Welcome Bruno: What Dogs Can Teach You About Wine Appreciation, Redux

Vinted on April 25, 2011 binned in wine appreciation, wine publications, zen wine

WARNING: This is one of those “it’s-my-blog-and-I’m-gonna-get-personal-if-I-wanna” posts.  And it’s probably also a blatant appeal to pet-lovers everywhere. Proceed with caution!

Presumably because my life isn’t insane enough already, my family decided that the time was right for us to adopt a new dog.  Frequent 1WD readers will recall that our previous pooch, Samson, had to be put down last Summer while I was in Walla Walla at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference.  We’re dog people at Chateau Dude – no offense to you cat people out there, but I am not down with cats; cats will eat you if you die and that kind of freaks me out.

Anyway… bear with me, this will come back to wine… eventually…

Presumably because just getting a dog itself isn’t anywhere near challenging enough, we picked up a rescue case: an 18-month-old, just-had-lots-of-surgery, not-housebroken, kept-outside, never-really-been-walked, underfed, under-weight, and under-loved rescue that is part Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) and (we think) part Doberman Pinscher. His new name (apparently, he has had several) is Bruno, short for “Brunello,” because he’s big and Italian, after all…

Much like his vinous namesake, there is nothing small about Bruno. I think his head and paws alone probably constitute several dozen pounds of lovable-lug, raw power.

I have actually met ponies that are smaller than Bruno.

When I mention “under-weight” above, technically I’m correct, but he’s still a massive 80+ pounds of canine, and he needs to get somewhere closer to 100 pounds to really be in the healthy zone.  He has little idea how to behave, but he’s a quick study and I sure hope he keeps up the current pace, because he is so huge that if he continues to go potty inside and suffer separation anxiety, he will likely destroy my entire house faster than a troop of wild baboons.

In other words, Bruno needs a lot of work.  But that hasn’t stopped him from teaching me some things already.


Having Bruno in the house and dealing with his (currently quite numerous) issues, and trying to love, medicate and feed him back to health (and to some semblance of doggie normalcy), has forced our entire family (our toddler daughter included) to employ levels of patience that we previously didn’t know that we possessed (or at least, I didn’t know that I possessed).

Getting back to you frequent 1WD readers, some of you may also recall that a dog’s approach to life can help us all to better appreciate wine – a topic inspired by Sam in his heyday, and one that had been on my mind lately as I wrote an updated version for the upcoming pilot issue of the soon-to-be-released, iPad-targeted e-magazine Uncorked .

The addition of Bruno to Clan Dude has reinforced for me the importance of patience in all things, and has underscored one of the key lessons in that dog-meets-life-meets-wine-appreciation Zen Wine mash-up: namely, Patience is everything when it comes to appreciating life (and wine).

Patience is the non-Bretty-yeast in the fermentation of our lives, the secret sauce in our life’s appreciation and gratitude recipes, the Zamboni on the hockey rink of our Consciousness that clears the way and smooths out the path for pretty much everything else worth keeping. Patience allows us to employ all of the other techniques that get us closer to understanding the true mystery in anything – wine included.

Last week, during a quick jaunt to Chicago, I had dinner with a friend at (you saw this one coming) a downtown steak house; he had been following the updates about Bruno from me on Facebook and the dinner topic included a run-down of Bruno and Bruno’s history and issues, and how he was coming along as a member of Clan Dude.  We ordered some wine (you saw that one coming, too), and the dinner topic moved towards wine and how my friend, in his words after taking a sniff, “could never really taste wine; I just smell ‘grapes'”

“C’mon man, that’s bullsh*t,” I responded; “you’re not smelling what’s in the glass because you’re just not paying attention to what’s in the glass. You’re drinking, not focusing or really tasting. If you were, the rest would be easy.  Anybody can do what I do when it comes to describing how a wine smells and tastes, it just takes patience.”

Of course, you don’t need a rescue dog to teach you the levels of patience needed to really “get” wine: you can take a much less expensive and saner shortcut by reading about that stuff here (or elsewhere). But when it comes to really appreciating fine wine, there are no real shortcuts; you need to consistently exercise your patience, and that part is actually hard – that’s the bad news.  The good news is that doing it consistently is really the only thing about wine appreciation that’s difficult.

The rest, in comparison, is really quite simple – in fact, even a dog can do it…






  • Amy L.

    Awwww, good luck with the new puppy! Dogs and wine are indeed a symbiotic combination. We have two hounds.
    Thanks for the pep talk about educating yourself about wine. I often justify buying higher end end wines because I think they are a better learning experience in a bottle. Maybe it's just that I am taking the time necessary to experience them.

    • 1WineDude

      THanks, Amy – regarding those high-end purchases, it's a bit of both I think. Or at least, one hopes that a higher-end fine wine will have more to show (and thus be a more in-depth teaching experience) than an every-day wine. Both are enjoyable and there are things to glean from both for sure, there's probably just a bit more to glean from the better-made, higher-end stuff. Probably (always exceptions… especially in Burgundy! :-).


  • Jim Caudill

    Welcome Home Bruno! You don't realize how lucky you are…but you will.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Jill – he seems to be getting an idea already that the new situation is a lot better than the old one… except that a) we make him take walks and he's WAY out of shape in terms of endurance, a mile wears his sorry butt out right now but we gotta keep going of course whether he likes it or not because it's what's best for him, and b) he's not allowed to have any of the wine samples. :)


  • fredric koeppel

    Monsieur Dude, congratulations on your new "special needs" dog and thank you and Mrs. D for your compassion. As someone who fosters puppies and occasionally adult dogs for rescue groups (in addition to our seven dogs), I can tell you that Bruno may sorely try your patience but also that the exchange of trust and loyalty and love you build in your family with and because of him will reward all of you tremendously. If what you wrote today inspires one person to rescue a dog from a so-called "shelter," then your time was well-spent. Likewise, if one person takes the time and patience to really get to know a bottle of wine …

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, frederic – kind words and especially meaningful ones coming from you!

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Sasha! The slobber has arrived already (mostly the dog's, sometimes mine after heaving drinking… ;-).

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Todd! And thanks especially for the success story – I hope we get there to join you soon!

    Mrs. Dudette is an amazing woman. Of course, she is also plied with wine samples so that might be part of it…

  • Steve Heimoff

    I adopted Mr. Pussy when he was nearly 2 years old. He was feral and mean. He wouldn't let anyone come near him, would just snarl and bare his claws. He was a horrible animal and I never would have adopted him, except the pet store owner told me they'd have to put him down unless somebody did. I had one of those "Why me, Lord?" moments. I did not want to have that damn cat's blood on my hands. So I adopted him. He was a big animal, over 20 pounds, just mean and grouchy. I couldn't get near him. I told him, "Lookit, Mr. P., this is my house, and if you wanna live here, you have to love me!" It took me months. I'd have to pin him down with my arms and legs and body. He clawed and hissed and drew blood, but I was determined. And you know what? He turned into the sweetest, most adorable cat I've ever seen, and we had nearly 20 years of happiness together. But he hated wine. Couldn't even stand the smell of it.

    • 1WineDude

      Steve – thanks for the touching story! I see it's not just me who had the "really? *I'm* the one that's been chosen by the Universe to rescue this animal?!? Now?!???" moment.

      Of course, if your cat hated wine then it's actually kind of an unhappy ending… ;-)

  • Jerry

    Great post broski. My wife and I rescued a chow-chow/Samoyed mix (Suki) a couple of years back. She definitely pushes our patience to the limit at times, but it's totally worth it and she's helped us (I think) to become better peeps. Having a dog and caring for them is a nice reminder of some of the virtues and characteristics that are so necessary for us as people too: Patience, self control, kindness, etc… Anyway, good luck with Bruno, I'm sure he'll fit right in soon enough!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Jerry – I'm feeling part of a larger world thanks to these comments!

  • Jeff

    Rescue is the only way to go. My wife and I have done a fair amount of dog ferrying on dog rescue travel legs. This is a world that isn't often seen, but is really compassionate.

    Dogs know when they've been given a great gift of comfort and a forever home and they reward their owners with a loyalty that isn't seen from dogs from the breeder. Kudos for giving Bruno a chance.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Jeff – I'm counting on that. I'm also counting on him being grateful enough not to eat me…

  • willybuoy

    Good luck and big hugs for such an heroic effort…yikes…all my dogs have been rescues but not this big a problem…wow…you rock Maddie says thank you from dogdom

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, willy! The experiences you guys have had with your pups was definitely an influence… and I need the reinforcement because the dog is inadvertently breaking household items daily because he's such a klutz…!

  • Elle (Bromography)

    Italian mastiffs are wonderful dogs. He will repay your patience in a thousand ways!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Elle – so far he's repaid it today in pee all over the floor about 10 times :(

  • Miko

    sooo cutteee!!!! awesome dogs!

  • James Boyle

    I love your story about your dog. I also love that you love the challenging way to take care of a dog, and you chosen a dog that really needs help. You have a good heart and thanks for that good example of yours.

    Send regards to bruno.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, James.

  • jenis bisnis rumahan

    Love that you're not shying away from a challenge…wishing you many, many happy years of canine companionship, love and slobber.

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