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Wine comes with a lan­guage and rit­u­al­ism that has the po­ten­tial to drive away new and cu­ri­ous drinkers. For the unini­ti­ated, wine can be tough love. It’s not al­ways de­signed for im­me­di­ate en­joy­ment and plea­sure. Rarely does any­one en­joy their first wine. It can take time and a lit­tle per­sis­tence, but when your senses and fac­ul­ties come to grips with what wine is all about, a whole new world un­folds.

As a som­me­lier, I have wit­nessed huge changes in wine over the past 20 years. I have also seen how new and cu­ri­ous drinkers are now com­ing to wine through the per­spec­tive of cook­ing and din­ing out. Food can un­lock a deeper un­der­stand­ing of wine. Go­ing to restau­rants and wine bars has be­come a new na­tional pas­time, and the re­al­ity that we can, and will, learn more about wine in the con­text of food and din­ing has fi­nally ar­rived.

Over the past two decades, I’ve seen first-hand how the shifts in the way we eat have changed the way we drink. Think of the fu­sion cui­sine of the ’80s and the sub­se­quent swing to lighter wines, or tapas and Mediter­ranean in the ’90s and the move to grape va­ri­eties that shared the same her­itage. Soon after, it was or­gan­ics and heathy eat­ing, and the en­su­ing rise of ‘nat­u­ral’ and or­ganic wines.

With the con­stant shift in drink­ing trends, it can be hard to drown out the white noise and re­tain fo­cus on what’s im­por­tant. That is, your sense of taste and your abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate what you en­joy in wine to those charged with the sale and ser­vice of it. But this is where red flags start to flut­ter for many. How do you talk about wine with­out sound­ing like the peo­ple who may have turned you off it in the first place?

Dur­ing all those years on the restau­rant floor, I spent plenty of time with drinkers and din­ers, and what I learned is that we all share the same ap­pre­hen­sions when test­ing our bound­aries in wine. It’s only when you put your­self out there and talk about what you en­joy drink­ing that you re­alise your sense of taste is an in­cred­i­bly per­sonal jour­ney. For me, wine is a great drink, but it’s the food, oc­ca­sions, peo­ple and places that go with it that make it spe­cial.

Drink­ing and din­ing have for­ever gone hand in hand. As long-time som­me­lier Chris Mor­ri­son ex­plains, in­ter­pret­ing the lan­guage used in the food and wine worlds can lead to a deeper un­der­stand­ing – and en­joy­ment – of both.

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