A couple of wines over the last few nights reminded me that just because a wine tastes different from what you expect or what you are used to, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with it!
First up was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon by Next of Kin, an Australian wine I had never heard of. I expected the usual Aussie red wine…super ripe fruit, jammy berries, touch of oak, mouthcoating…instead, I got chocolate, less obvious fruit, and a leaner, more French style Cabernet.
Then tonight, the 2007 Ercavio from Spain, a Tempranillo that, in the past, has been a dead ringer for a big California Cabernet, with vanilla, blackcurrants and a touch of mint that was quite amazing. Instead, for this vintage I got none of that; it was quite restrained, more chocolate/herbs, a bit tannic.
I have to admit, my first reaction in both case was “is there something wrong here?”. But then I remembered some advice I receive from my friend John — based on a book we both read on “the search for terroir” — that different doesn’t mean bad.
So in both cases I went back to the wines and tried to have more of an open mind. And when I did, I got different results.
Not in the smells or tastes…those were the same. But I tried to let myself appreciate them for what they were…and that seemed to work.
For the Aussie Cab, I started to appreciate the complexity of the chocolate flavours, something that you don’t always see with Aussie wines because they are so ripe.
And for the Ercavio, I was reminded of other Tempranillo’s I have had in the past, how the mix of oak and herbs can also add complexity. I didn’t end up liking it as much as the Aussie Cab, but it still was a good wine for under $15.
So the lesson here? Watch out for preconceptions going in to tasting, and always give yourself a second chance to like a wine based on what it actually tastes like.
Take that approach, and you will have a chance to enjoy a wider variety of wines.