Wineducation: Paradigm Shift Surprises Own Palate

paradigm shiftWhy, as much as what

There comes a time in everyone’s year (or other relevant time-period), when it’s important to look at initiating better personal experiences. Put another way: a means of attaining better prospects, and rewards. Recently, yours truly re-set one such paradigm at home, on his own palate.

Without labouring the point but to give a little context, here’s a brief replay the story of how LWwines was set up (by accident) largely for selfish reasons in 2010, whilst seeking a solution to the local SH wine predicament. (In a nutshell, SH had a good range, but it was poorly understood and delivered to end users and ridiculously overpriced). The high cost and risks outweighed the pleasure. Something had to be done.

The mission to find out ‘what and if’ began in earnest. A chance meeting, a lucky break, a leap of faith, some nervous meetings and within a year, quite by fluke (and outside all expectations) LWwines was operational. Finding, nurturing and gaining guaranteed access to well handled wines of the world at ‘generally acceptable’ prices was a dream occupation that sprang completely unexpectedly from a selfish desire to drink proper wines at proper prices.

To create a model that enabled sharing that new found abundance (on average at 90% of the retail price) was both a lucky chance, a bountiful gift and a better paradigm than previously. As word spread, ‘customers’ coined the name ‘The Wine Man’ (adopted soon after for comedy effect, marketing power and ease of recognition). It had another effect in making making me (the Wine Man) take the business side of things less seriously. I still chuckle every time I hear or say it.

Resetting the Button

Zoom forward 5 years and this Wine Man’s personal wine journey was needing a shake up too. Though not suspended entirely due to operational necessities during the surprise development of a surprise business, it has nevertheless been playing second fiddle to commercial factors. The Wine Man decided to step up to the ‘next level’.

A major obstacle to stepping ‘up-market’ lies in the fact that money isn’t infinite yet the wine options seem to be. In order to reach new heights, finances oft need stretch a little more over fewer bottles. This meant drinking less wine. Not an easy prospect for one so closely embroiled with its acquisition, dissemination, transportation, distribution and consumption.

Riskier, yes. But certainly rewarding. And the plan?

At the end of the last summer 2013 drinking wine ‘less by volume and more by quality’ became a tenet. Initially, a simple commitment was made to imbibe a single tier 2 or tier 3 wine over 2 days (at the weekend) alongside a natural contingent of tier 1 wines. This was and continues to be the most fantastic decision made.

9 months on it is possible to report a profound change has been taking place. Not only has the immense pleasure brought by taking a step up into tiers 2 and 3 brought about it’s own clear reward, it had also cast a kind, favourable new light on some lowlier tier 1 wines. That was unexpected.

In appreciating the higher qualities of a ¥200 Uruguayan Tannat, Shiraz & Viognier blend, greater elements within a lowly ¥80 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon became apparent: More clarity and complexity in one wine helped bring forward and to frame the nuances in another. I am sure this can also lead just as easily to a rift with the lower orders. Just as many defects and inadequacies will become apparent as comparisons between different quality levels are continued. That may have to be accepted, but it isn’t a given.

There have been, of course, wines which caused disappointment; “Mne. That wasn’t worth the extra money.” And the truth is that any single wine which I find to be worthy of the extra few dozen Yuan might not appeal to another taster. But this remains my journey. My mission. My paradigm shift.

The shift is that I don’t mind the misses, for the hits. I welcome everything; the newly minted nuances I didn’t see before, the broad glare of inadequacy cast by a low QPR. Its the experiences that matter. A depth and breadth of them. A part of that doctrine has precipitated me drinking (and enjoying) more Cabernet Sauvignon. A wine I usually and for long periods, have ignored, nay avoided at lower price bands. Not minding the outcome has revealed those wines in a new light.

Explorers don’t sit in front of the tv, where its warm and cosy. They shift their paradigm. Who knows, I might be able to approach a Merlot (low priced or not) with something other than disdain, one day. Now that would be a shift.

 The Wine Man

March 2014

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