So, "why focus on wine?" Surely there's lots of things I could drink and blog about...I enjoy a cold beer, there's a few cocktails I will happily sip...but wine and I? We go way back.
One of my first jobs in university was at a wine shop in a sketchy little mall. I wasn't a fan of wine (I'd sputter down some white with an ice cube if I had to), but I'd littered the mall with my sparse resume and the wine store was the one where it stuck. On my first day the manager gave me a 32 second tour, a book to study, and the key to the store. And then he left me there. Alone. I had no idea about wine. Anytime a customer asked about one of the bottles I would say it was "good" and "tasted grapey." My biggest panic moment that day came when I accidentally typed into the cash register that a customer had handed me $20,000 instead of $20 on his $9 purchase, and it was telling me to offer him $19,991 out of my paltry float. I actually called my manager to figure how how much change to give him.
I remember carding people who were obviously underage. They would show me their ID and I would stare at it but go completely blank when trying to figure out how old they were in the moment. I'd stare at the card while the tween stared at me...it was a standoff, and then I would then slowly put the wine into the bag and hope to not be arrested for serving minors. I might have quit on day one had it not been for what I deemed the biggest benefit: a free bottle of wine every Friday.
I may not have liked wine that much, but I did like free. Did I mention I was a student? It didn't matter if the free wine that week was a super cheap bottle of sweet cream sherry or a four-pack of sugary apple cider spritzers, it was free and I was lapping it up. We had to hand in a written report every week detailing the wine we'd received the week before and over time I started to notice a difference in what I liked and how much I liked it.
Over the years I've toured vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, and more recently, Prince Edward County, and I've become more and more interested in the wineries, the growing and manufacturing processes, and of course the products themselves. My tastes have evolved from sweet whites to rich, oaky reds, from buying only those bottles I recognized to taking risks on unknown labels.
About a year and a half or so ago I was feeling itchy. My now 3-year old was happily integrated into daycare, I was working at a job I love, and life began to feel...smooth. This itchy feeling is normally quelled by dying my hair a new colour, but this time I wanted more. I registered for the sommelier program at Algonquin College and was so excited for it to begin.
And then I peed on a stick.
And knowing how I felt during my first-trimester with my daughter I knew there was little chance I would want to even smell copious amounts of wine, let alone have the energy to learn and invest time into a course. So I deferred enrolment a year and now I'm just finishing up my first course of the program, Wine Tasting. I have my final exam on Monday and right now while my oldest is in preschool and my youngest is playing quietly beside me with his own toys (instead of drooling onto my keyboard and pulling on my hair and glasses as usual) I should be studying my index card notes. But some study habits don't change, and just like that I'm transported straight back to my student days. I don't know where exactly I'll go with this renewed interest and line of study, but I do know that this time I'll be bringing wine with me for the road.
Mama's recommended wine pairing:
Occasion: When you look back on life and realize there's a series of events and decisions that have come together to pull a passion into a project and you think, "hey, that's cool!"
Wine pairing: in a situation like this, when you realize everything is coming together in a nicely synced package, you will want a perfectly balanced wine to go with it. So as to, not, offset the balance. Or something. This 2009 Signae Montefalco Sagrantino is a well-balanced, beautiful yet complex wine, perfect for aging. Just like you.