Wine Tips from Featured Sommelier
Jenny Benzie, CWE
By Jim Clarke
In baseball, they say that every year
has a new season, and the same is true in every vineyard
around the world. Each season every team fares differently,
trades players, has good streaks and slumps…likewise
in wine, each region, vineyard, and producer goes through
their own ups and downs.
It helps to think of it this way if you find wine to be
an overwhelming or mystifying subject. Believe me, if you
can keep track of what’s happening in baseball in
just a few minutes each day, there’s no reason you
can’t do the same in wine.
Say you pick up the sports section to catch up on last
nights’ games and scores – grab a Wine Spectator
and get the latest results. Prefer to watch your sports
news on SportsCenter? Tune into Andrea Immer’s five-minute
wine spot on the Fine Living Network. Like the All-Star
game? Take yourself out to a wine fair.
Whatever medium you prefer, by picking up as little each
day you’ll begin to catch up with wine as a whole:
who the big players are, where they came from and learned
winemaking, and who else plays on their team. Maybe they’ve
been “traded,” a few times, working at different
wineries, or played on an international team before settling
into Napa Valley life. There are the big hitters, and more
modest players who nonetheless maintain a high RBI. What’s
their batting average? Sometimes even the best players strike
out, and sometimes they hit a home run. As you become a
fan, you may find you’ve accumulated plenty of trivia
about your favorite team to impress your friends with at
the wine bar at night.
Wine, like baseball, is available to everyone. Whether
you’re on a budget and prefer to sit in the bleachers
or can splash out for season tickets on first base line,
there are plenty of ways to get the most out of your experience.
And there are calls and rules to dispute and argue over:
wooden bats or aluminum? What about replacing corks with
Stelvin screwcaps? And the recent brouhaha about steroid
on the ballfield sounds a lot like genetically modified
grapes to me.
One day at a time, you find you build up a knowledge and
appreciation of the game of wine: who had a good season,
who has been traded, and what rising stars are coming up
from the farm leagues. And when your favorite team has a
winning year, you can put away a case or two and relive
their glory days in the years to come.