19 Jan 2010
The scenario – You’ve just scored a date with a super hot friend of your co-worker. When you pick her up she is wearing a clingy red low-cut dress. The kind of dress that shows her curves and makes you hope it’s a little breezy. As the evening progresses, all the signs point to success. She laughs at all your jokes, she flings her hair back flirtatiously, and touches your shoulder periodically when she’s talking. You arrive at the restaurant and score the table overlooking the river. The waiter comes over hands you your menu and hands YOU the wine menu. As you open it up, a cold sweat comes over you and your cheeks get flush. What does it all mean? How do you choose?
The Dude’s Guide to Wine helps demystify and educate the average Joe about wine.
- In Part One we explained three reasons all guys should know a little about wine – Rated PG
- In Part Two we explored the basics of grapes and their general characteristics – Rated PG-13
- In Part Three we talked about the experience of wine tasting (swirl, smell, sip, savor) – Rated R
Why is there so much anxiety when ordering wine or buying from a store? I think it can be distilled down into one thing; Fear of Failure. We’re afraid of ordering the wrong wine with the food. We’re afraid of paying too much for a bad tasting wine. We’re afraid of looking bad. The dude is comfortable with ordering beer. You’ll always find the same basic beer in every restaurant. A margarita is basically the same wherever you go. Wine, however can cause even the Chuck Norris type dudes to develop Erkle like demeanor.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Directions
The best sex happens when guys aren’t afraid to ask their ladies for a little direction. The same thing is true with the wine experience. Asking directions can lead you to the ‘G Spot’ or pleasure center of food and wine pairings! Some basic tips:
- Ask the wait staff if the restaurant offers small wine flight samples – This is a small two ounce pour of three different wines to help determine a good selection. This is also a great sharing experience between you and your date.
- Ask the diva in the red dress (your date) if she has any particular favorites. If she prefers sweet white Rieslings and you order a big meaty Cabernet Sauvignon, the mood could be ruined. If she really has no preference, she’ll defer back to your manly decision making skills.
- Wait to make your final wine decision until you’ve made your dinner selection. While many opinions exists about proper food / wine pairings, there is some science to the right experience.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff for a recommendation. This shows care, concern and passion. Your lady won’t be keen to your lack of wine understanding, she’ll be impressed at your discernment to defer to a knowledgeable resource.
- While ordering a bottle is preferable; because as the nectar flows the conversation grows, don’t be afraid to order two different glasses that pair best with each of your meals.
If you choose to go it alone, refer to Part 2 of this series for a basic explanation of grapes and food pairings. The generalizations are RED WINE for big hearty meats and pastas and WHITE WINE for lighter chicken, white sauce, and spice.
The more you experience wine, the more comfortable you will feel at making the decisions. Great wine pairings will come with ease and the lady will be pleased. Similar to sex, you start with a basic knowledge of anatomy and what goes where. The more you experience it, the better moves you make and the passion comes with ease and the lady is pleased.
Tips for Navigating the Store
The scenario: Your successful moves on date one have led to the all important “night in” dinner date. This is the date that is at either one of your residence that migrates from dinner to the couch with potential for second and third base. As a side note, hosting dinner and making it from scratch will score you big points. Also, don’t be too quick to slide into home. Showing restraint shows self-control, builds trust, and grows anticipation for the final scene. For this date you are without the help of the wait staff and must rely on your cunning abilities to navigate the wine store, local winery, or local grocer (I strongly encourage you to BUY LOCAL for good service and informative advice).
- Decide what’s for dinner and follow the same basic principles when ordering at a restaurant
- Determine your budget. While there are a lot of good $10 and under wines out there, nothings says, “let’s get drunk and screw” like a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. Shoot for something between $20-30 and your chances are better that it will be a good wine and if she knows anything about wine, she’ll be a little impressed.
Personally, I would avoid going all out for something more than $25 on a date like this. 1) You don’t want to set the bar too high for future wine purchases. Starting high may set an expectation that your wallet cannot afford. 2) You haven’t yet sealed the deal. At this point you’re still feeling things out (so to speak).
- Ask the wine steward or shop attendant. Similar to the restaurant, tell them your dinner and your budget and they can be a wealth of information.
- If there isn’t a wine steward available, the store should be grouped by grape varietal. Head to one that fits the general pairings mentioned above and in post 2 and choose one that fits your budget.
- If you’re ambitious you can choose a label that fits the mood of the relationship. Chances are, as you look, you’ll see labels that are sexy and flirty, fun and witty, artistic, and fancy.
Don’t let the size of the selection bother you. As the girls say, it’s not the size that matters, it’s the quality. One final tip, if you think things are going to go well, buy two bottles. As the night progresses, you would hate to find yourself without more wine!
There you have it, four posts to help the average dude venture into the wine world. Would you like to see more? There have been some preliminary conversations about turning this series into a book. What other things should the average guy know about wine? Are you a beer drinking dude? Comment here, let me know.
17 Jan 2010
This weekend I left the bleak grey confines of Spokane, WA for the land of eternal sun, Phoenix. While my itinerary consisted mostly of pounding my 37 year old body into the pavement for the PF Changs Rock-n-Roll Marathon, I also enjoyed visiting with my sister, her husband and my mom and dad.
In addition to the body torture, new twitter friend, Tim Hilcove @wklywinejournal organized a wine / adult beverage tweetup. The first stop was FnB Restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale. This fantastic part of town is thriving with activity; restaurants, bars, wine bars, art galleries, and live music. This is an adult playground! While FnB wasn’t a “wine bar,” I was thrilled to see a great selection of Arizona wine. During the tweetup, we met some fantastic people (featured below).
FnB was very accommodating with our group of 12. Due to lighting conditions, food aromas, and my memory, I’m unable to provide a full NectarView of each wine, but below is what I drank and what I thought!
2008 Pillsbury “Casa Blanca” Pinot Gris, Cochise County $20
- The wine had an interesting minerality on the nose. The Pinot Gris’ that I’m used to usually have a very crisp apple, pear, and pineapple aroma. This was a very good wine that seems to be made in the traditional Italian wine making style. The sip provided some nice effervescence and reminded me of Champagne (w/o the bubbles). I would definitely buy it (if I could ever find it in our area).
2006 Dos Cabezas “Toscano” Red Blend, Conchise County $22
- This wine was lighter shade with similar colorings and translucence as a Pinot Noir (jewel like). Toscano is a Sangiovese, Cab, Syrah, Petit Sirah blend. The flavors were sour cherry with a dry tartness and mild acidity. This wine wasn’t in my wheelhouse, but it did seem well made with nice character.
2007 Pillsbury “Roan Red” Syrah, Conchise County $24
- The color presented fairly dark plum with mildly clear edges. Once again, this wine seemed to be made in the traditional Rhone style. Taste was fruity grape and blackberry and had a descent tannic structure and a nice long finish (see Tim’s description in the video).
The most enjoyable and biggest surprise for me was the Casa Blanca
After wrapping up dinner, one of our tweeters (@juxtapalate) recommended we head to Kazimierz World Wine Bar. This place needs to be seen to be believed. There are no establishment name signs on the building, the entrance is in the rear and the only sign, above the entrance door, says “The Truth is Inside.” The inside is reminiscent of what I would envision an old French cellar would look like (cobblestone, wood, barrels). Hot jazz was playing and the place was alive with beautiful people (current blogger not withstanding). The hostess brought a wine menu which included a nice selection of flights. @Juxtapalate asked the waitress for the “wine bible.” The Kazimierz Wine Bible contained 2600 wines by the bottle. WOW! I think I need to spend more than just a three day weekend here. A cellar was dug out under the building to hold all the wine. After analyzing the flights, I chose something that would make fellow wine blogger @vinegeek proud, Mourvedre. Sadly, my reviews were tainted by the smell of garlic as we sat right outside the kitchen.
2006 San Isidro Monastrell, Cepas del Zorro; Spain $11
- This was a big earthy chewy wine. It was aroma challenged. I wasn’t too pleased with this wine because it was mostly tart and tannic with hints of leather but no lace.
2007 Castano Monastrell Organic, Spain; $8
- This wine also didn’t produce much effort on the nose. The first two offering were definitely giving me a picture of Spanish Mourvedre but I wasn’t totally into what they were painting. I did pick up some red cherry jam but the wine was simple with a short finish.
2006 Cline Mourvedre, Ancient Vines, Contra Costa; $12
- I’ve had several positive experiences with the Cline brand and this one was no exception. This wine was much smoother and had a nice strawberry tart taste with a hint of smoky oak. Discovering that the wine is only $12 means that this is one I would pick up to share with friends.
Earlier I mentioned that we enjoyed our tweetup with several local foodies and winos. It was such a pleasure to meet these guys and they are definitely worthy of a follow on twitter.
@CChaseEnt – Colleen runs @AZGrapeEscapes and has the joy of organizing wine tours to the nearby Phoenix area vineyards and wineries.
@JuxtaPalate – Ty is a great connector. His blog is witty and fun as he explore the Phoenix food and drink scene. He also runs a PR firm for local restaurants.
@JustinEats – Justin writes a fantastic food blog with insightful reviews of local restaurants.
@wklywinejournal – Tim was gracious enough to organize the tweetup. His wine blog has been on my reader list for months. Tim’s passion is promoting the AZ scene. Go Tim!
Several others came and went throughout the night but I did not get to converse with them all; @CiaoMari Niki Buchanan (food writer for www.azcentral.com) and @foodieslikeus
Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends and I’m already looking forward to my next trip to sunny Phoenix in April. Kazimierz will probably be the first stop on the way from the airport! DRINK.HAPPY
14 Jan 2010
We’ve all had Chardonnay, but have you ever had 100% Petit Verdot? My recent trip to Spokane’s Latah Creek was a pleasant surprise. In my mind I thought Latah Creek was all about sweet wines (not my favorites) like their Huckleberry Wine or Maywine. I was blown away by the quality of their Merlot, Vinosity (Red Blend), and the Petit Verdot.
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from Connor Lee Vineyards with 100% Malolactic fermentation. Two months in French oak. 760 cases
- The Swirl: Thicker viscosity, more pale yellow than a traditional CA Chardonnay.
- The Sniff: Mild nose with hints of pear and honey
- The Sip: Big and rich butter, vanilla and pear. No oak to speak of. Felt thick and meaty. Finished with a beautiful acidity that washed across the back of my mouth.
- The Score: At a retail price of $12, this is a very well made Chardonnay. I score it a 4+. So far this is one of the best “value” Chardonnay’s that I’ve had. Kudo’s, Mike!
I’m not really a Chardonnay fan but this was an incredible offering for the money. I would venture to guess that it could be found for under $10 in certain locations, depending on sales.
2006 Winemakers Reserve Petit Verdot
- The Stuff: 100% Petit Verdot from Alice Vineyards
- The Swirl: Dark inky plum with beautiful legs after heavy swirl
- The Sniff: Slightly musty and earth smell. Pencil shavings and banana. Not overly fruity at first. Eventually opened up to express some flower (Violets I think).
- The Sip: A very diverse tasting wine. It seemed to have different characteristics each time I sipped it. Started to pick up on the blackberry and it tasted floral and slightly sour cherries. Not tart on the back end and surprisingly smooth drinking.
- The Score: At $30 retail, I score this wine a solid 4. I would buy it again because of the variety of flavor and how different it is compared to the majority of other Washington reds.
This wine is a perfect example of how tastes can vary between individuals. While I felt it was a very well made wine with lots of character and interest, my wife didn’t care for it too much. For me this further solidifies the need for a variety of reviews. Don’t just trust Wine & Spectator’s 100pt scoring. Read tasting notes and reviews. Over time, you’ll know whether you like sour cherries or barnyard. If a wine is described like that, chances are you may not enjoy it, so why drop the cash.
Washington is growing some fantastic fruit. Over the next few years you will start to see more Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, and possibly more Petit Verdot. There is more to WA than your standard Bordeaux fruit.
Continue to explore new tastes, expand your palate and try not to ALWAYS drink the same thing. Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends, so DRINK.HAPPY!
13 Jan 2010
You either have to be crazy or passionate about your topic to launch a new print magazine in today’s economic condition. I think a little of both could be used to describe the launch of Washington Tasting Room magazine. Founders John and Adean Vitale hope to provide a “wealth of tasting experiences…as we celebrate the truly amazing wines being produced across the state.”
I received the first two copies of Washington Tasting Room as an industry sample with the intention to review.
The magazine is a quarterly publication that intends to explore tasting rooms across the state. Each edition is divided into Tour (wineries and vineyards), Taste (culinary, restaurant, food pairings), Travel (hotels, resorts, bed & breakfasts) and At Home (general wine info, art, etc). Every edition also covers key news, trends, tasting room openings and an event calendar. The advertisements were not overwhelming and each was nicely placed on the page or grouped together to not distract from the article.
As I flipped through each edition, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the writing, including two of my online favorites Kori Voorhees from www.winepeeps.com and David LeClaire from www.vinolover.com. Other writing contributors varied between publications but each article was nicely crafted. To me, the star of each edition is the photography. The panoramic landscape photo’s of vineyards and the thumbnail shots of various tasting rooms gave me an overall impression of visiting each space. A few of the centerfold type shots had me holding the magazine up akin to a teenage boy with those “other” kind of magazines that people read for the articles.
While there is nothing negative to say about the magazine, I do have an observation and a suggestion. My observation is based on my geographical bias. So far, with two issues there is nary a mention of the Spokane wine scene. While I realize that Spokane is not an AVA, nor is it synonymous with wine (ala Walla Walla or Lake Chelan), however Spokane metro is 350,000 people strong and has 18 very good wineries. Several of Spokane’s wine makers are fathers of wine in the state. I would hope to see some sort of representation in the Spring edition.
My suggestion revolves around the very nature of the print medium. Of the 34 pages that had article text, 5 were dedicated to events. The lead time of print to publication to distribution to ending up in my hands means that there are probably several events that don’t make the list (and others that have come and gone by the time I pick up my magazine). Building out a robust event section on the web site would allow for more real time addition. A few of the articles (not all) should be available on the web site with some features published online between issues. I’m sure several WA wine bloggers would love to syndicate their content. In short, I think the survival of the print medium is a synergy between print, web, and social media. Readers are going online. One magazine I read regularly starts the article in the magazine and then references a second part or additional information that is online…very clever.
Washington Tasting Room is a good magazine for wine lovers in our state. I’m a huge fan and supporter of anything that promotes the beautifully crafted quality wines that come from Washington. I wish John and Adean success with their venture. Be looking for a subscription order from DrinkNectar.com.
12 Jan 2010
Do you really need to pay someone thousands of dollars for a social media strategy? Should you hand over the social media reigns to your PR person or marketing firm? Why should I pay for something I can do for myself?
I’ve been thinking about this on several fronts lately as I visit local businesses without a social media presence. My first thought is why pay someone money to do something that is free and requires very little technical expertise? Not to mention the vast amount of free information and training available. I mean really, some of these folks charge $50 – $100 per hour. If you’re so ready to throw that kind of money at it, I’ll crown myself an expert and let you pay me. I’ve been in the corporate world long enough to create a pretty damn fancy and impressive resume.
Seriously, it is an interesting question. I was recently talking to a friend and I said it only takes four things to be successful at developing a brand through social media:
To me, this seems simple. I’m passionate about my topic, I’m pretty disciplined to get in and learn the tools and be consistent with my product. I care about interacting with people, I respond to comments, I engage people in conversation. I don’t have the time, I make the time. So far, I’ve been pleased with the results. I’m making money, I’m building a brand, I’m networking with local people, and ideas are coming together.
Anyone can do it! Right?
What if you’re passionate about your product, you just don’t have the time to dedicate to something new? What if you care about interacting with people, you just don’t have the discipline to develop a strategy and learn the tools? I could change the oil in my car myself if I had the time and if I knew how. There are books to teach me, but…See the rub?
Hiring a consultant may be beneficial for folks that are in this situation. Many wineries are 1-3 man/woman operations. Finding even 20 minutes a day to tweet and Facebook may be a challenge. Sometimes the fact that I pay for my gym membership gets me going to the gym. Maybe paying a consultant is the jump start that is needed for some companies.
Here are a few things to consider before hiring someone.
- Don’t let them dazzle you with corporate jargon (buzz word crap). We’re going to analyze this, set baseline that, set up ROI measurement systems, engage, assess, evaluate, monitor, blah blah blah.
a) Determine what you want to accomplish b) find the tools to accomplish it c) repeat the best ways to accomplish it and d) measure your results.
- It’s not rocket science. There is nothing wrong with getting involved and making a few mistakes along the way. The tools are there, the tools are free, no software engineering degree is needed to understand Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, or Linkdin.
- DO NOT hand over the management of your content or customer interaction (unless you’re actually hiring someone to do it full time). A PR firm / marketing team will not be as passionate or as transparent as you can be with your customers. Social Media is connection with your customers. Hiring someone to pretent to be you for a few hours a month is a failure (in my opinion).
- Do your homework. You’re hiring someone as a Social Media Guru / Expert, doesn’t it make sense that you should see if they are using it sucessfully themselves? Visit their blog. Is their content current? What makes you think they’ll keep yours current? Go to their Facebook page. Was their last status update more than a week ago? Are all of their tweets self serving links and ads? If you don’t see any conversation, RUN.
I know you’re reading this and have an opinion. I would love to hear it. Am I way off base? What else can you contribute to the conversation?
P.S. If you want any Social Media help from me, just ask – I’ll probably collect in wine, coffee or guitars!
Previous Social Media Posts: