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The Pleasures of the Solid Case

Like people who are obsessed with music, the wine-obsessed seem to constantly require something new. This is very much a problem for those of us in the wine industry. It is time to drink some wine. We have to decide: go for an old favorite or try something new? Inevitably, curiosity – and perhaps a dose of hope – wins the battle for your mind, and you go with something new.

This is definitely true of me. To maximize my wine experiences, I am forever tempted to try a new bottle, even if I have already discovered something I love.

But recently I decided that the way to try something new was to stop trying new bottles of wine, and start drinking the same wine over and over again. What I wanted to know is, what’s it like drinking the same wine every evening, like most people in wine regions do around the world? It’s something I had never tried before.

I got myself two solid cases. One was the Piron-Lameloise “Quartz” Chenas 2010. The wine retails for $21.99 at our shop. Back when I wrote about Chenas, I recounted the story of finding a 5-year old case of this Chenas that had been lost in the cellar. I was astounded to discover how what started out as a fairly simple wine had become such a great wine of complexity and pleasure.

Well, the 2010 has now passed its 5-year mark and it’s a pretty great vintage. The price was right. Seemed perfect.

The other case had to be white. I went with Claude Riffault’s Sancerre “Les Chasseignes” 2014. My reasons were simple. It’s an all-purpose white from a great vintage, and Sancerre is a wine my wife particularly likes. But mostly I had tasted it and found it to be damn good.

So some nights I drank my Chenas and some nights I drank my Sancerre. It wasn’t every night. Maybe I was at a restaurant and had something different. And there was probably a serious wine dinner or two in there with some great old bottles of wine. And of course there was some over-lapping – the Sancerre keeps brilliantly in the fridge for a few days so even on my Chenas days I could have a glass.

On the whole, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience. Here were the highlights:

  1. The first point may seem obvious, but it surprised me how true this was: It was really nice drinking wine every night that I liked! I guess my normal wine-drinking habits are really quite experimental, and when you experiment there are lots of frustrations and disappointments: wine that was too old or too young, too weird or just not to my liking. It was really nice to go a couple of weeks without these sorts of problems!
  1. When it was time to head home for the evening, I really loved not having to think about what wine I would be drinking! Yes, those of us who are wine-obsessed spend way too much of our lives doing that.
  1. It takes more than one bottle to get to know a wine. You need to listen to a great album a few times before you really appreciate it. The same is true of wine. I already liked these wines when I bought these solid cases, but by the time I was half-way through them I was appreciating beauty and nuance that I hadn’t noticed before.
  1. But this was the biggest advantage: At some point along the way, I stopped thinking about the wines I was drinking. I had figured them out. I knew what they tasted like at the top of the bottle, the bottom of the bottle and in the middle. I knew what they tasted like with salad, with scallops, with salami, with chicken, and with steak. I stopped thinking about the wine. I stopped questioning it. I just enjoyed its pleasures.

Does this mean I am going to forever become a solid case kind of guy? Hell no. I remain intensely curious about the many wines this world can offer and this experience has not deterred me from continuing my explorations.

But it has changed by attitude. More often, I find myself going back to old favorites. All such great friends! No, I don’t drink them every night, but every time that I do it is a good night.