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  • Writer's pictureLushmuddled


Updated: Mar 16, 2021

I have a few pet peeves. Subtitles not syncing to audio. Co-workers using all the cups and not washing them. Anti-maskers. As far as wine is concerned, a big one is people claiming that their favourite wines are something like Chateau Latour or Domaine Romanee Conti - these are super luxury items which cost a small fortune per bottle. 99% of wine drinkers will never see these bottles in their life, let alone taste them. My issue is the word 'favourite.' If someone said these same wines were the best they had ever tasted, I would be fine. There is, after all, a big difference between your favourite wine and the best wine you've ever had.

I'm going to digress for a moment and tell you how I came to this realisation. There was a event in Sydney I attended a few years ago, which was a showcase of sorts. The brief was that industry professionals, be they sommeliers, portfolio reps or brand ambassadors, were going to show and discuss their favourite wines with the public. It was supposed to be a night of light hearted fun - try the wines that wine professionals drink! - but I quickly realised that it was something else entirely.

Truly great wine. But not my favourite.

On tasting were some excellent wines, I'll admit, like Torbreck RunRig and Vega Sicilia. But, excellent though they may be, most of the wines were well and truly in the triple figures and some vintages were rarer than hen's teeth. I remember thinking that this was absolutely shameful. Presenting these wines as 'favourites' to the public, who generally drink for the joy of it rather than the technical nerdy stuff, was a great way to alienate them. Telling someone that your favourite wine is fiscally unobtainable is not a good or healthy way to engage with them. One of the questions I overheard was 'what is your favourite $20, midweek wine?' The answer, which made me furious, was that it is really hard to find good wines at $20. Utter bull***t.

On the way home I was thinking about how no one was really showing anything fun, or new, or interesting. Everything was a known quantity and, while the wines were undoubtedly great quality, there was not a single surprise in the line up - no unusual varieties, nothing which I would consider affordable and only a few small producers. Everything was just too expensive and being shown wines in this category was presented as treat rather than anything remotely educational. Then it dawned on me. They weren't showing their favourite wines. They were showing their best wines - all of them highly rated by critics, all of them structurally sound, all from premium fruit and all with a lot of work put into them. I am not saying that there is not a time and a place for these wines, but they should not be your favourites.

Think about this another way, and change products altogether. Your best shirt comes out only every so often, for special occasions, and you take care of it. Your favourite shirt, on the other hand, is damned comfortable, and you've been wearing it for years. It likely has a tomato stain on it somewhere and you get very defensive when your partner suggests throwing it out. Likewise, your favourite movie is likely not the critically acclaimed masterpieces Citizen Kane or Three Colours Red. They are great films, but they require a dedication of time and emotion to get through. They might be the best movies you've seen, but your favourite movie is something you put on when you get home after a hard day at work which you just want to enjoy - The Sound of Music, Bridget Jones' Diary or anything from Nolan's Batman trilogy.

We need to start thinking about wine in the same way and distinguish between the best we've had and our favourites. Your favourite wine simply will not be, all things being equal, a $300 bottle of Cabernet. Saying that is will drive the conversation you were having about wine to a grinding halt and make your friends think you're a bit pompous. How are they even supposed to have an opinion on that unless they've been as fortunate as you? It can be the best wine you've ever had, and absolutely your go-to on special occasions, but your favourite wine needs to be a reliable and affordable bottle which you turn to again and again and again. Your pizza wine, your Netflix and chill wine, your 'I'm-not-getting-out-of-my-pyjamas-today' wine, the wine which you buy by the case because you drink it so frequently.

I'm not ashamed to say that I've had some marvellous wines in my time, and some have burnt themselves into my memory. I will simply never forget drinking an utterly beautiful Wendouree Shiraz Mataro 2002 some years ago and a luminous Laurent Perrier Alexandra 2004 on my fifth wedding anniversary. They were amazing experiences, and they are likely the best wines I have ever had. But I have never been close to calling either of them my favourite.

What used to be my favourite wine has, sadly, been recently discontinued. The Calabria Private Bin Aglianico was only $16 and I cannot count the amount of times I drank it over the years. It wasn't a very good representation of Aglianico, but it was absolutely delicious nevertheless - food friendly, lightly tannic, sour cherried with some great flavour going on. It was simply such a good go-to wine. The fact that Calabria will no longer be made makes me much sadder than any super premium wine being removed from the market. But we mourn, and we move on. Thinking of what I have been drinking lots of, the excellent Tyrrell's Hunter Valley Semillon could be a contender, and the Redbank 'Emily' King Valley Sparkling too. Both sit around the friendly price of $20.

And wine is supposed to be friendly. Most people aren't looking to buy the 'best of the best,' in the same way most people don't go out to buy the newest Porsche. Everyday drinkers are looking for a price/quality point they are happy with, and wine workers need to remember this. There will always be a time and a place for the 'good stuff' and the ritzy bottles which you've been saving up to buy - I am not saying there isn't. But second it becomes about the label on the bottle, rather than the contents of it, we've missed the point. We are meant to enjoy wine, not be daunted by it. Your favourite wine should be affordable, not expensive, and it should be pleasing, not impressive.

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