Wine: This Time, It's Personal

Replace all of the equations on the board with things like "Frank Brickowski wore #40 for the Milwaukee Bucks," "I was at a party with coworkers when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI." and "Rondinella is one of the grapes that makes Amarone wines." That's basically who I am.

Replace all of the equations on the board with things like "Frank Brickowski wore #40 for the Milwaukee Bucks," "I was at a party with coworkers when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI." and "Rondinella is one of the grapes that makes Amarone wines." That's basically who I am.

I am not one to brag (and this is probably less brag-worthy and more embarrassing), but I can visualize and remember what I have drank over the years. You show me a label, 99% of the time I can tell you whether I have tasted it or not. I don't need an app to do this. I just have my little brain and a few years of backed up pictures on my phone to remind of things I have sampled.

I have done this with other things, too. I can remember where I was for every NFL title game since Super Bowl XX. As a kid, I could store license plate numbers into my brain and connect them to people in my neighborhood. I could remember uniform numbers of basketball, football, and baseball players. This is probably some sort of illness I should have had checked out by a doctor a long time ago, but this is how my mental filing cabinet operates; this way of thinking likely helped me succeed in wine and spirits school.

My wine-drinking experiences are not wretched like the final installment of the Jaws series, but they are personal. Yours should be, too.

My wine-drinking experiences are not wretched like the final installment of the Jaws series, but they are personal. Yours should be, too.

What this all comes down to is making connections to life experiences. I am hoping that most of your drinking adventures are positive. Maybe you drank a macrobrew for the first time with high school or college friends, so it holds a special place in your soul. Perhaps you ordered a bottle of wine on a first date with someone you went on to marry, and you will always remember that evening and the wine you drank with your meal. Or you went on vacation and had a killer margarita and you are spending your life trying to recreate it since it was so good!

Let's also be honest on the other side of the coin. Maybe you had a bad experience with vodka and can't touch the stuff again. Or you tasted a wine from a part of the world that just wasn't your thing and you avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, negativity can rear its ugly head as you explore booze of the world.

Being an optimist and a professional, I build off of my good experiences and try to correct the bad ones. I have had the pleasure of drinking red wine out of jelly jars at a picnic table in a back alley outside of a restaurant in Venice. I didn't know what was in the glass, and I didn't care. I also did a tour at Castello Banfi in Tuscany and took part in a five-course wine lunch before walking through vineyards. This was as equally rewarding as drinking mystery juice up north. As for the rough experiences, well...I got over a Captain Morgan incident and learned to appreciate a wide range of rums from all over the world. The Dark and Stormy is now a summertime staple of a cocktail at Castello d'Ambrosini. Still, there is something about wine that makes me feel good. I find it to be the best combination of socialization and relaxation of all the adult beverages. Your opinion might differ and that's fine, but I have never seen anyone unhappy with a glass of wine in his or her hand. 

This Saturday will mark eleven years that I have been married to The Most Awesome Woman In The World. We have shared many great journeys involving gastronomy and delicious adult beverages together. While a beer, a cocktail, or a sip of Cognac has been something we could do independently, there is nothing like sharing a bottle of wine with one another. Today, I give you six bottles that have had a great personal impact on us; we will gladly reach for these wines when we see them again. Whether it is a general style or a specific wine, these have made lasting impressions based on our personal experiences. I hope they become a part of your positive drinking experiences, too, while you make your own personal connections.

King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris ($17): For a longtime, one of my Twitter people had championed this wine as being consistently delicious and versatile with a lot of different foods. When I bought this for the first time and brought it home, we were a very happy couple. Loaded with limes, necatarines, and tropical fruits and a zesty finish., this will always be welcome in the wine fridge. 

Sokol Blosser Evolution Oregon White Blend ($18): When we went to Disney World and I went down to the bar at the Pacific Northwest-themed Wilderness Lodge after a long day in the parks, I brought two glasses of this back to our room. A very interesting "wine stew" of nine different grape varieties with intense aromatics, lush texture, and whirlwind of flavor. You taste something different with each sip.

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Pascal Jolivet Sancerre ($18): I never tasted Sancerre before meeting my wife. Sancerre is a village located in the eastern Loire Valley of France, known for steely, mouth-watering Sauvignon Blanc. The example from Jolivet shows grapefruit, fresh cut grass, and wet stone flavors. Our preferred point of origin for Sauvignon Blanc more than anywhere else in the world, and my first "wow" white wine.

Château d'Esclans Whispering Angel Côtes de Provence Rosé ($24): We honeymooned in the south of France and Provence was one of those locations. Sipping rosé with fresh fish caught that morning at a restaurant on the beach was unbelievable. The watermelon, thyme, and saline flavors of the Whispering Angel take me back to those days we spent in Provence.

E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($45): When we were in France, we took a day trip to Avignon. At that time, I didn't realize how close we were to the great vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, because wine was not my specialty at the time! At least I know I can bring Avignon home in some capacity with Guigal's example. Red and black berries, lush texture, and hints of lavender exemplify what Châteauneuf-du-Pape is all about.

Le Gode Brunello di Montalcino (2006 vintage, $60): We were married in 2006, and Brunello will always be special to us (my first "wow" red wine. It's the long-lived wine of Tuscany, which we experienced plenty of in our Italy trip. Sour cherries, earth, and leather are pronounced in this wine. Despite being over 10 years old, the wine is still very lively and fresh. This could keep developing in the bottle for another five years easily, and at this price it's a bargain!