It recently occurred to me that some might wonder what I enjoy at home, being a wine professional and all that. Which wines are most pleasurable? Are certain qualities more attractive than others? And, inevitably, “What’s your favorite wine,” a query that many sommeliers like me receive. Here are some answers.
(1) Which wines are most pleasurable? I prefer when a storyteller to a wallflower. Most flavorful wines will express place, varietal, or aging. A recent sip of Konu Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand showed more than gooseberry, lime, and grapefruit peel, while a dram of Chateau Poyenne was filled with leathery notes that interrupted the fruit. Which was “better?” I preferred Konu, but found the sharp whip of leather unforgettable, too.
(2) Are certain qualities more attractive than others? This a matter of legume versus eggplant, or, for meat eaters, chicken versus steak. It is what is most pleasurable for you and your guest. If fruit is preferable, decide which – and go from there! Apple? Think Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Tropical? Head to Greece for Assyrtiko or to New Zealand for a handful of gooseberry. For red? First, consider red or black fruit. If raspberry, try Pinot Noir or Zinfandel – and Bull’s Blood of Eger or Dornfelder, if you have a sweet tooth. Craving plum, blackberry, or dried fruit? Then, ask for a Merlot, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, or, naturally, Cabernet Sauvignon. Or go retro and try an Argentine Malbec or Australian Shiraz. The matter is simple, believe it or not.
(3) What’s your favorite wine? Wine is attached to memory. Some remember sharing inexpensive European offerings while atop a mountain with a loved one. For me, it was a triumphant splash of Champagne enjoyed while propped against a heater in my new apartment, post break-up. I still have the bottle. Keep corks to commemorate time with friends. Once labeled and dated, they will provide an unexpected timeline of those with whom you have passed time.