A Good Bottle of Wine
When I was in my 20’s, I drank mostly beer and a little spirits, very rarely wine. In my 30’s, wine entered the equation, but the entry point was low-level for wine, especially when competing with a mindset trained at beer pricing (never spent much more than $2 for a glass of beer in the 70’s). Needless to say, the wines of choice at the start of my wine-drinking career were what we would say are on the bottom shelf of the grocery store.
In my 30’s, I started to branch out to other, more expensive wines, mainly from the influence of a few good (emphasis on good, as in trusted) friends. There was an improvement in experience with an occasional “wow!” balanced out equally by the occasional “not so good (for that price)”. Then we started going on wine-tasting trips in various regions- Dry Creek Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, Anderson Valley, and Tuscany. Joined a few wine clubs along the way and started to be a bit more discerning in not only what shelf we bought from but what store we bought from.
Advancing into the 40’s (advancing is for people, aging is for wine), my wife brought home some Zaca Mesa Z Cuvee and Estate Syrah one day. The wine manager at the store knew our tastes and how far we were willing to stretch the price point. Each bottle we tried was a hit, and since it was on sale at the store, I returned and cleaned out their inventory. And while I was at it, added a bottle each of the Black Bear and Mesa Reserve based on the store wine manager’s confidence in the quality of the wine at those higher price points. The Black Bear was my first venture at a price point north of $50. Well, after tasting the Mesa Reserve and then experiencing the ecstasy of the Black Bear, the $50 budget ceiling on a bottle of wine was forever shattered- and thankfully so. Mind you, there is still a price point barrier (some friends have shared $200+ bottles of wine, and I will just say that I am glad they paid for that, not me), but we have now met a few trusted wine folks (actually, here at Zaca Mesa) that can give a trusted thumbs up or down on any wines over $100.
So, how did it come to this, from a $2 glass of beer to buying bottles of wine that range from $20 to over $100? For me, it boils down to a combination of three things: What food with the wine, what occasion, and who to celebrate with. The first part, what food, determines the varietal of wine selected. The second part, what occasion, determines how much is needed. The last part is ultimately the most important- who are we celebrating with. This usually sets the price point, but for us it is not because the level of the relationship is based on the price point, it is because what went into the wine is commensurate to what went into the relationship.
It just so happens that more nurturing in the wine process is more expensive, more rare, and in the end, well worth it. So are those specially nurtured friendships. Z Cuvee is for larger, informal, gatherings; Mesa Reserve is for those special neighbors, friends, or family; and Black Bear is for that really, really special occasion with special people. No matter what the occasion, you can select a wine that is right for the occasion and the people you are sharing it with. Nothing like enjoying a good bottle of wine.