This sentence has been said many times, almost abused since Goethe first said it. My grandad, unaware of who Goethe was, used to say to me “If you want to get drunk, do it by drinking good wine, at least you won’t be feeling poor the next day”, it is not exactly like it sounds in Italian but it is the best I can come up with, his recommendation was to drink good wine so that even if I had a couple of glasses too many, the next day I would still be able to go about my day. Two ways of expressing the same concept and this is true for all life’s pleasures, not just wine.
I recently watched “Jiro dreams of Sushi”, a movie/documentary about the three Michelin star (it was until the last edition) Japanese sushi master Jiro Ono. Whether you are a chef or not, like cooking or believe the kitchen in a house is a wasted space, I highly recommend watching it. In one of the final scenes, Jiro Says ““In order to make delicious food, you must eat delicious food. The quality of ingredients is important, but you need to develop a palate capable of discerning good and bad. Without good taste, you can't make good food. “
I don’t think the concept could have been expressed clearly. We may not be able to make wine if we do not own vineyards, but many of us drink it and we need to develop a nose and palate capable of discerning good and bad wine. How do we develop a nose and palate? Drinking wine.
When Jiro expressed the concept did not suggest to eat for the sake of it, far from it. The same is true for wine, we will never develop a nose and a palate for good wine by just drinking bottle after bottle, if it was “that easy”, there would be plenty more wine experts, way too many.
Developing a nose and palate for wine means to follow the same approach Jiro follows when creating his food. Jiro not only know his ingredients, but he knows his suppliers and the provenance of the food, and he eats plenty of great food. To develop a palate and nose for good wine we should probably follow the same approach, it maybe seems a waste of time initially, but eventually it will become natural and thanks to our developed palate, our drinking experiences would be totally different, a joy.
Having been raised and played amongst vines and olive trees, I never fully appreciated how fortunate I was. At home, on our table, not only the food was homemade, but there was always plenty of olive oil and wine, and whilst for the wine I had to wait before I was allowed to drink it, olive oil
has been part of my diet from day one. I would make trips to my grandparents only to eat fire roasted bread with olive oil: three, four, five slices. No sweet, no chocolate, I was happy with bread and oil, still am. Even now, I eat plenty of it, I make my own bread and I always have a glass of red wine with it. Not only I love it, but it bring back wonderful memories of my childhood. Good wine brings back memories too.
This was my training, how I developed my nose and palate. It took many years, it did not happen overnight and I was blessed to live surrounded by good food, not just olive oil, but that life is too short to drink bad wine and eat bad food.