On Transformation

Hey hey,

When I talk about wine, I try to avoid big words. However, there’s one word that I can’t shake.

That’s transformation.

But to me, wine is a transformative experience. There’s really no other way to describe it. Well, maybe sorcery.🔮

Before you say, “Cool it, Harry Potter.” Let’s pause and think about the process of making wine.

  1. Grapes survive a whole growing season.
  2. Amazing people pick, press, and ferment them.
  3. It’s bottled, boxed, and transported throughout the world.
  4. We pop the cork, and it loosens our minds—and potentially our morals.

An oversimplification? No doubt.

But to me, it’s sorcery. It’s transformation.

And if we focus on the last bit, arguably the really fun part, then that’s a different kind of transformation.

We all know that wine can change our mood and our mind, but what about transporting us through space and time?

I think so, but don’t take my word for it.

Meet Richard Betts.

He is the author of The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That and world-renown beverage creator. But prior to his incredible career in food and wine, Richard was going to be a lawyer.

A few years ago, I had the honor of interviewing Richard. During our chat, he shared the exact moment when wine changed his life.

“One afternoon, very late in my grad school career while preparing to defend my thesis in Geology and go to law school six weeks later, I finished a long day in the lab. I jumped over the fence and across what is Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona.

With ten bucks to my name, I blew it all on an ordinary bottle of Chianti. I recognized the label, but I didn’t know the wine exactly.

I went home, started cooking, pulled the cork, poured a glass and stuck my nose in it.

And that first sniff, that first smell, brought back a memory in such a compelling way that I didn’t even know was possible.

It took me back to a restaurant where I ate almost 5 years earlier when I was living in Italy.

And I remembered what I ate, what my date ate, what she wore, what the waitress did right and wrong. The waitress took my espresso too soon and she slipped up the steps…and it was really compelling.

I thought that sort of recall was reserved for an old voice on the phone or a photograph from your past. But it was special.

So the next day, I was supposed to be in the legal library, but I was getting coffee with a friend.

I said, ‘Bobby, I don’t want to go to law school. I think I want to do food and wine.’

He said, ‘Well, you should.’

‘Then, I will’

That was the moment.”

Of the many stories I’ve collected about transformative wine experiences, Richard’s ranks among my favorites.

He didn’t need a whole bottle, but only a sniff to jog a distance memory. That experience altered his life forever.

If that’s not sorcery, then it’s definitely transformation.

When you think about wine and your relationship with it, you’ve probably had a similar moment to Richard.

While you’ve yet to realize that it’s a moment that might define your entire future, your story matters.

So wherever you are in your wine learning journey, I want you to think deeply about the experience where wine made a change in you.

Think about the moment when you felt there was something significant surrounding that bottle of wine. Did you feel an urge to discover more about wine—or yourself?

So, what was your transformative wine experience?

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