I love even more is a wine that I’ve tasted over and over again and each time I learn something new about it or connect even better with it.  On the other hand, I tire of the wines that no longer inspire me.  I resent the bottles that come up short and fail to meet my expectations.  What if my expectations were perfectly reasonable - I understand the grape and the region and style and vintage - so what excuse does that bottle have for coming up short?

Maybe the Champagne had lost its bubbles.  Maybe the Chablis lacked the proper acidity.  Maybe the Margaux had an uncharacteristically short finish.  Maybe the Nebbiolo was past its peak now.  But something is not quite right.  Now what?

When I open a bottle, I want to love it.  What makes me love it and keep on loving it is how it makes me feel.  If it inspires me, makes me think, and appeals to my senses, keeps me guessing, and makes the experience exciting, then I’m all in.  Anything else, and for me it’s just pointless.

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