Let your Wine Speak to You!

/ Updated on October 14, 2020

I love listening to my wine! What a great story every wine has to tell, and I just dig listening to each story unfold. Give it a try! I promise you it will dramatically enhance your enjoyment of wine.

As is the case with most aspects of life, it pays to be a good listener and wine is no different. As you sip your wine and enjoy its tastes and smells, “listen” to what you are experiencing. Listen as your wine expresses how the vines struggled to get water, how the minerals in the soil impart a particular something to the wine, how the angle at which the vineyard is pointed to the sun allowed the grapes to ripen in a certain way. In short, listen to how the wine expresses the “terroir.”  When we encounter something we really like, we often say, “it speaks to me.” Same with wine, but sometimes we forget to listen. In fact, we often do the opposite of listening to the wine we drink by “telling” the wine what we want it to be. Let’s explore.

Here is an example what I mean by “telling” a wine what we want it to be. I love Cabernet-based Bordeaux wines (these wines are typically found in the left bank of the Bordeaux region). And if I am drinking a Napa Cab and were to say, “Wow, this really doesn’t hold a candle to the incredibly complex, beautifully age-worthy, earthy wines I love from Bordeaux, I am telling the Napa Cab that I want it to be a Bordeaux.” However, I would enjoy my Napa Cab much more if instead of telling it to be a Bordeaux, I listened to it tell the story of how the growing conditions in Napa make it the king of the plush, ripe deep dark fruited wines with enormous depth and power resulting in a wine that is second to none when enjoying a beautiful ribeye steak.

For a time, many winemakers were telling their wines what to be rather than letting them be themselves. Some called this “Parkerizing” their wines as they tried to produce wines that would please the fruit-forward palate of famed wine critic Robert Parker. This of course was a fool’s errand and fortunately for us wine consumers, most serious winemakers have seen the light and are more focused than ever on allowing the wines they make to express themselves and tell their own story rather than trying to be something they’re not.

If you read a really good spy novel, you wouldn’t dismiss it as inferior because it wasn’t as romantic as your favorite love story. No, you enjoyed the spy novel for what it was. Same with wine. Don’t “tell” your Willamette Valley Pinot Noir to taste like a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Instead, listen to what the Willamette Pinot Noir tells you about itself and enjoy it for what it is … not what it isn’t.

Since I mention Bordeaux versus Napa Cab and Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Versus Burgundy as wines that say or express themselves in different ways, here are a few suggestions that illustrate that point well:

Pine Ridge Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (about $50)

Château Beaumont, Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France (less than $30…a real bargain!)

Lemelson, Theas Selection, Willamette Valley, Oregon (about $35)

Francois Raquillet, Vieilles Vignes, Mercurey, Burgundy, France (about $35)

So, I encourage you to curl up with a good wine and listen. I guarantee you will enjoy your wine more than ever.


Cuvée Ray

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Cuvée Ray Kurz

About the Author

Cuvée Ray Kurz is a sommelier, wine consultant and wine educator. He has been awarded his sommelier certificate and his Certified Specialist of Wine by the Society of Wine Educators and is now working on his Diploma Level 4 Certification which is the recognized final step before applying to enter the Master of Wine program. Ray was the owner of Cuvée Ray Wine Bar and Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner. He owned a “virtual winery” offering wine under his “Social Cluster” label and recently launched Cuvée Ray Wine Academy which conducts educational wine tastings, dinners, and similar events at restaurants and for private groups at homes, clubhouses and other venues. View all articles written by Cuvée Ray Kurz

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