I often get asked at my courses, “Christy, what is YOUR favorite wine?” Honestly, I struggle to answer this question and usually end up saying…”It depends.” My favorite wine changes daily, which of course, I don’t want to admit as it makes me sound fickle. I know they are really looking for a wine recommendation so they can go buy it but I get stuck wanting to know what they like to drink, and why, and then trying to guide them appropriately. Is this a case of knowing too much, so that a simple answer is no longer possible?
Being in the wine industry means that I get to taste a lot of wines, and I have special access to wines often at little or zero cost, so my horizon is constantly expanding. Plus, my favorite wine is going to depend on my mood that day, whether I’m at home with my husband or out with friends, or entertaining.
Sometimes I get on a kick where all I want to drink is one particular variety. Lately, that has been Pinot Noir. This makes me laugh, remembering there was time (in 2013) when I didn’t like Pinot Noir and I sheepishly confessed that to one of my wine instructors one night after class. That night a few of us went out drinking and over a few hours we drank several bottles of high end wine from various regions around the world. A visiting Sonoma wine maker was with us. He wisely predicted, “You will.” My instructor’s reaction was much more dramatic…a fake faint as if what I had said was so shocking that he needed smelling salts. The Sonoma wine maker was right…it took me a while, but I gradually grew to really love Pinot Noir, to the point where I am now quite particular about the style of Pinot Noir I want to drink. I have grown to enjoy the light body of this variety and its delicate, nuanced expression. When it’s produced in an overripe, high alcohol version, I don’t like it. I know that I want an earthy expression of Pinot Noir, with an alcohol content no higher than 13.5%. But my “students” don’t want a dissertation when they ask me what my favorite wine is.
I’ve also had some time periods when I was experimenting with drinking different varieties from various regions and developing no loyalty to any of them. I can say truthfully that for red wines I love Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Northern Rhône Syrah, and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, but I don’t think that will be much help as those wines aren’t easily found on a grocery store shelf.
I guess I’m going to have to live with the inability to provide a definitive answer to my students and hope that my non-answer will inspire them to expand their own wine drinking horizons! Cheers!