I am writing to complain about your book, blog and emails because you have cost me thousands of dollars! Because of you I learned about Amarone and made the mistake of trying it. Here’s what happened:
I purchased a single bottle of 2011 Ca’ Erto Amarone della Valpolicella from the Last Bottle Marathon and it ruined me it was so good! I tried to buy more, but it was not available at the reseller or anywhere else. So I started a quest to recreate that first amazing experience by buying about 20+ other brands and various vintages. Because I have not been able to replicate that first experience, I have been “chasing the dragon” ever since.
I went online to find the winery to no success. One retailer suggested that the wine might have been bottled under a different label so I contacted the importer again and they fessed up: it was a winery called Monte Tondo (The original bottle said “produced by M.T A.Z”). I was able to track down other Monte Tondo vintages and they were good but not as good as the 2011. I contacted the winery direct and they were sold out and they wouldn’t divulge any of the alternative labels with me. I even planned a trip to Valpolicella to immerse myself into the region.
Before my trip I finally hit pay dirt when a wine called Corte Del Sole actually had “Produced by Monte Tondo” on the back label. I immediately purchased two cases of the 2011 vintage. The wine was really good but not as good as that first bottle. Was it the additional time in bottle? Was it how the wine was stored or transported? Was it the food I was having at the time? Was it who I was sharing the wine with? Have my taste buds changed? Serving temperature? Decanting time? What????
–Ricardo, Los Angeles
I’m not sure whether to console you or to hand you a badge for completing a right of passage. Congratulations! I believe what you’ve just experienced happens to every wine lover at some point on their journey into wine: the desire to repeat the experience. Some of us go through great lengths to achieve this and your story might just take the cake!
Eventually, you come to realize that it’s impossible to repeat the experience. As bad as this sounds, it’s actually an opportunity to change the way you think about wine. Let’s just pretend for a minute that you were able to find the same wine and picked it up 6 months later. Here is a short list of reasons why a wine won’t taste the same:
- There were provenance issues (storage/transportation).
- The 6 month time difference changed the wine.
- The serving temperature was off.
- The decanting time was different.
- You used different glassware.
- It was an “off” bottle.
- It was a leaf day.
- Your palate was affected by food or medication or weather or changes in your body.
- Your memory of the wine distorted your perception of the wine.
- Your understanding of Amarone wine has fundamentally changed after your immersion into the region.
- Your experience was different.
Wine is part of the art of experience. Experiences are not just wine, they embody time, place, touch, sound and people. It’s a pretty profound idea. Some people get it, others are blind to it, and others are still searching for this type of experience. Everyone who’s had an ‘aha’ moment transcends the idea of “wine is a beverage” to “wine is art.” Sommelier/winemaker Rajat Parr even coined a name for it: unicorn wine.
So welcome Ricardo, join the club.
P.S. Don’t take my word for it, check out Art as Experience by John Dewey (1934) which discusses having an experience and how it differs from experience and ultimately how it’s an expression of art. read about it on wikipedia
P.P.S. Raj tells me that he’s moved on from the term “unicorn wine” to “snow leopard.” See if you can figure out why.
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