I opened a wine tonight and, as I did, I realized I had expectations – high expectations – for what was to come. And then – as my Twitter post said – it was just…okay. Not bad, but not great, but not what I had hoped.
Hence the title of this blog!
There are lots of leadership gurus out there these day who say that one of the keys to business and life success is managing expectations. And as I tasted the wine tonight, I realized it was the same with wine.
So what was going on tonight…and how to manage it?
First, tonight. The wine was from the Northern Rhone from a famous producer. Not one of his top wines – i.e. a Hermitage – but still a prominent name, from a very good vintage, and 8 years old. So that was one reason for high expectations.
Second, it was highly rated – 90 points by a reviewer I respect and have followed for over 25 years, one whose style of wines seems to match mine. So another reason for high expectations
Third, it was from my cellar…which are wines that are supposed to be special and get better with age. Another reason.
The final reason was what I expected from that style of wine. Now, I love Rhone wines from the North and the South. But I also know that the southern wines (like Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras) can be flashier, with the predominantly Grenache-based wines sometimes exploding with garrigue and ripe but not jammy red cherry fruit.
But I also know – and love – Syrah from the northern Rhone. Yes, it is leaner, but the peppery black cherries, touch of licorice and lack of any wood at all can be breathtakingly smooth, particularly as the wines age and develop secondary aromas and tastes. So that was my expectation.
And what did I get?
Well, the style was bang on, for sure. Black pepper, black cherries, and lean…for sure. But the flavour just never really went “kapow”…it just kind of started…then stopped. Good, but not great…that was it.
So that’s what happened tonight. But what did I learn…and what to do about it in the future?
Well, I’m not sure I have an answer for that, to be honest.
I am always going to expect great things from a wine that is supposed to be great. And I will try to manage them by remembering the style of the wine, so I don’t confuse those expectations.
One thing I can do differently is to enjoy what I have in my glass as much as I can. As long as it isn’t “off”, there is still some enjoyment to be had.
The other – a longer term thing – is to remember if it happens with the same kind of wine more than couple of times. That may indicate that my tastes are changing…and that I should change my cellar strategy in order to avoid more disappointments in the future!