Dialogue is important. In love, as in politics, what is said can lead to war or peace. Wine certainly doesn’t fall into the category of combat, but the point is the same if you consider that we are all seeking a particular level of serenity when engaging wine. Being honest about our strengths and weaknesses when we are in that buying moment can make the difference between an assault on your palate or a triumph of gastronomy.
Being a wine lover is a journey of learning and discovery.
Let’s consider the following scenario. You are hosting an intimate dinner party and you are intent on impressing your guests, from the ambiance at the time of their arrival to the last joke of the evening. I’m assuming you have the lighting, music, menu, and jokes under control, so let’s deal with the wine.
I know that some of you are really in the trenches when it comes to selecting a wine or wines for a special meal. I think we can agree that going to the supermarket isn’t going to help. There are simply too many wines to choose from and no one working there is paid enough to care what you are having for dinner, or that you are trying to win the heart of someone special.
If possible, find a small local wine shop where you have access to the proprietor or one of the staff. Not only will smaller retailers have access to wines that aren’t available to large markets, chances are good that someone on staff will be happy to help you choose the best wine(s) based on your menu and budget.
Some of you might be more experienced wine lovers. Perhaps you have fought your way out of the trenches and you’re cool with the traditional pairings of white wine with white stuff, and red wine with red stuff. Now, let’s take it up a notch. Why not experiment with different grape varieties or wine regions? If you look around the wine shop you might find exactly what you think you’re looking for. You might not need to talk with anyone at all, but for the purpose of this article I will suggest engaging one of the staff in this manner, “Dude/Excuse me, is this any good?”
When I started out in this business I realized very quickly that expertise comes from honesty and experimentation. Today, I enjoy the challenge of finding a great wine for a memorable meal and I’m interested in testing the possibilities of deliciousness whenever possible. I never would have arrived at this point if I hadn’t been honest about my lack of knowledge and my desire to learn.
Generally speaking, knowing where to look and engaging in dialogue with someone about your needs will help to create better situations than trying to do it all alone. However, because everyone’s mouths and personal preferences – for aromas and flavors – are inherently different, it is difficult to guarantee 100% success 100% of the time.
Fortunately, you focused on creating a complete and memorable evening. The candle light was just right, the hi-fi was in the background, and the jokes were hilarious. (You did remember the jokes, didn’t you?)
Please feel free to leave your comments below.