Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wine and lessons learned.

Middelvlei Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

I was raised on great wine.  My father always told us to never use cheap wine in cooking, a rule I follow to this day.  I remember my father sharing a very old bottle of wine.  This wine had a wax seal.  People could not believe he opened it.  

When I graduated high school I decided to go into the hospitality industry.   One of our requirements was we do a wine course through KWV.  It was somewhat extensive and in depth and I thought I knew quite a bit about South African wines.

Fast forward to 2007 and Thanksgiving.  Bear, T and myself decided to fly to Seattle and have a great vacation.  No worries of family and cooking.  One morning we decided to visit Pike Place Market.  We found a wine shop professing they sold wines from Washington and around the world.   We went inside and I inquired if they sold any South African wines.  The sales person, loudly, responded. "Oh my God the owner would never sell South African wine, their Pinotage is disgusting." He proceeded to turn and mumble to a customer and I sheepishly left the store.  I was mortified.  All my training and this person basically made me feel as though I was asking for a box of Franzia while scratching my crotch and trying to balance a baby on a hip with a cigarette hanging from between my lips.

Ever since that encounter I have second guessed myself when it comes to wine.  I am intimidated by people who smell "layers" in the bouquet and can virtually pick out the soil and date of harvest.  I never was that intense, but I thought I knew something about wines.

After I kicked Facebook to the curb I discovered Twitter.  I am sure there are a few people out there that wished I hadn't, but it is so, they will get over it.  My very first winery that started following me was Seven Bridges Winery in Portland. (@7BridgesWinery)  Slowly I discovered more wineries and more wine connoisseurs and I started to follow them and learn.  Many of these wine peeps have thousands of followers, intimidating in itself, but you all know the Princess, she marches forward and takes her place. (Bull in china shop comes to mind).

The first wine person I reached out to was Beau. (click on link, you will love his blog) (@UCBeau) He helped me with a selection for my chilli dinner and I had some questions afterwards with regards to the taste.  He was very kind and patient and explained that while the wine was excellent with the chilli, the corn bread was not a perfect pairing.  So much goes into pairing thought and I learned a lesson.  I think that where ever Beau ends up working in Oregon in the wine industry he will be a great asset to any company as he doesn't snob it up and he listens.

I have met some great wineaux's on Twitter.  Jack (@NWwines) has told me to trust my nose.  I was drinking a South African blend and could only smell Vanilla, so thanks to Twitter, I tweeted him and asked him if I was in the ball park.

Wineries such as Kramer Vineyards (@KimKramerwine) Left Coast Cellars (@Leftcoastwine), Skylite Cellars (@Skylitecellars) Seven Bridges Winery (@7bridgeswinery), Tweeters such as Lars (@virtuallars), Becky (@BeckyKramerWine) have welcomed me into their group and have once again given me the confidence in trusting in myself and the wine.

If you are on Twitter I would recommend you follow these great folk.  Join me in the journey of discovering new wines and best of all, new friends.

Lesson learned.  For every one insensitive wine sales person out there, there are dozens of kind caring wine connoisseurs to help you along in the great journey of wine discovery.



  1. I have a small collection of wine...I don't really know anything about it, just collect the ones I like. I've always wanted to be one of those people who can smell everything they need to know about a good wine, but I'm not....thanks for the twitter info ;)

    hugs friend

  2. Both Alex and I love good wines. We live close to the Napa Valley so they aren't hard to obtain.

    I may be ignorant of some things, but I've tried a couple of South African wines that were lovely.

    We prefer reds, and belong to a couple of wine clubs. I hate being around wine snobs, but I hate drinking bad wine even worse.

  3. @David ~ I have learned that if you love something, no matter if it is $5.00 a bottle or $50.00, it is good to you.

    @Linda ~ I hear you on the wine snobs. So boorish.

  4. I am glad you are a Wine Tweet -- just sayin :)

  5. When I worked atRoy's I knew more about wine than I do now. Our wine manager carried South African wines. So there.

    He's a free lance wine consultant and wine writer now in California. I bet you could find him on Twitter. His name is Randy Caparosa and he's a lot of fun along with his knowledge.

  6. All I know about wine is what smells and tastes good to me. I don't know names, wine terminology, or anything that would make me "wine smart".

    But you know what? That works for me. All those snobby types and jerky sales people can stick it.

    You just keep on trusting your knowledge and taste!

  7. you know what my rule of thumb is for wine?? If I like it then it's a good wine. I don't know which wines are great with which meals...I only know the ones that I enjoy. As you know, my Aunt and Uncle have a winery out there in Oregon...and have not passed on any of their wine wisdom. Sadly they never feel the urge to gift me with any free wine either. Boo.

  8. There is always one sour grape in the bunch..
    HEHEE! I made a funny...
    But, seriously, I am no wine buff, but I DO like my reds. Cabernet Merlot mostly.

  9. Oo, man, I can't collect wine. I drink it too fast. I really love the affordable wine movement that outs the old "Good bottles of wine cost $40+"school of thought-- I can get a fan-bloody-tastic bottle of wine for under $20 nowadays. Many under $12.

    I love that you're reaching out to wine connoisseurs via Twitter-- that's one of my favorite things about Twitter, it makes everyone accessible. Plus, being a person that abhors talking on the phone...I like that I can tweet a business my question without having to ever use my phone for, y'know, phone calls.

  10. Fruit forward, my dear, always fruit forward!

  11. @Alex ~ Thank you my fried. You always have my back.

    @Pseudo ~ I looked on Twitter but couldn't find him. Maybe he is under another name.

    @DefM ~ learning and doing lots of tasting ;~)

    @Mrs ~ I agree, but pairing is important and I am learning that.

    @ALittle ~ You make me laugh. Love my reds too.

    @Nicki ~ I have a hard time holding on to bottles as well. Nubian Lush...

    @Mitch ~ That will always be our schtick... Fruit Forward Darling

    @Doc ~ Amen

  12. My parents took me to a winery in British Columbia when I was 14 and to thank them for exposing me to culture, I got completely wasted. *sheepish face with a hint of a smile*

  13. Passion fruit, and oh there's just like the faintest soupcon of like asparagus!


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