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Help - losing my love of wine!


#1

Hi all,

Bit of an odd one this but I have come to a sudden realisation that I am starting to move away from wine as in I don’t find wine as exciting as I once used to. When I was going through my WSET levels 2 and 3 I was always very excited about all of the various wines, styles, odd grapes and production methods. Back before I joined the Wine Society I didn’t know anything about wine up to a point now that, although I have only scratched the surface of the wine world I can now read through a restaurants wine list and work out which wine I would like simply from the name of the wine etc and know the grape type even if it doesn’t mention it on the label (like Chianti or Gevery Chambertain).

I think I have lost some excitement about wine due to the fact that I have most bases covered and I am not really discovering new wines or regions, even some of the odd/rarer wines such as some of the Swiss wines or rare sherries I have tried.

From my WSET courses I have completed so far I think I have now whittled down the wine regions/styles I enjoy which is partly the reason I decided to go ahead with the course, tempted to narrow down my exploration to sub regions within the regions I know I enjoy so that I can carry on the exploration and bring back the joy of wine. What does everyone think?

As a record (partly for me), below are my personal preferences towards wines/regions after trying quite a few wines/styles from quite a few regions, perhaps someone else can point me to another region or wine I should look at.

Reds

Southern Rhone - Cotes du Rhone rather than CNDP
Northern Rhone - Cornas, Croze Hermitage, Hermitage
Left bank Claret - Margaux, Pauillac
Portugal - Douro
Portugal - Port (all styles but mainly LBV or Tawny 20 years)
Spain - Rioja (Reserva)
Austria
South Africa - Pinotage
Uruguay - Tannat
Madiran - Tannat
Italy - Chianti Classico, Aglianico del vulture

Whites

German - Riesling
Alsace - Riesling
Austria - Gruner
Loire - Muscadet sur lie, aged Chenin blanc(Vouvray)
Jura - Savagnin
Spain - Sherry (all styles)

Side note, my 2 favourite red and whites wines I have had so far:

Red - 1990 Paul Jaboulet ‘La Chapelle’ Hermitage
White - Hugel Schoelhammer Riesling


Beers - anything interesting?
#2

Sounds like you had too good a Christmas and New Year, Mitch. What is that axiom about familiarity and contempt?
Have a few weeks off and you might get your mojo back.


#3

Hmm you might be right, I did have a good selection of wines picked out for Christmas, ended up with some Chateau Musar, Exhibition Gran Reserva Rioja 2001, 2010 CNDP and a Riesling etc.


#4

This is a sad, but not unfamiliar, story. I think anyone who has been involved with wine, particularly professionally, goes through this.

I would have to say that (IMHO!!!) the WSET is at least partly to blame, and not the answer (as I say, this is a personal opinion, not a professional one).

The WSET is primarily designed as a tool to educate the professionals in the wine trade, particularly at the higher levels, and as such emphasises consistency and (artificial) objectivity over subjectivity. The course is not REALLY designed for you to get more from your wine drinking experience, but to find ways that you can evaluate and classify wines in a way that others can understand so you can exchange views (for ratings and sales). It is important that a wine buyer and wine seller speak the same language so they can do business.

However, if YOU want to talk about wines in terms of (say) their ‘bounce rate’ for example [are you tempted to stay with the wine and taste it again, or move on to another one] instead of ‘medium+ acidity, medium length, etc’ then you will not pass the course.

There are some good fundamental aspects to the course, but overall it focuses on education not enjoyment.

I would suggest you forget the catalogue of regions and styles and do something every now and then that pushes your boundaries (as Eleanor Roosevelt apparently said, “do one thing every day that scares you”) because you will ultimately get more out of it that way - both in highs and lows. You can still record the experience to learn from it, but at least it will feel exciting again.

I’m sure we’ve all felt this about literature too, I’m sure. I get a lot more from exploring books that are recommended to me by trusted friends than I did when I was reading what I ought to, or told to at school - or at least reading the classics when I feel it is the right moment and not when I have to.

A good way I found was to get together for dinner with friends who also like wine and each bring a ‘special’ bottle - not an expensive one, but something interesting. We all learned from the event plus had a fund evening with like-minded individuals. In fact I’m hoping to have one such evening in the near future :wink:

I do hope the feeling passes and you find your wine mojo!


#5

I went through a fed up with wine stage, after about 7 years of selling it over the phone. After a break of a couple of years due to ill health and changing my job, I found my enthusiasm back. I miss all the staff tastings and staff discount, but not the sales targets and selling wines that I wouldn’t drink myself.

There is always something new and exciting round the corner!


#6

I read your post, Mitch, with a real sense of recognition. Me too, I thought. Thank goodness it’s not just me.

At first, when I began to indulge my interest in wine I was avid, eclectic and madly disorganised; skipping from place to place and grape to grape. I was always making new discoveries, had triumphs and disasters and bought way more than I could drink. I got to a point where I had a good idea of likes and dislikes and started to dismiss some wines out of hand. I then entered a safe period where I drank what I knew and gradually I became a bit jaded, everything was getting samey.

I thought that systematising my learning would help me work out why I liked such and such and didn’t like so and so. And that in turn would rekindle my interest and help me seek out new wines. However, although I am just starting my L3, I found L2 to be rather constraining and mundane in approach. Overall, I’ve found the practice of systematic wine tasting brings to mind E B White’s aphorism, which I’ll pass off as “analysing a wine is much like dissecting a frog. No-one has much fun, and the frog dies.”

My partial wine ennui has been offset in large part by three things; First, the suggestion made by Robert McIntosh above. Drink with friends, particularly with good food in front of you. This takes some of the focus off the wine and allows context within which the wine can work. And differing tastes can be explored with each person advocating on behalf of their wine. Speaking of contexts…

Drink local when on holiday and explore the region, even if it is modest in global terms. I don’t mean wine tours or multiple winery visits, I find them rather dull. But that sense of place which surrounds as well as fills the glass is to me an excellent way of falling back in love.

My final experience which has helped restore my interest in wine is the realisation that chasing names or points is to me a fools game and one I wish I’d pulled out of earlier. To drink the “best” wines without drinking the pyramid below is a waste of my money. The wine is too freighted with my expectations to be able to live up to the price tag. I’m happy hunting in the foothills.

I only hope I can continue to follow my own advice.

I do hope you regain your mojo in whatever way works for you but thank you for opening this topic which has allowed me to get something off my chest. I now feel much better.


#7

Thanks for this post, I do agree with your points, wine is a living thing that evolves over time (which is one of the reasons I have bought EP so that I can try wine at different stages).

With regards to chasing names and points, I luckily figured this out quite a while back, some of the more enjoyable wines can be had for not a huge amount of money, I guess an example of this is the classed growth chateau in Bordeaux, they were set in 1855, some of the 5th growth chateau are now far superior to some of the 1st or 2nd growth chateau.The ‘best’ wine to someone is pointless to someone else, one of the really useful bits of advice I have got from levels 2 and 3 is the bottle labels and understanding the quality. I know that the higher up the pyramid you go (hopefully) the more concentrated and terroir the wine is. I now do specifically look for “vieilles vignes” on the label for old vines as I know these will give a more concentrated flavour profile.

With regards to what you mentioned about drinking locally, I completely agree with this, I went to the Douro as part of a ‘Travels in Wine’ trip with Jo Locke to make notes and take photos of the trip, I fell in love with the region and the wines as well as the traditional foods which paired so well with the wines and really soaked up the passion for the place and the wine making. I think this passion is missing from some of the wines we drink, I know the Society does try and get across the ‘behind the label’ view of the wines in terms of all of the passion going into making a bottle of wine that now sits on the table.

Personally for me I have also so far found this with regards to bottle price (although there are exceptions such as Sherry and some of the newer regions):

Under £6 - Everyday wines, simple one dimensional flavours, can be a bit forgettable
£6 - £9 - Affordable wines that have some complexity and are more enjoyable to drink - good balance between price and enjoyment
£10 - £15 - More complex wines or wines from regions with lower yield or harder areas to grow in - wines that should make you think when you drink them
£15 - £25 - For me these are wines only for special occasions, these wines are either quite specialist, limited in quantity or from a top producer - example is a bottle Chateau Musar I had at Christmas
£25+ - I am sure there are great wines out there at a bottle price of over £25 - I bought a case of Chateau Batailley 2016 for our anniversary wine - but I am not in a position to buy a case of wine at this price usually

With the very high bottle prices, an example is that I have tried some of the Penfold Grange wines which are around £300+ a bottle - its a nice wine but if you might have just noticed that I have mentioned that I have had some Penfold Grange wine rather than saying that “I had an outstanding wine that tasted of XYZ really good, it was made by Penfolds, think it was their Grange wine”. On the flip side those highly praised named wines that everyone wants to drink means that those producers have the financial backing to invest in better equipment etc. Their top wines might be out of reach/not something I would really bother with but that also means there is a trickle down effect where their basic table wines have a higher quality than another producers equivalent wine.This is why if you are looking to dip you toe into EP wines, look for a top producers second or third wine as these are usually very well made with sometimes some of the same grapes as the top wines but at a fraction of the cost.

The question with regards to higher priced wines, which gives the most overall enjoyment a single bottle of wine at £120 a bottle to share with friends in single evening or 12 bottles of £10 wine you share with friends over 10 evenings?

@robert_mcintosh has just mentioned to me that we should start a support group for those who have lost their wine mojo :smiley:


#8

Interesting post and quite a few points here;

I would differentiate between a change in focus on wine from absorbing detail and enjoying the complexity of the subject to one of simply enjoying drinking it more and worrying about the detail less because you have a better idea of what you like…

Agreed on WSET impact - great to have done the exams but directly after, it took me while to just enjoy wines rather than reflexively analyzing them.

Similarly, a fascination with Classed growths and trophy wines that evolves to an interest in well made wines regardless of price point is perhaps part of the journey, particularly given the increase in prices in Claret and the Burgundy that has had the fortunate impact of forcing me to explore other wine regions…

As to price points, quality starts to show for me at around the £10+ level and levels off dramatically once you break through £30 at which point supply starts to affect pricing - no doubt those on different budgets may want to spend more (or less). In answer to your question though, I’d always rather have more evenings with friends over food and wine rather than less as long as the wine is well made :slight_smile:

I’ve gone through periods of months where I have lost some interest in the topic and even lost interest in drinking wine but they have always proved to be temporary. If I were to drink dramatically less for a really long period of time or were substituting with something else (beer? spirits?), then maybe I would be losing my love of wine - so far though, it remains one of the great reliable pleasures in life (along with food!)


#9

Currently trying a few different beers to see if that can kick start me again into other interesting wines, I have a good selection of EP wines (most yet to be delivered) so at least I will have some good wines to drink in the future. Still feel I have lost enthusiasm in wine at the moment though, think its partly as things are getting a bit ‘samey’ but I also think its due to various price rises in the market meaning I have less choice.


#10

It sounds like you’re a man who enjoys a project and wine fitted that well and your wset was a great focal point. Maybe try the fearsome sounding level 4 or a cookery course? Orrrrr start learning a new laguage to go and explore a region better and to really engage with the locals.

I believe people are like dogs…they need to be worked to be happy. So you need to find that new challenge!


#11

Funny you should mention that, I have (but not tried it yet) the Duolingo app on my phone so tempted to try and learn a language. I have basic French and German, tempted to try Spanish or Italian.

I do have some WSET level 4 books on my desk - the unit 2 book on wine production (single topic) is thicker than the whole book for level 3!


#12

Duolingo is excellent for a free app! Book a load of tours or winery visits and then it gives you a bit of urgency.

Motivation and having some sort of wider structure, especially with a group are hugely linked. Find a night class in spanish with a small group.

For extra kudos, start the first ws wine holiday at harvest…a day of grape picking, a day of cookery and a day of wine tours led by yourself!

Edit: how hard can it be…? :-p


#13

The Wine Society actually offers language courses for staff - mainly for member services and a few other departments who might need to contact suppliers or need to translate bottles etc.

Started to get slightly more excited about wine though as the Rhone EP offer is launching soon :slight_smile:


#14

I wonder whether we should all take up the challenge for @M1tch and propose a wine that would break through the fug and excite him?

If we agree a maximum price of … £10 (?) what specific wine would you propose he drinks (with friends) to get him excited again (and why this one)?

[no, it does not have to be a Society wine but needs to be easily available]


#15

How about

Because: you can have a laugh at Morrisons’ spelling error; you can have a laugh at drinking a wine called the Clape; and best of all because La Clape is an area making lovely wines and is a great holiday destination. Lots to talk about and laugh about with friends. I haven’t tasted this particular wine and Gerard Bertrand is a big brand rather than an independent, but that’s not the point. Having fun is and it might surprise you.


#16

I can imagine that after 1990 La Chapelle everything goes a bit downhill! The Tavel from Domaine Maby currently available through the society pushes the £10 limit but I think it makes a lovely change - old Grenache without the weight - flavour but freshness. Savoury, food friendly Rose doesn’t get enough attention in my view.


#17

Just had the 2016 vintage of the below wine:

Really rather nice and although pushing the budget slightly was well worth a try - will be looking at other ‘off the beaten track’ wines soon I think.

I think I have had the Lirac from Domaine Maby which was really good as well - also had a Chateau Mont Redon 2013 from my EP wines which was great.


#18

Have just grabbed a bottle of the below, will report back


#19

Try Sicilian reds and Whites…


#20

Worse places to start than the WS Sicilian Red too, still on the 2013 and I just keep ordering it…