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Wines Have Personality??

People have personality, but wine? Sure wines taste different, but so do different coffees and teas, yet I wouldn’t consider claiming they have personality. Wine is something different. There are thousands of wines out there, and most have as much personality as box of rocks. However, after years of tasting, comparing, and contemplating, and after visiting small wine growers and sharing their passion, it occurred to me that the wines that were most appealing had something different – something akin to personality.

My journey with wine began decades ago when my parents and I went to a little French restaurant called Du Midi in the New York theater district. My father always had filet mignon accompanied a Beaujolais Brouilly, and even though I wasn’t technically old enough to drink wine, I got to sip a little and experience how it changed the taste of the food.

Years later, living in California, I did what was expected, tasting my way through Napa and Sonoma, but could not understand why everyone in California was so enamored of these wines. Maybe it was local pride or lack of any other experience. I’m thinking it was lack of experience, since wine shops at the time (mid 1980’s) kept the French and Italian wines hidden in the back of the store. But it was these wines that I sought out. Without being able to describe it, I felt they did something to my palate that their California counterparts did not.

So what was the problem with California wines or was it with me? Was I becoming a wine snob who thought the wines was always better on the other side of the pond? I didn’t give it much thought at the time; I just knew I liked French and Italian wines better. Coincidentaly, across the bay in Berkeley, a guy named Kermit Lynch had a wine shop that may have been the only one in the state that didn’t sell any California wine. After reading his book about searching out wines in France, it’s clear that he also simply liked those wines better.

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