Many wine experts can pinpoint the exact moment they fell in love with wine — the one glass that knocked them off balance and opened them up to a lifetime of appreciation and dedication.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day we asked some of the pros to weigh in on their “aha” moment. Their experiences, like wine itself, were incredibly unique but all resulted in the desire to pursue wine as a profession and passion.
Do you remember when you fell in love with wine? Still searching for your “aha” glass? Leave your story in the comments and we will share our favorites!
6. William Rohlfing
Assistant General Manager and Beverage Director at Sorellina
“Chinon. This story may come across as terribly snotty. When I was 19 or 20, I had been working in a 4-star restaurant in a Relais & Chateau inn for several years. In that time, I tasted many wines and had started pulling the corks of Bordeaux first growths, Harlan, etc. By the time I hit 20 or so, I was kind of jaded already. Then, I tasted my first Chinon. Cuvee de la Terroir by Charles Joguet. I had discovered Cabernet Franc, and it was good. I discovered that there was something other than sleek, California fruit bombs that were so often served at that restaurant, and it changed my outlook at that age. Wine was interesting, and there is always something new to discover.”
5. Lorenzo Ruggeri
Editor of Gambero Rosso Wine Travel Food
“When I was a boy of 18, my father forced me to follow him on a trip to Burgundy. During that journey I spent most of my savings. I’ve never regretted one cent.”
4. Christopher Prewett
Certified Sommelier and Fine Wine Sales Manager at The Jug Shop
“There never was a moment – my love affair with wine developed over a couple of years of being immersed in European and Asian cultures that saw wine as a part of most any meal, not just another means to a sotten end of another forgotten evening. From Muscadet with fresh oysters shucked by the huitreculteur who’d plucked it from Bay in Arcachon, a hearty red with homemade Frieslandische rouladen in Würdenhain in East Germany, to freshwater trout sashimi with saké on the slopes of Takayama in Gifu, wine just became a part of the meal for me. And if you’re going to put love and energy into making and eating food, then love and energy need be devoted to the wine to be served. I will say that there was another sort of “aha” moment: when I first tried the 2002 Haut Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett at Elvino in Venice. That wine changed my life. But by that time, I had long fallen for wine and been in the industry for some years.”
3. Marybeth Bentwood
Executive Director of Wines of Chile
“My first year in the business I attended a Perrier-Jouet tasting with a wine from the late 1800s. It opened my eyes to the most romantic aspects of wine; time travel and guardianship. I can’t think of an another product that allows you to experience the past like wine. To be able to enjoy the fruits that benefited from the weather, the soils and the winemaking from the 1800s is amazing. That’s only possible because people cared greatly for the wines and ensured that the next generation also cared for them as well. These sleeping vessels were cared for to ensure the next generation could enjoy them. I find that really beautiful.”
2. Véronique Sanders
CEO of Château Haut-Bailly
“I remember I was living abroad and after some time I opened a bottle of Haut-Bailly with friends. I was literally transported in space and time to the estate… A great wine is magical and brings so much emotion!”
1. Leah Hammer
Director of Cellar Acquisitions at Vinfolio
“There are two: 1) in 1995: I just started in the wine business and was lucky to taste 1967 Chateau d’Yquem at a pre-auction tasting at 10 AM. It was hard to go back to coffee after that to be sharp for the auction. 2) In 1998: I drank 1989 Haut Brion for the first time. It was probably too young at the time, but already fantastic. Right away I knew we were meant to be together. It’s just gotten better over the years.”