Life Lessons from a Bunch of Grapes

As The Wine Coach®, it is my job (and pleasure) to share my love of wine in a way that is fun and easy to understand. When presenting at wine events around the country, I am continually impressed by what we can learn about life when learning about wine. As we approach the holidays and begin planning our celebrations, I thought it seems appropriate to share a lesson I learned about perfection.

In the past when planning a tasting or party, I always strove for perfection. I put enormous energy into the scheduling, the food, the wine pairings, and the activities for my guests. All based on the belief that unless everything was perfect, my guests would not have a good time.

At a tasting I recently hosted, an experience I had demonstrated otherwise. I began the evening with an Australian Viognier bottled with a screw cap. This allowed me to explain the industry's recent move away from using corks. Unlike screw caps, corks are porous, which means they can become infected with bacteria that can ruin the taste of the wine. The official term is "corked." If you have tasted a corked wine, you know the taste-something similar to a musty basement. Musty and sans fruit, a corked wine is an awful experience. It is estimated that one in ten bottles of wines are corked, causing significant monetary losses for the wine industry and some unpleasant tasting experiences for wine drinkers.

Next, I moved to the next wine selection for my event, a French Syrah with a cork. Some of the more savvy wine drinkers in the bunch immediately detected the wine was corked. My heart sank. I decided, however, to use the horrid wine to allow everyone an opportunity to learn how to recognize a corked wine in the future. The first bottle was a teaching experience, but as the event continued, against all industry odds, we ended up getting three more corked bottles that night. I could not help feeling a bit disappointed, even though there was nothing I could have done to avoid this random and statistically improbable event.

What amazed me was how my guests took it all in stride. In fact, they all appreciated what they learned from the experience. Isn't this just how life works? Our perceived biggest disappointments or failures are often our best teachers, and often are not as bad as we first thought them to be. Many of us have this crazy notion that if we are perfect, people will like us more. Perfection can distance us from people and life, and in reality, is unachievable-all we can do is our personal best. My guests and I connected over those corked wines, in a way we perhaps would not have, had everything been flawless.

As you plan your Thanksgiving dinner or holiday party, remember we all have our imperfections. Seeing this in others allows each of us the comfort to be authentic. Do not be afraid of a little cork. Go ahead, make a mistake! You will be in excellent company.

As The Wine CoachTM, Laurie Forster combines her experience as a life coach with her extensive knowledge of wine. Ms. Forster began her wine career in Manhattan where she studied with the American Sommelier Association to obtain her certificate in Viticulture and Vinification. As The Wine Coach she creates unique wine events for public, private and corporate events. Her goal is to help people de-mystify wine one glass at a time! For more information or weekly wine tips go to


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