It’s 4:59 PM on a Friday. A crimson sun is throwing long hues of red and gold onto the bustling streets of Santa Barbara, California. I’m deskbound with pad and pen at a wine bar on the American Riviera’s historic State Street. Observing people laugh, talk, play games and toast to each other’s joyfulness, I can’t help but reflect on my love of wine and ponder theirs as well.
I’ve had inspiration and guidance in this love for wine. Before I was old enough to pour my own glass, my aunt and uncle were well-established vintners with a vineyard and winery of their own. Visiting them as a boy was a matchless experience. I’ve never taken their influence lightly and it was through their warmth and passion that I first came to love wine.
My experience in winemaking began with scrubbing tanks, moving heavy objects and operating powerful machinery. This exposure unveiled the tactile, physical, aspect of wine. In one lifetime I could, somehow, through the effort of industry, make delicious, enjoyable, memorable wines. I fell in love with this idea. I still love this idea.
The taste, smell, color and texture of a wine are a delight for me. I’ve found that if I look close enough, almost every wine has worthy characteristics in at least one of these categories. When it shines in all of them; I know I’ve found a gem.
The stories of a wine’s journey adds a special allure. To hear the history of a vineyard or appellation -- the details of the people behind the scenes, the inspiration for a name or label -- takes me on those journeys and life experiences. They’re all ineffably mixed into the fabric of what I’m tasting.
I love the diversity and evolution of wine. It comes in an inexhaustible variety; there’s something for everyone. And what I like is always changing. What I preferred when I began drinking wine and what I prefer now are totally different beasts. But I loved all of them in their own time and sometimes tasting an old love brings me back to it. Trying to find what fits my tastes and that of my friends and family is a lifelong hobby.
My love of wine and how it has woven itself into my life has taught one truth as pure as the driven snow: that wine exists to be loved. I hope that sharing some of my reasons to love wine will help you to find your own.
In reflection, I find I myself on State Street again, at the wine bar with a happy crowd surrounding me. I notice that the glow of the setting sun has transferred to the smiles and laughter of people experiencing their love of wine and each other’s company. I take a sip from my own glass and beam.
Wine is an accent to a good meal, a consumable slice of culture, the backdrop to good company, and a thrill to explore. I feel lucky to be a part of it. The realization that my labor finds a home in places like this, with people that enjoy it, is deeply satisfying.
-Robert, Assistant Winemaker @ Winc (Follow my wine journey on Instagram: @bobbydmakingwine)
Looking to love wine in your own way? Check out Eric Asimov’s memoir and manifesto, “How to Love Wine.”