16 Jan 2012
Wine often comes across as stuffy and snobby. Wine, however, is an alcoholic beverage and has a humorous side as well. The following funny wine quotes always make me laugh and I hope they bring a smile to your face as well. Many of these were found on friends Facebook pages and Twitter streams. Enjoy, pin away and share. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy.
Another reason why I prefer PCs over MACs – they just seem to understand me.
Classic quote. I’ve seen this at several friends houses.
Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes and it’s our job to stomp on them, keep them in the dark, until they mature into something you’d like to have dinner with.
No one likes a quitter. Drink up!
So that is why the the Christmas tree always dries up before Christmas.
Do the right thing…make the call…don’t be that guy.
27 Dec 2011
After seeing the popularity of my last blog, I took notice that people enjoy a good, honest rant. Upon returning from a wine tasting trip with a sour taste in my mouth compliments of piss poor customer service, the words came out rather easily. I find myself today with a similar height of frustration, but from the other side of the counter. As an employee in multiple tasting rooms, I’ve seen my fair share of pretentious people walk through my doors and clearly state their hard-wired preferences right off that bat. Why go into any new situation with an already-made list of things you wont try or test out. Last time I checked, life was for living. If not, someone please forward me the memo stating otherwise. Specifically, I’d like to address the people who claim to only drink “big reds” and refuse a glass of anything white or pink. Oh I get it, your manhood is bigger than mine because of this preference? Am I right? Well, lets dive deeper into why this is NOT the case.
In my ever-lasting goal to bring everyone together, I’ve come up with four kinds of people in regards to wine:
- Men and women who don’t drink wine at all. They either tried it a few times and never got into the damn thing or choose not to drink at all for various reasons.
- Men and women who have eagerly taken the first steps to liking wine and still stick to whites, often times leaning towards the sweeter side of life. They aren’t opposed to red wines necessarily, but simply haven’t traveled that far in their journey to full wine appreciation. Drink on!
- The unfortunate souls…err….men and women who have taken the step into bigger red wines, yet leave white and/or sweeter wines in the dust viewing them as a person they regret ever dating. These people view drinkers of “anything but red” as uneducated, unsophisticated, and as ignorant as they come.
- Finally! These highly-intelligent, ridiculously-cultured, and scaringly-sexy people that have come full circle and completely understand that all (yes ALL) wine has its place in our hearts, and finding those places are half the fun!
Three of these four categories are completely fine. Group number 3 and their views, however, have created such a heavy presence that many adults are effin’ scared to admit they like enjoy a sweet wine every once in awhile. Why should they be ashamed? As I stated earlier, red, white, and pink can all find a fitting way into our lives. For a couple of examples, sweet wines are a great offset to spicy foods such as Thai and Spanish cuisine. Whites with great acidity (eg Sauvignon Blanc and many dry Rieslings) can compliment a wide range a meals and have the backbone to cut through a lot of heavy, cream based sauces. Dry rose’s are great palate cleansers that seem to pair with any food you can put on a holiday menu. Lastly, on a dripping hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a light, refreshing Pinot Gris on the porch. When were whites seeing as wines for pansies and neanderthals? Personally, I feel whites hold more characteristics to the original grape flavors and have just as much depth as any red you could put in front of me. Disagree? I dare you to send me a red so great, so amazing that it will force me to forget all about whites. If you can, strive to become a number 4 because its truly the right way to live. I try and act cool, but when I’m in the privacy of my own home, I’ll be the first to admit that I turn on Jersey Shore on occasion. Although I should be embarrassed about this, no one should feel insecure when walking up to the bar and ordering a dry white, sweet white or rose. I can speak for most tasting room employees and proclaim our annoyance with the 3rd group. Get over yourselves. Stop buying big trucks. Drink what you REALLY want to drink. For most of you, it’s all an act act anyway. Just be yourselves! What’s your favorite white wine and why?
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. 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 and travels the country with @weshotthemoon. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker. Follow Ben on Twitter @benhilzinger
09 Dec 2011
Wine often mystifies and is seldom the same. Vintage variation, winemaker whimsy, and laborious labels can make choosing something you LOVE like dropping a quarter in the state of Texas and sending you out blindfolded to find it. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “What is your favorite wine?” I would actually be writing this post from the beaches of Aruba or some exotic place. To help answer the question, I’ve identified the 5 best wines you will ever have. I’m sure you’ll agree!
Your First Wine
While you may not have understood all the intricacies of the taste or it might have been a wine of substandard quality, your first wine will always hold a special place in your heart…and palate. Your first time will always be remembered because it started your life long affair with the fermented grape. Even though you fumbled your way through the swirl, sniff, sip and the experience was over far too quickly, it created a spark that now burns as a raging unquenchable desire.
My first wine (or at least the one I remember) was a 2002 Meridian Merlot purchased just before a first date. Interestingly enough it is this wine that birthed this blog, Nectar Tasting Room, Spokane Wine Magazine, and for that matter just about everything I’m doing right now. The wine…unassuming and unmemorable, but the results have been life changing.
The Celebratory Wine
A wedding, the birth of a child, a job promotion, days when the sun comes up; each of these is deserving of a celebration. Many of these celebrations involve wine. Celebratory wine is some of the best wine you’ll ever have. Your brain creates a powerful positive trigger connecting the wine with the emotions from the event. An average wine can taste good and a great wine can become life changing.
Many of us choose sparkling wine for these celebrations. Two sparkling wines that hold special memory for me are from Spokane’s Mountain Dome (Cuvee Forte), and the Northwest Cellars 2001 Brut that I recently opened during the release party of Spokane Wine Magazine.
The Vacation Wine
Oh, the vacation wine, often known as the wine tasting trip wine – for some reason this wine always tastes 2-3 times better in the tasting room than when you get home and taste it. I would offer that it is the sights, sounds, smells, and overall experience that make the wine enjoyable. While the wine may be really good when you get home, the memory of the time at the winery (or even at the dinner table that night), makes the wine taste better. Some of my favorite wines are from wine trips to Yakima, Woodinville, Walla Walla, and Lake Chelan. BEWARE: There will be times you spend your good money on a wine as you are immersed in the experience that will result in disappointment when popping the cork to enjoy with your frozen dinner.
The Wine in Your Glass
I often answer the question, “What is your favorite wine,” with the answer, “the one in my glass.” While this is a humorous response, it actually holds quite a bit of truth to it. The reason…variety. No two wines are the same. Wine is an artistic and creative product and enjoying it provides a unique experience. Rarely do I buy the same wine twice. While there are many wines that I fall in love with (and I’ll go to these for events, gifts, dinners, dates, etc), I love discovering something new. As a wine writer, I am blessed to get samples from wineries all over the world. I love experiencing Assyrtiko from Greece or Gruner Veltliner from Austria or a bold Napa Cabernet from an artisan producer. I encourage everyone to do this. Find your favorites but enjoy the wine that is in your glass. That wine has its own unique characteristics and qualities, discover them.
The Wine Enjoyed with Friends
The best wine, in my opinion, is the wine enjoyed with friends. Long before there was a ‘brick and mortar’ Nectar Tasting Room, I envisioned groups of people sharing a bottle of wine, laughing and creating memories. My tag line for all my video blogs has always been, “Enjoy life with friends…drink happy.” This actually graces our windows at Nectar. Wine is a social beverage, and a social lubricant, and is tied to so many amazing memories with people you love and enjoy.
While writers and pundits, and even this blog from time to time, rate and score the quality of a wine, the ultimate test and character of a wine is…do you like it? Enjoy the art. Celebrate the variety. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
*Photo credit Retro Classics Photography / Crystal Toreson
15 Jun 2011
Look at the back label of most American-made wines and you’ll most certainly see the phrase *CONTAINS SULFITES*. Oh no! Not sulfites! Why, out of all the compounds found in wine, does this little punk get his own shout-out on the bottle? Well, some people see red wine as an open door to a morning full of horrendous headaches and directly blame sulfites. Seeing the “warning label” only fortifies this belief. It seems odd, though, that these same people can drink sweet white wines (which scientists have declared often times contain more sulfites than red wine) without missing a beat the next day? It’s because although sulfites certainly affect a select few, they don’t affect most. Back in the 1980’s, the FDA did a study and found that “one in 100 people is sulfite sensitive to a degree, but for the 10% of the population who are asthmatic, only 5% of that group are at risk of having an adverse reaction to the substance.” (Sorry for the numbers, I know my readership goes down when I have too many numbers!) Long story short, sulfites are not the bad guy and the 1% that are affected don’t even list headaches as a symptom.
But Mr. Ben, why are sulfites added to wine at all? Let me preface this with a story. A few weeks back, some friends of mine in a wine production facility gave me a bottle of organic, NO ADDED SULFITE white wine called Siegerrebe. They did this not out of pure kindness, but because they couldn’t stand the stuff and wanted it out of their sight! I have a fairly decent cellar and many wines to choose from while I started to write this blog, but considering my subject, I popped open the “gift” that claims to possess fewer sulfites. Needless to say, I took two sips, poured the bottle down the drain and am now sipping on some robust Malbec to rid me of the awful taste.
Sulfites occur naturally in all wines regardless, but, continuing a tradition since the 17th century, are still often added to cease fermentation to the winemaker’s liking. As a bonus, they can also act as a preservative to prevent spoilage and hindering the introduction of oxygen to the juice while being transferred from a holding tank to the bottle. Bottle Shock, however, is often a side effect when adding SO2 to wine during bottling, but often dissipates with time (the longest being a few months). All in all, I wish I had an answer to the age-old question of “why does red wine give me a headache?”, but even science still can’t explain this phenomenon. Is it the tannins? Histamines (I’ve heard taking Sudafed helps)? A separate unknown naturally-occurring compound created during fermentation? Who knows, but sulfites are essential to the flavor and life of the wines you love so let the myth die!
For more information on Sulfite Sensitivity, check out these websites:
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.
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.