Wine – Don’t Ever Be Afraid To Ask a Question
What bothers me the most about people in the wine industry: those that choose to do a disservice by intentionally talking above someone’s head and/or being in any way snobbish – perceived or real – by others. As a novice once myself I was stopped dead in my tracks – only a few times – by cult winery name droppers, winemakers that made fun of mispronounced wine words used by newbie writers (not me but I heard about it) and behaving in any way that thwarted my learning. Creating Eve’s Wine 101 was my way of always being accessible to newbies and aficionados alike, as really, we are all only just a few bazillion tastes (of wine) away from being an aficionado. So let’s get started. Here are some wine questions thrown at me in a recent social media post that should be of help:
Larry asked, “Why are people so intimidated about wine in general?” Funny that this was the first question I was asked and I think I answered it in my opening. People are intimidated about wine because some of the people in the wine industry perpetuate the image: we know more than you do and can’t help feeling and behaving superior. Don’t waste your time with those people, or if you do, let them know that you are there to learn. Even the snarkiest of teachers appreciate earnest students.
Another Larry asked, “Will going to wine tastings make me a better taster?” Oh, definitely yes! I’ve been drinking…err…tasting and evaluating wine for over 20 years, first with wine fests (for fun) and later in small classes and tasting groups. The ONLY way to educate your palate is to taste, and there are several ways to go about it: events, classes, winery visits and tastings with equally interested friends.
One more Larry wanted to know, “What makes a good wine shop/store? What should I look for?” A good wine store needs staff that is happy to help; Not by just making a suggestion of what they like to drink but in learning the customer’s preferences and budget. For me I like a store that keeps their bottles on their side so the corks don’t dry out, perishable cold sake in cold storage, and bottle tags with critic scores – where the vintage year corresponds with the vintage year on the bottle.
Jane asked, “Will a white wine lover ever graduate to red wine? Asking for a friend!” This is a good one. Yes and no. I have a pal that refused red at winery tastings, now he refuses white – and neither is respectable behavior at a winery. Be polite, taste what is offered, use the pour out bucket for what isn’t your preference. That would be one way to at least educate the palate to both white and red. Lots of tasters get stuck in a rut. These people enjoy wine for what it is for them – something that doesn’t challenge them and they know they will enjoy. Now, more specifically, try challenging your white wine drinking friend to try a light red, say a chilled Nouveau Beaujolais or a Sparkling rose, a red wine sangria or a sweet port. All have properties that a white wine has: they are serve chilled, can be fruity or sweet.
Julie was curious about, “What’s with all the hate on merlot?” Blame it ALL on the movie Sideways! The main character Miles (Paul Giamatti) wouldn’t drink Merlot while on a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley. The movie became a hit with wine drinkers and non-wine drinkers. Merlot wine took a dive. Wine aficionados know that in the film Miles ends up drinking a famous Bordeaux wine – that he had been coveting for years – in a paper cup at a fast food joint. The Bordeaux in that paper cup was mainly a Merlot-based wine. The joke was on Miles. For years people turned up their noses against Merlot but the tide has finally turned as Bordeaux lovers are still strong, and many top scoring wines stateside have been Merlot.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 15k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email [email protected] to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via [email protected].
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