Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beginner's Mind

Yes, I have tasted wine. Hasn't everyone? Been to local wine tastings. Taken trips through Napa and Sonoma. Tasted wine in the barrel, tasted unblended wines, tasted wines that gave me headaches, wines that people love and that I hate, wines that I love and others hate, cheap wines, expensive wines, wines that lift me up and make me smile with one glass.

I have had wonderful wines paired with incredible food that change the experience of both. I have had organic wines, and wines with no tannins. I have had fabulous champagnes and ports. And you know, I still don't really know much.

I don’t know how to find inexpensive wines that I adore. I don't know how to consistently chose wonderful wines. I don't know anything about wine terminology. I don’t know the right kind of wines with the right kinds of foods – other than “white with chicken and fish, red with beef.” I don’t know how to cellar wines, when to drink them for the best taste. I don't know what wines are consistent, and what grapes are my favorite. The list of what I don't know could go on for miles.

Yep, its true, I don’t know much.

In this week of starting, taking the first tentative steps to journey down the road from “not much” to a working, practical knowledge amidst the many books, stories, magazines, experts, restaurants, websites, and more - well seriously, how shall we begin?

With a Beginner’s Mind.

From Wikipedia - Shoshin (初心, also pronounced nyuanshin) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning Beginner's Mind. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.

The phrase was also used as the title of Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki's book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, which reflects a saying of his regarding the way to approach Zen practice: “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.”

As a beginner, every resource is available. No question is too basic, no tidbit of knowledge too obscure, no approach right or wrong, no starting point inappropriate. All of these Wine Spectator's are waiting to be read and many wines are waiting to be tasted. And I am up for the challenge. This should be fun.

Next…a bit of historic perspective.

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