Monday, April 2, 2018

Rant: Buying Wine On Vacation

Spring is in the air, and though hopefully the weather will continue to improve, there still is a chance of snow during the next month or so. However, this is also the time when people begin considering their plans for a summer vacation, from a simple weekend getaway to a longer two week trip. You might even be planning multiple vacations, to different destinations.

I strongly recommend that you include wine into your plans, such as visiting a winery or sampling different wines at dinner. There are wineries in all fifty states, and the quality of that wines continues to improve. There are approximately 10,000 wine producers across the U.S. You probably didn't know that Massachusetts alone has about 67 wine producers. Why not include a winery visit wherever you travel? If you travel internationally, you'll likely find plenty of wineries too in many different countries.

Sipping a glass of wine, while sitting outside and viewing the vineyards where the grapes came from, can be a superb experience. The same can be said for drinking wine with the wine maker, or sipping some while deep within a wine cellar, surrounded by barrels of aging wine. These are special experiences which you will long treasure, and it might cause you to purchase wines to take home with you. I encourage you to buy wine on vacation, however I must provide a caveat, a warning that you might not otherwise hear.

If you find an impressive wine on your vacation, a wine that thrills your senses, which makes everything seem better, you need to understand that it might not taste the same when you get it home. It may not be as impressive or taste as good. Yes, it will be the same wine that you drank on vacation, but the taste may differ. Many people have eventually come to this truth, though they often don't fully understand the reason behind the transformation.

It is actually simple. Your experience of a wine depends in large part on the circumstances surrounding your tasting of that wine. When you are on vacation, awed by your surroundings, thrilled by new experiences, wine may tend to taste better. You are already in a great mood, with a thrilling ambiance, so you elevate all of the elements of that experience, including the wine. Wine also tastes better with the presence of good friends, or even new acquaintances who assist in making your trip even better. You might be at dinner, sitting on a patio overlooking majestic mountains, and your wine might taste wonderful because you love the setting so much. Conversely, a bad vacation experience can make wine taste worse.

So, if you buy wine while on vacation and bring it home, you will have a different set of circumstances when you eventually drink it, which will affect your perceived taste of that wine. That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy wine on vacation. You just need to understand how your surroundings affect the taste of your wine, and maybe lower your expectations of how that wine might taste at home. It will likely still taste delicious, but it may not seem as transcendent as it did on vacation. Or you can provide a better set of circumstances when you finally drink that wine at home, trying to elevate everything. For example, share the bottle with some great friends, and reminisce about your vacation experience.


Frederick Wright said...

I travel internationally more or less constantly, and have for at least thirty years. I have essentially an unlimited travel budget and a very generous vacation schedule from my work. But I've given up trying to bring back stunning wines from my travels solely because it is an absolute nightmare to deal with US customs. The rules are opaque, unevenly enforced, and carry a burden of extreme bureaucracy.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Frederick,
That certainly can be a serious issue. When traveling overseas, I have been able to carry a couple bottles home, well packed, in my luggage. Trying to bring more than that is a different matter.