My first glass: the seduction of Chenin Blanc!

What is it about firsts? What is it about the profound memories they conjure, their sensory explosions? All I know is, we seldom forget the “firsts” in our lives. Often, they correspond with major turning points: episodes that redefine our perspectives.

Wine is one of the major “firsts” I vividly remember. It was summer (early 80s) in Orange County, California. It was at the home of a professional associate. I was there to discuss a business matter. She offered me a glass of wine; at this time I wasn’t a wine drinker (Boone’s Farm didn’t exactly call to me). I politely accepted. Off she goes to fetch the wine, glasses, and some cheese. Obviously, she knew the drill.

For me that day, experiencing that glass of wine, was like discovering what enlightened living must be like. This was my first time ever to relax on a Saturday afternoon, with a little cheese, some wine sipping, and polite conversion, a cultural experience fundamentally foreign to me.

Heretofore, my world definitely didn’t include a crisp, chilled glass of otherworldly Chenin Blanc from Sonoma. I was hooked on the first sip! I could no longer consider cheap, poorly-made wine. I felt so ALIVE!

I’m always amazed at the things we remember. What was it about that simple glass of wine? Was it the lifestyle it represented? Was it the quality of the wine? Was it the company? I don’t remember the topic of conversation that day, or why exactly I was there. What I vividly remember is that seductive, vibrant, clean glass of Chenin Blanc, and how it made me feel.

If you’re a wine lover like me, I bet you have your first time story too, and I’d suspect it may include a Chenin Blanc. You see, I learned years later, while doing advanced wine studies, that Chenin Blanc is often the wine that introduces beginners to vino-love! In France it’s called Vouvray , and hails from the Loire Valley. They like to say their Vouvrays are very gossamer, richly flavored, and honeyed–even when dry. It’s no wonder this wine launches so many wine-loving palates.

Sadly, the Chenin Blanc is presently out of fashion in the vino world; as far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t be! What do you think? Have you enjoyed a glass of this seductive little wine lately? I hope you have – and I hope it brings out your inner gossamery! We could all stand some breeziness in these crazy times.


2 Responses to “My first glass: the seduction of Chenin Blanc!”

  1. 1 Jake
    September 16, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I too had only had cheap boxed wine and plastic cups of Gallo poured from giant glass jugs before tasting a chenin blanc in college. I was turned as surely as if a vampire had had his way with me.

    • 2 Patrick Bartlett
      December 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm

      Those wines were NOT real Chenin Blancs! They were bastardized versions used by the Gallos of the world to look like fine wines. Also, boxed wines should not be overlooked. Most wines are made to be drunk young; boxes help keep wines fresh longer, therefore extending the amount of time you can enjoy them before they get stale.

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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


September 2009
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