Posts Filed Under going pro

Your Somm Is On Fiiiiiiiiire…

Vinted on June 13, 2012 binned in going pro, wine 2.0

Make that, your Somm is under fire.

Fiiiiiiiiirrrreeeeeeee… Anyway…

Last week I was guest on the Keeper Collective’s weekly twitter guest Q&A wine event, called #SommChat, part of their Somms Under Fire wine competition brand umbrella. This prompted quite a comments coming my way, most of which can be summed up in the following imaginary-but-wholly-representative re-enactment style on-line conversation:

Peeps: Joe, I didn’t know you were a Somm??

Me: I’m not!

Despite the fact that I am one of the few non-Sommelier guests to appear on #SommChat, I had a fantastic time fielding the questions from those who tuned in to attend last week, some of which were provocative and really got me thinking, particularly those that asked about recommendations for building up a palate, and learning more about wine.

The results of the reflective thinking? The deeper I’ve gone into the pro wine world, the less important I feel palate-building and wine appreciation tips really are, which I suppose on some level seems ironic but as we gain experience in any area, one likes to think that we can come back to basics having turned that into a modicum of wisdom, and wisdom seems to be telling me that it’s far, far more important for people to learn deeply what it is about a wine that really turns them on or off, and focus on learning their own palates and preferences first before thinking about developing a palate that would be used for critical assessment. The former opens the door to the wonder and magic and pleasure of wine; the latter is work, a job, often fun but sometimes a real working-stiff-like slog.

Anyway… You can check out the entire #SommChat convo from the twitter feed last week at, and I recommend tuning in to their future events (they’ve got a couple of Master Somms lined up for the next series, which should be fun) on Wednesdays at 11AM Central Time.





Sending Wine Back For Playboy, Wondering If Auction Napa Valley Was Really A Spicy-Thai-Dinner-Induced Dream, And Other Surreal Experiences

Vinted on June 6, 2012 binned in going pro, on the road

If you’ve ever wondered how to handle the delicate matter of telling a hoity-toity sommelier or wait staff that the wine you ordered isn’t up to snuff, without making one or both of you look like a total douchebag, you’re in luck because we tackle that very topic over at my latest Wined Down column for

For that article, I interviewed one of the sommeliers (a quality dude named Jeff Taylor, who also happens to be a true master of the “disco nap,” a skill which I witnessed first-hand having traveled a good bit of Australia with the guy) from NYC’s Eleven Madison Park – and in terms of hoity-toity restaurants, it doesn’t get much more hoity-toity than the award-winning EMP. So you’ll want to read what Jeff had to say about the right – and wrong! – ways of navigating that vinous territory.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the gig is going, so I should probably offer a quick update on that. The important thing to remember when you read the following “status report” is that neither my recent jaunt through the wine worlds of Oz nor the gig are nowhere near the most surreal things that have transpired in my life lately (that honor belongs squarely to Auction Napa Valley)

Read the rest of this stuff »




Wined Down: Manning Up To The Best Spirit For Wine Lovers

Vinted on May 23, 2012 binned in going pro

I often get asked if/when/how will start incorporating spirits and/or beer. For those of you who’ve asked me about that, or have thought about asking me about that, I give you the first two paragraphs of my latest Wined Down entry:

“Question: What would Chuck Norris pour himself a glass of when he wants to relax before retiring for the evening (or before he retires the sun so that he can go to bed)? After a busy day of freeing innocent villagers from a remote drug gang’s Nicaraguan jungle prison camp, when he’s done killing every bad guy in an eight-mile radius with a machine gun, machete and decapitating roundhouse kicks to the face, I mean?

I think I might have found the answer.”

The answer to the Chuck Norris-imbibing question is the current darling of the cocktail scene, a liqueur so aromatically complex that I’m fairly certain it will appeal to a great many wine lovers out there: Chartreuse. Specifically, the ultra bad-ass VEP versions. So those who were wondering when I would ever get around to spirits can now, officially, stop the wondering.

In last week’s Wined Down column, I wax philosophical about this venerable beverage, in the process touching on the topics of tattoos, monks, Charles de Gaulle, Game of Thrones (minus the chainmail), landslides, political intrigue, and Chick Norris. Just another day at the office.

You can check out the entire dilly-yo over at





Interviewing Winemakers, Old Vines, And… Alpacas

Vinted on May 9, 2012 binned in going pro

So it’s not just you – I really have been popping up all over the place lately.

In what was an odd but fun (there’s a fitting life summary, actually…) stretch for me, I was interviewed several times over the past several days, twice for radio (on WBAL’s The Sipping Point and The Wine Crush with Laura Lawson – embedded below for your listening pleasure, if you consider me rambling about eating insects pleasurable, that is), and my Wined Down column starting running in earnest on

So if you’re not already sick of me, I thought I’d share some of the video content I’ve been producing for the blog.

I’ve had a lot of (odd) fun with that video material, the settings of which have had me interacting with winemakers, 100+ year old vines, and large mountain-dwelling mammals (that last one – understandably – didn’t make the cut for the blog, but can still be viewed on their YouTube channel).

Anyway, while I’m dealing with the insane logistics of a rapid turn-around from Colorado to touring a large part of the wine regions spanning Australia (more on that one when I get a chance to poke my on-line head out from Down Undah!), here’s a run-down of the vids I’ve published for them so far, in the hopes that you’ll find some enjoyment out of them (and give me your feedback!):

Wine Crush with Laura Lawson





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