I recently turned 30 years old. Initially I had a substantial amount of trepidation about it. I’m single, still in college, no career, and I don’t have any savings. For all intents and purposes I kind of felt like I was still a kid. Just as with December 21st, 2012, turning 30 passed without incident. I wasn’t bombarded with questions of why I wasn’t married yet, or when my parents will be getting more grandchildren. All in all, it had come and gone somewhat unnoticed.
The feeling of fear quickly faded, the worries of being single and in college faded and I knew that I was, at the very least, headed in the right direction. Although one thing I am consciously trying to change is the feeling of still being a kid. Depending on who you ask, 30 could be either young or old. In the eyes of my soon to be 5 year old niece, I’m old, but young to my many aunts in their 60’s and 70’s. It could also be considered somewhere in between, since I have friends both younger and older. Regardless of this, it doesn’t change the fact that, for a long time, I’ve hung on the coattails of my older siblings and have always been the youngest one of the group.
On my 30th birthday, I had my first drink after a four year break. I originally stopped because I felt I was headed in a bad direction. In essence, I was an emotional drinker and decided I should stop before I had gotten myself in too deep. I had realized that hard alcohol was the main culprit and as long as I stayed away from it, I would be okay. So when I came back into the alcohol world, I started with some of my favorite beers, such as Guinness, Hefeweizen, and pale lager. I would joke that I preferred beers that matched my personality: smooth. I stuck to beers that I enjoy the flavor of, rather than a quick way to get drunk, and felt no shame in saying that I didn’t enjoy most IPA’s.
But this got me thinking.
As I headed towards my 30’s, I found myself wanting to be more open minded, in particular when it came to learning how to appreciate things I hadn’t in the past. In the past I tended to stick to what I knew, which is probably why when I started drinking, I stuck to the same beers I had always liked and it would be more difficult to appreciate a beer that I did not particularly care for. However, one thing that I had always wished I had the ability to appreciate was wine, something I had very little experience with.
I took a couple wine appreciation classes during culinary school, although I did not participate in any of the tastings since I commuted 50 minutes on my way home and didn’t want any trace of alcohol in my system. My only other experience with wine was as a teenager looking for another way to get drunk by slamming glass after glass.
Going along with what I said above about breaking out of that feeling of still being a child, I took it upon myself to try and introduce wine to my palette. Regardless of having taken two wine appreciation courses I didn’t know where to begin. I had some idea of varietals, and how to read labels, but that meant nothing as I had no actual experience tasting wine, just gulping it down to get smashed.
Fortunately I had Jeremy to help give me some guidance as where to start.
I ended up starting light with a couple different Rieslings, one from Germany and one from Washington. Right after my first sniff and sip, I was already apprehensive. I was under the impression that Riesling was a good varietal to start off with, to introduce wine to my palette, but it didn’t do much for me. It tasted flat, almost watery, and I didn’t feel it was much of an experience.
This was disheartening right from the start. I had spent $30 on two bottles and I was rather disappointed. I’m sure for Riesling’s they were absolutely fine, but it just didn’t cut it for me. I wasn’t ready to give up quite yet though. I met up with Jeremy a couple days later and we went to World Market. At least this time I would have some guidance compared to my trip to BevMo. Jeremy recommended a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay. I didn’t open either right away. Instead I tried some of the Petite Sirah that Jeremy had picked up. I was completely blown away. The intense full flavor was exactly what I was looking for. I instantly knew that there was hope that I could experience the sophisticated adult world that I’d seen in TV shows like Frasier.
The next day I had to make a difficult decision; do I open the Cabernet or the Chardonnay? Something inside me told me to open the Cabernet. Perhaps it was my positive experience with the Petite Sirah, a red wine, compared to my not so great experience with Riesling, a white wine. I don’t know if I believe in love in first sight, but I had learned I believe in love at first taste. The bottle of 2012 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon had completely blown me away. For a $10 bottle, I was extremely surprised to find something that was exactly what I was looking for, despite the fact that I didn’t know exactly what that was.
I shared it with my longtime friend Josh, traditionally a beer and spirits drinker. Despite being the type of person to be somewhat set in his ways, he is generally open to giving things he’s not familiar with a chance. I couldn’t quite tell how he felt about the Cab. He wasn’t praising it, but he did go back for seconds (and thirds). He must have been curious enough, since we proceeded to go wine shopping right after.
We bought a bottle of 2012 Cabernet, J. Lohr Seven Oaks, from Paso Robles, and a 2012 Cabernet, Wente, from Livermore Valley. The J. Lohr I felt had very strong fruity characteristics, very powerful, very bold, while the Wente seemed to be more subtle, and smooth. They seemed to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. Regardless of this, I enjoyed both equally as much as the 3 Girls I had purchased the night before. I may have found my varietal of choice.
Is this a step in the right direction towards adulthood? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe wine isn’t quite the right answer. However, I feel that regardless what the activity or object may be, learning to appreciate something is a way to experience a little bit more out of life. And I don’t think many people will argue against getting a little bit more.
What do you think about the connection of wine appreciation and adulthood? Do you have a wine that you enjoy? Share below!