18 May 2011
Going wine tasting is one of my favorite past times. I love experiencing new wines. There is something very intriguing about how each wine offers its very own unique expression of place, people, and process. As a tasting room owner, it has been fun seeing all sorts of people come through. We’ve enlightened the palates of new wine drinkers and destroyed the preconceptions of many staunch snobs. In a previous post, wine slinger Ben shared some Wine Tasting Tips for Newbies. In today’s installment, I would like to share five things NOT to do while wine tasting.
The following tips come from recent experiences and believe it or not, they are ALL true. Wine is an alcoholic beverage and can be known to turn an otherwise normal person into something very different, as evidenced by the following list. I’m sure every winery owner or wine tasting room owner could add at least five more to this list too…
“Wine – How Classy People Get Trashed”
- Don’t pour your own wine.
I realize that during large tastings this could be tempting. After all, the wine is sitting on the counter just begging to be caressed and emptied. The guy behind the bar is busy pouring another wine. You just can’t wait and the magnetic pull of the bottle to your glass is overwhelmingly strong. DON’T DO IT. In addition to being against the law, it’s just a little rude. Yes, I realize we are friends and the space is cozy and you’re feeling pretty relaxed and at home. Be patient, we’ll get to you. I promise, we won’t run out.
- Don’t destroy my property.
Now this sounds simple enough and hopefully this isn’t a regular occurrence. When cleaning up after a large wine weekend recently, I noticed some weird dots on our nice paper flower centerpieces at one table. “Hmmm, this feels weird,” I thought. “Oh, my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding me…GUM!” Who, in their right mind decides it is okay to decorate a paper flower with a little gum stigma? That is all I have to say about that.
- Keep your drama to yourself.
A day of drinking with the girlfriends can be fun. Unfortunately after about 18 little one ounce pours at 4 locations with little food and zero water, some old “she said, she said” drama can start to emerge. Come on girls, you’re too pretty to be grumpy. We’re not a bar. In our little space all the customers are in on your frequent trips to the bathroom and not so hushed jabs. There is no crying in wine tasting. Be friends and save your drama for another time, please.
- Don’t harass the other customers.
You think I’m kidding with this one, but NO – this actually happened. A group of happy people were enjoying their wine tasting recently when all of a sudden I hear, “What are you looking at b^!ch? I’ll knock your f&*king head off!” Whoa! What the heck. A quick analysis of the situation reveals a stunned group of young girls being accosted by someone from another group that just came in. Smartly the two young ladies didn’t react to the unsolicited abuse and sheepishly left. WAIT, those are my customers you just ran off. This is a winery not a biker bar. If I hadn’t been alone, I would have run off to apologize to the girls. As it was, I politely smiled to the remaining group and tried to give them the best experience I could. Not sure what happened and as the tasting progressed, the group seemed quite pleasant and we hit it off pretty well…hmmm…go figure.
- Don’t grope or kiss the owner.
I realize after a few glasses of wine and in dim lighting I can look pretty attractive, but kissing the help is generally frowned upon and usually won’t get you a discount on wine. This experience happened within the first three weeks of us being opened and I was thinking, “Oh my, what did I get myself into?” This customer and I can laugh about this now but needless to say I was pretty shocked at the time. Feel free to flirt, get sassy and bat your eyes all you want. It’s great for the ego. But it might be best for everyone if you found someone else to kiss (or spank or grope).
There you have it. I’m sure as time progresses I’ll have many stories to tell in this space. If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, don’t worry – your identity is safe with me and I only share because I can laugh about it now, hopefully you can too.
11 May 2011
Want to go to the newest wine event in Spokane? Here is your chance. Vintage Spokane needs your help in getting the word out. By simply becoming their marketing force you can qualify to win 2 tickets to the June 5 event. Details on how to participate and qualify are in the last paragraph of this post.
What is Vintage Spokane?
In 2010 we learned that the Washington Wine Commission was no longer going to host the popular Taste Washington event in Spokane. The long running event gave Spokane residents a way to explore and enjoy the wine from over 100 Washington wineries and cuisine from local restaurants. The event promoters, Varsity Communications, saw a need to continue the event for Spokane oenophiles and made the decision to host Vintage Spokane.
With the success we’ve had with Taste Washington in Seattle, we’re excited to bring an event like this back to the Spokane area,” said Varsity Communications President Dick Stephens. “Few cities in the country have a community that is as knowledgeable and appreciative of good wine as Spokane, and the sheer number of incredible wineries and restaurants that are within a short distance of the city limits are staggering. We can’t wait to put it all on display for Spokane residents to enjoy.”
Vintage Spokane is Sunday, June 5 at the beautiful Lincoln Center. 75 wineries and dozens of local restaurants and caterers are expected to participate. Ticket prices are only $60 for this year’s event (lower than previous Taste Washington events). Tickets are on sale now on their web site (http://www.vintagespokane.com) and at Nectar Tasting Room, Latah Creek Winery and Arbor Crest Winery.
Want to WIN Tickets?
Entry is easy, we need YOU to help spread the word. Post the following as your Facebook status (or as a tweet) and then leave a comment on this blog so we know you did it. One winner will be selected on May 29 and will receive 2 tickets to the event. While you’re here, go “like” the Vintage Spokane Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.
SAMPLE FACEBOOK POST:
From the producers of Taste Washington, introducing Vintage Spokane, Spokane’s newest wine event. Tickets are on sale now (June 5). Visit their web page for more info – 75 wineries and 20 local restaurants. http://www.vintagespokane.com
Learn more about @vintagespokane, 75 wineries and 20 restaurants. June 5 http://bit.ly/jGrZxa #wawine
*Nectar Tasting Room is a media sponsor of this event
03 May 2011
“Once you know what you like, you’re already an expert.” This is a phrase I use all too often in the tasting room for intimidated newbies and, in many ways, I believe it. Sounds pretty simple and inviting right? Sadly, the man behind curtain would agree that there’s more to enjoying wine than simply sticking to what you’ve previously found easy and comfortable. The world of wine is dying to be discovered in each and every soul. Yes, if you’re a novice drinker and find Franzia to be smooth and elegant then that’s your prerogative. I’ll even find myself enjoying a nice glass of boxed wine on a summer camping trip. But for me to say you’re an expert in my tasting room needs the accompaniment of a little more explanation.
No one, and I mean no one, has ever been born with an amazing wine palate. It’s a physiological and psychological structure, if you will, built with experience, dedication, and attention to every subtle detail inhabited by the wines we’ve had in our past. An expert might know more than one can conceive, but life has shown me the true best of the best are always willing to learn and be proven wrong. I say this because no one should ever “know what they like” and refuse to veer from that path claiming to be an expert on their own palate; you never know how much you could be missing out on. For example, I’ve had roughly twenty different Tempranillos (Spain’s “noble grape” often referred to as the Spanish Cabernet) as of late, and I have yet to find one that truly tickles my fancy. Will I stop drinking Tempranillo? NO! All it means is that I get the luxury of being “forced” to keep drinking more until I find one I like. Yes, there’s the possibility that the day won’t come, but to be honest I’ll never know. There’s too much wine in the world to ever stop searching.
Certainly taste what you know you like, but never be against branching out from time to time. The saddest thing one could ever do to is become unwilling and close-minded. This goes for everything, not just wine. The honest reason I jumped into the wine industry is to help expand the palate of the young and willing world, as well as my own. Develop and build your palate by taking chances, stepping outside of your preconceived box, and letting the world of vino come alive in you. Just for fun, next time you stop in the any tasting room or wine shop, tell the worker to grab a wine he or she thinks you’ve never had before. You can always let them know the wine you usually drink so as to help narrow down the selection. I’m not saying one can’t have “their wine”, but don’t choose it every time. Simply acknowledge it as your safety net, but seize every opportunity to experience something new. Who knows, you might find a suggestible Tempranillo for yours truly. Wine is life so make it a good one!
About The Author
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at the Arbor Crest Winery. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape as a drummer for a local band. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker.
Spokane celebrates Spring with the annual Spokane Winery Association’s, Spring Barrel Tasting. For 25 years, Spokane wineries have opened their doors to wine lovers of all ages (21 and over of course) on Mother’s Day Weekend. Spring marks the time when many of the years previous vintages are ready for release and gives oenophiles an opportunity to try wine that is still in the wine making process.
This year two wineries and one new tasting room join the association giving happy sippers 18 locations to enjoy 24 local and regional wineries. Bridge Press Cellars, the most recent addition to the Spokane Winery Association and eMVy Cellars, the proud project of Mark and Valerie Wilkerson will be celebrating the grand opening of the newest tasting room space at 32 W. 2nd Ave next to Sun People Dry Goods in the Spokane Public Market. Also joining in the Spring Barrel Tasting is Nectar Tasting Room where five Washington wineries share a co-op space at 120 N. Stevens.
Spring Barrel Tasting festivities are from 11AM – 5PM Friday through Sunday, May 6-8. Many wineries will be celebrating their newest releases and will be offering discounts on current and new vintages. Wine tasting gives you a chance to “try before you buy” ensuring you find a wine that you love. Tasting fees may apply and many wineries will waive the tasting fee with the purchase of a bottle.
Nectar Tasting Room Spring Barrel Tasting
While we don’t have barrels at the tasting room, you can choose to taste 5 wines from 5 Washington State wineries. Enjoy a newly released Malbec, a gold medal winning 2010 Viognier, or celebrate Spring with a refreshing Sangiovese Rose. In total, 10 wines will be available and for $5 you can taste 5 (refundable with the purchase of a bottle). Look for a special ½ price case sale as well as other discounts.
End your day on Friday with the First Friday celebration that includes photography from Mark Anthony Productions and music from Spokane favorite Darrin Hilderbrand. Music starts at 6:30 and the party goes well into the night usually wrapping up around 10pm. If you’re out and about on Saturday night come by at 9PM for Spokane’s favorite wine party, The Final Sip. For only $10 you get to sample up to 8 of any of the wines we have open (usually 20-30 bottles).
Nectar will also be open on Sunday from 11AM – 5PM. Bring mom by and treat her to a unique wine tasting experience.
- Anelare 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon $33 (reg $44)
- Hard Row To Hoe 2007 Barbera $18 (reg $24)
- Northwest Cellars 2009 Chardonnay $12 (reg $16)
- Northwest Cellars 2007 Cabernet $18 (reg $24)
- Skylite Cellars 2009 Viognier $15 (reg $19)
- Skylite Cellars 2009 Dry Rose $15 (reg $19)
- Terra Blanca 2008 Riesling $10.50 (reg $14)
- Terra Blanca 2006 Syrah $120 case (reg $240)
7 Tips for Spring Barrel Tasting Weekend
- Drink water, then drink more water
- You don’t have to finish every wine sample
- Don’t hog the tasting bar, make room for others
- Make a purchase. When you find a wine you like support the local economy and buy it.
- Eat, take a break for lunch and snacks. Drinking on an empty stomach means trouble
- Don’t wear heavy perfume.
- Most importantly…bring a designated driver
12 Apr 2011
There’s only one thing I love more than being told I’m awesome; it’s an honest friend giving me a suggestion on how I could be more awesome. After my last blog, my good friend Mark Rogers said I fell hook, line and sinker for a common misconception within the wine industry. Mark was referring to how, while sharing a few helpful tips to make wine tasting a little more fun and enjoyable, I very briefly discussed the “legs” of wine and its ability to aid in immediately determining quality. Out of the goodness in his heart, he decided call me out stating legs don’t mean squat. His challenge led me on a hunt for the truth to settle the debate.
What the heck are legs anyway? Legs are the streaks, or veins, that run down the side of the glass after wine is swirled. The French and Spanish call them tears; Germans know them as church windows. For way too long, seemingly knowledgeable winos have been ‘oohing’ and ‘aaahhing’ as glasses are swirled, assumptions are made, and wine is prematurely judged. The common myth is simple; nicely shaped, thick legs signify great body, flavor, balance, and higher glycerin/alcohol content. Wine knowledge is fun, but many tend to believe everything they hear and I’ll admit I never questioned the importance of legs until now.
There is no glycerin in wine. Glycerin is the trade name for glycerol syrup one can find at most local pharmacies. Glycerol, however is an alcohol compound found in wine that adds sweetness, but the amount found in any glass is so tiny that its weight has a negligible effect on the body. What do “legs” have to do with overall wine quality? There is literally nothing found in the appearance of legs that reveal the wine’s greatness – unless higher alcohol content means better wine (hey…we all have nights like that). The same goes for flavor. The phenomenon, if we choose to call it that, is known as the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect and states that alcohol has a faster evaporation rate and lower surface tension than water, effectively forcing the alcohol to evaporate at a faster rate. As the water’s surface tension and concentration increases, the liquid moves up the glass and pushed into beads. After awhile, our good pal gravity decides to drop in for visit and pull the liquid back towards the dusty earth from whence it came…thus creating legs/veins/tears/church windows or whatever your little heart desires.
“So that’s it? The thicker the legs, the more alcohol,” you say? Well yes….technically, but this still won’t help you in a tasting. In order to really see a noticeable difference in the legs, the wines would have to be as far apart (in regards to alcohol) as table reds are to fortified wines. Overall, legs are a redundant observation of anything related to the wine’s significant characteristics. Please, however, don’t take this as a plea for you to go around correcting people when they bring up this topic. Unless you’re asked, don’t correct or give advice. Just be happy that the next time you overhear some cute blonde say “did you notice these legs,” you can nod and smile knowing that’s not all you noticed. Enjoy life with friends and drink happy!
Here is a little 80’s inspiration on another kind of ‘legs’
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at the Arbor Crest Winery. During the day he masquerades at Lindeman’s bistro and coffee shop on Spokane’s South Hill. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape as a drummer for a local band. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker.