Good and bad go together

One year of my university education occurred in France, and, as you might expect, the culture was a bit of a distraction.

My professors taught me language and literature, but the best education I got was learning about French food and drink, especially wine.

My year in France stuck with me, and so when opportunity knocked, I took up wine studies as part of my hospitality career. I found a passion I had never imagined.

I was enraptured not only by the myriad of flavours I could experience in the glass, but also by the intricacies of history, geography, geology, and climatology that created those flavours.

OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a wine geek.

Often, you’ll see sommeliers in restaurants advising patrons on which wine to pair with their meals. Here in wine country, sommeliers are even more common, in tasting rooms and in the cellar.

The study of wine can be quite a technical pursuit, involving the entire process from planting and caring of vines to the making and cellaring of the wine, to the serving of a specific bottle with a meal.

My mission as a certified wine geek has taken me down a humbler path. I like to show people that anyone can “geek out” on wine.

People who try to convince me they couldn’t possibly see the value in a higher quality wine are totally capable of just that, and more. They just have to be willing to try a new experience.

You see, it’s all part of my philosophical theory that you can’t have the good without the bad.

We all need points of reference when we learn. Whether it’s about the consequences of cooking on a hot stove or choosing which wine to drink, we have better success when we know the range of possible experiences.

For example, someone who has burned themselves on that hot stove is usually more careful than someone who hasn’t; they know what’s at stake.

By the same logic, once you have tried that higher quality wine, then you know what it tastes like and you can decide knowledgeably if you like it better. (The same is true about Brussels sprouts – don’t tell me you don’t like them if you’ve never had one. Yes, I’m that kind of person.)

This philosophy translates to everything in life. My chiropractor told me about a patient who is extraordinarily optimistic. This fellow is in his 80s and despite the trials of age and having been through the Second World War, he has a positive outlook.

When asked to share his secret, the fellow said being a reconnaissance agent in WWII he was shot at by people he didn’t know. Men he’d never met were trying to kill him. He was one of about 30 men who survived from a team of almost 1,800.

He says now that any day no one is shooting at him is a good day.

I know, this is an extreme example to illustrate the value of tasting wine, but I’m hoping it might inspire people to venture out. I’m espousing half of the Roman adage, Carpe diem, loosely translated as:

“Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

We shouldn’t need to be on death’s doorstep to enjoy life. But the more we understand the range of experiences possible to us, the more we can appreciate the spectacular bits.

The next time someone offers you a taste of something exotic, think of it as “Let’s carpe the heck out of this diem!”

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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