We're often asked how we started doing this. In February 2004, David had a bottle of Italian Merlot in his cellar that was ready to drink. He invited me and another friend over to join him for tasting it, with the condition that we each brought another bottle of Italian Merlot. We poured all three at once and smelled, drank and compared. Being able to have a sense of comparison and the chance to drink 3 of these wines at the same time proved a great learning experience. We didn't take notes that night, and I can't remember if we tasted them blind or not. We enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again the next month, knowing that Ali & Andy, then only dating, would be a fun addition to the group, plus they were eager to learn more about wine. From then on, it's been essentially the same format. 6 wines, all tasted blind and 6 tasters. These events started with the main purpose being for all of us to learn more about wine. We had the added bonus of a standing date with The Rileys once a month.
Over the course of these 10 years there have been weddings, puppies, babies born (well, just one baby!), trains missed and people going to work in the same clothes as the day before, 90s era dance parties, U2 concerts, surprisingly few broken glasses, a field trip to Montreal, red Cote du Rhones brought instead of white, one person accuse David of his glass being empty (is that even possible?), one accidental boob grab, one heartfelt compliment for David's housekeeping, two bottles of Champagne that came in first and last (label those bottles!), stories of getting high off of nutmeg, smells of wines being described as towns in New Jersey (never a compliment), had many hangovers and so much laughing that I can't even keep track. We've tasted over 80 different types of wine, and didn't repeat any until 2010!
Ten years later, all of us have developed our own tastes and opinions about wine. We've discovered what we like and have an enthusiasm for the craft of making it and continuing to learn more about it. I'm reminded today of my favorite quote from Maya in Sideways about why she got into wine.
I like to think about the life of wine. How it's a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it's an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I'd opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it's constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your '61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline.Drinking and appreciating wine is something everyone can enjoy, and should. Tomorrow is Open that Bottle Night. So, if you have a bottle gathering dust, waiting for some special occasion (which will never present itself) go ahead and open that bottle tomorrow and share it with good friends. That's the special occasion.
David's kept notes of each tasting on his website, you can check them out here. Tonight we're revisiting Italian Merlots, and will toast to the last 10 years, and the next 10.