The day after Labor Day last year, I became a Master of Wine. Over the last year, I tracked every single glass of wine I sipped. I did not include the wines I simply tasted. I can’t even fathom that. I’m at 85 pages of sipping wines – without tasting notes.

During the year, I became much better at remembering the obscure wine by the glass at an establishment I ducked into with a friend for a quick chat. And, I don’t mean remembering until the next day. I made better mental notes of vintages, not to mention which were the single vineyards and which vineyard. It was also nice to track wines that I drank several times during this past year, watching how – or if – they evolved. I even tried to track the number of corked, maderized and oxidized bottles, but I didn’t consistently note them. I also tracked the wines I consumed on airplanes, and I can tell you which wines you will be offered on Delta versus Air France on your next trip to Paris, whether you’re sitting in coach or business class, among other destinations. All this and I still haven’t read Walking with Einstein, which Jeremy Seysses of Domaine Dujac recommended to me.

I have gone to GREAT lengths to make sure my list was complete. There were a half dozen nights when, caught up in the conversation with friends, I would forget the producer of a Rioja by the glass, despite remembering its vintage, maroon label and Crianza status. What did I do? I looked hopefully for an up-to-date restaurant web page. If that turned-up nothing, I called the restaurant. Everyone, including Murano in London, where I enjoyed a 2001 and 2007 Cahors comparison, was always happy to help – in this instance when I couldn’t remember the bloody producer.

Needless to say, there have been mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime wines; good wines; acceptable wines; and wines I couldn’t bring myself to swallow a second time. Reminiscing through the list tonight, I’m not surprised at how few delightful wines – wines with energy, wines that made me joyous with their flavor and balance – I found. There’s lots of great juice out there, and when I’m sipping wine for pleasure, that’s all I want. No. That’s what I demand.

I didn’t take notes on many wines. Such an exercise would be so rigorous that I would surely lose much of the joy of sipping wine. My notes on exceptional wines, whether they cost $10 or $1,000, were fairly sparse. That separates the tasting, working note wines from the living, pleasure-giving notes.

Four days ago, I sighed with relief to my closest friend that I was almost finished with this tedious project. Tonight, I called him to check on the spelling of the producer’s name of the Barolo we drank last night.

To be continued….