The Vine Arts

At a wine tasting at the home of an ardent collector, it’s not merely about quaffing vino and nibbling food. Drinking in the camaraderie and conversation is just as important as admiring the bouquet from an impressive vintage. And the sipping and socializing often lead to an educational experience.
Host and hostess Don and Cheri Bailey invited Chip Delzner of A.H.D. Distributors to present a variety of Spanish wines at a Stars of Spain tasting at their home cellar in September.
Don says he likes to tell Cheri: “I want my epitaph to read, ‘All things being considered, I would rather be drinking cheap wine.’ ” (A paraphrase of W.C. Fields.) // Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Don Bailey’s hobby may be all-consuming, but it’s about much more than consuming.

The avid wine collector’s Bloomfield Hills cellar coddles 4,500 bottles — all neatly catalogued by UPC label and tucked behind glass, where the air is a steady 55 to 57 degrees and the humidity 70 percent.

Just outside that showcase is the “boardroom,” a handsome paneled space dominated by a table that Bailey takes great pleasure in seeing filled with like-minded guests who become fast friends.

“I can’t think of anything else that provides the camaraderie, the friendship, and the social introduction to other people and to exploring many different areas of interest,” Bailey says. “It appeals to the palate, to the country, to the history, to sharing. It stimulates conversation and resulting friendship.”

This particular convivial evening began with a wonderful and inexpensive rosé bubbly from Spain, called Cristalino. “It’s delightful, especially for about $12 a bottle,” Bailey says. “Goes to show you that you do not have to serve Dom at $125 per to appreciate a good sparkling wine.”

Bailey has been a member of two metro Detroit tasting clubs for 30 years and frequently hosts tastings. In addition to the socializing and networking that the occasions afford, they’re also educational. Bailey likens wine to musical genres and their individual songs because the possibilities are so vast.

And, like music, wine is about enjoyment. “Enthusiasts are always saying that every bottle has someone’s name on it or an event on it,” Bailey says. “That’s the pleasure of sharing wine.”

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