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New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov discusses why, for many people, wine is an anxiety-inducing mystery. He sets out to dispel some of the mystery and makes wine more approachable in How to Love Wine: A Memoir and a Manifesto.
About your sparkling wine mention: I live in France and don't often buy Champagne as it's expensive. I love "Cremant" which is a much cheaper version. Especially Cremant de Jura or Bourgogne. You can make a kir royale with it as well (using crème de cassis, etc. which is great for a summer apéro).
I've learned a lot about wine since moving to France and I agree: the more you drink it the more you learn! Take notes. If you're not sure which red wine to get, you can't go wrong with a Côtes de Rhône; goes with everything (as they say here)! Santé !
Nick - for the most part I agree but there can be differences, yes, most of it is pretentious bs but there are people with refined enough pallets to tell for the most part, I can't and I suspect most people cannot either.
My golden rule is, if I like it - it's good enough. A $70 bottle of wine can be god awful and a $15 variant, just perfect.
This whole thing about subtle differences and complex "notes" in various wines is COMPLETE nonsense. Utter BS. In 40 years of drinking wine, besides sweet or sour, bitter or mild, white or red, I've never tasted the slightest "note" of anything in wine besides grape or sulfates. This whole wine business with sommeliers and all the rest of the poe-faced hocus pocus is merely snob salesmanship in order to shame people into buying one of the thousands of wines available. But the emperor has no clothes. It's wine. It's made out of grapes. Either drink it or don't.
Occasionally my girlfriend and I spend a little more (to us) and get a 30-40 dollar wine. I always wondered, can a super expensive wine be that different.? Like how good can it get considering the process and material are the same for higher and lower wines.
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