Wine is life. Life is wine. Never the twain can be separated. It's just like any other area of expertise or professional activity: the tenets of having success at something often extend to many things, if not everything. It's the reason books like Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" exist. They exist because many traits translate. It's the reason that professional athletes can often slide right into other business endeavours with ease once they're finished playing. They have developed habits of routine and disciplined regimens that help them grow, improve, and attain specific goals. One could serious apply these traits to any area and use them to generate improvement.
That being said, let's apply this to wine. Here are 7 traits that you can develop while tasting, enjoying, and learning about wine that will also help you in your every day life:
1. Being truly open-minded. We say it all the time, but it is a must. If you drink wine with a narrow mind, you miss so much. Drinking wine with a narrow mind would be like leaving a Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine because you didn't laugh at the first joke. Take a deep breath, and prepare to expand.
2. Mindfulness. This is truly what tasting is about. It is meditative. It is meditative in the sense that you are paying as close attention as possible to your sense of smell, your sense of sight, your sense of touch, your sense of taste, and even your sense of hearing. I guess that's all of them. Some may ask, "how do you hear wine?" Well, all wine is a little different in weight and has a different sound in the glass and in your mouth. Pour a glass of Champagne followed by a glass of Sauternes. You'll see what I mean. Mindfulness brings us into the present moment, helps us listen, helps us release tension and allow anxiety to pass.
3. Humour. We tend to remember things that we find funny, and memory is key when we are learning to enjoy wine. For a few reasons. The greater our wine memory bank becomes, the more familiar new wines from regions we are familiar with will also taste. People like familiar things, and therefore, will like new wines more, more often. Humour can be that vessel. Make up silly names for wines you can't pronounce very well. Break the rules. Drink wine from the bottle. Drink wine from a shoe. It doesn't have to always be serious and stuffy. Humour is essential to fun. It might be more essential than anything else when we talk about what "fun" is. Work on it. But not too hard that you stop having fun!
4. Generosity. Share. Share. Share. Found a rare wine that you love that's almost too good and too affordable to be true? Share it. The more people that drink better, real wine, the more better real wine can be produced. People are also MUCH more open-minded when they're not on the hook for a bottle. So, share something good that you love. You could literally be changing someone's life and igniting a new passion for them. And you know what they say. What goes around, comes around.
5. Due Diligence. Every time you buy a bottle of wine, you are making a business deal. Money for wine. That's the deal. If you want to come out on top of that deal, feeling like you received something of great value in comparison to its cost, you gotta do some homework. If you only rely on the case-stacks and fancy labels, you are going to duped and disappointed often, my friend. Research and homework is what allows smart wine people to drink great stuff for less money. It's just like learning how to change your oil. Do the homework, save a bundle, and get a better result.
6. Fearlessness. What I really mean here, is do not be afraid to fail. This ties in with open-mindedness, yes, but I think it covers a different perspective. Fear is what prevents us from trying new things. At the end of the day, it's just a bottle of wine. It honestly can't be that bad. Anthony Bourdain always said that our bodies aren't temples, but amusement parks. Your palate can handle it. Get out there, and get it in front of new things. It is the only way to truly grow your skill set and your ability to enjoy new things.
7. Listen to others, but trust yourself. This is a tough one. There is so much information out there. Everybody has tips and tricks for you. The only way you can truly know whether or not somebody's information is valuable is if you truly listen. Then, do your due diligence. Listen to what somebody else has to say on the subject. And then somebody else. But at the end of the day, you have to use your own logic and critical thinking skills to do what is best for you and you alone. Ultimately, if you stop having fun because of what somebody else told you to do, then do something different. In other words, yes, seek to be sponge and soak everything in, but be your own master.
Nobody can enjoy wine for you.