Another year has passed. Another 300+ bottles of wine consumed on my way to finding 12 that were worthy of being written about and when I say “consumed”, I’m not joking. I drink 1 to 2 bottles a night and sometimes more on weekends, in an effort to find a wine that I feel is worth the level of research I put into each article. Unlike other wine reviewers and critics, I actually spend quality time with the wines I’m reviewing. I just don’t sip a wine, spit it into a bucket and form an opinion. Whether I’m spending $25 or $300 on a bottle of wine, I’m going to drink the whole damn thing. Most often I’m sharing it with my wife at dinner, at times it’s by myself on a Saturday afternoon while cooking and binge watching the new season of Orange Is The New Black and on special occasions, it’s while hosting friends in our home, sharing amazing conversation and incredible food; but no matter what, that wine is being taken in.
So, how does one figure out how much one has drunk in a one year period? I open a bottle and put each cork in a box and at the end of the year I count them. Strangely enough the count keeps going up year after year. For a more genuine and accurate count, I subtract about 24 from my total to account for the case or two of corks that were shared with our friends at dinner parties or a weekend barbeque. After considering the wines shared and deducting the two cases of corks from my count, it turns out I drank 380 bottles of wine. Does that sound like a lot? Well, it did to me and it got me wondering what I’d spent. So, in doing the math, with the average bottle price at about $40 (some wines were $20, some were pushing $300, most were $40 to $60) and discovering that a year’s worth of drinking totaled what it would cost to purchase a new Kia sedan, I considered leaving this part out, but thought better of it and took the path of transparency. We’ll see what my wife thinks when she reads this.
Fear not weary readers (and my sweet wife). Our accountant informed me that since month after month, I’m actually writing about wine and because I’m a published author who’s making royalties on a book, that is also about wine, that what I drank all year can be deducted as a tax right off, as it’s considered a form of research for ‘work’ I and subsequently get paid for (royalties + book sales). So I have that going for me. In fact, I’m presently doing research as I write this piece and one sip at a time, this article will get written. The words will find themselves across the page. I will stop, take a nap and edit during a moment of clarity.
Speaking of what I’ve spent on wine, it turns out some have a ‘real’ opinion on the matter. My wife’s business is growing and she was looking for a new office space. She found a space she really liked, submitted her lease application, credit report and 6-months’ worth of bank statements (both personal and business) to the agent, who then submitted to the owners of the building. Well, the agent got back to her within 24-hours and told her three things: 1 - “You’re not the right kind of occupant we’re looking for.” 2 – “We’re not comfortable with the excessive amount of wine purchases on your bank statements.” 3 – RUN! When she pressed the agent for a better answer, he said, “The owners believe you are either a career alcoholic or are a career alcoholic.” He also told her he was quitting and that he was confident she’d find something even better. Well, she did, it’s incredible and I’ll be hosting some Y9 Dinner Party’s from her new location soon (more on that later). Even though we both laughed about it, I told her I would put all future wine purchases on my personal credit card, so she won’t look like the lush of Orange County. We’ll save that for the OC Housewives.
Beyond the vast amount of wine that filled my belly, 2015 brought about some great things for me, both as a wine writer and critic. One highlight was being recognized by the Millesima Blog Awards, for my writing. I was awarded first place in the Fine Wine category. The article that won was the Chateau Mouton Rothschild piece. I was also the semi-finalist for the International Wine Blog Awards and out of 3500 submissions I was one of twenty-eight writers selected. These small accolades are actually really nice. It’s a wonderful thing to be acknowledged and as any writer will tell you, compared to the breath of work we put out in the world, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s lovely. Its small things like this that motivate me, reminds me that it’s worth the effort and even inspires me as I continue to pursue the world of wine.
As I wrap up this year’s retrospective and look back on all the wines I drank and researched, I remember the ones I really treasured, even worshiped. Of those, there is one that stands out beyond all the others and I concluded as my absolute favorite of the year. It’s the 2008 Screaming Eagle, Second Flight, that was a Christmas gift to me from my wife and which I wrote about in February. Yep. Hands down, that one takes the prized.
A truly phenomenal wine stays with you; it leaves an impression. You remember how it tasted, how it smelled, what the finish was like, even where you were. The Screaming Eagle was consumed in my hotel room in Las Vegas with a couple of friends, who like me, really appreciate fine wine. The balance was perfect and the aroma perfumed the room as the flavor continued to open up and expand. So, how does a wine snob pair a fine wine like Screaming Eagle, while in a Vegas hotel room? The only way one can: The Mini-Bar; Toblerone chocolate, Fritos, Oreo Cookies and can of cashews.
As we polished off my mini-bar, the tab now nearing $200, which was half the cost of the $400 Screaming Eagle, we finished off the bottle and made one last toast - “To the adventure!”