At least in part this blog – and in fact my interest in wine in general – was inspired by Simon Barnes’ terrific book How to be a Bad Birdwatcher.
The thesis of the book (subtitled “To the Greater Glory of Life”) is really that life is enriched by the mere act of lifting up your eyes and enjoying the things that are all around us, and that the more you learn about them, the more you enjoy.
If I remember right, the first piece of advice is simply that the next time you see some birds fly by, you should look at them and observe how amazing they are. The second, that you should enhance your pleasure by learning something about them. After that, you will find that the knowledge enables you to identify those birds and discover new birds, seek out information on the new ones, and so on. The knowledge then accumulates and the more you know, the more you enjoy, and then at some point I think you start hiding under blankets in fields with long lenses.
It is fantastic and I can’t recommend the book too highly. After reading it I really did start birdwatching – and even got into some amusing situations with binoculars in public parks – but I soon realized that the same rules apply in other fields.
Specifically, I noticed how much more you get out of wine when you really try and observe it – when instead of glugging it down you take a moment to look at it in the glass, smell the aroma and splash it around your tongue and tonsils. Then you start learning little odds and ends – winery visits are great for this – and, before you know it, you feel like you are beginning to understand things, and really enjoying it.
In my case, I have found that the blog adds to the fun. It has given me an excuse/a prod to drink a few different sherries already (and I have some real goodies lined up), has forced me to try and observe them and even to try and put my observations into words. The latter part is a lot more difficult than I expected (I frankly admit some of the descriptions are based more on inspiration than information) but it is also highly enjoyable – once your imagination starts telling you a sherry tastes of caramel, or nuts, or herbs, or bread, then it doesn’t take much more.
And there is also some cracking bird watching around Jerez, or so I am told.