Surprise! I’m leading a wine tasting in less than two weeks. I wonder what I remember about wine after 2 years of not really writing or reading much about it?
I was actually super-nervous about this, going down to Twin Liquors, which is a sponsor for the event, Hawthorne Montessori School’s Casino Night and Silent Auction. Barrett Nicholson, the GM of Wholesale for Twin, very kindly agreed to help me pick out the wines, and since I didn’t want to waste his time, I went down early to scope out the selection, which was excellent. In the end, I picked all the wines myself with the help of The Really Nice Guy Behind The Counter Whose Name Might Be Bill – thus saving Barrett lots more time than either of us anticipated.
My working theme for this tasting is “Best Value Wines That Only Insiders Know About” – I may need some help tightening up that title – and the inspiration comes from periodic wine shopping trips I take with some girlfriends to Austin Wine Merchant on Saturdays when the store holds their wine tastings. My friends and I taste what’s on pour, and then I shop with/for them, helping them stock up their cellars with wines I know are good and that I know they’ll like. It’s mutually beneficial, because I get to shop for wine, which I love, without having to buy all the wine I love, which would put me in the poor house. And then my pals get the benefit of a personal wine buyer.
Wine can be such an effed-up business. There are so many variables that affect how a wine tastes, and you so rarely get to preview what the stuff is actually like. No, you have to plunk down $6-60 to see if that pretty rose with a heart on the label is even worth buying – imagine if that was the purchasing model for a pair of jeans or a book.
But if you have ever worked in the business, you learn a few predictors of quality. And if you have tasted lots and lots of wines (ahem), you also up your hit rate in imagining what a wine will taste like before you get it home.
Since I’ve been OUT of the business for so long (6 years now, but who’s counting?), I was particularly nervous about picking out the wines for next week’s tasting, because I was sure I wouldn’t recognize any of the brands and hot tickets any more. Imagine how my ego was soothed by 30 minutes of browsing in Twin’s wine stacks, recognizing old friends (wine, not people (though some wine makes me happier to see than some people, I admit)) and new efforts by producers I know I like. It was almost depressing, to see how far the business hasn’t come without me.
And I am supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-excited about this tasting, now! I picked out some really, really obscure wines that are HUGE values, and I will be researching them over the next week in hopes that their producers have some good stories to tell. I can’t WAIT to introduce 20 people to these 4 wines they’ve never heard of and would never pick out for themselves! Each costs about $10 and drinks like a bottle that costs at least twice that. That’s the kind of wine I’m most passionate about, if you were wondering – Really Cheap And Really Good.
Maybe I haven’t lost my mojo after all.