Jim Laughren wants to keep it real when talking about wine. No pretensions, no superciliousness.
It’s about what you like, not what the big time wine critics say you should like says Laughren, author of 50 Ways to Love Wine More: Adventures in Wine Appreciation! (Crosstown Publishing 2018; $26.95), an NYC Big Book Award winner and finalist in the American Book Fest Best Book Awards.
“I wrote the book with the intention of starting a conversation about wine,” says Laughren, a Certified Wine Educator and former president of a wine import and distribution company. ““I wanted my book to be for people who really like wine but are put off by wine snobs. All of my writing and teaching is about letting people know that what other people think doesn’t matter, that there are no secrets to wine though many wine critics would have you believe otherwise and that only they hold the secrets. Historically, there’s never been a wine or gate keeper.”
Indeed, says Laughren, wine was, for centuries both seasonal and also for everyone.
“In Rome, they even gave their slaves wine though it was the dregs, of course,” he says. “Wine’s greatest gift is to give pleasure and we’re all entitled to that.”
Determining your own palate means trusting your own preferences. And though wine can be complex, it becomes easier to appreciate when a person understands how memory and emotion are inextricably tied to taste and are determining factors in all of our personal wine journeys.
“At the top of the nasal passage is the olfactory epithelium that connects directly to the area of the brain where memories are stored,” explains Laughren. “You know how some wines have tastes of tobacco. If as a child you had a kindly grandfather who smoked a pipe, contrasted with a child whose parents chain smokers and a house that reeked of cigarettes, those memories would impact how the two would feel about the taste or aromas of tobacco in wine.”
Laughren, founder of WineHead Consulting, encourages people to explore new wines while still enjoying your favorites.
“There are 10,000 different grape varietals,” he says. “Look at Italy, there are probably 800 varieties in that country alone.”
Like most of us, Laughren drank some funky wines in college.
“Most wines made in the 1970s were very sweet,” he says. “Group think changes. Now those in the know pooh-pooh sweet table wines as the drinks of the unwashed masses. But if that’s what you like, don’t spend too much time thinking about it, just enjoy them. Instead think about exposing yourself to other wines and widening your experience.”