A wine lover’s journey towards and through wine is never linear. However, many people, especially those who work in the industry, can identify a definitive moment when their ‘like’ towards wine turned to ‘love’. The ah-ha moment when passion is born, when curiosity initiates and admiration becomes never-ending.
More often than not, that moment is the taste of a very special wine. Special enough to change the trajectory of one’s life. We needed to know what that bottle was for the cast members of SOMM TV, so we asked them…
What bottle made you fall in love with wine?
When I was beginning to learn about wine and studying for my Intro Course through the CMS, I read The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeill. The section on Alsatian wines was fascinating and how she described the bone dry Rieslings of the region. I promptly popped over to my local wine shop and purchased a bottle of 2017 Trimbach Reserve Riesling. It blew my mind! It was like lightning crackling across my tongue with delicious notes of citrus, tropical, and stone fruits. The wine was fresh, complex, and divine. It was one of the first of many bottles that made me fall in love with wine. —Claire Coppi
I think we all have that bottle, the one that changed it all. For me: 1992 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet. I was in college at Purdue University, and Stag’s had been on the recent cover of Wine Spectator. This was when I was just getting into wine and seeing if I had a real passion for it. I thought, “well, let’s try this one.” It took me months of calling around and a road trip to Chicago to find it, but that bottle changed the world for me from simple black-and-white to 4K color. I am so glad it did. —Jonah Beer
My ah-ha wine moment was in 2006 while tasting a 1933 Seppeltsfield Port-style wine from the Barossa Valley. I was gifted the last quarter of the bottle by the guy who got me into wine. I felt so lucky! Later in my career, in 2018, I got to visit the winery. They took us to the cask room where back vintages live untouched, quietly aging for future generations. It was so special bringing it full circle and seeing where it was vinified and aged long before ever making it to my lips. —Matthew Kaner
The bottle that made me fall in love with wine was back in 1989. I was in college, finally living off-campus with a kitchen and a yard, and getting into gardening and cooking. Down in LA, you can garden year-round. I read Gary Snyder and other Beat poets, and a “jug of wine and loaf of bread” kept coming up as a theme. Sharing a jug of wine seemed convivial and timeless, tapping into something more profound than our suburban existence. We bought a jug of Gallo Hearty Burgundy to go with an elaborate dinner that I had made, we listened to some jazz along with the typical punk rock, and we just had a great night. The food tasted better, the conversation continued late, and the music seemed to be relating directly to us. Later that year, I was exposed to a different side of wine. My friend’s dad didn’t know anyone to buy weed from anymore, and he lived an hour away from the college, so the deal he proposed was that he’d cook the steaks and serve the wine if we brought the weed. We went down to his place, eating and drinking on his deck while listening to great 60s and 70s music, with him telling stories triggered by the songs and the context. He served Napa Cab. The bottle that would have been a mid-80s vintage and much more complex than what I would normally drink. It was three-dimensional, more than just a delicious beverage to wash down food and pass around, though it was that too. It tied into the stories of his adventures back in the day, something bigger than us kids had experienced yet. The first bottle taught me about wine as food, as conviviality, as some simple and honest. The second bottle expanded the possibility of wine, the experience of complex and mysterious flavors, a wormhole to somewhere exotic. Both are still true, and both are what I love about wine. —Steve Matthiasson