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I’m guessing that most of you out there have probably been to a wine tasting room in a winery before, and went there to sample that winery’s wines.
Which means that the same number of you have probably encountered at least one severely drunken patron acting in a totally obnoxious way.
Which also means that the same number of you understand the phrase “suppressed the urge to do bodily harm.”
Now, I am fully aware that wine tasting room etiquette is not a novel topic, and has been covered before by several sources, including wineries themselves. Most of these sources talk about how to prepare yourself for a tasting room visit (no perfume, chewing gum, etc.) and how to taste the wine while you’re there (swirl, sniff, sip, savor, etc.).
They don’t tend to touch on what I’m about to lay down about wine tasting room etiquette, however.
Knowing me, it will come off as a bit of a rant, but it’s not meant to be a rant (and it’s not directed at you, dear reader – it’s directed at the small minority of wine tasting room visitors who just still don’t seem to “get it”).
And it’s a simple plea, really…
If you plan to get totally hammered on wine, and you happen to also be an obnoxious drunk, please don’t go to a winery tasting room.
By providing a tasting room, a winery is primarily trying to teach you about – and to sell you – their wine. They are not providing a place for you to drink yourself stupid, get loud, and ignore the winery staff. There are places where you can do that (within reason) – they’re called bars.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan to have a great time when visiting a winery tasting room, and I’m not even saying that you should stay sober when you visit a winery tasting room (assuming you have arranged transportation, of course).
I’m just saying that you need to stay sober enough – enough to retain adequate coherence so that you can take advantage of the winery staff’s knowledge, ask them questions and engage them in conversation about their wines, and remain civil and reasonably polite to your fellow patrons.
I am saying that if you plan to get smashed and act in any way that you want when you hop on a winery tasting tour or visit a winery tasting room, then you need to stay home instead – because you’re not respecting the wine, the winery, or the the winery’s patrons.
And I don’t think that’s asking for too much.
Thus endeth Dude’s diatribe.
(images: rockstarsmommy.blogspot.com, pleasanthillwinemerchants.com, woodbridgeliving.com)
This is a post about wine. Sort of.
Actually, it’s more a celebration of all things Bad-Ass.
That’s because we just lost one of the most bad-ass individuals who has ever walked the face of the earth – Paul Newman.
Of Newman’s bad-ass status, there can be no doubt. Google “Baddass actors Paul Newman” and you will get about 11,000 hits. In his heyday, Newman was the Brad Pitt of his time, only without the annoyingly smug and self-possessed attitude, and with millions of dollars of world-enhancing charity goodness thrown in to seal the deal.
If Chuck Norris is bad-ass (and he is), there is no question that he is second generation bad-ass, having learned his key bad-assness traits from the master, Newman.
Newman was so bad-ass that he was able to make dog treats for very small yappy dogs, salad dressing, and even wine (ah-ha! finally, a tie-in!), and still remain a total bad-ass…
How is the wine? I’ve never tried it myself, as it’s available only in restaurants I think, but the reviews suggest that his Chardonnay is a winner, and it pairs best with movie popcorn, which of course you need to have on hand when watching one of Newman’s bad-ass films (like Slapshot).
Nothing against Chardonnay, but let’s face it – outside of Burgundy it’s taken a hit in terms of bad-ass status because of the super-buttery treatment it received for the last few years by New World winemakers.
If your best wine is a white (not the typical pick of the bad-ass male), and it’s a Chardonnay, and you’re still a bad-ass, then you are a bad-ass indeed!
So this week, crack open a bottle of something bad-ass, fix yourself some popcorn, pop in one of Newman’s bad-ass flicks, and take a moment to celebrate the life of a true bad-ass: star, entertainer, family man, and philanthropist.
The wine world probably won’t miss the Summer of `08.
That’s because the Summer of `08 seems like wine’s Season of Discontent.
Personally, I’ve never been so happy to see the Autumn (even taking into account that the Fall is my favorite time of year… colorful leaves… dark beers… heavier wines… and football… sweet, sweet football…).
Anyway, it was last week, with Autumn and football in full swing, when I realized that the wine biz has a lot to learn from its “little” cousin, beer. You know, the one that wine likes to look down on and winsomely tolerate from time to time at family reunions, all the while not seeming to realize that its cousin lives in a bigger house, makes more money, and has more friends. Yes, that cousin. Wine – I’m talking to YOU.
Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting fellow blogger The Beer Wench, touring nearby beer stalwart Victory Brewing Company with her. Dude loves beer (in fact, I used to brew it), and he is tight with Victory: it’s my favorite beer location, and I am friends with Victory’s events coordinator, and Dude’s band is playing Victory’s outdoor Fall Fest celebration this year. So we were able to score a private tour of the beer-making magic for The Beer Wench.
About halfway through said tour (when I was rolling hops in my fingers, forever imprinting it’s aromatic fingerprint into my brain), I realized something very important (to me, anyway): I’ve yet to meet anyone involved in beer – whether it be media, distribution, crafting, or enjoying – who was snobbish to the point of being exclusionary. Nobody. Zippo. Nada. It just doesn’t happen. All seem to be welcome in the land of beer. Sure, they have their favorites, and the occasional “low on taste high on commercial budget” examples that they love to hate (Bud Light, anyone?). But you’re never, ever turned away at the door of fine beer. Never.
The mantra of the beer lovers?
Everyone else is also a potential beer lover – they just don’t know it yet!
I wish that I could say the same held true for the world of fine wine…
The sad truth is that there is snobbery in the wine world, and some parts of the industry might actually bank on that snobbery to make their take-home pay.
Too many budding wine aficionados are scared off by “experts” or turned away by the snobbish who view fine wine as some sort of elitist entitlement, to whom holding wine at arm’s length from newbies is some sort of perverse badge of wine honor. By actively deterring new potential wine lovers, the only thing that the ‘elite’ are doing for fine wine is driving its future of appreciation into the dirt. I’m NOT talking about the Robert Parkers of the world. I’m talking about those who think they’re Robert Parkers, but lack the experience, renown, know-how, clout, and funding, yet somehow feel as though wine ‘belongs’ to them.
This has nothing to do with print wine media. It has to do with individuals (no matter if they’re in the wine industry or not) who are perpetuating a myth that you need to earn your place to love wine. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Wine loves you already. it wants you to be its friend. Wine doesn’t like the snobs, either!
In my view, it would help the wine world if most of those in it took a long, hard look at the world of beer and instead of turning their noses at it, embrace its sense of helpfulness and down to earth charm.
Hey! Wine world! You need to help yourself to a glass of “Get Over Yourself” Ale. Vintage: Now. Region: You.
In general (not just for wine), people are looking more and more to social networking and customized recommendations. Some wine distributors, wine mags, wineries, and a whole lotta bloggers “get” this, and are doing their best to help those consumers, newbies, and enthusiastic learners. And they’re probably enjoying a cold brewski while they’re doing it (and if not, they should, because whether hey realize it or not, they’re taking a cue from the beer industry).
Arguably, there are now more helpful resources to help the wine neophyte than there have at any other time in history. The tide is changing. And it’s coming for the wine world, whether it’s ready or not.
(images: old-photos.blogspot.com, 1WineDude.com)
To Whom It May Concern:
I’ve just polished off another 1/2 of a bottle of your tasty, 14.5% abv wines… in fact, I’m pretty sure that even though it said 14.5% on the elegant bottle, it was probably closer to 15.2%. Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive me if I stray off topic or get a little emotional. I’m sure you’ll understand…
I’m a wine lover. And I love California wines – in fact, they’re the first wines that made me stand up and say “WOW! I think I’m in love with wine!” If it wasn’t for CA wines, I would never have started my own personal and fulfilling journey into the wondrous world of wine.
So let’s just establish right now that I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for CA wine. I even love a good fruit bomb every now and then, which I’d argue is one of the fingerprints of CA wine that makes it so unique on the world stage, and capable of being so damn good.
We’ve had a good run, you and me… BUT… things just aren’t what they used to be…
Your wines… they’re just starting to… well, I’ll be honest, they’re starting to seem a little boorish sometimes. And I have to admit, I’ve been finding myself attracted to other wine regions. Southern France, New Zealand, Chile…
I didn’t expect this to happen. I thought we were happy together. But then things started to change. I understand that you need to ‘chase scores sometimes in order to command high bottle prices for your wines. After all, how else can you afford to keep up with those expensive winemaking techniques… I know how difficult it is to upkeep pricey machinery, to hand-sort grapes, and let’s not talk about the extravagant prices of new oak barrels these days!
I appreciate what you’re up against, too; those Old World wine regions have hundreds of years going for them, and they can take a long range view of their wines. You have it tougher – sometimes, if you don’t create a big, busty fruit bomb, you can’t get your name out there quickly enough to be successful – and your competition sure isn’t waiting around.
But it’s all gone overboard now. I mean, do you have to obsess about Robert Parker’s ratings all the time??!? I like the guy, but there are other palate preferences out there. Good ones, too.
I love that you’re busty with all of that alcohol and ripe fruit. It turns me on. But you used to be busty and elegant. Now… well… I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…
I’m not sure things can ever go back to being how they were.
But I’m willing to try if you are.
So please… for both of us… think twice before you go for that much alcohol. I’m not sure that any unfortified wine has enough fruit, acidity, and tenderness to balance against > 15% abv. Think about that, for you, for me. For us, and what we used to have together…
(images: flikr.com – eduardolive, unknown)