Something to wine about
In many ways, a 21st birthday is a rite of passage into a new world. You can get a horizontal license, you can show the bouncer your actual I.D. and you can finally hit the craps table. But perhaps most importantly you can go wine tasting. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow! How classy and mature for a 21-year-old.” But the truth is my love affair with wine began March of my senior year in high school — mind you, at that point I had drunk all of two glasses of wine, which I had only gulped down to be polite.
I was sitting in my teacher’s office reading an antique book about fermented fabulousness when it struck me. I’d never even considered it before, but owning and operating a winery was actually my dream profession. You get to hang out with people, plan weddings, be outdoorsy without actually having to do anything dirty and you get to imbibe at work. Donezo. It seemed perfect; I was even in talks with “investors,” who were really just my friends with serious career plans who wanted to be able to come visit whenever. With my heart set on being a vintner, I enrolled in Environmental Science 101 because that’s obviously the first step. Needless to say, my dream, along with my GPA, plummeted.
In the past three years, namely the past 5 months, my relationship with vino has evolved quite a bit in that now I actually like the taste of wine — well some of it. I still know almost nothing about it, but I do know something about having a good time while tasting the nectar of the gods.
Planning a wine tasting trip isn’t anything to whine about. All you really need to do is find a DD then you’re golden — just like some of the Riesling you’ll be sipping later. A tasting is chill but still a little exclusive, like my favorite type of wine, Viognier — you’ve probably never heard of it; I could only find one bottle at Harris Teeter. You’ve got to be a member of the 21 club.
It’s a casual outing, but leave the Nike shorts at home. You’re surrounded by your good friends, good drinks, even food if you want it. And perhaps the most important and relaxing aspect, good views. Basically, it’s a mix of everything that’s wonderful in the world.
I recently discovered my favorite wine-tasting activity. It turns the actual tasting into a game. Only one person reads the description, and the others try to describe the body, the smell and the taste. Is it medium-bodied or shaped more like a voluptuous woman? Does it smell like a breeze of the Blue Ridge Mountains or more like oakey moss? No, actually, this wine does not taste like wet stone with subtle nuances of orange blossom; it tastes more like mashed grapes with a hint of pretension, but a delicious blend at that.
Obviously, this game seems more amusing and appropriate after a couple glasses. On that note, there is a certain etiquette that comes with wine tasting, as there is with any activity that requires some level of class. You don’t want to resemble The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s trip to the vineyard. Clearly, I’m no expert on wine tasting etiquette, so I consulted one of my best friends who works at a vineyard.
As it is anytime someone offers you service, it’s polite to tip. He recommends not being a know-it-all — how much does the average 21-year-old know about wine anyway? But don’t be afraid to engage your pourer with legitimate questions. If you had a good tasting — which you probably did because let’s be real, who’s ever had a bad tasting? — it’s considered good form to buy a bottle afterwards. That’s the best part anyway.
So before the weather tanks, head out to the countryside and enjoy one of the area’s best activities. With more than 20 wineries in the Charlottesville area, it’ll be a while before you’ve tasted them all. Just remember: Good friends and good wine make for good times.
Abbi’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.