Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Posted by Keith Wallace

Between the wines we’ve been pouring for the Core Sommelier Course and the ones I’ve been tasting both at home and at professional events, I’ve recently found myself drinking a lot of wines that I usually wouldn’t. This, of course, isn’t because I don’t like them, but simply because, like most people, I tend to get stuck in a wine rut.

Let me explain: Like most wine lovers, I have a few styles of wine that I gravitate towards. In my case, these tend to be Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from Bordeaux’s Left Bank, Grenache-dominated reds from the Southern Rhone, classic and international varietals from Tuscany and Southern Italy, Pinot Noirs from Burgundy and the Russian River Valley, and Gruner Veltliners from Austria. I buy these because I enjoy them and because I relish any and every opportunity I have to explore them in greater depth.

Unfortunately, that often means sacrificing the chance to try something new. This is precisely why the last few months have been so rewarding: I have found myself tasting things I usually don’t. And as a result, strangely enough, I’m enjoying the things I love even more.

Last month alone, I tasted Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, and Spatburgunder. I tasted more South African Pinotage than I ever thought I would. I even tasted several Cremants, which I rarely do (instead, a Prosecco addict).

And not only have I discovered (or re-discovered, really) several wines that had, for the most part, fallen off my radar screen, but I’ve also developed a renewed appreciation for the wines I love. For example, take those Pinots from Burgundy and Sonoma. My gratitude to the richness and variety of those wines has been hugely enhanced by my experiences with Spatburgunder, which is, in fact, Pinot Noir.

So rather than feeling as if tasting those wines has taken away valuable time to drink what I love, it has enriched my overall wine experience exponentially.

The lesson? Don’t let your wine-drinking tendencies get stuck in a rut. Instead, make it a point to taste at least one new or unfamiliar wine a month. It’s one of the best things you can do to enhance your wine life.

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