Dinner With People You Don’t Know (Or Care To Know)

If you and I are friends, you are probably one of about five people.

This is true of most of us; keep your squad close and all others, well, at a nice arm’s length distance. I don’t want to sound bitter, mean girly, or elitist. I want to come to you, as always, with the truth. I don’t like a lot of people.

I love people, and I am in a very loving kind of career that is people centric. That may be why I am black hearted with promises of BFF-isms and “let’s bare our souls” conversations. I’ll smile through it, laugh at the right moments, but I gotta say, I’ll forget about our conversation in about 5 minutes.

This is when I’m “on” by the way; when I am at a wine dinner entertaining. Because that is about 90 percent of a wine dinner; entertainment. If you think people are coming there to learn from me, then save your money. And, can I tell you, I am so good at making you feel like we have a burning lifelong bond. It’s just so under-fulfilling, and I think it is cracking my heart a bit.

Dinner with a great retailer (now this guy is cool) and his collector customer’s got to me this week. I tasted these customers on eight wines, all good, some great, some better than great. I was the perfect host; I told jokes, stories from my own life that may have seemed personal. (nothing I say in a wine dinner is even close to personal – illusions, all of it), I conveyed loving ideas of California on a cool April afternoon at the winery; sipping chardonnay, watching the grapes grow…I’m making myself vomit. My audience’s response?  “Go open another bottle; we need to drink more”.

This is not the Wednesday night of my dreams, but is a reality. If you find 1 person in about 10 that your are connecting with at a wine dinner (or life for that matter), you are lucky. I did find that one woman, and she bought 12 cases. I earned my keep that evening, but lost a little part of my psyche.

However, you came here to learn something, didn’t you.  Ok, lessons from this dinner:

  • My friend Al is a true gentleman and professional, and has a few stores (coming soon; Kearny location):

Clifton Commons Spirits and Wine: 132 Kingsland Rd, Clifton.  If Al isn’t there, ask for Babu.

Little Falls Liqours: 315 Main St, Little Falls – I buy my beer here.  Great selection of whiskey and bourbon in the back of the store. Don’t let the size of the store fool you.

  • You need a starter: An audience needs wine in their hand as soon as they walk in the door. If not, they will feel like this is a waste of their time. I like to serve something light, pretty, not to serious, low alcohol, and a conversation starter. I went with Matua Rose – a rose of pinot noir. Good fruit, pretty color, fun, palate cleansing, and a good prop to hold during simple friendly exchanges. We have enough serious crap in our lives: the beginning of a wine dinner should be a little get-away from that nonsense.
  • Pinot Noir will always be the winner for food and wine pairing; Everyone likes this wine.  You cannot go wrong.  It will pair with most all foods. Stick to California selections to be safe, and venture to the French stuff for a little sass.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is always a winner; But watch out. You may feel like you need to spend a lot of money. The Cab that everyone went back to this evening was the cheaper one. Why? It was easy to drink, but had all the qualities of a great Cab; abundant fruit, great tannic structure, finesse, style.  My selection for the evening was The Stag – and you can find this at Al’s store.
  • You always need a sleeper – I will consistently pack a wine that I think is good, but that no one would touch on their own. Now, this is risky. If played well, you come out looking like a rock star. I had my audience try Chateau St Jean Chardonnay; again, not to expensive, but not something that “experienced wine people” (I write this with a side smile) may reach for.  If you find a wine with balance, this move will turn out well. Ask Al for something off the beaten track. Don’t spend more than $20. Be honest with YOUR audience and let them know this may be a flop. You may surprise yourself.
  • Where was dinner? I highly recommend – Salute in Montclair.  Affordable, gluten free pizzas, brick oven pizzas, beautiful fish, homemade pasta, everything fresh…a winner.

 

Obsessing Over Wine and Crossfit – Part 2

All day long I pontificate  and stress to wine buyers what their consumers will be wanting, thinking, and craving.  I’ll link in my features and benefits with what my main focus and priority product is, I’ll give my pitch, and close like the master I am.

Does anyone like this stuff in the first place?

That fact buzzes in my head.  When did we leave out the human connection to a brand, a grape, a pretty label?  In all the marketing decks I study (ok, skim), there is Nielsen data, statistics on market profitability, and so on and so on.  What I want to know is who is drinking  it and what do they think?

I’m not attracted to over-blown wine snobs; they turn me off.  I want authentic, solid, and positive people going in the same direction I am.  I also want minds that look at both sides of the coin, outside the box, and well, can tend to be eccentric.  Anyone that finds pleasure lifting a ton of weight for two hours in a hot gym after a full day of work is hired as a reviewer for Wine Girl Gone Wild.

Acacia Pinot Noir was in my wine bag that day, and I knew it would be a hit with this crowd.  Why?  Everyone loves this grape.  The wine seems to hit all the high points of flavor wine drinkers are looking for.  This Pinot Noir is from California; bolder fruit, medium body where others may tend to be lighter.  The texture is rich and inviting.  In past blogs, I discussed feeling a wine during the tasting process; where does it go on my palate, what is tugging at my senses, and how does the wine linger after I swallow it?  All elements that come alive with Acacia Pinot Noir, and reasons that attracted my reviewers.  California Pinots also give me a spice at the end; a harvesty warmness that makes me feel at home.

Go Here:  Buy Rite Wine and Liquor; 650 Shunpike Road, Chatham, NJ.  Ask for PJ.  He just purchased enough Acacia Pinot Noir to last him throughout the season. (unless you buy it all…)

Have This In Your Purse: Around $20.00.  You may find a sale, and you most likely will come October.  DO NOT BUY A BY ACACIA – this is a different wine.  The wine we tasted in this blog is the Acacia CARNEROS Pinot Noir.  Just show them the blog.

To see what really happened in the gym, check the video below.

A big shout out to Brazen Athletics for allowing me to take advantage of your members and coaches after a grueling barbell club evening.

Brazen Athletics – Brazen Athletics

Fairfield Location – 1275 Bloomfield Ave (Pio Costa Complex) Fairfield, NJ

Hoboken Location – 1317 Willow Ave, Hoboken, NJ

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The Rise and Fall of a Wine Dinner

Maybe my expectations are to high.

I have been privileged to sit and experience the marriage of wine and food at the highest level.  Yes, moments like this have left me speechless.  Seems funny to say that.  This doesn’t need to happen in the fanciest of restaurants, or at a winery.  This can happen in my kitchen with a baked mac and cheese and some Barbaresco.  I want the pairing to sweep me off my feet, and whisper secrets in my ear.  Every time I sit, stand, or linger to drink and eat, I want the wine fairies to lift me to this high once again.

What happens when the food sucks?

Truly sucks.  When you are the speaker, and have lost control with what comes out of the kitchen, this challenge may smack you in the face.  Thank goodness you have a wine safety net.  Good wine can act as smoke and mirrors.  I never want wine to mask the flavors of the  food, but it may win the race.  Last night I leaned on the stories of Beringer Winery’s legacy; the longest continuously run winery in Napa Valley, half of the soil contents found in the world are found in Napa Valley, micro climates, accolades (Beringer is the only winery to win the coveted #1 Wine of the Year from Wine Spectator with both a red and a white wine), and just good juice.  When we got to the third course, and the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, I convinced the audience we were sitting in a vineyard, and that this goopy soup didn’t really exist. (soup in July?)

And then the audience died. (not actually – creative writing…)

When I turn off the wine drama channel in my brain, the people left standing are those that take me for the slightly introverted person I am.  And then I can’t shut up.  Why, oh why, would you do anything fun with anyone else that you don’t want to talk to – or even look at.  Comfortable silence is beautiful, but lazy silence is stupid.  Lay in bed and watch Netflix if that is your game.  Now I am forced to tell all the wine jokes, and act like a clown to raise a spirit.  That actually turns my belly.  I understand that a wine dinner is entertainment, but I don’t want to have to stir your soul for you.  Come with a desire to explore – even for a moment. I will make the wine stuff painless.  It’s just wine; I’m sure your life involves much more complicated tasks.

And if all of this still makes an evening a horrid mess, stop drinking all together.  Please know responsible consumption is the best consumption.

Now for this fabulous Pinot Noir (Beringer Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir):

Ah Pinot Noir.  So hard for me.  My dinner guest last night loves the stuff.  He can be a harsh critic.  It took him a few sips, but the wine won him over.  Why a few sips?  This is California in every breath of the word.  Red cherry and bruised strawberry flavors.  Spicy oak on the finish, structured, and slightly dense for a Pinot Noir.  I will soon be writing about Burgundy (still Pinot Noir), and I will outline the difference.  And what a difference there can be.  I like lushness, especially when I am entertaining people I am not friendly with.  Puts me and my guests at ease.  This wine comforts the palette; allows you to taste a full expressive fruit without being overdone or obnoxious.

Beringer dinner, blog