“I think it’s most important to remember that drinking wine should be fun, a pleasure. And that there are no rights and no wrongs in wine appreciation.”
So said Jancis Robinson, perhaps the most revered wine scholar on the planet.
I was reminded of Robinson’s thoughts on wine appreciation the other day as I was driving to work. It was an exceptionally warm day for early March and, as I inched along Piedmont Avenue, I observed two gentlemen lunching on a restaurant patio. They were having a fine time. One was jabbing the air, clearly making a final point to what must have been a hysterical reminiscence; the other was doubled over with laughter.
“Sigh,” I sighed. How I wish I could blow off work and pull up a chair.
What fueled this joyous, early afternoon repast? (Besides the gorgeous weather, that is.) While I can’t say for certain, I’m pretty sure the bottle of pinkish-hued liquid sitting on the table between them had something to do with the happiness they radiated.
Were they appreciating wine? Well, not in the traditional sense that suggests proper glassware, precise temperatures and pensive swirling. (So much pensive wine swirling.) Were they having fun and enjoying that bottle of rosé wine? You don’t have to be a social scientist to know that they were.
If there is a problem with rosé wines, it is people don’t take them seriously. Many rosés are indeed serious wines (consider the subtle, salmon-colored mourvèdre-based wines from Bandol, France). These wines, however, are rarely enjoyed in serious situations … unless you think two friends getting together for lunch on a breezy, spring-like day is a serious situation.
Somehow, we confuse fun with frivolous. Can we not enjoy a serious red wine out of a bota bag on a ski lift or a white Burgundy in a plastic cup at a picnic table? “No. These are serious wines and are more properly understood in the dining room,” say the wine consiglieres.
So-called true wine appreciation, in most cases, is pointless. Who cares if you get this or that floral nuance or determine a wine has integrated tannins?
Does the wine make you happy? Aye, there’s the question. And, as is so often the case with light, bright, crisp pink wines — especially those “appreciated” on warm summer nights in backyards with good friends — the answer is an emphatic “Yes!”
In the same way that we should probably get a few more rosés flowing in white tablecloth establishments, we need to take our rather pretentious appreciation of nonpinks down a couple of notches.
Let’s not be in awe of great wine. Let’s not try to explain it or put labels on it. Let’s simply enjoy wine and, perhaps, better appreciate the friendships it cements.
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Gil Kulers is a sommelier and maitre d’ for an Atlanta country club. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.