From cheap boxed wine, to a trip to Champagne and Alsace, to failing my first wine exam and taking a WSET course. My wine journey hasn’t been all roses and rainbows, but it has been an amazing journey so far. So grab a glass of wine, put on your comfy clothes and let me tell you all about it!
My wine journey started in 2013, although I didn’t realise that back then. I was 21 years old, a University student, and very wrapped up into the student lifestyle of going to class, getting drunk multiple nights a week and counting pennies to make ends meet. I lived in Southampton (United Kingdom) at the time and I finally knew what freedom meant. I had just moved to England from the Netherlands, where I was born and raised, and I didn’t know anyone. Not one single person. I moved into a house I shared with 4 other (read: younger) housemates and I was trying so hard to fit in as I didn’t know anyone yet but them. Fitting in basically meant joining them for predrinks at 17:00, skipping dinner and hitting the clubs by 20:00. As you can imagine, alcohol was a big part of my life, but so was worrying about money. Drinking games meant drinking large amounts of alcohol at once, and I needed a beverage that was cheap. Boxed white wine seemed great.
Cheap, boxed wine does not taste great. Period. I am still waiting for the day someone proves me wrong, so see this as an open invitation to prove me otherwise. In fact, I would not recommend anyone to start their wine journey with boxed (or really cheap) wine. Don’t let it put you off.
I started drinking wine again a few years later. Not any kind of wine, hell no, but sweet, white wine. It was the only wine I sort of, kind of, enjoyed. I mainly drank it to look fancy. Things changed when my then boyfriend really wanted to go to the Champagne area in France, followed by Alsace on the way back. I didn’t really care for the destination – I just liked time away from home. Oh, and fresh baguettes and croissants. But then I went to Reims and Reims changed me.
I had champagne for lunch, dinner, and in the evenings. And what was that – pink Champagne? Wow, OK. Over the next few days, I visited Reims, Epernay, walked past Moet and Chandon, visited the massive Pommery cellars and the relatively small winery of Charles Mignon. I was sold. Alsace only intensified my interest in wine, as this was a completely different region with wildly different wines. I learned about grand cru wines, and tasted the difference between grand cru and non-grand cru wines.
About a year later, I took my first wine course where I learned how to taste wine. Sadly, the teacher’s didactic approach wasn’t a fit for me. He knew everything there is to know about wine, but he also favoured those students with a great nose. I wasn’t great at tasting – and I even became afraid to share my tasting notes with the rest of the class. This was where I met many wine snobs, and let me tell you something, I do not mix well with them. My love for wine was gone. It was no longer something I enjoyed, but rather something I was bad at. Maybe as a direct result of my depleted motivation, I failed my exam. I was bummed. Even worse, it took me months and another wine trip to get my love for wine back again.
A trip to Puglia, Italy, was what it took. Up until this point, I only really liked white wine. In Puglia I got introduced to the Negroamaro grape, and then Primitivo. I loved them so much that I drank them all week. After this trip, I knew I needed to give wine a second chance. I signed up for a different wine course called the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) – which I will write about in more detail in another post. Thankfully, WSET turned out to be the right method for me and I passed my exam with flying colours. So moral of the story: my wine journey has known many ups and downs. Yet, this is only the beginning. Wine and I have come a long way, and I am not ready to leave it alone just yet.
It would mean the world to me if you’d join my wine journey, which I document here on the blog and on Instagram. I love to drink wine (all kinds now), talk wine, and meet likeminded people – including you.
Tell me – how did your love for wine start? What has your wine journey been like so far? Was it similar to mine, or totally different? I love to hear it!