I present myself as exhibit number one. A fundamental wine moment for me occurred in the fall of 1995. It was cold and rainy, and I was cutting class because I didn't feel like walking to Wash U. from my apartment. So I popped a bottle of wine in front of the TV to celebrate my sloth: a 1992 Jayer-Gilles Bourgogne Haut Côtes de Nuits.
I pulled the cork, poured a glass and went into the kitchen to fetch a snack. When I returned, I smelled violets. The cool, damp breeze coming in from my cracked window had filled the room with the scent of the wine. Thus began my fascination with red Burgundy. It was a moment of pure joy.
In the cold, harsh world of criticism, information and insecurity, Jayer-Gilles is a producer known for a robust use of new oak -- something I generally detest -- '92 was a pretty crap year and Bourgogne Haut Côtes de Nuits is a hardly an appellation to set a Burgundy lover's heart aflutter. On that particular day, however, drinking that wine was an absolute blast. Knowing what I know now (or what I think I know), I still wouldn't trade that experience.
For years afterward, I went down the path of study and criticism, reading incessantly and writing detailed notes on every wine I drank. And I had fun, until I had another epiphany about a decade later.
Too often we forget that wine is fun. Critics are overcritical, writers try to convey too much useful information, normal people get uptight, and wine geeks have been known to manage all three simultaneously. It can be difficult to turn these qualities off, especially after years of conditioning. Sometimes, though, we need to step back, think about what we're doing and attempt to recapture the fun.