Can you unlock the mystery of your favorite wines?

So recently Andrew and I went on a road trip to pick up a new car and on the way home I realized that I had downloaded the first four episodes of Serial, but hadn’t had a chance to get into it yet.TWL Tara in the new car

The new car is equipped with Bluetooth and all that fun stuff and the long drive home was a great chance to start listening to the podcast. But once we got home, we both ended up so busy that we hadn’t been able to finish all 12 episodes.

Well, last night we opened up a fantastic bottle of wine and decided to binge-listen to Serial. (We only got through Episodes 5-9, so DO NOT tell me the ending!)

As we sat in our little house closely analyzing this murder case, I suddenly realized it’s a lot like picking out your favorite wine. (Yes, leave it to me to blend murder and wine together! Go figure…) But just like solving a crime, the key is to pay attention to all of the little details. When you find a wine you like, you want to ask a few questions to unlock the mystery surrounding the reason for that wine’s characteristics: what is the varietal (subspecies of grape), what climate or elevation is it from, perhaps you’re a fan of a certain terroir [Terroir (pronounced /terˈwär/) is the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate which influence the characteristic taste and flavor of a wine], or maybe GSM (Grenache – Syrah – Mourvedre blended wines), etc.  Of course, it’s easy for us to pick out things we dislike because we generally have an immediate reaction to what we don’t like.

TWL Babcock Syrah front labelSo, I paused in the midst of Episode 7 as wine was handed to me. It was a Babcock 2011, Syrah called Upper Crust, which we had picked up on a trip a few days before New Year’s Eve in the central coast. (I have a whole other blog post I’m doing on Babcock Wines and Brian Babcock the owner and winemaker. I will say Babcock put out the red carpet for me and my family! I was so excited and so grateful and now it’s my turn to write a blog post about their wine. But that’s for a different day so keep checking back!)

The bouquet of the Babcock 2011 Syrah was reminiscent of wet canes with some pepper tones from that one particular area along the highway that always seems to smell of bell pepper or maybe even like a jalapeño type aroma. And the actual Chapstick brand of cherry Chapstick (not the knock-off products that smell really waxy) with that cheeriness that comes with real cherry Chapstick.

It’s the same when you get attached to a particular wine: It can trigger emotions and memories or just give you that sense of something that you’ve experienced before. I’ve had wines that made me think of vacations to my grandma’s house. And all of that sensory input – the smell, the taste, the way it looks in the glass, and feels on your tongue — really does play a key role in the finding out what kind of wines you’re attracted to.

I’ve always been an advocate of drinking what you like; drink what makes you happy. At the end of the day, what makes you like that one particular wine is probably the same kind of thing that makes you happy in other ways. And maybe sometimes we don’t know the answer. It just stays a mystery.

But I encourage you to stay putting those puzzle pieces together about your own taste in wine, figuring out why you like certain wines. You just might surprise yourself! Maybe you’ll discover that you are a serial Merlot drinker and didn’t even know it. And that’s not a bad thing.

And I will tell you how I think “Serial” will end:  Jay did it – no, Jen – crap, they did it together! Oh, wait – Don – he’s so guilty. And Adnan is lying – well, maybe he’s telling the truth…

So have you played wine detective with your own taste buds and connected all those dots to discover why you really love those wines? I would love to hear what you’ve discovered about yourself in the comments below!


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