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Best Of | 1 Wine Dude - Page 27

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3 Ways to Increase Your Wine Appreciation Without Drinking

Vinted on March 6, 2008 under best of, learning wine, wine appreciation, wine tips

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Let’s face it. There are just some situations where our favorite pastime – drinking the vino – just isn’t appropriate.

Religious retreats, Amish barn-raisings, and Rehab all come to mind.

Think that because you can’t imbibe the vino, you’re missing out on opportunities to up your Wine IQ?

Wrong, Jack!

Here are three sure-fire ways to increase your wine appreciation – without having to pop a single cork…


1) Get out the map.
Wine connects you to a place. Sometimes (usually when it’s inexpensive) it’s a big swath of country; other times (when it’s so expensive that it’s on allocation to the billionaires among you who own your own islands), it’s a tiny plot of land in Burgundy.

Since wine connects you to a location on the planet, the more you know about that location the more your appreciation for that place’s wine can grow. When you’re traveling, spend some time to learn about the culture, history, and geography of that area. When you’re at home, crack open a decent atlas and soak in some knowledge about someplace far, far away.

Remember that the vino embodies a unique combination of a place’s soil, its climate, and the culture of winemaking that helped along the miracle of turing that grape juice into the stuff in your glass. When you’re back to your normal wine-tasting environment, try some wines from the places that you just learned about – you just might get an instant and intimate connection with that spot of the world through that wine.

2) Get cookin’.
Mrs. Dudette likes to cook – and she’s pretty darn great at it, too – which has exposed Dude here to cuisine he would never have had the pleasure of grubbing if he had stuck to his bachelor life. And you know what? Exposure to varied ingredients and cooking styles had made Dude a better wine taster.

Why? For one thing, regional cuisine is a function of regional culture, and in many parts of the wine world, a region’s wines and its food have evolved together to compliment one another (check out the book Vino Italiano for a good example of this). For another, exposure to different cooking styles and foods builds up your flavor and aroma chops – essential stuff for tasting and describing the myriad of tastes and smells that a good wine can serve up.

I’m not sure how many amazing cook books are out there, but I’m pretty sure Mrs. Dudette owns approximately 80% of them. In any case, some of my faves can be found at this link. Pick a recipe, fire up the grill, and get cookin’!

3) Hit the books.
Can’t taste? Then read.

Reading about wine, its amazing history, its incredible variety, and the charismatic & entertaining personalities that have forged its destiny… well, you can’t help but to be awed, people.

I’ve got a Top 10 list of wine appreciation books, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a plethora of books on the market that explore wine from angles besides just how to taste it – its impacts on philosophy, its affect on modern culture, its mysterious origins, and the human side of its story throughout world history, for starters.

You could, quite literally (ha-ha), read about wine every evening and deepen your appreciation for (and knowledge of) it for several years without ever getting bored.

But it’s more fun to do it with a glass of vino in hand.

Cheers!

A Spy In the House of Booze: How to Survive an Industry Wine Tasting

Vinted on February 28, 2008 under best of, wine industry events, wine tasting

Booth babes. Row upon row of free alcohol to sample, some of it top notch. Hobnobbing with local wine celebs (e.g., Marnie Old).

Man, the lengths I will go to give me readers a decent story!

I was recently (in Q4 2007) asked by a local restaurant / wine bar to help them out an industry tasting event, held in downtown Philadelphia (i.e., sample some wines, help determine what they should be serving up in the near future).


This particular event was hosted by Southern Wine & Spirits of Pennsylvania. SWS is one of the major suppliers of wine brands to the PA Liquor Control Board (the state-run monopoly that controls alcohol sales and distribution within PA). PA is the only state-controlled market in which SWS operates; that’s because when you’re a big supplier, you simply cannot argue with the billions of dollars at stake that are controlled by PA’s potentially unconstitutional monopoly.

So what’s it like to attend one of these events? Read on, dear reader, reader on…

First, these big portfolio tastings typically take place at a swanky location. In this case, it was the Crystal Tea Ballroom (which I’d just visited a few weeks prior for the Gravedigger’s Ball in support of the Laurel Hill Cemetery).

There are, literally, a dozen or more rows of tables, each hosted by a winery, distributor, or importer who have their portfolio available for tasting. Most of these tables are staffed by young salespeople (“booth babes”), and are visited by equally young and beautiful sales reps, occasionally punctuated by a local wine celeb., or a wine geek (such as the Dude here).

There is a lot of sipping. There is a lot of tasting. There is a lot of handshaking. There is a lot of note-taking, smiling, and photo-shooting.

What there is not a lot of, is spitting - despite the proliferation of buckets provided specifically for that purpose. And that means there is a lot of drunken buzz happening at the end of the evening. In no way am I picking on SWS here – I’m pretty sure that this scenario would play out at any similar industry event (isn’t that one of the reasons why people want to get into sales in the first place?).

Personally, Dude was doing very well – at first – and enjoying the excellent wines on display (particularly the Quintessa, as well as possibly the greatest array of Champagnes I’ve ever had the pleasure of comparing). Doing well, that is, until late in the event, when one of the booth babes grabbed our group and ushered us through the vodka section – where we capped off a series of rapid-fire tasting with shots of vodka that ran in excess of $200 a bottle.

I’m the 1WineDude, not the ‘ManyVodkasDude’. My party spent the latter part of the evening stumbling around City Hall, looking for bar food to quell our munchies, and trying to remember our names.

If you ever find yourself invited to one of these events, how best to survive the experience?

Get there early. The event will eventually get packed, and it’s probably going to be big. You will want to scope out the areas of most interest to you, and pace yourself based on the amount of time that you have to spend there.

Map out your plan of attack. This is the benefit of an early arrival – you can plan out exactly what booths you want to visit before the crowds arrive, start imbibing, and generally make the scene more confusing for you. I suggest dividing up the booths into categories such as “Must See”, “B Priority”, and “Will Check Out If Time Permits.” That way, you try the things you and/or your employer are most interested in, and save the rest for a more relaxed run-through afterwards.

Don’t Ignore the Little Guys. You will find wine brands that you’d not known about before, and you will like some of them. You should expect a handful of “ah-ha!” moments with some of the lesser-known producers – and they may be exactly what you’re looking for to pair with your restaurant’s newest dish, etc.

Take quick tasting notes, but not too many. You will NOT have time to write lengthy tasting notes. Recording some details is essential, but I’d recommend planning on writing one sentence (or less) on each wine you taste. Stick to the basics and record just enough info. that you will be able to make sense of it the next day.

Remember that Sex Sells. All salespeople and advertisers worth their salt know this. You will be bombarded by beautiful people. Remember, you’re there to taste wine, not award your or your company’s money to the distributor that has the best-looking staff.

Don’t Forget to Spit. Well… duh! I’m not saying don’t enjoy a full glass of a killer cab on display. But I am saying that if you don’t spit, you will get hammered – probably not the best way to make an impression at an industry event.

If possible, carpool. Even when you spit, you absorb some alcohol through the tops and sides of your mouth. Eventually, it’s going to impair your tasting judgment, especially at an event where there is so much tasting to be performed. This is why you should hit your highest priority / must-see booths first, take quick notes, and probably try to carpool (or take public transportation) when your tasting event is over. Safety first, as they say.

Cheers!

Happy Birthday 1WineDude.com (Dude’s Greatest Hits)

Vinted on February 26, 2008 under about 1winedude blog, best of

1WineDude.com quietly turns 1 year old today!

I say quietly, because 1) I prefer intimate birthday parties, and 2) while this blog is technically 1 year old, it’s only really been
‘all-grows-up’ since October 2007, when Dude started “taking this blogging thing a bit more seriously,” as they say. Not sure exactly who ‘they’ are, but I’m pretty sure ‘they’ say that.

To celebrate this mini-momentous occasion, I thought that I’d join the time-honored tradition exercised by so many other blogs, musical acts, and aging TV sitcoms by essentially giving myself the day off, and rehashing previously published content!

Kind of like they did on “The Facts of Life” with “throwback” footage, back when it featured George Clooney (by the way, I used to have hair like that… though I think I’ve destroyed most of the photographic proof in an incinerator somewhere in Northern NJ).

So, for your reading pleasure, I offer you Dude’s Greatest Hits: A Collection of the Most Visited Posts from 1WineDude.com

  1. Does this Wine Make Me Look Fat? – Apparently a lot of people (and I mean a lot) want to know the answer to that question!
  2. Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus – But There’s No Such Thing as Sulfite-Free Wine – Dude always takes pleasure is busting up a wine myth; I’m just glad this one helped provide some clarity around the confusing topic of wine allergies and sulfites.
  3. How To Become a Wine Geek Part II: Taste – This is the post that, while sort of stating the obvious, provided the groundwork for my first eBook.
  4. The Top 10 Wine Books You Really Need – I should know, I’ve read almost all of ‘em!
  5. Hey, You Like One of Them Thar Some-Yeahs? – Trying to shed some light on the ultra-confusing world of wine education and certifications.
  6. Making Sense of Wine 2.0 – YOU have the power – now go on out there and make it happen, people!
  7. Wine Communism: U.S. State’s Non-Compliance to Wine Shipping Laws – One of a few posts that will probably ensure that I am audited on my PA State income taxes for the next 5 years straight.
  8. 20 Things I Learned About Life from Drinking Wine – A little glass of Wine Zen.

I need to give a special mention to 2 other posts that, while they may not have gotten a substantial amount of website hits, I had to include for historical purposes:

Cheers!

20 Things About Life I’ve Learned From Drinking Wine

Vinted on February 22, 2008 under best of, commentary, wine appreciation, wine tips, zen wine

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It’s been said in some Eastern traditions that to be born a human is a rare event. To be a human and to question the source of life (to become a Seeker) is rarer still. And rarest of all is to seek and find your guru, the way to enlightenment.

Well, I’ve had many gurus in my life. My dog, for example, has taught me a lot (including how to better smell my wine). Wine itself can be one of your life gurus, if you only take the time to pay attention to what it has to tell you.

“Reality is an illusion that occurs due to a lack of wine.”
- Anonymous

Inspired in part by a recent post in Zen Habits, below are 20 things about life that I’ve learned – from drinking wine. I fully expect that the list will grow, as my life journey of wine appreciation continues – but who knows, sometimes I’m stubborn, and I’m also prone to forget stuff, so I’d better share these now!

Roll up with me, if you will, and let’s enjoy together a glass of ‘Zen Wine‘…

20 Things About Life I’ve Learned From Drinking Wine

1) Old is Beautiful
Anyone caught up in our youth-worshiping culture need only to crack open a well-kept aged classified Bordeaux, taking in all of its complex aromas & flavors, to realize that not only do good things come to those who wait, but time offers the gift of real beauty to those who age with grace and humility.

2) Young is Beautiful
Fruit bombs can be fun – there’s something refreshing about the forward brashness of youth. If you want to stay young at heart, you need to keep a bit of youthful bravado, through thick & thin.

3) Nature matters
Start with a crappy vine, and you could end up with crappy wine. Start with a great old vine, and you’ve got a better chance of making some killer vino. We need to remember our roots – if you don’t really know where you’re starting from, you might not be able to get where you want to go!

4) Nurture matters, too
Just as good wine needs a caring hand in its development, we need to seek out strong role models and a positive environment to reach our best in life.

5) Real change comes from within
A great wine starts with a decent pedigree, loving hands during its formative time (fermentation, etc.), and a good environment in which to mature. After that, all the magic happens within the bottle with virtually no exposure to the ‘outside’ world. Like a great wine, once we’re given what we need to succeed in life, the rest is up to us!

6) The greatest pleasure is being in the moment
Pour, swirl, sniff, sip. If you want to get the most out of tasting a wine, you need to let yourself BE, clearing your mind and just accepting everything that the wine has to offer. In other words, you need to be in the moment. Tasting wine is a sacred act – just like walking the dog, getting married, making love, or reading the newspaper. All of our actions become minor miracles in the universe when we give ourselves up to them completely.

7) People & relationships matter more than stuff
We get just as much pleasure from sharing a good wine with good friends as we do tasting that good wine. Wine is a lubricant for life – not a substitute for it. The objects in your life should be used for your life (and not the other way around).

8) Sharing is caring
A friend of mine called me recently, telling me how excited he was that he would be pouring magnums of `60s Ch. Petrus at a dinner, and that he would probably get a chance to taste some of this amazing stuff. Why did he call? “I needed to tell someone who would appreciate it!” he said. The better things in life, like wine, are best when they’re shared.

9) One size does not fit all
I don’t like Retsina. In fact, I hate Retsina. But there are people out there who love it. And both are totally OK. There are over 7,000 brands of wine available to consumers in the U.S. – and that’s AWESOME. Because variety (especially of varietals!) really is the spice of life.

10) We have a duty to ‘Go Green
Wine is arguably the best and most artistic interpretation of the bounty that the earth has to offer us (the French terrior concept shows that they figured this out a long time ago!). We owe a debt to mother nature to be sustainable and nurture her as she has done for us (and hopefully will do for our children).

11) Looks can be deceiving
My wife used to buy bottles of wine because they had pretty labels. And a lot of them sucked. Don’t judge based on appearances – eventually, it will burn you.

12) Not everyone ages gracefully
I’ve tasted decades-old Barolos that were still tannic. I’ve tasted aged Rieslings that smelled more like vinegar than flowers & petrol. Some people just get crotchety and negative, and they’re best avoided.

13) All things in moderation
I’ve tasted a lot of wine. Sometimes a lot of wine in one night. And sometimes, I’ve hugged some toilets. Trust me, things are best when they’re not overdone!

14) A place for everything, & everything in its place
You can’t age wine just anywhere, and having the right storage system makes keeping wine a hell of a lot easier. Life is smoother and more tranquil when you remove clutter from your surroundings (and your mind).

15) The best views come from the toughest climbs
The most beautiful views usually come from the highest peaks, and you’re going to need to do some difficult climbing to see them. Most of the best wine on earth is picked, sorted, and managed by hand – made even more difficult when done from steep hillsides at high altitudes. A labour of love & passion may not be easy, but it usually gets you the best of what life has to offer.

16) Sometimes we need to be challenged to show our best
Better wines come from better fruit, and better fruit comes from vines that are stressed (for water, nutrients, etc.). When we are challenged, we grow. And when we step up to the challenges of life, we really know what we’re made of.

17) You are what you eat (& drink)
If a wine is fed bad water, on bad soil, and doused with pesticides, it’s probably going to turn out bad. Which is why you should never drink plonk if you can avoid it. Also – never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink! Our bodies are not that different and they don’t take well to being fed lousy eats. Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much. Give your body the best chance it can have, by giving it the best food you can get.

18) “The secret to being a bore is to tell everything”
Wines that don’t have much complexity can get really boring, really quickly. Wines that evolve over time in the glass, revealing layer upon layer of aromas and flavors, are among the world’s most exciting. Leave a bit of mystery to life, and to yourself - not everything can be explained, and not everything is worth explaining.

19) Never stop learning
If you want to appreciate wine, you will need to learn a bit of science, geography, history, biology, chemistry… I’m sure you get the point. As Ghandi said, “live as if you will die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.”

20) Your greatest asset is Patience
If you want to taste a wine aged to perfection, then you need to wait and let it age to perfection, undisturbed, without your meddling. Lao Tzu asked if you have the patience to wait until the ‘muddy water’ of your mind is clear.

And as Pete Townshend asked “Well… do ya?!?

Cheers!

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