Wine List Obstacle Course

If I didn’t know how to dodge and weave my way through a wine list, I would choose a nice gin and tonic as my beverage.

Geez, this is a totally intimidating thing to do.  You don’t want to look stupid, make a wrong choice, pronounce foreign wine names (it is Mer-looooow not Mer-LOT, and yes, this happens), make a cheap choice, spend to much money, and in the end, get a bottle that tastes like garbage.  Confession; I have ordered bottles that taste like garbage and, through fabulous selling skills, have convinced my companions that this was the next “trend setter” in the wine world.  Even I make mistakes; it is very easy to do.

This weekend I was with colleagues in the industry – but from the other side; the spirit side.  Sure, I can order a fabulous bourbon, and tell you distillation processes, but that is probably where it ends with spirits and me.  When you are in this industry, you learn buzz words and know a few nuggets about many things.  Throughout the years, you become an ambassador of your passion.  I like my bourbon as much as the next guy, but I don’t have an interest of looking at the latest brands, or quaffing and analyzing the hell out of them.  Lets take you through what worked first:

  1. Order what you like and know– Adventurous spirits are wonderful, and I would love to explore all the possibilities available to me, but I know what I like to drink!  As in life, your mind will know when something clicks.  If a specific vineyard turns you on, explore that vineyard.  I love me some Cakebread dammit, and I’m proud to share that love with my friends.
  2. Everyone likes Pinot Noir except for me – This grape is a product of the area it is grown in, as well as to the people that drink it.  The wine has fruit, tannins, structure, depth, but not to much depth, body, but not to much body…you get it.  The grape appeals to all, and pairs well with just about any food.  Truth; I’m not a fan, but the entire world seems to disagree with me.  Whatever…
  3. Don’t break the bank – There are times, and I know, where we all want to indulge.  Rightfully, you should if you can afford it.  Please know that a wine list will list prices far higher than retail prices – PLEASE JUST DEAL WITH THIS AND STOP COMPLAINING TO THE RESTAURANT STAFF!  There is a reason for this, and as much as you may stamp your feat, and say it is unfair, it will not change.  You are getting what you pay for – the wine list will most likely inflate the price of a wine 2.5  or 3 times.  So, a bottle you are paying 18.00 dollars for, they paid a wholesale cost of 6.00 dollars or less.  Feeling ripped off yet?

There was one little “oops” that happened this weekend;

  1. Know what you don’t know – You may love Tempranillo from Spain, but not all Tempranillos are alike.  If you want to expand your wine portfolio, find a trusting soul to make some suggestions for you.  A Tempranillo was ordered with a tapas menu this weekend with the expectations of spice, black rambling fruit, and levels of flavor.  However, what the buyer didn’t know, was that there was Garnacha blended in.  The Garnacha grape, used to bring out body and fruitiness in the wine, actually made this wine flat, and dulled all the pretty things Tempranillo was all about.  Whoops.

The Wine Police don’t exist, so feel free to venture out.  I don’t want to damper your spirits at all, but I do want to road map a few pit falls for you.  Remember, this is a blog about a moment in time.  I almost can’t wait for another wine list blunder to happen so I can share it with you!


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About Me

It doesn’t take magic to transport yourself through flavors and stories. This is what keeps me up at nights; what narrative does wine have to reveal to me, and how does your experience begin a journey I can help host. My name is Susan, and I am just like you; curious, full of nothing but love, and ready to learn more.

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