Samui Wining & Dining
10 Reasons

Why I Love Wine…


18I often refer to myself as a wine lover. And I don’t believe it’s too strong a term, because I mean it. Without wine, my life would be much poorer. A deep chasm would be left in me that no amount of Cornish real ale, delicately blended Scotch whisky, Bombay gin and tonic, or naturally sparkling mineral water from Switzerland could ever fill.

      Here, in no particular order, are just some of my reasons for preferring wine to any other libation on the planet:

      1. Food accompaniment. Wine and food are made for each other. Like Lennon and McCartney, the two together add up to more than the sum of the parts. Char-grilled rib eye steak with a robust Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon, roasted duck salad with Californian red Zinfandel, or delicately poached lemon sole with Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, all perform together to make sweet music on the palate.

       2. The tactile nature of wine is irresistible. The perfect-quantity-for-two-people chunky wine bottle, the gleaming tall-stemmed balloon glassware, the ritual of opening and tasting, all give wine an edge over other beverages. It has to be the most romantic drink known to mankind. Who, in their right minds, ever toasts relationship milestones, like engagements or silver wedding anniversaries, with frothy cans of lager?

      3. Diversity. The old adage goes that variety is the spice of life. Well look no further. There are hundreds of grape varieties worldwide. And just about every country in the world, with a suitable climate, is now cultivating wine, and with that come all the varying methods and traditions. Two wines made from the same grape (or blend) and similar geographical conditions, can taste intriguingly different when made by different countries. And happily, despite the best efforts of the self-appointed French wine police, there is no right and wrong in style and methods of production. It is completely up to the winemaker to express his personal preferences in characteristics, flavours and blends. Other beverages display boringly stringent consistency.

      4. Health. There is agreement amongst most health professionals that moderate wine (red wine in particular) drinking is beneficial. The exceptionally long life expectancy in some parts of the Mediterranean was a mystery until late last century, when wine consumption was proven to be a major contributing factor. Wine is very a natural product, made from fermented grape juice and very little else. And stands alone as a healthy alcoholic drink, no doctors have seriously suggested drinking beer or spirits for their health benefits, as far as I am aware.

         5. History and culture. Wine is the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man. Even today, a bottle of wine can convey a rich history. European vineyards have treasured heritages, going back hundreds of years. The cultural process of wine making is one of nurture, from beginning to end, done in highly focused, small amounts by talented wine masters on site. Although it’s true that mass production has now become more common in new world countries, like Australia. It’s a relatively new phenomenon, and does have the added advantage of sophisticated technology and economies of scale.

         6. Aroma. I love the aromatic qualities of wine. I know it looks a little affected to continually swill and sniff a glass of wine, but the wine’s bouquet is one of its hidden pleasures. The more you practice, the more expert you become at detecting the nuances of a fine wine. Some professional tasters say that the aroma is more useful to them, when assessing a wine, than actual taste.

         7. Colour. Second only to aroma, colour is an important non-taste signal of a wine’s condition. Simply put, the more radiant and lustrous the colour, whether it’s red, white or rosé, the better. And holding up a one-third filled glass to the light, to examine the maroon and purple hues of a vintage Barolo, is one of the small pleasures that make a wine lover’s life worth living. (Sad, I know.)

         8. Alcohol content is just right. These days, most red wines average about 13% alcohol content, and whites around 11%. This means one can drink comfortable amounts, without the bloating and resulting frequent trips to the bathroom experienced when drinking beer. And equally importantly, you don’t have to worry about getting drunk too quickly, as with spirits. Wine’s happy-medium alcohol level allows you to savour its taste, and other endearing characteristics, without the fear of losing control over vital bodily or cerebral functions.

         9. There is always an occasion for wine. As far as any wine lover is concerned, it never needs to be a special celebration to warrant the opening of a bottle. Maybe it’s Wednesday night pizza dinner and that Chianti is calling you. Or a friend drops in unexpectedly and you crack open a crisp Cava. That simple glass of bubbly transforms the evening on the terrace into an impromptu party. Or it’s your anniversary and it’s time to break out the Opus One from 1997 you have been saving for a candlelit dinner. Perhaps you had a horrendous afternoon at the office and the only thing that will save the day is Spanish tapas, and several glasses of Rioja!

         10. Wine is like women. I remember attending a wine dinner where, whilst drinking a gorgeous South Australian Shiraz, a fellow wine buff commented that a good wine was like a good woman, because it needed tender loving care, and a stable home environment. That started a wine-fuelled slightly sexist (but hopefully forgivable) all-male conversation about the similarities between wine and women. “Because there are so many to choose from”, was the first suggestion. Followed somewhat ruefully by: “The good ones are all taken”, and “They cost you an arm and a leg.” Someone else got a laugh with: “Some age more gracefully than others.” But I think the most astute and wonderful remark was that: “Exotic ones are intimidating, but ultimately more exciting, whereas readily available ones are safer and more reliable.”

Peter Jame


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