There was a story I read once about a comedian—I think it was W.C. Fields—who was asked if he kept a notepad by his bed at night in case he thought of something funny. He replied, no, if it wasn’t funny enough to remember, it wasn’t funny enough.
I feel that way about drinking wine. Notice I said drinking, not tasting. Those are two different things. One is work and the other is fun. I taste and take notes on thousands of wines every year for the magazine, but I’ve never been the sort of wine geek that scribbles comments down about every last wine I drink. I remember the wines that deserve to be remembered.
But now that summer is almost over I realize I’ve spent too much time writing and thinking about wine and not nearly enough just enjoying it.
And that’s wrong.
There are so many wines I didn’t get to drink this summer. I didn’t have any Champagne, not even a glass of the deliciously ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot NV yellow label. Am I boring or what? I did have some delightful California sparkling wines such as J. Schram 2004 and Roederer L'Ermitage 2003 that almost made up for it.
I failed to drink enough dry rosé from southern France, I mean the really good stuff like Château d'Esclans or Domaine Tempier, the sort of elegant yet racy pinks that liven up a sunny afternoon. Too many of the French and California rosés that I opened were just too sweet or boring.
Nothing against California Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, but this summer I’ve spent serious change looking for a white that’s zesty and different. I got bupkis. My ideal summer would have been filled with zesty Italian whites with verve and personality, something like Casa alle Vacche Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2010 or Enotria Mendocino Moscato 2010.
A case of top Châteauneuf-du-Pape would have served my summer beautifully. Twenty years ago it was my go-to Rhône red, consistently delivering excellent wines for a good price, but now I look elsewhere for value in the Rhône. Still, a guy can dream of Château de Beaucastel or Clos des Papes or Château Rayas.
I won’t bother saying I didn’t have enough Burgundy. It’s not possible and you couldn’t afford it if it were. I drank dozens of excellent California Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels these past few months but good Merlots were far too rare.
I spent many a summer night when I first moved to California drinking wine and watching the sunset at Bodega Bay. I haven’t done it once this year. For shame. I’ve shared too few bottles with my brother newly moved to San Francisco or with friends around our backyard fireplace.
With only a few days until Labor Day, I can’t make up for all that lost time, the unopened bottles and missed opportunities. Still, the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend starts Friday, so who knows.
What wines do you regret not drinking this summer? What were your missed wine opportunities?