Do your tastes in life reflect your tastes in wine?
Most things that attain mainstream popularity tend to be wasted on me. It’s not a deliberate thing, but I have never seen the Lord of the Rings films, I have not read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, and Twilight is similarly of no interest to me. My husband has tried to inflict the first two on me on more than one occasion but each time I’ve fallen asleep less than an hour into the film, or just got bored and wandered off.
Maybe it is a deliberate thing in some ways though. I’m not interested in special effects or surround sound that blows your eardrums and frightens the neighbours, and I didn’t understand the plot of either Inception or The Matrix. Oh, and I really hate films that try to make vampires sexy. Anyway, with all of this in mind, it came as a surprise to me when I picked up ‘The Hunger Games’ in Waterstones recently, and even more of a surprise when I started reading it yesterday. Actually, I am really enjoying it. I stayed up late reading it, and got up early today so I could read a bit more before settling down to do some writing. It isn’t the kind of thing I would usually read – yet I can’t seem to put it down. It is an absolute crowd pleaser, appealing to teenagers and adults alike, men and women, and even picky ‘hard to please’ types like me.
When I first started tasting wine seriously, the kind of wines that appealed to me were flashy Australian Cabernets and Shiraz, racy NZ Sauvignons and great big Zinfandels from California. But the more tasting experience I gained, the more I found myself looking for something more refined, something different, something that the whole world didn’t know about. I wanted to taste the wines of Italy and Portugal and Germany and get to grips with southern France. I found what I was looking for at last. I wondered, do our tastes in life reflect our tastes in wine? Is it inevitable that my favourite wines are the less discovered, made from little known varietals?
Some people find something they like, and they just stick to it forever. People who drink Rioja are often guilty of this in my experience – there is nothing wrong with Rioja but it seems to attract a lot of followers who start sentences with the phrase ‘You can’t go wrong with…’ You can’t go wrong with Rioja. You can’t go wrong with a massive-budget film by Peter Jackson. You can’t go wrong with never trying anything beyond the conventional, because you will get exactly what you expect and never have to step outside of your comfort zone and risk being disappointed.
When you do things the other way, you do open yourself up to disappointment. You might end up watching a terrible film or reading a terrible book or spending too much on a wine that does not live up to its expectations. More than once I’ve inflicted a film on my husband that has left him chuntering ‘and you thought The Matrix was dull’ after 20 minutes, as I have half heartedly tried to defend the entire genre of Swedish cinema and assured him it will get better. But you will also open yourself up to really great experiences – like ‘Lilya 4-Ever’ (great Swedish film) or even just being open minded enough to try something you are expecting to hate, like ‘The Hunger Games’. And to accompany those, you might also discover the delights of a great Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Spanish Albariño or Portuguese Baga or Italian Sagrantino, to name a few.
Anyway, I answered my own question – I am confident that I approach all my preferences in the same way. Just as I am looking for the next quirky, low budget, offbeat film, I am always looking for a wine that will not just deliver, but also surprise and impress me. And as for closing my mind to the mainstream, well that’s something I’m trying not to do anymore. If there is a wine equivalent of The Hunger Games, I wouldn’t want to miss it.