I have had a funny theory from back in the days I taught word processing and operating systems. When I would run into strong resistance to learning something new, and lots of whinging on about how it “doesn’t do it like my old system” , it sometimes turned out that the strength of their resistance was in direct relationship to how hard the old system had been to learn. The nastier the learning curve had been, the more devout the user (once they had mastered it). This is not necessarily a rational area.

Maybe they just did not want a repeat of that experience, though quite logically the new information ought to be easier to plug in to. But that point is difficult to make. I even termed this the Wang Whine, and it wasn’t as if they had a choice, any more than the system administrators and operators who were being moved from say an IBM 360 to their first VAXen. The fact is the newness wasn’t their idea. They may have worked very very hard to master whatever came first. They didn’t want to do it again. Not the pain. Nada. None of it.

Maybe I understand better now – I certainly am older though some might argue about maturity… but I am hopeful that I will still want to learn new things, taste new flavours, discover that my own preferences might move over time.

I know it happens with food and drink. Tolerance or appreciation for, say, sweetness, is a moving target (and usually moving away), but then I try a dessert wine that is chilled just enough and paired with the right [bright] taste and I reconsider it. The only non-negotiable area is chocolate – dark, darkest, and only dark.

Of course there is the head-over-heels surprise – like the first time you sip something totally outside your experience and it is a lifetime love. Which is a long-winded way to say I still love peaty malt. From my first sip of Laphroig nearly 20 years ago to sticking my head into the mash tun and inhaling a future Islay batch, to splashing a wee dram into marmalade.

On trust & a sincere recommendation from a wine merchant, we bought our first bottle of Marc in St. Remy, and fell deeply in lust with the earthiness – distilled from grape must, it tastes of discovery, of our first November in Provence. That bottle, once empty, stayed with us for several years, to uncork and take a whiff to remember, until we returned for more, and tracked down, and met, the distiller. And like our favourite distiller of poire, this wasn’t just their livelihood, it was their family tradition. We were just lucky enough to stumble into a taste!

What was your first appreciation of a wine or spirit? And today?

note: we’ll leave the religious matters of operating systems to other forums 😉