When I was in the wine business, the thing I hated the most was to pour at a public wine tasting event. Considering how gung-ho I am about de-mystifying wine for people, and how much I enjoy teaching people about wine, I recognize the irony. What better way, one might ask, to help people feel more confident about their own taste in wine but to help them taste more? And be able to talk to them while they’re tasting?
This optimistic viewpoint completely discounts humankind’s animal tendencies. One of the scenarios in which people act like animals is when they’re in crowds. Another scene that brings out the animal in even your mildest-mannered of auntie is when people are giving something out for free. Yet another animalistic behavior encouragement is alcohol.
These are the building blocks for the miraculous equation that takes normal men and women at a large public wine tasting and turns them into ravening, parched, ill-tempered zombies. Crowd + free (or cheap) alcohol = UGLY. It’s true, I don’t care who you are. Continue reading
Another fun time was had by all at Specs’ Tasting Tuesday at the Brodie Lane store this last Tuesday. This time I attended with a friend, which increased my enjoyment enormously — what is it about being alone in a crowd that makes you feel, well, alone in a crowd?
To remind you of what this scene is about: Specs holds this Tasting Tuesday event on the second Tuesday of every month at their Brodie Lane & William Cannon store. For $10 you get a Reidel tasting glass and you get one ounce pours of 20 different wines that Specs has priced on sale that night only. The event runs from 5:30 to 8, if I recall correctly.
This month they had some of the same (mostly local) food vendors providing samples, but the Specs deli was also passing hors d’ourves, like duck liver pate on crackers, sushi rolls with krab and wasabi cream sauce, grilled pork tenderloin with lovely apricot goo on french rounds, herbed goat cheese, and chopped duck & raspberry something on crackers. Tasty comestibles; I must say that I’ve purchased food at the deli before and I was very satisfied. Continue reading
This was an exercise in trust for me; I’ve never been a fan of Portuguese table wines, at least nothing other than Vinho Verde, which I like very much. I resolved to take this opportunity to learn a little more about a region I had pretty much written off as producing fruitless bottles of scrape-your-teeth tannic monsters. Many thanks to Catavino‘s Ryan and Gabriella; their Portuguese Table Wine Cheat Sheet was great help to me! Continue reading
I geek out. About wine, about other interests… I confess that I love to really dig into the minutiae of a subject and then share my newfound treasured facts, telling people more than they ever needed to know about, really, anything.
And so it is that I begin a new Wine Scamp Series: I Don’t Know Wine, posts for those who read this site for pleasure, maybe a little knowledge, but really not to find out how the ’05 Cortons are drinking.
The concept here is to impart to you just enough wine knowledge to defend yourself in a wine shop or at a normal, public tasting. These skills won’t protect you against an all-out onslaught of wine geek-o-rama, but they should, given proper maintenance and some remaining short-term memory, allow you acquit yourself worthily if your group asks you to pick a wine for dinner.
I want to start with the grape varietal Pinot Noir because of its enshrinement by the movie Sideways and because it’s a flexible, reliable (if not inexpensive) wine choice. Continue reading
My friend, the author Gabrielle Faust, invited me to do a series of Halloween wine reviews for her goth/horror blog Eternal Vigilance. I’ll be reviewing about 6 wines for her throughout October. Check out what all the cool ghouls are drinking this season.
What an interesting, impressive tasting, led by Micheal Lunceford of Ambiente, a smaller distributer here in Austin with a lovely portfolio. They represent Kermit Lynch here in the region, and if Micheal is any indication, they do so flawlessly.
Lake Travis Wine Trader supplied tasty nibbles to go with this wine class, which included tastes of 6 wines for $30, the median bottle price being $43. This is an excellent value for a tasting, in my opinion; usually a tasting will run $20-25 and you’ll taste 4 or 6 wines that are all in the mere $20 range, which is also interesting, but what I enjoy about the LTWT is that these people have super-expensive tastes! Them and me, we totally get that. There’s a regular group of Tuesday tasters, but they were surprisingly friendly and inclusive, considering how well they all seemed to know each other. Don’t be afraid that if you attend one of these classes alone, you’ll have no one to talk to. Continue reading
Would you dump me as your favorite scampish wine gal if I told you that, in a tasting on Tuesday of some very beautiful and expensive Burgundies, my favorite by a large margin was the Fleurie, a mere Beaujolais?
I’m sorry, I tried to like the more expensive, silky, elegant, perfumed premier crus better, but I just didn’t. I appreciated them, I enjoyed them, I lauded them, I recognized them, but if I had to go home with any of those sexy bottles, it would have been with the lowly Fleurie. Because it was fun and pleasurable and it was so bright I almost had to shade my eyes from the fruit.
As I agonized over this fact (one I had difficulty admitting to in the first place, knowing from extensive research What I Should Have Preferred), it got me to thinking about literature. Continue reading