Resisting the urge to ‘get into’ wine

We don’t want to overthink wine the way we overthink beer. But it’s getting harder to resist the temptation to take notice, and take notes.

We don’t drink much wine generally. Believe it or not, we really like beer.

It tends to happen when we’re on holiday somewhere where the wine is better, or at least more ubiquitous, than the beer.

So, in our minds, there’s a basic association of wine equalling holiday vibes.

And because we’re not fussy, we’ve generally been happy with a €6 bottle from the nearest supermarket or the house red or white in whichever bar we’ve washed up in.

Which is quite handy when you’re on a budget, in a global cost of living crisis.

But we can feel the pull – the urge to learn just a little more. To start sniffing and taking notes. Maybe to pick up a book or two.

This is partly because we’ve become more and more interested in “what’s local to this place”.

When you encounter a wine that’s got strong associations with a particular region or city, that they’re proud of, it feels rude and stupid not to ask a few questions.

It’s also partly because Jess went on an ‘Introduction to wine tasting’ session via the Women’s Institute.

They have talks on all sorts of subjects, from witchcraft to the Mafia, via butchery.

But this was a more genteel evening of guided exploration, flavour wheels, and enough information on the methodology to get the brain whirring.

And, finally, it’s because when you’re used to talking about how beer tastes in terms of ‘notes’, it’s hard to resist doing it for other drinks.

It’s simply a habit.

Even while resisting, we’ve started to spot characteristics in some wines we like more than others.

And to detect patterns when it comes to grape varieties or places of origin or common descriptors.

The truth is, it feels satisfying to be discovering new things after almost two decades immersed in beer, with not too much (easy stuff) left to learn.

The nice little wine bar on Church Road in Bristol, about 20 minutes from our house, is extremely tempting.

We’ve been once and found ourselves feeling the same buzz we used to get sitting in a craft beer bar circa 2010.

We haven’t been back, of course. We are trying to resist. How long we’ll hold out remains to be seen.

13 replies on “Resisting the urge to ‘get into’ wine”

I can understand the temptation !

A few years ago in Glossop a beer shop added a large table and a wine dispensing machine that allowed you to sample really interesting wines in sample sizes. A great idea that would tempt me if I saw it elsewhere. And in the Old Shoe, Sheffield’s newest (and very classy) bar, the selection of orange wines is often more appealing than the wide range of keg.

Best friend of 45 years is massively into wine. But, to be honest, when we get onto the third & fourth bottles of his constant 100+ stash of (these days) £20 to £30 a throw bottles not sure they being fully appreciated… at least on my part!
Worked hard for years to persuade him beer can be equally interesting, and he kind of gets it… but always ultimately in a somewhat condescending way ????.
Beer has an image problem for some doubt it will ever entirely overcome. The number of times dining out and can’t find any beer worth drinking whereas the (often not very good) wine list drifts on for pages… ????

As someone who is pathologically into beer, I really enjoy the freedom of consuming other things — cider, wine, spirits and tobacco, mostly — without needing to do the analysis bit. I keep a vague memory of the ones I liked and sometimes pick again, but also like to try new ones in a completely non-committal way. It gives me a pleasant sense of how sane people must experience beer. It feels grown-up to have a comfy my-brand of gin, whiskey, pipe tobacco and cigar in a way that I absolutely don’t for beer.

I’m much more into wine than beer these days. There are far more developed and fact based back stories and you can find reviews that tell you a drinks relative value. I find there’s also frankly better value for money seeing as a standard bottle contains 5 drinks and a can of decent beer is around here is easily in the $4 range. Not gin-based value but not bad. I like modestly priced Italian whites like Gavi and Soave, I spend a bit more on French reds but hoard Hungarian Tokays. Lots of notes taken.

I think this ties in to your post on how beer doesn’t feel as fun anymore. I think a “fan” or “geek” culture is helpful (and anyway, inevitable) for a newcomer to a topic, but it curdles a bit over time, both in terms of personal experience and in terms of social equilibrium. Things have gone way overboard with movies and tv, and a bit overboard with beer. But to a newcomer that thrilling on-ramp, when everything is fresh and exciting, is hard to resist. I think resistance is a good idea though.

I’m curious where cider falls for you. Is it closer to beer or to wine?

I find cider really easy to geek out about, and I’m encouraged in this tendency by those enablers over at Pellicle. But luckily(?) it is hard to find really good cider in the U.S., and anyway my consumption of alcohol has been negligible while I’ve got a newborn in the house. But I can already rattle off the varieties of apple I would plant if I were to start a cider orchard, so I’m definitely not maintaining the healthy detachment that I think would be healthiest. That’s the way things go.

Cider’s an interesting one. Up till I really started beer blogging, I was more or less equally into beer and cider – which is to say, once a week I went to my local and had one (1) interesting-looking beer and one (1) interesting-looking cider, and once a year I went to a “beer and cider festival” and had four or five of each. There was more or less one style of each that I actually liked; everything else fell into a general “hmm, interesting” bucket. (I could say the same of red and white wine now.) It was only when I started giving beer enough attention to write about it that I properly got the taste for it, and learnt to appreciate different styles and sub-styles.

I hardly ever drink cider now – anywhere with no decent beers isn’t going to have any decent ciders, and anywhere with good ciders will have good beers – and when I do my reaction is… “hmm, interesting”.

Beer has been abnormally affecting by energy prices – malting, mashing, boiling, temperature controlled fermentation, cold-crashing for packaging, all these things are much more expensive to do than they used to be. (side note: anyone can chuck some grapes in a bucket and they’ll probably get something drinkable] But the impact on price is such that a £8.50 can of murky sour fruit shite doesn’t look so appealing against a similarly priced bottle of e.g. Falanghina

I think I’m in a similar place except one saving grace – I don’t really like the taste of wine!* I enjoy trying it, learning about it, but more for honing my descriptors for beer but also from the geeky chemist link to terroir, etc etc. I have allowed myself a few books (mostly charity shop finds) but I already spend far too much on beer & cider (and don’t get me started on whisky) that I cannot afford to get into any other drinks! Plus it feels liek more of a waste if I don’t like it and have 2/3 of a bottle for cooking remaining…
I do occasionally join Fiona Beckett’s monthly themed chat as its an informal and non-judgemental way to learn – this month was cider so was of course in my element – another of my hobbies subverting wine domains to talk about cider and/or beer 😉

*drinks finished in a wine cask however I can’t get enough of – especially whisky in a red or fortified wine finish

I enjoy wine and make notes on the odd occasion I have a glass / bottle. But ‘getting into it’ has often felt like a toss-up whether I’ll be led down the fun path that involves excitement and learning and being exposed to new things, or the pretentious path where I’m flatly told that anything under $50/bottle is garbage and I need to do a full ritual before drinking it.

An excellent title for what for some, is probably quite a delicate choice. Back in my early 20’s, I was almost tempted to go down the wine route, but not if it meant saying goodbye to beer. I’d just started my first “proper” job after graduating, and by proper, I mean it incorporated some of the scientific knowledge that I’d spent the previous three years acquiring. My new post was that of laboratory technician in the Quality Control department of Hedges & Butler.

The latter were the wine & spirits division of Bass (remember them?), who at the time, were Britain’s biggest brewers. H&B were keen for their employees to learn more about the product they were handling, and consequently ran courses on behalf of the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust. The courses were fascinating, and involved plenty of product sampling as well, and it got to the point where I could have either gone down the wine roue, or continued with my first love, which was beer – and cask-conditioned beer in particular.

It was a tough choice, but the thing which swung it for me was a change of employer, which involved relocating to a different part of the country. I don’t regret the choice, especially as the wine industry has changed out of all recognition from the cosy, comfortable, and very close-knit state it was in, back in the late 1970’s. Beer too, has changed of course, but not in quite the same way, and it’s been a much more managed, and overall much better all round progression.

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