I have been ungenerous. For some months now I’ve been espousing and writing about how the entire world of wine can be easily understood if you followed two things:
- Know what you want
- Know what to look for
On the surface of it, that doesn’t seem like bad advice. But more and more I’ve become aware of the fact that, in life, no one really knows what they want. And if they don’t know what they want, how do they know what to look for?
On the restaurant floor, I do my best to guide our guests, ask probing questions and make a few suggestions. More often than not they select one of my option, however in a small number of cases I am politely thanked and asked to give them a few more minutes to decide.
This is hardly a big problem, but to me it speaks of an underlying issue that goes deeper that mere lack of knowledge – there is also fear, not wanting to make a bad decision and feel that you have thrown away good money only to get a wine that you might not like.
I experienced the same thing recently when I went to get a haircut. After a couple of months, I decided it was time for a change, so I decided to shop around and visit more than one hairdresser.
The first one I checked out was not very helpful. They asked me what I was after, and I think I mumbled something about wanting to look “sharp” and “cool”. They hemmed and hawed, throwing out some vague advice before finally suggesting I look for pictures on Google for things I might like.
I exited the first venue, feeling sheepish. Maybe I was destined to live with long hair and resigned myself to buying a tub of gel to handle the coming growth.
Thankfully, the second hairdresser was much more helpful. They had on hand some pictures and pointed out a few, remarking that while my hair was still short now, she could perform a clean cut today, and the rest would grow out in a month or two. Newly encouraged, I sat down with them and got it done.
What was the difference between the first and second hairdresser? I didn’t know what I want in both cases, however, the second was much more informative and confident in their advice, and because of that I was more prepared to take the leap and have my hair cut with them.
Drink, And Be Content
So how does this relate back to wine? As I’ve said before, I had been ungenerous in suggesting that all you needed to do was “know what you want“. That’s the equivalent of a doctor telling you to “just go to medical school” or your girlfriend to “just get it”.
While I still stand by the above advice, I want to add a complement – take a leap of faith.
If I didn’t like my haircut? No problem, it’ll grow back in a few months. Don’t like a wine? Just don’t order it again and get a new one.
If you are stuck choosing a wine, pick the one that you feel will expand your knowledge and experience more.
Once your knowledge has progressed past a certain point, you can begin to stick with the “safe bets”. However by this time you will really have gotten to the point where you “know what you want”.
The only mistake, really, is indecision. Instead of tapping your chin and tilting your head, just make a decision and stick with it.
Worst case scenario, you pick a wine that you absolutely detest, you take note of its name and varietal, and you will become more cautious in the future.
Best case scenario, you find a wine that completely captures your attention and you resolve to buy and hoard a few cases for personal enjoyment. You take note of its characteristics and search for more just like it.
Experiment. If you don’t decide, you will never know.
Read more: Do You Drink Wine For Fun, Or For Pleasure?