The Wine That Changed My Life

In a previous post, I talked about the surprisingly consistent experience that get dramatically called "epiphany wines." These are experiences with food/wine that captivate people, oftentimes leading them to take it up as a hobby or career.

For me, this experience came in a small restaurant. I had recently turned 21 and had no idea how to order wine, but I thought it sounded appropriate with this fancy dinner. After hearing the waiter describe a Washington Syrah to another table using words like cigar box, leather and forest floor, I liked the idea of being the kind of person who enjoys those flavors, so I ordered the glass of wine with as much faux-confidence as I could muster.

When it came to the table, completely opaque with a dark purple color throughout, I was immediately captivated. That tiny glass pour was enough for the whole dinner as I think I could have just smelled it the whole night. Little sips were packed full of rich dark fruit and those earthy characteristics I'd overheard the waiter describe. I remember being fascinated that one ingredient could be so complex, elusive and simply delicious.

I have no idea what that wine was. I'm not sure I'd love it as much now, as my tastes have changed a lot over the years. But, that doesn't really matter, as it was perfect for that night in particular. Every now and then, taste and smell can inspire a deep curiosity in us. They can connect us to historical traditions, memories we didn't realize we had, and a whole fascinating world of chemistry and biology. That syrah in that small restaurant helped to ignite that curiosity in me, and continues to be a driving force behind my love of food and wine.