Breaking the "Rules" of Wine
Of all people, this article is loosely inspired by Michael Mondavi. In an interview with Business Insider (yes, I read Business Insider on occasion) he stated that he was tired of following the rules that sommeliers had placed on the American people when wine first became popular in the United States.
"If you want white wine with steak, try it. If you want red wine with fish, try it. If it tastes good to you, thats good enough."
- Michael Mondavi
I could not agree more with Mr. Mondavi. As I have pressed on so many occasions, written so much about, and argued till I have gone blue in the face, wine is totally subjective. Your likes and dislikes are determined by you, your experiences, and not by what somebody tells you, you should like. So its time to break the rules, and set your own path in the wine world.
Some sommeliers and wine industry folks seem set on telling us that there are rules to abide by. That we have to be able to taste certain things to appreciate them, that food has to paired particularly with this wine and not that wine. Why? Who made that decision?
Wine in that sense is like music, yes there are some rules, scales, chords, that come from years of experience making music. But music evolves over time! If we did not rebel, try new things, and seek out breaking the rules we would have had no Mozart, let alone no Punk Rock.
You do not have to know what a chord progression is, or how producers created a wall of sound during the recording process to make the Beach Boys sounds incredible in the sixties in order to appreciate the music. Sure, you might appreciate it a little bit more, and if that is your jam then go ahead. But its not necessary! You could very easily enjoy the music in your own way, how it connects with you is different to the rest.
Talk, ask questions, try it out, discover!
Lets stop learning about wine as well. People need to be introduced to wine. I do not need to know where Merlot comes from, or that Malbec nearly went extinct before it was saved by Argentina. Its pretty cool, but thats it. I would still enjoy the wine as much as before, maybe have a little more appreciation for it. I do not need to know what cheeses it pairs well with, as if I could even make that comparison. What, am I supposed to be a de facto cheese head as well simply because I like wine? Ultimately you do what sounds good to you, you listen to the music you want to listen to, and you drink the wine you want to drink when you want to.
Getting rid of the lessons, the rules, the details, opens us up to making new memories, trying new things, and getting the best out of wine and life. Like music, you would benefit from learning from a few things, some tricks and tips that guide you, but its a journey not a mission. Break a few bottles, try a meaty red wine with white meat, have a white with some lamb, the only way you can figure out what tastes good to you is if you go ahead and try it. Break the rules, figure it out for yourself, and you will be happier for it. Talk, ask questions, try it out, discover! Like Michael said, if it tastes good to you, thats good enough.