rocket science made easyI don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If something is worth doing in January it’s worth doing in July. But I do have hopes for the New Year.

It may not be possible to have hope for our political situation so I won’t go there. But regarding wine matters I do hope that in 2018 we can lay to rest the idea that there is some magic bullet to make wine easy. Because it really isn’t. Sure, it’s easy to find a wine to enjoy as a beverage or as an alcohol delivery system. Almost any wine will do.

But to understand wine, to grasp its nuances and complexities, to get genuine aesthetic enjoyment from it takes work and attention. Downloading an app to identify labels won’t help you. That’s just filing and bookkeeping. Even reading a few books on the subject is only a start. It’s not something you can pick up through casual acquaintance. Wine books that promise to teach you what you need to know about wine in a few breezy chapters are as misleading as the books that promise you can “teach yourself calculus in 10 easy lessons”.

And following point scores or crowd-sourced reviews tells you little except what the crowd likes. Appreciating wine is about appreciating individuality, something crowds are not well-equipped to grasp.

Don’t get me wrong. Discovering the beauty of wine is not excessively complicated. It really is not like calculus. It takes no special talent; only the willingness to drink widely, pay attention to small differences and keep track of them over many years, and place those patterns you discover in the larger framework of what others have noticed throughout the centuries of wine appreciation. In other words, it requires discipline, not talent.

It’s not easy but nothing worth doing is easy. And, really, how hard can it be to drink widely and pay attention?