I had a great childhood – my Dad taught me how to start a chainsaw, shoot a puck, and fillet a pike. That’s a good Canadian education – experiential learning that you don’t get in regular school. I am slowly learning how one gets an experiential education in wine – and it’s not about drinking. It’s about embarrassing me again.
I went to wine school a couple of times in the summer of 2008. My earlier post Wine Lesson Number One recalls how I embarrassed myself trying to “parlez vin” with a Frenchman – the story of Wine Lesson Number Two is a little easier on my ego.
Wine lesson number two also happened in Antibes, this time in a small wine store. My teacher was an aspiring négociant named Alexandre. I insisted that he speak to me only in French until I didn’t understand anymore (which happened often – a reminder that knowing 15 words doesn’t make me bilingual). It was exciting to be in France and try its great wines. I was even ready to spend too much money. After a lengthy conversation (he seemed to enjoy practicing his English when I “let” him) I left with a local $10 red wine. This would suffice until I thought about my serious purchases overnight. I would buy some great wines tomorrow. Alexandre would be impressed by my purchase tomorrow – none of this “local wine for the tourist from Canada” stuff.
Of course the wine was fantastic and the next day I purchased more wines from Provence. What did impress Alexandre was my appreciation for the local wine. I had learned wine lesson number 2 – that the local wines from Provence were way too good to pass up. They weren’t expensive and they were fantastic. Each day after that we talked about Provençal wines.
When I came home I started looking for wines from Provence on the LCBO and Vintages list – there really aren’t any. After my initial disappointment I realized that I hadn’t really learned the lesson that Alexandre taught me at all. What he was trying to teach me was that the local wines are what I want to drink. I only live 140 kms from Niagara and some great wine! Alexandre taught me that being a locavore (I need to come up with a cool word like that) is wine lesson number two.
I hope Alexandre comes to Canada some day – I have some learning to share with him.