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Food & Dining // Vino Sense
Roberto Viernes

Sharing The Love Of Wine With All

“Blind tasting is like bluffing when playing strip poker,” is what Kermit Lynch, America’s greatest French wine importer, likes to say. This is the game when you don’t know what is poured in the glass in front of you and you have to guess what it actually is. It can be fun and challenging: Some pride themselves at it, and some are better than others.

But there is a phenomenon of the reverse that has me perplexed. It happens when someone tastes a wine that they find really interesting and pleasurable but they don’t express it to anyone.

I attend dozens of tasting around the world, many of them being for the trade. These are tastings where professionals in the wine trade come to taste wines that they would perhaps want to sell in their restaurants or stores. So these are people who should not only have a passion for wine or at minimum like it, but also should know or are learning a little bit about it. Yet these are some of the people who confound me most, and are perhaps most guilty of finding a wine that they really enjoy, but don’t share that enthusiasm with anyone else.

It is as if they are playing some type of poker with other wine buyers. They are afraid that if they show their hand they will lose their allocation of the wine to another restaurant or store.

I can understand that. But shouldn’t we also understand that one of the vital functions of wine in our lives is for enjoyment? I thought it was one of the reasons why people go into the wine business, so they can enjoy great wines and sharing them with others. I would think not only to share the wine itself, but the joy of experience, flavor and sensory exaltation.

Even at wine dinners there are some who keep their opinions to themselves good and bad. I am all for humility and decorum, but if you find a wine that wows you, say it out loud! Be proud, especially if you bought it. There should be no shame in greatness, the kind that makes everything around it better, or makes everything around it worthy. That is the type of wine that can inspire passion and make an evening truly great and memorable. But if you keep it to yourself, it is like a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it.

Wine gives me a joy that no other beverage can, and when I see others suffuse that experience or “tone it down,” we all lose part of that joy. It is like hiding a light under a bushel, no? Don’t let your enthusiasm be drowned out by what you think other will say. Chances are, it will be shared and only multiply.

Recommendations: 2009 Elk Cove Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($19) Deeply colored ripe-cherry essences meld together with hints of spices. This is a lovely, focused wine that has a sleek texture and gobs of flavor. 2009 Hourglass “Blueline Vineyard” Merlot ($69) Oh my! This is the best Napa Valley Merlot I have had this year. It has amazing richness and density, yet it never feels overtly heavy. The tannins are silky, and the black fruit flavors just go on and on. Luscious.

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