A little while ago my husband (Jordan) and I had the pleasure of having an impromptu date night.  We went to a steakhouse near our home and after some wine list searching, we ordered the 2011 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.  I’m a big fan of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, but to be honest… my husband isn’t (sorry Jordan Vineyard).   That’s not to say he won’t drink it, but it’s rarely his first choice.  Despite the fact that it’s not his favorite wine, we drink it on a somewhat regular basis because of the amazing experience we had when we tasted there years ago.

This post is about why the story and the memories matter as we drink wine.  As big of a fan of blind tastings as I am, (for example, I’ve recently blogged both about our blind tasting in black glasses and our blind box wine tasting), tasting wines blind has its limits.  So often, I appreciate a wine for the memories it brings and the stories it reminds me of — as opposed to just trying to taste a wine on a purely technical level.  Wine, after all, is as much about emotions as anything.

The amazing Jordan experience

A few years ago we showed up at Jordan for a tasting.  They promptly escorted us, along with several other couples, to a library-like room where they shared with us the history of the winery.  Then, our host walked over to the bookshelf, removed a book (or a statue or something) and viola – the bookshelf opened up to a hidden wine cellar where we would have our tasting.

The second I saw that bookshelf open up, my eyes lit up and Jordan (the husband, not the winery) instantly knew this would be the single most expensive tasting we would ever have.  He knew I would insist someday on a hidden wine cellar for my very own.  Oh, we have talked about that tasting, and the hidden cellar for years.   And yes, about a year ago I finally got my wish – a ‘hidden’ wine cellar all my own.  And now, we re-tell the Jordan hidden wine cellar tasting story every time we give a tour of our fancy schmancy hidden wine cellar to our friends. The mileage we’ve gotten and will get out of that fun memory is endless.  And although it’s about Jordan, it has nothing to do with any of the wines we tasted that afternoon.

So why do we drink Jordan’s wine even though my husband would prefer a number of other wines?  Because of the memory, because of the fun we had and the joy we felt during the tasting.  A great wine memory can turn an average wine in to an amazing one.  Each time we open up a bottle of Jordan we think back and reminisce.

A great wine memory can turn an average wine in to an amazing one. #wine Click To Tweet

Château Cantenac-Brown

My husband and I have an ongoing joke around him ‘buying’ me a bunch of random (and extremely expensive) houses throughout the world.  (If we ever win the Powerball – watch out!).  So, as we toured beautiful Bordeaux he pointed out château after château asking ‘do you want me to buy you that one?’  It didn’t take me long to find the perfect château – Château Cantenac-Brown.  (For those of you who are Bordeaux wine nerds, if you don’t know it already, Cantenac-Brown is a third growth in Margaux.)  Photos cannot do this place justice, it’s absolutely stunning.   Finally on the fourth day in the Medoc of Bordeaux – after days and days of passing by, drooling over the beautiful chateau from a distance, we finally got the chance to actually go there for a tasting.  Yes, the wines are good.  But the charm and experience of the tasting was even better.  They actually have a “folie” in the front of the building, which is literally a completely useless structure – it’s random and whimsical and adds to their charm.  Today, my enjoyment in drinking a bottle of Cantenac-Brown is more than just the wine.  Even if we did a blind taste of all the Third Growths, and Cantanac-Brown came in dead last, I’d still buy it by the case because of the fond memories that bubble up every time we open a bottle.

Even if in a blind tasting @Cantenac_Brown came in dead last, I’d still buy it by the case Click To Tweet

The not so amazing experience

Conversely, a bad experience can turn a great wine sour.  Several years ago I went wine tasting in Napa with my little sister Margot (yes, THE Margot Mendoza from Hawaii Goes Fishing).  One of our first stops in the morning was Chateau Montelena.  The tasting room wasn’t busy, there was only one other couple and the pourer.  The pourer almost completely ignored us, barely removing himself from chatting with the other couple to pour our tasting.  Additionally, he was a bit crass and talked down to us as though we knew nothing about wine.  Obviously, this did not go down in the history books as one of my favorite tastings.  As a result, to this day, I rarely drink anything from Chateau Montelena – I don’t buy it for myself or order it at a restaurant.   Do they make good wine?  I’m sure they do.  I’m sure their wines are fantastic.  But every time I drink it, all I can remember is that terrible experience I had with the memory of the tasting grating at me each time I take a sip.

So cheers to all the wines you love – for their taste and the memories they bring.  And skip the wines that don’t bring you joy.  There’s too much great wine out there to drink a sad bottle.

And Jordan Vineyard & Winery – if you’re ever in Golden, Colorado – please come by, share a bottle of wine with us, and take a tour of the hidden wine cellar you inspired.

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