My first experience with alcohol was probably licking the foam from the top of my dad’s beer. My first real experience with alcohol was sadly with Smirnoff Ice at the age of 16. Very classy, I know. Don’t worry, it was legal – I grew up in England, where 16 is the legal age for driving and drinking (a not-so-perfect combination). At 18, I switched to wine, not out of a desire for enhanced gastronomy but for the ease of downing a whole bottle at a meal.
At the prestigious universities of Cambridge and Oxford, students often played various drinking games during their Harry-Potter like dining experiences (the professors sat at a raised table at the front of the hall and the students sat at long tables in black billowing gowns). The game that was most commonly played during these dinners was called “pennying.” The smallest denomination of money in England at that time was the penny, a small bronze-colored coin with the head of Queen Elizabeth II on one side. We would each take a bottle of wine (very cheap wine) into dinner with us and would pour ourselves a wine-glass full. Then, while you were enjoying some food or some hilarious conversation, your so-called friend would drop a penny into your glass of wine. This would then prompt loud cheers and hoots from all the neighboring students followed by vehement demands that you down the entire glass immediately. You would peer at the glass, swallow your disgust, stick your fingers in to fish out the grime-covered penny, close your eyes and drink every last drop of that all-so-tasty cheap wine. As you plonk your glass down onto the table to be refilled again, your friends would pat you on the back and congratulate you on being such a good sport. The first glass wouldn’t really hit you, but by the time that bottle you had brought in was down to its last drops (which usually takes an hour or two), you would be raucous and swaying. That was my experience of wine for the 4 years I was in university. Needless to say, by the end of those 4 years, my taste for wine was not refined in the least. In fact, after those 4 years, I hated all wines. Often, just the smell or thought of wine would make me want to gag.
So what changed? I guess I could say that I grew older and wiser, but that’s not really the whole story. The main reason why I’ve started to enjoy wines is because of my boyfriend. He introduced me to good wines and good food and the joy that comes from having the perfect pairing of good wine and good food. I’m still quite a novice at this though. I now sip wine instead of downing the glass, and I don’t gag at the smell anymore!
Why this wine blog? I’ve recently bought several bottles of wine because of pushy wine store assistants only to discover later that I had already bought that same bottle before. And I hadn’t even liked it the first time! I forget wines quickly (maybe my brain developed a coping mechanism from my college days) and so this website is a way for me to remember which wines I liked and which I hated. It’s also a way for me to share what I learn about wines and other related spirits. I believe that we all have different likes and dislikes so I hope you won’t be offended by my opinions of the wines.