This week I've been thinking a lot about fineness and what that means in life and in wine.
When we're young (I'm so old now, guys) we assess fineness as a thing we can see and touch. When I was a teenager goldschlager was my drink of choice (the gold flecks guys!) and Juicy Couture was my dream brand (that big, velour J tho). I PAID MORE FOR THIS ISN'T IT BETTER?!
As an adult, this changes. Our preferences change. What tastes good, what we will we pay more for and why. In wine, this is an arc. I will call it a Flavour to Fineness Arc For Wine Assholes. It is not a hard rule and yet boy it comes up a lot.
It goes like this. At first we like ALL OF THE FLAVOURS THE BIGGER THE BETTER.
When I first got into wine, my favourite region was Amarone. Amarone is a rich Italian wine from the Veneto region made from dried grapes. It is incredibly unctuous, brooding, intensely flavoured and full bodied. It will stain your teeth and make you drunk (high sugar = big flavour and all the alcohol). Maybe your thing isn't Amarone, but something like California Cab, Argentinian Malbec, Australian Shiraz from a warm region like Barossa or big rich Spanish wines. These wines have delicious flavours that are easy to taste, enjoy and talk about. ALL OF THE FLAVOURS INTO MY MOUTH HOLE.
Over time we don't need these full flavours. I don't need steak everyday. We try the fish, something from a cooler climate region with less Flavour (with a capital F) and more finesse (in an understated font). We seek wines from regions with less up-front fruit and more savoury characteristics. We go from saying this tastes like all these primary fruit flavours and all of this oak to loving the taste of steely acidity, salt, lime peel, the ocean, matchstick, kerosene, barnyard, leather, hay, white pepper and old forest. Basically, we grow to love gross shit.
I tease, but really I don't. The more we drink, the more our palates tend to shift to lighter styles that are about delicate, interesting pure flavours that are hard to talk about at first, super difficult to spot, but unfortgettably nuanced and special when you get them. This is why the myth/ reality of wine snobs is such a thing and why all winos tend to gravitate to savoury, delicate expressions in their most pretentious/ expensive form: the Pinot Noirs from Burgundy, of course.
Obviously, this doesn't make the Cabs of California bad and I still love a great Amarone. We all have different preferences, but the gravitation towards delicate flavours and the waning preference for explosive fruit character is such a thing.
I'll go a step further. THE FIVE LEVELS OF WINE APPRECIATION!
1. Bigger the better. RED JUICY YES.
2. Medium to light bodied reds. WHAT IS THAT, PENCIL SHAVINGS?
3. Full bodied whites. CHARDONNAYYYY NEW OAK BATTONAGE, WHAT'S UP?
4. Mineral driven, high acid whites. CLARE RIESLING, CHABLIS, MUSCADET YO GIRL.
5. Somewhere in the middle. Sometimes big reds, always balanced, but probably more of a preference for medium to light bodied profiles. Acid and savoury things > FRUIT in red. Texture and acidity (notice a theme? #acid) > oak, butter, crazy battonage + sweet fruit in white.
Does this make sense? Do you know what I mean/ agree? Am I just another wine asshole? #probably