Gman, I read the post last night and very much enjoyed your wine journey. It reminded me of our first trip to France in the early 90s where we spent 2 Euros at the market for a bottle of Burgundy to drink with our meal of roast chicken, cheese and a baguette on a blanket in the park at dusk near the Eiffel Tower. And a few weeks later ordering a 375 half bottle at a restaurant in Beaune and thinking we were being extravagant.
After that, I started buying $20-30 bottles of Burgundy at the LCBO (AFAIK it was the only place you could buy wine when you lived in Ontario), bought a 50 bottle wine rack that I kept under the basement stairs, bought wine based on the TNs and scores in the Vintages magazine (and made many mistakes - like the full case of Tabali Pinot), and eventually found my way to the LCBO wine auctions. Those were eye-opening, but I still couldn’t bring myself to spend more than $60 on a bottle, even at auction.
Then, in 2013 I was talking to a friend in California and we discovered we both liked wine. He asked “are you on CT?” And with those 4 words my wine world changed dramatically.
CT led to their forum, which led to me learning about online wine retailers and shipping to Lewiston, which led to the discovery of Wine-Searcher. All within about 3 weeks. Then Julian Coleman, who was on the CT forum, told me about THIS forum and a thing called “off lines”. I attended my first dinner with Vincentric and a few friends in September 2013, and my first official offline at Paese a few weeks later. It was organized by machine and I met about 10 other forumites, most of whom I still see regularly and who I consider good friends.
At 62, I’m cutting back on the number of OTT wine dinners I attend, but I agree with you that there’s nothing quite like quietly contemplating the aromas from a good bottle. And I also agree that the aromas of a good Northern Rhone are otherworldly.
Glad I got to meet you and the whole family a few years ago at one of those OTT wine dinners here in Toronto. Hopefully we can do it again at some point.