2006 Rosemount Estate Shiraz ($9.99) – purchased in Hilo, Hawaii

Enjoyed in my living room, shortly following


When I first started drinking wine, I was only 16 and wine tasted, to me, like being an adult. Perhaps it was that and not the deep burgundy color sparkling through Thanksgiving dinner crystal that pulled me in to wines so completely. Drinking wine was like putting on my mother’s lipstick in front of our bathroom mirror: it rendered me unable to do anything but smile at myself, teeth somehow whiter, larger, older in my reflection.

It was through my mother’s love of wine and its permanent presence in our house that I came to love it as well. I remember watching her tastes evolve, from my early childhood (and our family’s less fortunate years), characterized by bottles of Vendange and Turning Leaf, to her expanding taste into richer Zinfandels from Bonterra to Cline. I used to stand behind my mother in the wine aisle of our local grocery store in Hawaii, pointing out wines I wanted her to try, itching for her to reach for the labels like Little Penguin and Rex Goliath, animals emblazoned on the bottle like wine ambassadors. It seemed natural to me that the labels would speak to the wine inside, a penguin offering a better wine than a label with only a word or two in black.

I classify my own love of wine in the same way that I classify my mother’s— an expanding of taste across price ranges and varietals, the slow move from choosing wines based on labels to choosing wines based on recommendation and esteem. But it all started with one wine, a rather unassuming, inexpensive bottle that I chose and happened to absolutely love.

It was a 2006 Rosemount Estate Shiraz from Australia ($9.99) and I remember thinking it looked rather expensive in its bottle with sharp edges that lead the base into a square shape. I picked it out in our grocery store—then the wine aisle had seemed endless—feeling proud of myself for choosing a wine that did not offer colorful script or doodles across the label. My parents had had it once before, shared the glasses between themselves for some occasion.