Or another way of saying happy birthday to me. Jason’s Wine Blog turned 5 today. Started shortly after returning from Australia with a simple post it has been a roller coaster of a ride ever since. I’ve met loads of people (both online and off), made new friends and become part of a community that has helped me grow, learn and explore the world of wine. So a hearty thanks to all of you for participating and helping me along the way!
So to celebrate (like only a blogger would) I thought I would share 5 lessons I’ve learned along the way so here they go…
- There is a lot to learn and explore – I just recently noted on twitter that according to CellarTracker I had tried 123 varieties across 20 countries. Some friends shared their approach is much narrower (and therefore deeper) but as you likely already know I am an explorer by nature. I imagine some day in the future I might spend six weeks exploring Chinon but for now I still need to try my first Zweigelt and so many more. There’s a great, big beautiful world out there!
- Your palate and preferences will change – When I first started I was interesting in finding and being able to explain a single bottle of wine I enjoyed. Soon I wanted to open multiple bottles of the same varietal to explore nuances. From there it was specific winemakers or trying to understand the sense of place that makes a Sonoma Coast Pinot different from those of Russian River. This just speaks to how I like to taste changed but my palate has also evolved over time. Years ago I bought 3 cases of the 2004 Rosenblum “Heritage Clone” Petite Sirah but now I much prefer the wines of La Clarine Farm. It will be interesting to see what I enjoy 5 years from now as my palate continues to evolve…
- There is (much) more to wine than Trader Joe’s (or your local grocer) – Yes its convenient as we shop there, yes they are affordable, yes many are good but if you want to expand and grow your palate you need to look outside the wine aisles of Trader Joe’s. To start with find a local wine store. Go in and ask what tastings they have coming up. Ask them what their best value or favorite wine is under $10 (or the price point of your choice is). You will soon find they can turn you onto some very compelling offerings in the $8-$12 range. In the Bay Area I am lucky enough to have K&L, Arlequin and many more at my fingertips. So get out there and explore your neighborhoods!
- Know thy reviewers palate (and importers too) – This is perhaps my greatest lesson; if buying on points or recommendations keep a tally on what you like versus what you don’t from each source; palate matching if you will. In my early days I bought many Parker wines that were well rated and affordable that didn’t deliver for me. So when you buy a wine based on a review, my recommendation or that of the clerk in your local wine store do yourself a favor and keep score. This can apply to importers as well. Get to the know some of their portfolios (which you’ll likely explore at some of those tastings I recommended above). I know I am well aligned with Jon Bonne’s palate and therefore buy his recommendations with confidence; Parker not so much anymore. Find your match!
- You don’t have to compare everything – I’m analytical by nature so my instinct is to logically order things. In the case of wine, especially coupled with the fact that I’m a writer (don’t laugh please…), that means always wanting to know which is better or best. For example when enjoying my 2nd orange wine, the Pheasant’s Tears late last year my mind immediately raced to the Coenobium which knocked my socks off earlier that year. The thought? A side by side tasting to determine which was better. Some days later it occurred to me what a waste that would have been. Don’t get me wrong there are many times where comparing and contrasting is a great way to learn. But in this case it seemed wasteful to not just enjoy each for what they were free of any other considerations. Sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy what is in your glass!
So there you have five years worth of learning in a nutshell. And just for trivia sake if anyone ever ask which was the the first wine ever reviewed on Jason’s Wine Blog the answer would be the 2001 Navarro Pinot Noir Methode Alancienne.