Wine is an ambitious pursuit. It’s not just for drinking, it’s for studying, collecting and discussing. Many people who picked up Wine Enthusiast‘s end-of-year issue will have flipped open to “The Enthusiast 100,” and maybe marked down some bottles to try, long before you’ll read this piece.
And that’s fine. I get it. Key to wine’s allure are the sense of exploration and the feeling that the more we study, the less we actually know. We’ll never stop marking up lists, or eagerly clicking links about new-to-us regions.
Normally, this is the time of year when we start to talk about our wine resolutions—what will we learn about or grow to appreciate or finally find and taste in the year ahead? It’s a fun exercise, and I have a few of my own. One of them is trying not to get too wrapped up, not to push myself too hard.
After the year we’ve all had, I tell myself, don’t forget to just enjoy what’s in your glass. We don’t know when this pandemic will end, and the fight for social and racial equality and equity that sparked protests this year is far from over.
Uncertainty looms for so many of us. It’s OK to take comfort and happiness where we can find them.
One way to do that is to pour a glass of wine, give it a swirl and a deep sniff, take a sip and then take another one. We can take momentary pleasure in what the vines and the winemakers have given us.
It’s easy to enjoy a wine and immediately start researching similar styles, or what the best examples are of that grape or region. Working at this magazine, I have a world of information at my fingertips to do just that, and it’s a joy and privilege to be able to go down those rabbit holes and taste expansively.
That is, right up until the moment when I start to feel competitive with myself, wondering why I’m bothering with a wine that might not be the very, very highest-scoring, rarest or exemplar. That’s the turning point, where wine stops being an educational, pleasant hobby. I urge you all to use this end-of-year time as a reset to pull back from that.
While you’re perusing our best wines of the year and making your lists of bottles to seek out, or resolutions about what you’ll taste and discover in 2021, take a second to enjoy whatever wine you’re holding right now. Just this once, don’t think too hard about the depth of color or the mouthfeel. Just let the taste wash over you, and with it the vines that grew the grapes that made it, and the sun, wind and soil that helped those grapes ripen.
Now tell me that’s not the best wine you’ve had all year.