52 bottles of wine on the blog

With all this cold, grey and wet weather we’ve been having lately, what better way to drown your sorrows, warm your cockles, and wax poetically about whatever cockles might be than with a good bottle of wine.

Most people tend to stick to the few wines they know, and what most of us know tends to be a drop in the bucket of what’s available to us at our local liquor store, let alone from around the world.

While many of us would like to expand our wine horizons, doing so can be risky. Wine isn’t cheap, and if you don’t like the bottle you bought, like a well intended but poorly matched blind date, you’re kind of stuck with it for the night.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were someone out there willing to try different wines and report back on them for us? Even better, someone who researches the wines ahead of time and selects them accordingly. Who buys stacks of wine books and reads them for fun. Who keeps a detailed journal of the wines they try, breaking each bottle down into a myriad technical components for further analysis.

That’s where Matt Reynolds comes in. Matt is the kind of guy who, when he gets into something, he really gets into it: collecting and absorbing as much knowledge as possible, putting that knowledge into practice and then sharing his findings with the rest of us.

Wine is just one such interest of his. Matt’s also a coffee aficionado, a whisky lover, an avid cyclist, and an active photographer.

I sat down with Matt recently to discuss his enthusiasm for wine, his blog on the subject, Wine Folk, and the ongoing experiment he’s chronicling there, the 52 Bottles of Wine Project.

“I was incredibly intimidated by wine when I first started exploring it, and I wanted to take it slow and give myself some room, so I figured one bottle a week seemed approachable and then at the end of the year I’ve got 52 bottles of wine to look back on. It seemed like it would be a really rewarding way to do it.”

“Sometimes I think about what we’re going to eat that night and I’ll try to find a wine that will pair with that, or I’ll buy a bottle I’m interested in and then try to match that with a meal. And sometimes I’ll just choose a bottle on its own. So the context sort of changes, but I’ll normally try to go off on my own with a glass at some point just to mark down some of my thoughts. Then later I’ll come back to it and write some more notes as they come up.”

Matt keeps some pretty technical records of his wine tastings, but you don’t have to speak sommelier to benefit from reading his blog. From his reasons for choosing the wine at hand to his ideas for ideal pairings, Matt delivers his views on each bottle in a way anyone can appreciate and learn from.

“When I started this project I really wanted to take some of the pretentiousness out of wine and maybe bridge the gap between a regular person buying a bottle of wine and a sommelier. I’m not super knowledgable and I don’t pretend to be. I really like the idea of people learning along with me.”

You’ll even find some helpful tips on how to comfortably branch out into the wine world on your own, like his recent suggestion of buying half bottles of the more expensive stuff to save money as you explore new wine territory.

To learn more, head on over to Matt’s Wine Folk blog and check out his 52 Bottles of Wine Project. As of this writing he’s on bottle 12 – plenty of fine wine to read up on, and plenty more still to come.

[Note: in the original post I quoted Matt as saying he was “incredibly intimated by wine,” which was a typo on my part and has since been updated.]