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How 1+1 Can Equal 3: Making Every Wine Experience Exceptional (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post from Jason Whiteside. Jason was previously a Sommelier & Wine Consultant on the Dutch/French Island of St. Martin, and was the original Wine Director of Cosimo Wine Bar in Malvern, PA. He is part of the Wine Educator staff at ChaddsFord Winery, and holds the Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wine & Spirits (with Distinction) from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, holding their Certified Specialist of Wine qualification. Most importantly, he is Joe's partner in crime over at 2WineDudes!

(images: jupiterimages.com, www.csc.gov.sg)


In my business, I field a lot of questions about wine. The hardest questions to answer are the ones that start like this: “I was in Tuscany on vacation, and we had this incredible bottle of wine. We brought some home, and it doesn’t taste the same. Why is that?”

The answer is difficult to explain. Different atmospheric pressures can alter the taste of a bottle. The same wine that was great high up in the mountains can taste flat if drank at sea level. Or, maybe the wine hadn’t recovered from the trans-atlantic jostling at 35,000 feet. But the reality is usually just this: they aren’t on vacation anymore. Since most of the other parts that made up such a great overall drinking experience are still back in Tuscany, the answer is usually that simple.

The reason, in other words, is that a glass of wine is an experience, not just a taste...

I believe that any extraordinary wine experience is usually a combination of a few different contextual factors: the food that accompanies it, the people with whom you drink it, and the atmosphere in which this all takes place. For example, maybe it was a decent bottle of wine you had on vacation, but it lacked that special quality it had in Italy when you drank it at home. So why do you have such fond memories of that wine? Maybe because you spent the day with your loved one walking around the hills of Tuscany, climbing the medieval towers of San Gimignano, and ended your day with a delicious meal of bistecca alla fiorentina. All without a single thought of your emails piling up at work. Good wine with the right people, in the right place, or with the right food, allows the combination to be greater than just the sum of the parts.

So, the question becomes, how do we make a good bottle of wine taste extraordinary at home? This starts with finding a quality wine. An example of an exceptional bargain is Rolf Binder’s 2004 Fetish The Watcher Australian shiraz. This wine, packed with red fruits, ripe raspberries, and a hint of spice on the nose, is on sale for $9.99 in PA, marked down from roughly $26.00. I tried it months ago, and I thought it was a good buy at $26.00, so consider it a steal at $9.99!

Now that you have the right wine, add the right surroundings, have the right food. Leave the frozen food in the freezer and make some hamburgers by hand, working some fresh flavors into your ground beef. Slice fresh tomatoes, lettuce, maybe sauté fresh mushrooms. Choose gruyere cheese instead of using those Kraft Singles. Invite over a few friends, fire up your grill, and open up that bottle of Shiraz. If all the right parts are in place, you’ll have an amazing wine experience, and a wonderful time.

And everyone will see how one plus one can equal three.


The Wine Messenger

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