Recently my husband and I went to Sunday dinner at a friend’s house. It was a very typical French dining experience, with “aperitif” before the meal, then the appetizer, the main course and dessert. A different wine or champagne was enjoyed with each course. But there was something I didn’t expect: I got a chance to taste a wine that was worth 3,000 Euros a bottle!
Actually, our friend didn’t pay 3,000 Euros for the wine; he bought it 21 years ago, when it (the wine) was still young. At the time, the bottle – a Bordeaux – only cost about 10 Euros and it wasn’t a very special wine. But later, people discovered that this wine aged very well, and became better and better as it got older.
The wine was delicious, smooth and aromatic, with a complex, full flavor and a strong oak finish. Tasting this wine made me think about the culture of wine drinking in France and how it is different from other parts of the world like America, Japan and Australia. In America, we are accustomed to drinking wine with a “standardized” flavor. Usually only one or two varieties (種類) of grape are used, and because of this, the flavor is not very complex and usually one red wine is not very different from another.
But in France, wine makers often use several varieties of grape and work hard to develop a perfect balance of flavors. So when you taste a good French wine, you can taste the complex balance of all of these different varieties of grape. Some wine-tasting experts can even tell you exactly where the wine was grown and whether the vineyard (ブドウ園) was facing South or East!
I now realize that although I have always enjoyed drinking it, I never really understood wine until I moved to France. Now I can truly appreciate the ritual of wine drinking: observing the color, smelling, tasting, and really experiencing the wine with all of your senses. Next time you have a glass of wine, why don’t you try it?