A Tasting of the Grape, Among Other Things

An amateur wine competition in Manchester, Vt., features vintages that surprise the palate

Bottles of wine at the tasting event (Photo courtesy of winemakermag.com)

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• Making wine works fine as a hobby but not as a way of saving money. "It's something you do for yourself. And so you can impress your friends."

• If you need an excuse to get started, use the one that worked for many, many before you. Say you are doing it for your health. "We saw a big surge in interest," Ring says, "when people started reading about the ‘French paradox.'" Which is, I learned, not the title of some impenetrable book by Sartre but the medical evidence that red wine improves coronary health.

By lunch on Sunday, the dumpster was nearly filled with broken glass and I was ready to go pull dandelions instead of drink them—or, to be precise, watching while other people drank them. The winners in each of 50 different categories would be announced later, and they would be feted at an awards dinner in California in late spring or early summer.

Before leaving, I did sample a little mead, something I've wanted to try ever since I was compelled to read Chaucer. It wasn't bad, either. And, thought I, there is the guy I know who raises bees. So a supply of honey wouldn't be a problem and every man needs a hobby, they say. With a little practice, some water and yeast, I might just take Best in Show in the Mead division—next year at the Equinox.


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