Living with a wine-nut is not all lunch at Yquem and trips to Australia, wine couples say in a forthcoming feature for Decanter magazine.
Peter Richards (married to wine writer Susie Barrie) canvasses opinion across the wine trade, from high-profile MW couple David Peppercorn and Serena Sutcliffe, to winery owners Kathy and Gary Jourdan.
And he comes to the conclusion that while wine couples can be as varied their tastes, when two wine obsessives get together life – whether you’re shopping or cooking the dinner – can be as unpredictable as a vat in full ferment.
‘Going into wine shops is an absolute bloody nightmare,’ says Kate Sweet, wine PR and events consultant, married to director of New Zealand winegrowers Europe, Warren Adamson. ‘We’re like kids in a sweet shop, when the last thing we need is a £120 bill.’
There are, however, many positive aspects to being married to a wine professional. Bella Spurrier, wife of Decanter’s contributing editor, Steven, says that among numerous advantages, the worldwide contacts and visits to ‘amazing’ estates are wonderful.
But she admits, ‘I’ve admired many, many bottling lines,’ and has bluffed her way through a few tastings when called upon to do so.
For his part, Steven sets more store by his wife’s palate than she does. ‘I have always thought the female palate to be more precise than the male,’ he says, adding that Bella can spot taint quicker than he can, and paying tribute to her ‘direct’ summing up of a wine.
There are compromises, however: ‘my mantra, “drink for mood, not for food” is often compromised. Looking forward to something robust from the Rhone valley on a Friday night, Bella might announce that she has bought two fresh crabs from West Bay for the main course. White it has to be then.’
But sharing the wine experience is an integral part of their relationship. He may always choose the wine but far more important is the ‘appreciative response’ his choices bring.
Serena Sutcliffe MW agrees that sharing is a fundamental part of the relationship, especially between a couple of wine professionals.
‘There is a constant exchange of information and stimulation in being with someone whose professional life is wine,’ she says. ‘And you can share so much joy in it.’
Richards says that the personal nature of wine appreciation can lead to frustration, disagreement and hostility.
It is worth bearing in mind though, that the non-wine-nut can trump their supposedly more knowledgeable spouse.
‘Very early on in our marriage we stopped at a restaurant for dinner,’ says Steven Spurrier. ‘I ordered Haut-Brion 1952. “Nice but a bit flat” was Bella’s comment. I was furious and the following day acquired a copy of Edmund Penning-Rowsell’s tome on Bordeaux to prove her wrong. “Overshadowed by the 1953, this is a nice wine but rather flat” was the great Eddie’s judgement.’
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Written by Oliver Styles