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5 Common Wine Drinking Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Vinted on May 9, 2008 binned in best of, wine appreciation, wine buying, wine tasting, wine tips


Whoops.

Everyone makes mistakes. In the case of the Dude here, mistake frequency is pretty much daily. Thankfully, almost every mistake is an opportunity to learn.

Fortunately for you, the Dude here has made plenty of mistakes when it comes to drinking and appreciating wine. That means that you don’t have to make all of those same mistakes, my friend! You can thank me later (preferably with a bottle or two of `82 Mouton…).

Anyway – following are Top 5 of the most common mistakes in wine drinking and wine appreciation that I’ve come across (or made myself) during my life dabbling in the wine biz. Hopefully these help you to avoid the same…

  1. The Over-pour. Far and away, the most common mistake that I’ve seen is over-pouring wine into your wine glass. Believe it or not, being skimpy in this case is not being wimpy – pouring the right amount of wine is what you need to do to allow you to really enjoy the wine in your glass.

    Filling that glass to the brim is being generous only in the extra amount of calories that you’re consuming. It’s a killer for wine enjoyment because a) it prevents the wine’s aromas from being concentrated towards your nose (where they belong), b) it prevents you from swirling the wine in your glass (which releases those wonderful aromas and flavors in the first place) and c) it makes you much more likely to spill your wine (and you probably paid good money for it!).

    At this point you’re probably thinking, “Wait a second Dude – waiters do the Over-pour all the time in restaurants. What am I supposed to do about that?” Simple: ask for a second (empty) wine glass. Now you have two glasses of wine that you can fill properly (which basically means filling to the bowl shape of the glass and not beyond). You’re welcome!

    “Filling that glass to the brim is being generous only in the extra amount of calories that you’re consuming.”

  2. Serving wine at the wrong temperature. Wine that is too cold will taste dull, with subdued fruit characteristics. Wine that is served too hot will taste astringent and will highlight the alcohol above the other flavors in the wine.

    In a word – Yuck.

    Now, you don’t need to be too anal about this one, but to get the most out of your wine, you do need to get the wine temperature in the right ballpark – and the right ballpark is different depending on they type of wine you’re trying to enjoy. Sweet whites and sparklers usually stand up to the coldest temperatures; hefty reds like Zinfandel and Port can withstand the highest temps. For more specific information, check out this handy chart of wine serving temps from recipetips.com.

  3. End-Bin shopping. What does “End-Bin shopping” mean? It means shopping only at those flashy, special displays at the end of the aisles in wine stores. Why is this a mistake? Because the end bins are sometimes where good wines go to die.

    If you already know the wine and think it’s a good buy, then you may have found a good deal in that end-bin. While it’s certainly possible to catch a great bargain, I’ve also seen on many, many occasions wines that are woefully past their prime stuck into the end-bin at steep “discounts”. Don’t totally ignore those end-bins – but it’s a big mistake to make those the only stops on your foray through the wine store.

    “…the end bins are sometimes where good wines go to die…”

  4. Ignoring the sauce. There are few hard-and-fast rules when it comes to wine and food matching. I only really offer people two rules: 1) Match the “weight”/body of the food with the weight/body of the wine (lighter wines with lighter fare, heftier wines with heartier fare) and b) Don’t ignore the sauce!

    A thick, flavorful sauce can turn a lighter dish into a heavy monster of a meal. So, if you’re pairing a lighter wine with that heavier sauce, you might not ever get to really taste that wine, as it will get totally overpowered. Epicureans take note!

  5. Not doing any homework. You by no means need to have fancy-schmansy wine certifications to appreciate wine. But a little knowledge about wine styles and wines from different areas of the world can arm you with a very important weapon when it comes to wine enjoyment: Context.

    What do I mean by context? I mean knowing what some of those wines typically taste like, and what foods are typically enjoyed with them. This allows you to avoid a whole heap of mistakes when it comes to wine appreciation, because it means you’re more likely to taste the wine in its proper context. Someone can tell you that they hate Italian wines – and if that person tried those wines with super-spicy Thai food instead of Italian cuisine, they’re probably not giving that poor Italian wine a fighting chance to be liked!

    Grab yourself a book and get in some wine learning. Take a wine class, practice your tasting, or host a wine tasting party. The important thing is to keep an open mind about wine, and be willing to learn – in terms of helping you avoid the most common wine drinking foibles, those two things will never let you down.

Cheers!

(images: chichesterdesign.co.uk, comparestoreprices.co.uk, oleswanson.com)

So You Want To Get Into the Wine Business? (How to Be a Wine Geek, Part IV: Interview with a Wine Retailer)

Vinted on May 2, 2008 binned in wine buying, wine how to


Welcome to the next installment in the “How to Be a Wine Geek” series here at www.1Winedude.com!

Many wine lovers have toyed with the idea of one day breaking into the wine biz. That’s not just trying to jump into perceived (and relatively false) romantic cache factor of workin’ the vineyard and making wine. Some would like to take a different approach to turning their hobby into their livelihood – in a way that doesn’t involve the potential to run into farm animals on a daily basis.

I thought it would be enlightening to get a view on what it’s like to turn wine passion into wine profession. So I asked someone who has done it. Jill Bernheimer, owner of the on-line wine store and blog Domaine547, kindly agreed to give us her thoughts on ‘life behind the bottle’.

Jill has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, and has garnered a reputation among the wine blogging community as someone who is not afraid to speak her mind. Another way of putting it, is that she’s not afraid to say publicly what the rest of us are thinking provately (thanks, Jill!).

Jill recently advised her customers to buy one of her wines from a competitor because it was able to offer a lower price than she could – an act that earned her mad props in the on-line community (and no doubt increased customer loyalty).

The interview results are a great insight into life in the wine industry. Enjoy…

1WD: Tell us a bit about your business. How did you get started? What made you chose to get into the wine biz?

Jill: I run a little wine shop that happens to be online only. It’s called domaine547, and the focus is on…well, on wines I like. I personally taste 98% of the wines that I bring in, and that way I can sell them without any hesitation.

The website itself is a bit curious, because the way you enter the store is through a blog… some people may not even realize there’s a store, but that’s intentional. I’m a soft-sell kind of gal, and I don’t want anybody to feel like anything is being forced upon them. If people discover the store, and if people want to shop there… then great.

1WD: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business?

Jill: When I started the business just over a year ago, I wouldn’t have considered myself an expert on wine. That’s not to say I was without qualifications – I had my Intermediate certificate from the WSET, and lots of experience traveling, reading and drinking wine (and a moonlighting gig at a local wine shop). But my attitude and approach was as an enthusiast discovering wine alongside my customers and my readers.

I think the most rewarding thing is that, even with hundreds of more wines tasted, and much more knowledge about wine and experience in the wine business, my attitude has stayed pretty much the same: I’m like a kid in a candy store, just as excited about wine as I was when I made the transition from hobbyist to working in the trade. Of course, getting to taste wine everyday and meeting producers is great as well.

1WD: What’s the biggest P.I.T.A. about your business?

Jill: Shipping. On all levels…my hands are riddled with paper cuts from packing orders, and my head hurts from the intricacies of interstate alcohol shipping restrictions.

1WD: How do inter/intra-state wine laws impact your business?

Ugh. How do they NOT impact my business? There are lots of folks who say they’d order from me if it were legal, so I’d have to say that my volume is affected directly. Whether or not they’re just saying that? Well, I guess I won’t know until the laws change…

1WD: Beatles or Stones?

Jill: Hmmm, that’s a bit of a narrow world view. [Editors note: well, it is my blog, after all!]. But I’d have to go with Beatles more often than not, with the occasional Ruby Tuesday moment.

1WD: What’s the best wine & food combo that you’ve come across?

Jill: Sottocenere cheese with a Barbera d’Alba. This is going to sound pretentious, but they taste like they have some terroir in common. The cheese is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese infused with truffles and with an ash rind containing cinnamon and nutmeg spices. [Editors note: drooling is permitted.]

1WD: What’s your favorite wine in your portfolio?

Jill: Without a doubt, the Rafael Palacios “As Sortes” Godello. It’s steep for a Spanish white – it crept up from about $32 in the 2005 vintage to $46 for the 2006. But it’s so good. A hint of lemon, nutiness, some wet stones, ever so slight oak, and some tingle on the tongue without the acidity hitting you over the head. Really delicious. I’d compare it to a Grand Cru Chablis, and from that perspective it’s much more reasonably priced. Funny thing is, I’m much more of a red wine drinker than a white wine drinker, but there is no hesitation with this response.

1WD: How many times gave you seen the film The Big Lebowski?

Jill: I’ve seen it from start to finish only a couple of times, but I’ve seen it in snippets many more. Favorite quote is definitely “I don’t roll on Shabbas.”

1WD: Where do you turn for help and inspiration? Any Trade publications, Blogs, web resources, support groups or Therapists you find particularly helpful?

Jill: I have RSS feeds to more than fifty wine blogs, but I’ve been falling behind on my reading lately. I have learned a tremendous amount from blogs like yours, Good Wine Under $20, Catavino, Good Grape, Wannabewino, Catie at Walla Walla…too many to really mention. I do enjoy Twitter more than other community web resources as it offers me a chance to talk with all of the aforementioned (except Jeff who refuses to tweet) in a more Instant Message, conversational mode.

1WD: Exactly how much does the band Rush totally rock?

Jill: Would you believe me if I told you I got “Exit, Stage Left” [Editor's note: Dude's all-time favorite album!!!] as my Afikomen prize when I was in the 3rd grade or so? I loved Tom Sawyer. But it pretty much started and ended there (and with the Geddy Lee collaboration with Bob and Doug McKenzie) [Editor's note: "Hey, 10 bucks is 10 bucks..."].

1WD: Any advice for budding wine enthusiasts?

Jill: Taste early and taste often.

1WD: Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Jill! One final question – Do these pants make me look fat?

Jill: There’s pretty much no right answer to this one! [Editor's note: I'm sorry... that answer is incorrect. The correct answer is "No, you look great! Did you cut your bangs?" But thanks for playing!]

Cheers!

Shop Dude! Wine, Accessories, and Tools for Wine Learning Available on 1WineDude.com

Vinted on April 5, 2008 binned in about 1winedude blog, wine books, wine buying, wine eBook, wine tasting


I’ve been getting some reader feedback that the various items we’ve got for sale via 1WineDude.com are arranged in a, let’s just say, less than optimal fashion.

Another way of putting it, is that the current layout is too friggin’ confusing! So I’m offering this post to (hopefully) help clear up the confusion.

Looking for Wine? Looking for Wine Gifts & Accessories? Looking to up your Wine IQ?

Dude’s got you covered!
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Checkout the links below and get yourself all wined-up!…

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MyWinesDirect  125x125 Burgundy logoMyWinesDirect‘s wines are carefully selected by experts, then approved by panels of wine drinkers just like you – to ensure that every wine’s a winner. They try to make buying, serving and drinking wine fun, easy and enjoyable, while giving you the knowledge to experiment and the confidence to discover your own likes, dislikes and tastes.

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Morrell Wine: Taste You Can TrustMorrell is a kickin’ family-run shop out of NYC that sells wines and spirits from pretty much everywhere. They’ve been in business for 59+ years and perform their own tasting and evaluating before selling to you.

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How To Taste Like a Wine Geek: The 1WineDude Tasting Guide is a practical & fun approach to tasting & enjoying the world’s greatest beverage! The tasting guide is written just like the 1WineDude.com blog – accessibly and without snobbishness. It’s available in both Printed & eBook formats.

DeLongWine.com offers two great products to help you learn more about wine: a Grape Varietal Table that shows wine grapes in a visually related way, and a nifty Wine Tasting Notebook that helps you to keep track of your wine adventures.

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We’ve got all manner of schwag available, like t-shirts, hoodies, caps, mugs, coasters, mouse pads, baby onesies – basically anything but wine. Dude’s printed Wine Tasting Guide is also available at the shop.


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Didn’t find what you were looking for? Try these wine-related offers on for size:

Hope this helps! Cheers!

In the News: How Young Buyers are Impacting Winemaking

Vinted on March 2, 2008 binned in wine buying, wine news, winemaking

(image: darlingofourage.files.wordpress.com)

This is not your fathers wine buying.

There is a great little article posted today in SunJournal.com about how the tastes of a small, but extremely influential group of people are impacting the wine trade.

And they’re NOT talking about the Robert Parkers of the world, whose tendency to enjoy big, alcohol-laden fruit bombs have influenced wineries the world over to produce ‘bomb’-astic wines at all costs in order to chase the high-end of the big wine magazines’ point rating systems.

These are 20-something sommeliers and wine directors that work for some of the most well-respected and expensive restaurants in the United States.

And the wines that they’re looking for? “Wines that are quirky, regional, with rich background stories…” Wow – definitely NOT your father’s fruit bomb style of wine!…

“Their challenge is to find a wine that they’re as excited about as the chef is … about the flavor of his vegetables from the farmers market…”

This is very good news for “old world” style wines from Italy and Spain, which are finding increasing favor with this growing influential set of wine buyers. And it might be bad news for the fruit-bomb makers, who are seeing a growing backlash in the consumer market against these styles of wine.

Now, I’ve met some of this 20-something sommelier set, and I can tell you that 1) they do prefer regional, exciting wines that offer something unique, 2) they always seek to compliment the chef’s food as much as humanly possible, and 3) their buying habits do help to set some trends with winemakers who are seeking to get a foothold into the exclusive high-end restaurant market.

What’s also very interesting, at least to the Dude here, is how the article ends. SunJournal.com quotes industry analyst Jon Fredrikson regarding if and how this trend may impact what wines start to fly off the supermarket shelves (as opposed to what is recommended at the tables of the nation’s high-end epicureans):

“We way overestimate the knowledge of the American consumer…”

Ouch. Is this true?

Dude’s opinion: I can see a great deal of merit in this ‘don’t-call-it pessimistic-call-it-realistic’ view. The fact is that most wine consumers just want a decent wine that they will enjoy, at a fair price. You can’t force people to make the jump into serious wine appreciation if they lack the desire to do so. But then again, introducing someone to a quirky, unique wine and in the process expanding their wine knowledge is one of the small pleasures of life for the Dude. I just don’t expect everyone to be into that – if you forced your passion for, say, crocheting onto me, I would be finding an excuse to spend a little quality time away from you (like 10 or 12 years worth).

Your thoughts…? Shout `em out in the comments.

Cheers!

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