One of the many good aspects of becoming older and more mature, is a greater appreciation for simple things in life such as food and drink. As Chelsea and I have traveled around, we try to make a point to try food and drink from whatever region we are in, with the hope being that we remember the cuisine just as much as the history.
We are lucky here in England, as we are just a short trip away from some of the best classical wine regions of the world (click here for our trip to Bordeaux), and the market for wine in England is HUGE. I can think of at least seven stores here in Oxford, including two “warehouses” that have ample selections to choose from. But how do we choose which wines to buy? Many factors influence which bottles of wine we are likely to buy, but the two most obvious are taste and price.
To the rescue? Our favorite wine shop, The Oxford Wine Company. These guys offer the best combination of selection, price, and service we have ever experienced in a wine shop. And apparently we aren’t the only ones who think that. They have just won two Harpers Wine and Spirit Top Merchant awards for 2011, including Best Independent Retailer in the UK. Safe to say we are in pretty good hands.
We go every other Thursday to an event called “Theo’s Thirsty Thursday”, where we get to taste and discuss 3+ wines for FREE. And if it turns out that we like any of the wines we taste, we’ll get a 15% discount on the spot with no obligation to actually buy anything. We found it was a good way to taste wines of the world, and to help our collection grow here at home.
In addition to the biweekly event, sometimes we will head to specialized events such as the Bodegas la Rioja Alta tasting located at an upscale Oxford restaurant.
As you can see, it wasn’t a big venue, and that afforded an intimate tasting with one of the winery representatives with an awesome Spanish accent, as well as some seasoned wine tasters. Chelsea and I both happen to like Rioja wines, and at this tasting we weren’t disappointed. We got to try generous helpings of nine different wines over a few hours, including this one:
Priced at about $72, that might be one of the most expensive wines I have ever tried. Was it worth the price? Yeah maybe, it was definitely worth the price of admission. It was very good, and if we had a more permanent place to live with a real cellar we might have considered buying a bottle, but we thought that the one just before it was much better wine for the money at about 1/3 the price.
So what does this mean? Well for starters, it means we have a lot more wine at home. A quick glance over at our shelves I can count 25 bottles, which is probably 23 more than we have ever had at one time on the shelf in Ithaca. We also appreciate wine more, choose more carefully which wines to pair with specific foods, and generally drink wine more often with food than we did. Will we ever gravitate to being the know-it-all wine snob in Sideways or Bottle Shock? I sure hope not. But I do hope to continue to learn about wine and refine our palates.