My Personal Wine History and a Visit to Sonoma County

About nine years ago, my husband suggested we create a wine tasting data base to record our adventures and our preferences. It seemed like a good idea, as many of my favorite magazines were starting to publish wine columns and our "want to try" list was getting longer and longer.

We never had the time - or never took the time - and we never purchased a wine program or did anything formal about it. But it was the start of something. An awareness perhaps. And we've had fun ever since.

My own adventures with wine started as a toddler. Yes. That's what I said. While the grownups enjoyed wine with their meals, I was given a wine glass filled with water and enough wine to add flavor - and pique my interest. I don't think it did any harm; in fact, it was probably useful. Early on, I saw wine as a meal accompaniment and not something to be consumed in large quantities in order to achieve an altered state.

But I've been here, too.

These days, my husband and I often drink a glass or two before and during dinner. We enjoy the complexity of wine, and we like to experiment with pairings and we talk about building a wine cave like the one my brother built. We've got the perfect place for it, but we've got a lot of other priorities, too.

We're not especially educated and we've not snobbish. In the last month or two, we've tasted Two Buck Chuck (now three bucks) as well as some pricier wines. As for bubbly, we like everything from the occasional supermarket offering to the bottle of Dom Perignon that is awaiting just the right celebratory event.

Recently at dinner we ordered a meritage blend from California's Central Coast that was layered and rich, with a plummy introduction and a cherry-vanilla finish. Next month, we'll enjoy the black wine of Cahors as we look out over our own (for two weeks, anyway) private vineyard.

I recently spend several days in Sonoma County, tasting, learning and observing. The variety before me was awesome, as they say, but in the true sense of the word. Thanks to A for her wine tour and to E, F and M for their companionship.

I'll be back, Sonoma...

What's your wine story?


Terry B said…
An excellent post, Mimi. It sounds as if you've found the perfect accomplice in your husband. We enjoy wine too. Like you, I have a glass or two more evenings than not. Evidence continues to mount that drinking moderates amounts of wine is good for our health, particularly red wines.

We've had our share of exquisite wines, but even a modest wine can have its pleasures. We recently had dinner at some friends' house. When I chose white wine from the drinks offered, the host made a big deal out of serving an "award-winning chardonnay." With that, he brought out some Two Buck Chuck! It had actually beat out high-priced wines in a blind taste test. It still is two bucks in California, I'm pretty sure--just three bucks elsewhere--and still a deal.
Thanks, TerryB - that is a great story.

I have lost my taste for Chardonnay recently and have found more intrigue in red wines. I like blends - a lot!
MaryRuth said…
I'm glad you had a good time in California. I thought I would get to go to Sonoma this fall (my first time) with my sister (my BF is a teetotaler)...but lo, and niece decided to get married next spring. So there goes my sister's $$$. We'll have another chance I'm sure.
Years ago, when some WI friends visited me in CA, they told me about the "Wisconsin Wine"--found in CA: "Beer is SO expensive here!!!" (said in a "whiny" voice)
MaryRuth, I knew I would spend a lot for food and drink, and I did, but I figure you only live once. I did have a beer at a brewery in Healdsburg and I cannot tell you what it cost. I just expected to spend and I did and forgot about it.

But, LOL, that does sound like someone from Wisconsin.
Eileen said…
My husband and I enjoy a glass of wine before dinner most evenings, it's become a favorite part of the day to relax and talk at leisure, well on some days anyway, sometimes it's a bit of a rush.

We've joined a wine club and receive a bottle of red and white every 3 weeks or so, it's fun to try them, most are from CA. but once in awhile they send a bottle from New Zealand, Chile or France too.

Two Buck Chuck is pretty good though!
I agree, Eileen! TBC is a true value wine!

My husband and I also sit back at night - usually only on weekends, but sometimes on weeknights - and enjoy a glass as we recap the day. Sometimes we switch to margheritas.
Judy said…
Hi Mimi, I love wine. I used to drink a lot of Chardonnay and Cab but now I'm into Pinot Grigio and Merlots. I like to try new ones and ones I see advertised or recommended. I have wine almost every day and love it. It's good for you and I think it's almost time to pour a glass.
Hi Judy, you are correct: It is time!

I've got a white blend from Michigan uncorked - I like offbeat little blends a lot!

Yes, time...
Wine is fascinating. I start with the vineyards that change the landscape in a dramatic and esthetically pleasant way. I love the landscape in Sonoma (where I spent 10 days late June), Chablis, Layon, Saumur, Pomerol ... I did not know much about wine when I arrived in France, but was so appealed to wine that I started tasting, liking, buying. Wine making was most appealing and although I do not have a good "nose" I did an Oenology course at the University of Angers this past year. Learning the complexity of wine making is extremely interesting!
lady jicky said…
I can understand why "two buck chuck" is 3 dollars with the price of petrol - you call it gas, and all these days !
Do they export it? I would love to give it a try!
I love a Sav Blanc from New Zealand called Monkeys Bay. My womens group have now renamed it as "Monkeys Bum "and we always have a bottle when we get together - its our "in" joke. I am having two couples from said group over for dinner this Saturday and we will have a bottle of Monkeys Bum for sure!
Its actually very good as NZ does Sav Blanc so well! LOL
Toni said…
I remember when I was driving through France with my sister, we stopped in a village where you could bring them your empty wine bottle and they'd fill it up for a few francs. (That was in the days when the dollar was worth something.) It was probably about the same price as two-buck chuck, but oh so much better!
World in a Pan, I agree. i would love to take a wine course. The complexity is the best part. Lately I've been buying wines whose labels promise new smells and tastes. I like a wine that reveals itself slowly.

Lady Jicky, I have tried NZ wines! A few years back, I stumbled across one and it was very good!

Toni, I continue to be amazed at the price of wine in France. Six more weeks now, and I will be there sampling it...
Christine said…
First of all, I have to chide you for coming to Sonoma, a mere hop, skip and jump from my kitchen, and not telling me. How could you have been so close yet so far? I would have eagerly driven down highway 101 to see you.
I love your approach to wines. When I lived in So. American many years ago I tasted my first wine, also diluted in a glass of sparkling water, and never looked back.
Ever since my husband and I visited the southwest of France and tasted the wines there, nothing else comes close for us. We love the different reds from the myriad small wineries there. And, lucky for us, our local co-op has a wine buyer who ferrets out just the wines we like. Not too pricey either.
Next time you come to California, would you please let me know? :)
Christine, I did drop a little hint (I thought I did, anyway!). I guess it was too little. Unfortunately, I was only in California from noon on Friday to noon on Monday.

I certainly will return, though, and would love to meet you somewhere. In fact, before I left I did a Google map thing to see how far away your would be. I love this part of California!

I was just reading about Quercy wines and drooling. Last time we stuck to wines from the grapes in the vineyard "our" house overlooks. This time, I think we will be more adventurous.

Lately, I've been buying offbeat blends and other little wines, based on the label description.

Meanwhile, we've still got a bottle of Dom Perignon that requires just the right occasion. Soon.
My husband and I hold monthly wine tasting parties at our apartment. They've really encouraged me to grow in my knowledge and experimentation. Before that, attending low-cost and free tastings at other places piqued our interest in the topic, and when I was diagnosed with food allergies and celiac and lost my beloved micro-brewed beer as an option, wine seemed like a great new territory to explore!
I think a wine-tasting party is a great idea - I have been to a few - but I think hosting them would be more fun than going to one. Choosing the wines, pairing them with food...maybe one of these days. Meanwhile, my organizations hosts one every year.
Fiona said…
I'm a bit slow catching up with things here having only recently returned home from my trip to the USA (and Sonoma).

It was wonderful spending time with you in the Sonoma area Mimi. Love the photos too. Its a beautiful part of the world and the wines are wonderful :)
katiez said…
Two Buck Chuck is not 3 bucks???? Oh Noooooo!
I tried that last time I was in the US and thought it was great! About time one can buy a decent wine for a good price there~
But, please, Chuck, no higher....
Agate said…
Your story is great and It's really nice that you learn about wine tasting.

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