Posts Filed Under wine appreciation
Those not getting the title reference today need to hang their heads in total shame! No wine for you!!
Anyway… remember, about a year ago, when we talked about the data behind a new wine app, Wine4.me?
Well, I’m pleased to tell you that the Wine4.me app is (finally!) available for download in iTunes.
The full disclosure part of all of this is that I was paid to be one of the expert tasters on the panels that formed the basis of Wine4.me’s data, and I am an ongoing contributor to their consumer-facing blog. But they’re not paying me to tell you about the app’s release; I’m doing that because I’m genuinely excited to see it go live. Finally.
The bottom line is that while the mobile wine app space is insanely crowded right now, no other wine app out there (that I know of, anyway) is so steeped in data and the scientific method (we already know how I feel about that stuff, right?), so consumer-focused with a for-real value proposition (using that data to significantly increase your chances of finding a similar wine you will enjoy), and actually pops the corks on bottles themselves to get there. There also happen to be some lovely human beings involved in this project, and working with them has been nothing short of a total pleasure (and hey, it’s better we highlight the work of nice people, instead of that of a bunch of douchebags, I suppose)…
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I try (but don’t always manage – I claim SAHD status!) to answer just about every piece of email that gets sent over to 1WD HQ. Usually these messages are of the “I found some older wine in a relative’s basement and I’m not sure what to do with it,” or “what wine should I buy for [ insert occasion here ]” varieties, but lately I’ve been receiving a disproportionate amount of requests asking “how can I become a wine [ taster / certified-type-person / critic / whatever ].” I’m guessing this volume had something to do with me spilling the beans on how I’m now able to pursue my dream job professionally, and a few folks starting to wonder if doing something along similar lines is possible for them, too.
Those latter emails I’ve yet to answer (apologies if one of them is yours!), mostly because the topic is so complex that I’ve had trouble trying to determine where it’d best to begin when writing about it. Really, it’s almost like asking “why drink wine?” – the answers depend on both where you’re starting, and where you want to end up.
So here’s my attempt at answering those too-long-neglected requests, in the hopes that it will be helpful to at least a handful of you lushes intrepid wine-loving folk.
Let’s assume for the sake of simplicity that you’re asking because you want to end up somewhere professional (sommelier / writer / critic / beverage director / whatever) with this, in which case my first inclination is to tell you not to bother…
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My oversized dog, Brunello – so named because he’s big (well over 115 lbs) and Italian (a Cane Corso) – is one of the most trainable dogs I’ve ever owned.
He’s also dumber than a bag of hammers.
Bruno is sweet, fairly gentle, and learns quickly; don’t get me wrong here, we love the big lug. But as far as being able to exercise independent, intelligent, problem-solving thought, I know furniture that might be able to give him a run for the money.
Contrast that with our previous dog, a fleet-footed (and equally as sweet) weimaraner named Samson. Sam always knew what he wanted, whether it was sneaking from his floor bed into into our cozy (and, presumably, warmer) bed while we were asleep, or “liberating” some of his expensive pet food from one of its metal can prisons on his own (I once came home to an empty pet food can that Sam had opened up like a rose petal, having devoured all of the contents inside without once cutting himself on the remaining bent metal). And he was adept at trying to get it. Want to go outside and join the family while they’re working in the yard? NO problem… I’ll just use my paws to wiggle the door handle and… hey everybody! here I am!!! Let’s run out into the street!!!
Sam, possessing a large volume of independent thought and spirit, always made training a bit of a chore. “Why the f*ck should I do that?” seemed to be his primary reaction to training sessions; “can you just give me the treats already since that seems to be what all this about anyway?” But he could assemble input from his surroundings into the ability to get himself into trouble by going after something that he wanted but knew he wasn’t supposed to have. Now, that isn’t being trainable, but it sure as hell is being intelligent.
Okay, so now those of you who’ve asked for more blog posts about my dog are happy. But what’s this got to do with vino? More than you’d think, actually; you see, the wine biz would happily like you to act a lot more like Bruno than like Sam. And I’m here to tell you why that makes you the wine biz’s figurative “bitch”…
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Long-time 1WD readers will recall the name of my buddy Jason Whiteside, who has appeared numerous times on these virtual pages playing the refined-palate-straight-man to my more… errr… slapstick approach to all things vinous.
I’m happy to report that since his last 1WD appearance, Jason has more-or-less been kicking ass and taking labels in the wine world, and is now preparing for the Masters of Wine exam (which I’ve little doubt he will pass – I know few people who can taste with as much focus and precision as Jason, and since I know a lot of people who do wine for a living, that might actually be saying something…).
Jason also has no shortage of practical, in-the-trenches wine director / restaurant experience, and so after enjoying some of his cooking over the holidays (and talking him out of a bottle of Gonzalez Byass 30 year aged Del Duque Amontillado “Muy Viejo” Sherry), I concocted a scheme to raid Jason’s brain about wine faults for my Wined Down column on Playboy.com. The result is our view of the wine faults that most normal people are likely to encounter “in the wild,” and – more importantly – what to do about them if/when they do rear their stinky heads; which you can now read over at PB’s website.
Even the more experienced winos among you might be surprised at what Jason considers the single most common/likely fault, which actually has nothing to do whatsoever with what’s inside the bottle (think dirty glasses)…
Anyway, head on over to PB and check it out, and feel free to toss your thoughts from the peanut gallery into the comments section.