Imagine being on a river cruise and getting stuck for 3 days in one location because the river is flooding. And it’s in the fall! That’s exactly what happened to us on our Rhone River cruise a couple of years ago. The Rhone River flow was far above the level to close the locks, thereby bringing all river traffic to a halt. One morning when we got up there was this tree lodged against the bow of the ship.
All luck, or Mr. Murphy would have it, we were anchored by the smallest town on the cruise. Of course this town had no services either. So we were stuck making the best of it with lots of wine. Sometimes there are unexpected benefits on a wine cruise. Once the tree was removed a day later we continued our journey.
Years ago when I first started drinking wine I did what most people do. I fell into the rut of only drinking a few varietals. My journey started with reds and one look in my wine cooler is proof that I still prefer the reds. Yet every once in a while I would drink something that would catch my attention and make me wonder what other surprises were waiting for me in the vast sea of wines.
As my journey progressed I joined a wine club with monthly shipments. Unbeknownst to me, this membership was the catalyst that transformed how I would think of wine. I kept getting these wines I never heard of, and certainly wouldn’t buy in a store, simply because I didn’t recognize the “brand”. Nope, I wasn’t the most suave guy in the neighborhood. Most would agree I’m still not.
But I liked a lot of these wines and that got me to thinking about what I had been missing. Then I read about a club in the UK called the Wine Century Club. “What a cool idea! Drink 100 different single varietal wines.” Little did I know how long it would take. I’ve been on the quest for 5 years now. Until you’ve tried it, you don’t know how difficult it is to find more than 30 to 40 different types. Plus I have to stick to a budget.
You would think that it would be a simple task to find all these wines. But darn it, there are rules, like it can’t be a blended wine. Or that a Shiraz is the same thing as a Sirah. Hmm, is that you saying, “But Wooly, just go down to the corner wine specialty store and pick up your hundred.” Ahh, if it was only that easy. However retail stores have to make money and I don’t think they would make a fortune selling Elbling, Pedro Ximenex wine or any other with weird names like that. I’m quite sure Pineau d’Annis is hard enough to pronounce let alone sell it. So, no, the local wine store isn’t the answer.
Slowly (remember, I’m not the brightest bulb in the shed) I realized that I would probably have to travel to the great wine regions of the world to finish the quest. You folks in Europe have no idea how much easier it is for you to join this club. My guess is the 100th bottle will come from either Italy or Greece. Now is this really a bad thing?
Combining my love of travel and thirst for unusual wines seems like a pretty cool thing to do and actually has led to another quest. If you guessed traveling to every great grape growing region in the world, you guessed correctly. However that darn budget thing slows down the journey. So hopefully you’re got a few years left in you to follow me on my quest. And heck, maybe this can inspire you on your own quest, whatever it may be. Possibly climbing all the fourteeners if you live in Colorado. Cheers, Wooly.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain