Why do we love wine?
If the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates observed some 2,400 years ago, the same is certainly true of our relationships with the people ... and the things ... we love.
Today I propose such an examination of our relationship with wine. On the one hand wine is only grape juice, after all. But still, there's something special about this beverage, something that attracts our interest, brings us together to think about it, read about it, talk about it, spend money to buy it, travel long distances to taste it ... what is it about this apparently simple beverage that prompts many of us to define our emotional response to it as "love"?
Just as with any relationship, each of us has our own response, and for many of us it's not one single element but a combination of elusive thoughts, opinions and feelings that come together to make wine a special part of our lives. Is it the taste, the effect, the intellectual stimulation associated with a beverage that's also a hobby? Or something else?
To get a sense of where the world's wine lovers stand on this question and whether the love of wine is simpler or more complicated than it seems, we've created a special Wine Lovers' Voting Booth survey this week. Our volunteer advisory panel has come up with a laundry list of possible reasons - some serious, a few intended to be humorous - as we invite you to tell us up to three of the primary reasons why "I love wine because ..."
To cast your anonymous vote, you're invited to visit the Voting Booth,
The tally is updated after every vote, so if you wish to track the results, see
Following up on Friday's tasting of Penfolds 2000 Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz, it's worth noting that the blend of Bordeaux grapes (Cabernets, Merlot) and Rhone grapes (Shiraz/Syrah) is fairly commonplace in Australia - where wine makers have long argued that the addition of Shiraz adds body and fruit to the more austere Cabernet - but not so often found in the rest of the world.
It might be worth trying more often, if these two exceptions to the rule are any guide. Both the Hedges 2000 Columbia Valley Red Wine, a blend of Merlot and Cabernets with a bit of Syrah from Washington State and the Mas de Guiot 2000 Vin de Pays du Gard, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend from the South of France, are hearty, interesting red wines, good with food and offering unusual flavor interest for wines at their midrange price.
Hedges 2000 Columbia Valley Red Wine ($13.49)
This red wine from Washington State offers a mixed blend of Bordeaux grapes (58% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc) with just a taste of the Rhone (8% Syrah). Very dark garnet in color, it shows black-cherry and vanilla aroma notes with a hint of fresh herbs - tarragon, perhaps. Swirling brings up the fruit and a distinct note of dark chocolate. Flavors follow the nose, medium-bodied black fruit laced up with snappy, lemon-squirt acidity. (March 14, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Good with pan-roasted pork chops, but has the stuffing to stand up to more robust meats such as roast lamb or beef.
VALUE: Good value.
WHEN TO DRINK: Good now, not for long-term aging but will certainly hold up for a few years under cellar conditions.
WEB LINK: You'll find the winery Website at
Mas de Guiot 2000 Vin de Pays du Gard ($14.99)
This hearty wine from Gard, the region on the west bank of the Rhone where Provence and Languedoc meet, is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah. Inky dark reddish-purple in color, almost opaque, it shows garnet glints against the light. Deep and plummy fruit aromas add hints of fennel, and the flavors are consistent: Black fruit, anise and a whiff of fragrant pepper, all built on a sturdy structure of lemony acidity and firm, almost harsh tannins that soften a bit with time in the glass. U.S. importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C. (March 16, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Char-grilled Cornish hens went well, their smoky-charry quality bringing them up to meet this robust wine; otherwise choose beef or lamb.
VALUE: Reasonably priced for current drinking, shows more ageworthiness than many wines at this price level.
WHEN TO DRINK: Showing very little evolution since my last tasting in February 2002, this wine is still quite tannic, but its substantial fruit and development in the glass suggests that it will benefit from further aging. Try again in a year or two.
WEB LINK: Here's the Robert Kacher Selections Website:
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Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Bin 389: Good buy in 2000 (March 14, 2003)
Wine of the Green (March 12, 2003)
Post card from Friuli (March 10, 2003)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Simple chicken saute (March 13, 2003)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, March 17, 2003