Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I was in the Okanagan with Joan this past weekend. I drove through the Rogers Pass to get there, which I am sure has some of the most beautiful scenery along the entire Trans-Canada Highway. (Of course, nothing compared to the beautiful scenery that was awaiting me in Kelowna.) It takes about 6 ½ hours to drive it, but fortunately I had burned enough MP3s to a CD that I made it nearly the whole way without a repeat.

What else would a young couple in love do in the Okanagan aside from visiting a number of the beautiful estate wineries in the area? We saw at least a half dozen, and tried many fine wines at each. It was a wonderful way to spend our getaway weekend.

There is one thing that I find quite disturbing these days when I go to visit wineries. This is especially highlighted during the summer when there are tourists aplenty. It seems that these days every person and their dog consider themselves to be sommeliers, and many employees at the wineries talk to you as if you should be. I hadn’t been to many wineries prior to the release of the movie “Sideways,” but I have a feeling that movie’s popularity had something to do with this trend. All of a sudden everybody is talking about tannin structure and desperately trying to figure out if that is rose hip or strawberry they getting off the wine. Even when the person pouring tells me what flavors I should taste, I often still cannot discern them. Does this make me a lesser person? I don’t think so.

When I am tasting wine, I only care about one thing: do I love it? If I do, then I will buy a bottle and enjoy more of it later. If I don’t, I thank the folk at the winery and go on my merry way. I don’t need the stress of trying to determine if the wine was aged in American or French oak, I just want to enjoy the wine I love.

One other disturbing side effect of this wine tasting fad is that it turns what should be a peaceful and dignified experience into a gong show. We were at a few popular wineries where people were crowded at the tasting table like pigs at a trough. At least it wasn’t as bad as a tasting event we went to in Calgary were people were literally pushing others out of the way to get to the tables.

I cannot wait until the “Sideways” phenomenon is over and you can go back to tasting wine in peace and quiet. I suggest that Hollywood come out with a new movie on the appreciation of cigars or the love of NASCAR in order to distract all those people who get caught up in Hollywood-inspired fads. That should get them out of the wineries and safely away from me in their humidors or RVs on the infield.

If you are looking for me, I will still be back enjoying the wine that I love. Don’t ask me about the bouquet though, to me that is just a bunch of flowers.


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