Wine Not Fall in Love

Last Wine Wednesday, was about the embarrassment many feel first trying wine and how to get past the unease of not knowing.

This Wine Wednesday, the focus is on getting started. How to break down the barriers to learning about wine. Finding a way that’s memorable. Not just a blur of labels and names that are hard to remember.

#WineBeginner to #WineLover

Learning About Wine

My own personal journey with wine started late in life, in my mid 30’s. Now in my early 40’s, wine is a passion.

For me, the difference came after trying one special wine, a Bodegas Muga Rioja. It was 2011. I was at Bar Carrera (now Bar Veloce) in the East Village in Manhattan.

The crowds had not yet shown. I had time to talk with Brian Rothbart, my favorite barman. Brian was up for the challenge of helping me find a red wine I really liked.

Brian asked question after question, guiding me, then based on my answers had me sample a few wines until, Muga! That night, Brian introduced me to what is still today my favorite wine.

Coincidentally this happened just a few nights before my second date with Paolo, my now Husband. I asked if we could order a Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserve. Paolo looked impressed. An Italian, he grew up drinking wine, it flows in his veins. He liked that his date didn’t go for “easy, simple wines.”

Find One Wine to Love

Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserve is a challenging wine. It’s bold, I smell dry warm earth in the glass. It has a bit of a spice and I love it.

“Opaque ruby. Musky, deeply pitched aromas of ripe red fruit, game, lavender and roasted coffee. Shows very good spicy lift in the mouth, offering sweet raspberry and cherry flavors and an undercurrent of smoky minerals. Finishes with excellent focus and thrust; the slowly building tannins meld smoothly with the wine’s dense fruit. Age this wine for at least another five years, with confidence. “92 from Stephan Tanzer International Wine Cellar

By finding just that one first love. That wine that made me close my eyes to prolong and intensify the enjoyment. Finding a wine so memorable, made me curious to know more. That’s the in. The connection that turns someone into a wine lover.

This is how I would recommend learning about wine. Instead of going broad and trying to understand the ever-expanding world of wine, go deep. Fall in love.

Over time, I wanted to know everything about  Muga.

Since that day, I’ve developed a more complex set of descriptions based on trying many more wines. Wines that wash the mouth dry, wines with minerality, young wines, aged wines, unfiltered.

When I look at a bottle, I am no longer playing a memory game, struggling to recall a name and a picture. Now I understand with labels I am looking at information including country, region, varietal and vineyard.

My 2016 birthday gift from Paolo was a trip to Haro, Spain for a Muga wine tour. Here I got to really go deep. Get to know the vineyard, the wine makers, the process.

It was a magical day, a dream five years in the making. The Bodegus Muga team were lovely to us. Enhancing my romance with their Rioja. But, that’s an entirely different story for the next Wine Wednesday.

Following natural curiosities keeps the learning process enjoyable. Learn slowly. Enjoy the process. Drink often.

May the road to discovering new wines never end. Cheers

Special thanks to the entire Bodegas Muga team. We cherish our Muga glasses and take them with us wherever we go. Last year we toasted with them all over Spain into France and on to Italy. We took them on our cross-country drive here in America and used them to toast our new home in Portland. Salute

‪@bodegasmuga‬ you’re truly the best

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