My first year after graduating from high school, I wanted to become an adult right away. Assessing the structure of my weekly family dinners for years, I was able to draw on the conclusion that what categorized the adults and the kids was the thick, berry, opaque liquid in a tall stemmed glass that accompanied their meals. Because I had cool parents, in my younger years, they would occasionally offer me a tiny bit, but after one sip, the bitterness struck. With pursed lips and a burning tongue, I knew finishing what was only perhaps four sips, would be a challenge. I seldom accepted my parents' offers of wine afterwards, but soon it was clear the secret to becoming an adult was having a glass of wine at dinner.
Taking us back to my first year of freedom, my relationship with wine began to change. Instead of grimy house parties, we learned to have posh house parties with each guest bringing the cheapest bottle of wine they could find, a baguette and some cheese. I learned real quick that, for starters, bread and cheese doesn't really make for a proper meal and cheap wine, well, it does the trick. The light-headed happiness, the flushed face, turning each step into a dance move - by the end of the night, our posh parties became grimy once again. Bread, cheese and a green corked bottle being nothing but a facade.
Cheap wine tastes pretty bad, but after more than one glass (and more than one stain on your white shirt), you don't realize the taste so much. This is how I transitioned from thinking wine was a vile poison to instead, something like a night-time juice.
Over the next few years, I picked up little tricks here and there. I observed colleagues who seemingly knew a lot more than me. They would do things like stick their noses deep in the glass, breathe in the aroma of the wine. And then there was that swishing the glass thing. I learned to develop my own taste for the different kinds of wine, preferring reds in the winter, whites in the summer, and rosé in the case of spontaneity. Then, I was exposed to the varying notes of berries, flowers, nuts, that each bottle had. And that wines came from all sorts of vineyards from around the world. I have friends from Spain, Italy, France and South Africa and they all claim that their respective country has the best tasting wine. So this doesn't really tell me which is best, only that wine can make people patriotic and passionate.
Passion, ah passion. Wine is full of it! Wine can be an emotional roller coaster, a bad break up, a first date, the end of the night, all trapped within one bottle. Or two. Know your limits.
But all this being said, if you're spending hundreds or single-digits on a bottle, it won't matter. There's a reason why I only have feelings of sweet, endearing nostalgia towards our grimy/posh parties with the worst tasting wines: If you're with good company, the wine will be good, no matter what.
*Case in point being this wine from a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant: