It sounded romantic the first few times I heard it. Then, as years passed and I got older and knew better, it became a trite cliché.
I'm talking about the expression "My wines are like my children," which is still often uttered by winemakers when asked to pick which of their wines is their favorite. It's usually preceeded by, "I can't."
The first time I recall hearing the expression came in 1978, when I started writing about wine. The source of that axiom—which I was sure he had coined—was Mike Grgich, who had started Grgich Hills Cellar with Hills Bros. Coffee heir Austin Hills a year earlier.
Grgich, a Croatian who had come to the U.S. with little but an ambition to make it in America, was fresh off the buzz created by the Paris Tasting of 1976. In that staged event the California wine that stole the show in the Burgundy vs. Chardonnay flight was the 1973 Château Montelena he had made at Montelena.
Anyway, that was the first time I'd heard the saying, and for years I let it slip. Finally, though, I grew weary of hearing it and became cynical about it because it seemed like a cop out by the winemaker.
At times when winemakers, who had made dozens if not scores of wines, would use it I would counter, "Oh, come on. Nobody has that many children."
By then I had reared a pair of my own and I've never, ever encountered a wine that came anything close to the complexity of a child.
So, when I heard the phrase the other day, I could only smile, knowing it's a cliché that works when you're new to wine—until you think about it.
What's your favorite (or least favorite) wine cliché?