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.
I cannot remember it as anything but the first wine that I truly loved, my “epiphany wine,” because I thought to myself, nose in a glass of it, that it actually tasted good. Up until that point, wine had tasted acidic to me, biting on the first sip. I’d hated the tannins that left a distinct feeling on my teeth, hated the bite of pepper in the end of a mouthful. And then there was this wine. It seemed to overflow in my mouth with the taste of blackberries and plums. I felt as if I was drinking seas of fruit, and as the waves of grape rolled back and down my throat, it lingered, softly and smoothly.
It was a glass of wine that I wanted to drink forever and I would have been happy with an endless glass of it. This rich and leggy wine, such a deep purple, introduced me into the world of loving wine. I felt part of a secret society, joining my parents and their friends in a place that had once seemed so far away.
I have that Shiraz to thank for my growing love of wine. And though I am still rather new to drinking wine and certainly inexperienced, the process of finding and buying wine has absolutely intoxicated me. I continue to search for and find wines that woo me as completely as that first wine did.