Simple wines, simple pleasure

What do you look for when buying wines? An affordable price tag, dependent brand or familiar taste? Regardless of the criterion, we can agree the main purpose for wine is to please the palate, the mind, and for some people, their ego. While my training has made me choosy, there are wines that I liked not for the above mentioned but for simple pleasure.

Many times we allowed ourselves to sink into the dark abyss of technical analysis. Dissecting the wine a layer a time, until we believed we had mastered every nuances and texture with pin-point accuracy. Then we wait. Follow by another round of lab work and critique a wine for its evolution, or lack thereof.

Unless I am dining with the most obnoxious diner on Earth, I make a mental note to avoid doing this in their presences. That is until they asked for my opinion. Some wines are meant to compliment the enjoyment of food and company, and not stand out like an antisocial wreck. Spare the technicality, take another bite, reminisce the old days, talk about the present, have a sip, enjoy the meal and blame the weather. That’s what dinner with old friends are about.

Take an example from my Saturday dinner. Weingut J. Koegler Blauer Zweigelt 2010 will not likely fall into anyone’s big hall of fame. Not because it wasn’t good, but its Teutonic phonetic will be more than enough to embarrass those expert-wannabes. Not withstanding the daunting Germanic label, the deep purple wine in the bottle was a pleaser for both those who generally dislike tannins and those who appreciate a light drying texture. Sweet floral spices around a tight red fruit core, the firm powdery texture resonated with a vibrant acidity. We agreed it was an enjoyable simple bottle, and we stopped on that note. Admittedly, speaking ill of ex-company was more entertaining.

Even in the grand domain of French wines, there are simple beings. Château Rauze Lafargue 2010 from Cadillac – Côtes de Bordeaux is an example. Dried herbs over sweet ripe plum, a straight forward young Bordeaux with dusty tannins and freshness on palate compensated for the short finish. One might protest against my review since wines with short finish don’t appeal to connoisseurs. Why of course, they prefer to sip and savour the long-lasting flavours. But short-lived sensation isn’t an issue for me if every mouthful of food is accompanied by a sip of simple wine.

I don’t care if I am having a slice of expensive Wagyu steak, Bavarian-style pork knuckle or coffee shop hor fun. These are simple wines, they don’t raise your ego but they made our evening a little brighter, and that’s what I call a good wine.

the author

One fine day, Wai Xin woke up and decided to throw Java coding out of window in exchange for a career in wine. Believing strongly that wine is for enjoyment and not a trading commodity, he encourages sensible, affordable drinking and the exploration of individual preferences.

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  1. Jackie Ang on July 3, 2013

    Hi Wai Xin,

    I agree completely with your analysis that wines are meant to be enjoyed with food. Like you, I do lots of wine tasting here in Oxford although I’m a Singaporean, and sometimes I do get caught up with analysing a wine as well. But when I go for dinner with friends, I tend to serve up relatively inexpensive but tasty wines to go with the food and yes, cut down on the technical analysis then. Maybe we should meet up someday in SG=).

    • Wai Xin, CSW, FWS Author on July 4, 2013

      Hi Jackie,

      Even so, there are some wines I can enjoy without food, be it a blazing summer day or rainy weekend. But I’m sure you agree with the gist of simple enjoyment. Wines are not supposed to be intimidating.

      There are others who swear by “Price tag = Quality”. In fact I think they are – most likely – the same people who will splurge money on a Ferrari 458, just to see it burns like hell.

      Anyway let me know when you are in Singapore, we can drink up. 😉