Wine demands to be shared. Enjoying a glass alone is fine, of course. But there's an emotional component to wine appreciation. That's a big reason why enjoying a bottle with friends is always more meaningful than drinking alone.
Chicago wine enthusiast Mark Boldizsar recognizes that few experiences are quite as enchanting as sharing a special wine. So last week, he took to the world's most active wine discussion board, Wine Berserkers, to detail his journey of wine discovery — and ask fellow oenophiles about the doors that have opened thanks to wine.
"As much as I enjoy drinking nice wine, I have to admit it's only a small part of a larger picture," Boldizsar wrote. "From my personal experiences, my fondest wine-related memories are of sharing my wines in the good company of other wine lovers.
"In regards to my personal story, I was able to reconnect with a good childhood friend on the basis of wine. Over the past 4 years, we have been fortunate enough to meet up several hundred times (at least once a week). The wine is all well and good, but it's the side stories, wine talk, and laughter that makes it so enjoyable."
Shortly after his post went up, other enthusiasts shared their stories.
Many credited wine for their strongest friendships. For instance, California resident Leon Markham thanked wine for introducing him to "some of the smartest, kindest people I know." Others praised wine for enhancing food and travel.
Eric Ifune thanked wine for helping forge a deeper connection to his father. That bond remains strong, even though his dad has passed away.
Joel Welty thanked wine for helping forge a deeper connection to his son. "Sitting with my son, enjoying a bottle, [and] seeing his eyes light up as he takes a sip and says, 'Wow, Dad, this is crazy good.' To see him have a moment, like I did so many years ago, enjoying and sharing that time with him. [It was] magical."
Many shared tales of launching new careers. For Bill Hooper, "there were continents crossed, languages learned, cultures explored, [and] friends made" on the way toward producing Riesling in northwest Oregon.
These stories are moving, to be sure. But they aren't uncommon. Consider my own.
I first fell in love with wine in the fall of 2007 while vacationing in Napa Valley. By the time I returned home, I had already decided that wine would become my new hobby. So I started planning more trips, reading books, taking classes, and tasting as much as I could. As I dove deeper into the world of wine, I launched a second career as a wine writer. And I met fascinating, generous people across the world. Today, I count many of them among my closest friends.
Four years ago, at a fundraiser for an organization that works to aid the homeless and poor, Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre praised the wine world's generosity.
"I've never met a miserly wine lover," McIntyre said. "Spendthrift wine lovers, to be sure. I've met people who live in apartments cramped and stacked floor to ceiling with cases of wine, who wear clothes until they fall apart no matter how many trends ago they were — if ever that sweater was fashionable. And yet these same people will come up to you and say, 'You've got to try this grand cru Burgundy!'"
Every wine geek can relate to that tale. At some point, we've all watched as a friend eagerly shares a special wine, forgetting to pour any for himself.
Put simply, life is richer with wine.
It's more expensive, too. On the Wine Berserkers thread, David Bueker, a Riesling fanatic in Connecticut, thanked wine for "amazing friendships coupled with staggering credit card bills." Many promptly agreed.
David White is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com, which was named "Best Overall Wine Blog" at the 2013 Wine Blog Awards. His columns are housed at Grape Collective.