I think the first experience I had with wine that had some directional impact was watching a fellow college student sniff and taste a wine poured at a fancy restaurant in Palo Alto back in 1988 or 1989. I was fascinated by the ritual and the process–the wine was just something to get me buzzed.
As an adult (i.e., post-college) I didn’t drink much wine and was more into trying to homebrew, but a trip to a restaurant in Monterey in 1996 showed me how awesome wine can be and I’ve not looked back. I didn’t actually start amassing more wine than I could drink in a single night until 1998, but the last 15 years have been a lot of fun.
Wine started off as something that was only opened on special occasions–birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. Then it became something to collect, and talk about, and write notes about, and compare with other wine geeks. However, over the last 6-7 years wine has evolved to simply become a part of our daily lives. We open a bottle almost every night with dinner–it’s as natural as the meal itself, and in many ways it has helped me see each meal as a celebration, even if it is a Tuesday night with pizza.