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.
16 Aug 2010
Now hiring: Brand designer to develop logo and brand collateral for soon to launch wine business.
Eight months ago I launched this blog to network and engage for what would “someday” be a brick and mortar business. I distinctly remember saying, “If I can use Twitter and Facebook to get to a point where 200-300 people know who I am before I start my business, then I’ll be better off than the guy starting from scratch.” Never did I intend for “someday” to come so quickly. As a result, I find myself in a brand crisis needing clarity and direction.
There are a lot of talented graphic designers out there. Many of you are looking for clients, work or freelance jobs. Because I launched this endeavor through social media channels, I decided to reach out to the social networks to find a solution to my current branding need. I’m offering $1000 to the person who submits the best logo and brand collateral of my choosing.
The contest will run through August 31. If no suitable brand is submitted, then a winner will not be selected. Entries should be submitted to email@example.com in standard image file format. Winning submission must be able to fulfill all elements of the requirements to qualify.
The logo and brand collateral should be created to work as business logo and sign, web site header, business card, on merchandise, and in video.
DrinkNectar is developing into several different business opportunities. The logo and brand should be created to maintain flexibility of the different business aspects.
Example: DrinkNectar (Wine Blog), DrinkNectar (Tasting Room), DrinkNectar (Wine and Coffee Bar), DrinkNectar (Media)
The first immediate use of the logo will be on this blog but it will also be used on a wine focused business that is tentatively set to open in mid-November.
The Brand Elements:
Currently the focus of DrinkNectar is wine, but the logo should not be so singularly connected to wine that it cannot transfer to other beverages (coffee, tea, etc) in the future. Design with the thought of nectar as being a liquid that can be tied to multiple items. The brand feel is modern without being urban or ultra modern and is still warm without being too organic. Brand elements should convey a sense of class without being stuffy. Feel free to look through this blog to get a general feel of my communication style over the last 9 months.
DrinkNectar should convey class, comfort and fun. The brand should be modern and simple. Personally, I’m more rock-n-roll and blues. Target market will be wine and coffee lovers (which skew 60/40 women to men). The brand should appeal to 21-35 and 45-60 markets equally.
I’m currently not tied to specific brand colors but they should be a marriage of warm and modern. Simple and clean lines and use of negative space are of value to me.
Brand Tag Lines:
There are two tag lines that I’ve used since the beginning of my branding that I would like to continue to incorporate. They don’t have to necessarily be incorporated in the logo, but will be added to the brand collateral.
“Enjoy life with friends…” and “Drink Happy”
Disclaimers and Disclosures
Winning entry must be able to provide an invoice that is billable in 15 days. Content should be provided in .psd, high resolution jpg, and vector image. Upon payment, winning content becomes property of DrinkNectar. DrinkNectar reserves the right to not select a winning entry.
Previous Logo Iterations:
22 Jul 2010
Rock-n-roll and wine. In my opinion, there is a powerful combination between the raw edge of rock music and the sultry sexiness of wine. Together, you have a velvet edge and raw sex. Wine has also been described as liquid art. Winemakers are artists as they paint the canvas with their blends and create masterpieces that fill the soul. Combine all three…now you’re talking!
Several months ago, I was surfing the twitter machine and stumbled upon a re-tweet that mentioned Gene Simmons of Kiss and an art gallery. Kiss has been my favorite band since I was six years old. In 1978, I dressed as Paul Stanley, the star child, for Halloween. I did it again as a teenager, and now my step-son and I bond by watching Gene Simmons Family Jewels. He even dressed as Paul Stanley for Halloween one year (his make-up and costume are easier to do). Back to the tweet…I opened it up and saw @theartistwells and followed the link to the picture below.
I immediately ran upstairs with my computer to show Kimberly. Ian even got in on the excitement. I remember exclaiming, “I don’t care how much it costs, you can get me this for Christmas.”
If you love rock-n-roll, wine and art, you’ll love the artist Stacey Wells. Her creative Rock Star Reflections series includes such icons as Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and of course her most popular bottle, Gene Simmons. Stacey’s talents have her rubbing shoulders with some of Hollywood and music’s elite. We sit down for an interview talk how she got started painting rock stars and wine, her encounter with the God of Thunder, and her sexy new “Spin the Bottle” series.
Contact Stacey Wells:
12 Jul 2010
Free shopping list and step by step instructions for 4 popular holiday wine crafts
What do you do with your leftover wine bottles? Do they make their way to the uninspired recycle bin awaiting their fate in a fiery furnace? Maybe you’re like me and save a few of your memorable bottles and they adorn the tops of your kitchen cabinet. I still have the bottle of wine that we were drinking when I proposed to my wife. Sometimes I save bottles just so my wine rack doesn’t look so defeated. Many bottles are beautiful works of art and that glass has to be useful for something other than being reincarnated as…gasp…a beer bottle.
Here are 7 creative uses for your wine bottles. I would love to hear of anything fun that you do. Please share in the comments if you’ve done any of these or if you have other inspiring ideas to share with the readers here. Not only is it hip to go ‘green,’ the wine bottle makes for an elegant decoration.
From the Vine to the Flower
Creative angled cuts with a glass cutter and you have yourself a decorative vase.
Photo credit David Guilfoose at http://www.greenwinebottles.com
Stemware without the Stem
A simple cut with a glass cutter and some edge finishing gives new life to wine bottles.
Shine A Light Outside
A few simple items from the hardware store, some premade ceramic wine glass torch toppers, and some fuel and you have yourself a creative outdoor torch.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Wine
Cut a hole in the bottom, fill with a short strand of Christmas lights and you have yourself a fun lighting solution.
Grand Lighting Solution
This industrious crafter could build a unique lighting solution that is sure to be a show stopper and conversation starter.
For the Builder
Take an old glass table top and add wine bottle punts for some new artsy loft flare.
A Work of Living Art
An alternate take on the outdoor lamp, use some ordinary hardware items to create a work of wine wall art .
BONUS: For the Over Indulging Wino
This Christmas tree is made entirely of wine bottles. I bet there was a severe hangover after that party!
29 Jun 2010
Over the weekend I caught a glimpse of the future; something that could truly revolutionize action TV sports. It could be bigger than fishing or hunting TV. It will be more exciting than TV poker tournaments. I’m a little hesitant in sharing for fear that the idea could actually be picked up by a national show.
Speed Wine Blogging!
- 8 wine bloggers / 8 wines / 4 minutes with each wine
- Bloggers listen to the marketing PR blurb then quickly swirl, smell, sip, spit and score the wines.
- Prior to the cowbell ringing the blogger must document their tasting notes with either a tweet or a mini-post consisting of no more than 300 characters (140 character reviews are given an extra 2 points)
- At the end of each round the posts and scores are evaluated and compared to the baseline “Parker Score” to determine those that continue to the next round.
- One blogger is eliminated each round.
- The last blogger remaining wins.
The scene is intense. The room reeks with anticipation…and hints of brett, funk and cherries. The assembled bloggers are cleansing their palates, stretching their tongues and limbering up their nostrils for the event.
Here we are today assembled around the greatest talent in wine writing and reviewing hoping to determine the world champion of Speed Wine Tasting (Red Edition). Our contestants hail from across the US in the hopes to win the coveted @bparkerchuk trophy of a giant nose sniffing a bung hole. “Much love and success to each of you. 100 points *” inscribed on the base.
Our contestants are the formidable Joe Roberts (1WineDude.com), Steve Heimoff (SteveHeimoff.com), Fredric Koeppel (BiggerThanYourHead.net), C. Jason Mancebo (20dollarwineblog.com), Kori Voorhees(WinePeeps.com), Pamela (Enobytes.com), Gary Vaynerchuk (TV.winelibrary.com), and newcomer Steve Paulo (StevePaulo.com).
Round one begins with a fast pace as the winemaker rushes from contestant to contestant pouring and explaining the wine. The camera cuts across each of the blogger/writers serious faces as they begin to examine the wine with vigorous swirls. Thoughts of berries, cherries, cassis, leather, plums, prunes and pencil led come to mind. The camera cuts to Gary V. who spits gloriously in his trademark Jets spittoon. Newcomer Steve Paulo looks perplexed by the mouth feel of the wine and newly crowned blog king Joe Roberts has already submitted his perfectly crafted 140 character tweet and score. The horn sounds signaling the end of round one. What’s this! Gary Vaynerchuk has grabbed the mic and begins talking about the wine’s availability on Cinderella.com and how he met the winemaker back when he sold him a baseball card in the Jersey mall. The side judges quickly regain control and deliberate the outcome of the first round. In a huge surprise, Gary is cited with a black Vinum and ejected from the competition. Gary offers a string of expletives and then reminds folks of the “Thank You Economy” coming out later this year.
The crowd quickly regains composure as round two sounds with the clicking of the 85oz Riedel glass. Everyone gasps at the odd blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise, and Cinsault. This may prove to be a difficult round. In a bold move with only one sip and spit, both Fredric Koeppel and Steve Heimoff confidently submit their post. Let’s watch that again in slow motion…will their haste prove to be a good strategy or will one of them be eliminated? The bell rings and Pamela from Enobytes is having trouble submitting her post. Twitter API is frozen! The judges huddle and extend the time by 30 seconds. Everyone has their entries in and the judges quickly review the submissions to determine the winner. The scoring is close with Heimoff pegging the wine almost to a tee. Missing the flavor profile and the score by just one point, Pamela is eliminated. Damn that fail whale.
The energy in the room continues to rise as the rounds progress.
Kori Voorhees is eliminated after round three. Strangely enough the wine was a Woodinville winery from her backyard. Dejected Kori and Colby rush from the packed auditorium trying to escape the media interview. As Randy and Kaz from WineBizRadio.com try to stop them, Colby takes the camera and smashed it to the ground.
Round four ends with the elimination of Steve Heimoff. He is disqualified for going over the 300 character limit as his post includes a rant against the Republican leadership in California and a dissertation on how no money will ever be made in wine blogging. He’s escorted out of the room by security.
With only four contestants remaining the fifth round begins. The purple tooth stains and barrage of tannin and acid are beginning to take their toll on the contestant’s palates. A strange purple stain had developed on Mancebo’s chin…and oddly enough on his bald head…Joe Roberts has a commanding lead with each review coming in at exactly 140 characters. The contestants battle through the round when out of the corner of his eye, Joe catches a glimpse of Geddy Lee from Rush in the stands. Immediately he faints from excitement and is disqualified. After calming the crowd and reviving Joe, the play continues.
Three contestants remain; Mancebo, Koeppel, and newcomer Steve Paulo. Mancebo’s eyes seem a little bloodshot and he’s struggling to find the keys on his iPad. A bead of sweat drips from his chin into the glass. The wine is the Molly Dooker Velvet Glove. As he stares into his glass his face turns flush and he quickly rises. “No wine should be 16.8%ABV this is a travesty against wi….” In mid-sentence he falls forward onto the table sending purple spit juice everywhere. For several minutes the scene is chaos. The head referee calls for a 30 minute break so the contestants and compose themselves and clean the spit out of their hair. In a post interview, Mancebo says, “I guess the lesson here is to spit. I let the excitement of the day get to me. I’m a professional, I should know better than that. I’ll be back next year.”
The lights dim and the music comes up as the final round begins with perennial award winner Fredric Koeppel and the new kid Steve Paulo surviving to the finish. Intense stares of determination are fired across the table. The wine poured is a 1949 Chateau Ausone. The stage is set and the audience is eerily quiet for the first time all evening. The sound of swishing and spitting can be heard across the room. Both writers deliberate, sketch a few notes and deliberate some more. A commotion arises from the back of the room. Bursting into the room is Joe Powers from AnotherWineBlog.com. “This is a scam, this is a set up! Who are the judges? How the hell did these people get picked to be in the finals! I demand to know!” He overturns the table crushing Koeppel. Paulo attempts to restrain him, but Joe (more crafty than he looks) eludes his grip and rushes off. Screaming toward the exit, “I bet Tom Wark is behind this madness,” Lenn Thompson from NewYorkCorkReport.com dives from the mezzanine level and tackles Joe. Lenn quickly restrains him and stuffs his head in the only remaining spit bucket.
What a night. What a sport. Dazed, the officials and referees head to the replay booth to review the tape. After several minutes of deliberation, they return to declare Steve Paulo the winner by default as he is the last man standing. This new sport is sure to take hold across the country as wine bloggers turn in to rock stars and thousands clamor to the scene.