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Grape Expectations



Recent purchases got me thinking… why do I buy the wines I buy? There are bigger, better life questions to ponder, but I keep my ambitions humble.

One of the factors that motivate me is trying new varietals. My wine journey has only just begun, so I want to explore in order to home-in on what I really like, not what I think I ought to like.

The very first wine I purchased when I joined the Society was this lovely Marcillac. I never tried a Fer Servadou (aka Mansois) before and wanted to give it a go. It was a success – I really enjoyed it, and it confirmed my hunch that I really do prefer lighter reds, with medium tannins, crunchy fruit, an autumnal feel to them and an acidic bite. Mondeuse is another grape I haven’t tried before I joined the Society, which supported the same conclusion. The most recent purchase has been a Cornalin, which I am yet to try, but the description of the grape made me want to give it a go.

What is your motivation for choosing the grapes/wine that you do? Do you tend to stick to the tried and tested ones which you are confident will bring you pleasure, or do you venture into the unknown? Or to put it in modern terms- do you change your bank more frequently than you change your wine?


Like you, I look for different varietals, and countries, and styles. I do sometimes buy the same again, and there are a few regular Rhones, Alsace, and Mosels that I go back to, and when I buy from a producer it is likely to be more than one bottle. But the order to TWS that went in this week was 5 bottles I had tried at tastings, 2 I had had before, but by this time they are different year, 3 half bottles which sounded all right because I need a few halves, 2 where I am relying on the producer, and 1 recommended in this community.


I think one goes through various phases. Sometimes relying on the familiar and well tested; sometimes looking at ABV levels; sometimes sticking to a country or region…and so on.

At the moment I am going through a ‘different grape’ phase, and looking at Eastern Europe for inspiration. Being in TWS allows me to browse either on line, or in the catalogue, and to get some idea from the description and, importantly, the comments of fellow members.

I find some merchants too obviously trying to shift certain wines with overblown marketing copy. I remember well when the Swedish government released its reserve stock and Majestic were selling it. Interesting wines but well past their best in most examples.


I may have mentioned before. Many years ago I led an Evening Class for a local education authority a course on Basic Wine Appreciation. I took a 'world tour ’ approach having got the basics over in week 1 ! Trying to concentrate on the wine rather than the academic. We had fun.

The stand out ‘horrors’ were a Chinese Chardonnay and an Indian Merlot. Where I lived then there was a eccentric local wine shop.
(Professionally some years earlier I had presented evidence of them selling Whisky to 14 year olds).


I have probably been guilty of having a narrow minded approach to choosing wine in that I’ve tended to buy more of the wines in the style I have come to enjoy most. As a result I have lots of examples of the same few categories. I have increasingly felt that as a result things have got too predictable and I am trying to break out ( though only as far as Oregon Pinot Noir and Portuguese white wines, Chinese Chardonnay is a step too far). The main problem is the sheer size of the previously purchased backlog, as I find it emotionally very difficult to part with it once I have purchased it.


My general direction is towards red assemblages…hence southern Rhone and Languedoc Roussillon. Dark fruits, garrigue herbs, licorice, sometimes tobacco/smoke and nearly always a long/longish peppery finish.
Having said all that I wouldn’t refuse Syrah from Northern Rhone or the odd delicious case of Villages or Cru Beaujolais.
Interesting that @inbar mentions Marcillac, I tried one bottle 8 or 9 years ago and found some refreshing fruit but a twiggy, woody taste which certainly did not come from oak barrels. Maybe I should try it again !!

I’m at the back end of my wine imbibing gig and after three years of trying wines from all countries and regions there of…I intend to generally stick to GSM and the above mentioned exceptions.:wine_glass::wine_glass::wine_glass::innocent:

A bit I missed out, the great majority of New World reds I tried in the early 90’s were too sweet for my taste…hence I think my thread re. Residual Sugar.


For the colder seven or so months of the year the core of what I drink is southern rhone, for the warmer months a mix of cru Beaujolais, provencal rose and bone dry whites. Over the last year the repertoire (and £ per bottle) has increased so my recent purchases have included a Galician white, Etna, Rapsani, some very good value cote rotie (pm me for the link) and a Swartland grenache recommended by Jancis.

What I love finding is what taffy and I’s favourite critic calls STGT - soil to glass transfer. There is lots of generic, well made wine available which is recognisable for its climate or variety. I look for wines which convey a sense of place and have some complexity and character and this increasingly informs what I buy. But at the end of a long week and on a cold night I will still often reach for a Gigondas or Rasteau - this was where my journey into wine really began and I still go back to it time after time.


For myself - it’s a mixture. There are certain wines, which for me would include dry rieslings and N. Rhone Syrahs, which I come back to time and time again. In between are other things - both exploratory ones, and less frequently bought but still regular wines.

I know other people who tend towards either one of these things - the regular bankers, which maybe they explore in depth, or just enjoy on a regular basis. Others are always out there exploring.


There’s a funny little illustration on the Wine Folly blog, regarding the ‘stages’ a wine enthusiast might go through as their palate develops: https://winefolly.com/update/evolution-your-wine-palate-funny-true/

It reminds me a bit of the refrain at the end of Flanders & Swann’s A Song of the Weather - “bloody January again”… Something about the circularity of the experience.

I think there must be some truth about stages of trying various wines, moving on to something new/different, then coming back to the familiar. Although I wonder if for those who have been drinking for many years, and have gained a lot of experience of different styles/regions/producers, the process slows down a bit. Might be totally wrong, of course!


I am quite limited in my drinking; almost exclusively Europe (and Lebanon) and even within Europe it is massively weighted towards Bordeaux, Rioja and Rhone and some Italian. However I do plan to start expanding from that but until next spring my life will be in serious disruption (it always is from mod October to Mid April) so no big campaigns will be launched during this period.

However come next spring I plan to launch a couple of conversion campaigns and at that time will most certainly looking for lots of good advice from all you good folks here (as I have already mentioned elsewhere).

The initial two campaigns will be:
Whites - there must be some that will make be go wow (in a good way).
Burgundy - up until now most Burgundy as left me feeling pretty underwhelmed. Maybe I just don’t get on with Pinot Noir, but I must give it a proper shot!

To a lesser extent I will also be planning on looking more at Loire, Beaujolais and Languedoc and Roussillon. All areas I’m fine with but I’ve never really tried any ‘serious’ wines from them!

Finally Whilst I’m away I’ll probably be spending 3 months in Chamonix so I plan to try and convince myself that Savoie can produce some ‘serious’ wines.

So I will be looking for advice on these when the time comes. Maybe the year after I must try getting to grips with some of the new world wines! So much to do and taste, who can ever get bored with life!

Now I know all that was about regions rather than grapes, but then each region does tend to have it’s preferred grape(s).


So I guess on that chart I’m looking to graduate from ‘Bold’ to ‘Elegant’ :smiley:

It’s a little worrying that they show the chart as circular with ‘No Wine’ coming after ‘Natural’…


I think the ‘no wine’ stage is necessary to get rid of the ‘natural’ wine flavours :wink:

… But seriously, what I take from it is a sense of ‘exploration - fatigue’, perhaps. Methinks @M1tch once started a thread about experiencing this.


In fairness I guess that’s why I try to balance exploring new wines with enjoying known favourites.


I think I might have gone full circle in a very short time, but missed the last two stages…


Run! Save yourself! For some of us, it is too late…


Must admit I’m a sucker for any grape variety I haven’t had before, luckily I have pretty broad tastes and most of my experiments have been happy ones. I do always include something new in every mixed case I buy, together with a few reliable favourites tailored to the sort of evening meals we consume.


That’s exactly how I approach wine buying at the moment. I try to include either new varietals, or something I’ve never tried before in an order (or when purchasing from a local wine shop) - but not neglecting the favourites too. It would be odd (for me, at least) to just have new stuff in each order, but there’s so much to explore out there, that even our ‘repeats’ tend to be a variation on a theme, rather than necessarily the same bottle.


While I think there is just so much to try, I do have my favourites but at least try to mix it up a bit. To be honest I tend to stick to what I know about 90% of the time until I have advice to steer me otherwise


Is anyone else contemplating the relationship between attitude to wine and attitude to life in general. It can’t just be me!



Interesting point, @Andy999!

Do you mean, for example, that those with a more ‘adventurous’ personality tend to be more interested in novelty, new grape/new wines etc?
If so, I don’t fit that correlation. I am risk-averse and contented with leading a fairly simple life; adventure for me comes from planning a weekly menu, or entertaining friends or going abroad, or learning a new language. Yet I love novelty in wine, and forever seeking new things I haven’t tried before - rather than sticking with the tried and tested (though I do a bit of this too, for sure). For me, this has more to do with where I am in my wine journey.

Perhaps I missed your point, though…?