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What Was Your Transcendent Moment With Wine?

by David on September 7, 2006

Weird question? I think we can all (those of us who bother to read wine blogs) remember a situation or a particular wine that changed everything. Somehow wine morphed from being a mere pleasure into a passion.

So, here’s mine:

I had a moderate interest in wine when I took my first job at a winery. I thought it would be fun to work there until I found a “real job.” I was 23, fresh out of school, and had no idea I was about to be thrown into the deep end with a bunch of wine geeks. These guys (yes, they were mostly guys – it’s a very traditional business and this was a long time ago) would rather discuss the merits of white Burgundy vs. Napa Valley Chardonnay than last night’s A’s game or the movie they went to Saturday. Sheesh!

But it got to me. I was intrigued. Started buying those Burgundies and Chablis and tuning in to the conversation.

Then the moment came: went to a send-off party for a beloved employee at a local restaurant and the first thing to come was Champagne. I didn’t like sparkling wine, in fact I thought it was awful.

I had this very wrong idea in my head.

My exposure to sparkling wine had been the cheap stuff they serve at weddings and the Cold Duck I’d downed at my grandparents. Yuk! So, I was going to skip it, but thought maybe I should be polite and took a sip.

What???? This was really good stuff! Nothing like fizzy Kool-Aid! More, please…

1973 Veuve Clicquot from magnum. Bone dry, biscuit-like, toasty, yeasty nose backed by some beautiful green apple and a hint of truffle. Like cream on the palate, but ethereal and crisp – the mysterious thing that makes the best of them unforgettable. Made my mouth water. Could have spent the rest of my life with my nose in the glass. That was it. And my love affair with Champagne lead me to cherish the endless complexities in the broader world of wine too. That was my transcendent moment.

For sure, there are bottles of bubbly that are supposed to be greater, after all this wasn’t La Grande Dame or Cristal, but not for me. That magnum was the beginning of the end of my search for that “real job”, thrilled to say.

Telling a story like this makes me feel a bit exposed, but since I told you mine I’m hoping it will prompt you to tell me yours. These are some of the great moments and stories in life, so bring ‘em on!

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