Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Read To Avoid Wankerism

I don’t think we do enough public service junk around this here wine blog world. Oh we sure as hell like to make lists and tell people how they should be thinking and drinking, why the other guy is wrong and not drinking as well, but the actual assisting others while on their "journey" into this whole wine discovery thing, yeah not so much. What’s up with that?! If we aren’t helping our fellow wine peoples then what the fuck are we writing this free shit for?! Fame? Fortune? Blobber badges? To get The HoseMaster to make fun of us? Well maybe it is for some and it might just be the vagina but I’m too emotional for that nonsense. And getting caught up in the argument of the hour, as in the likes of that Parker and Galloni business? Let’s just say that watching, listening or talking about a couple rich white dudes arguing over money, it’s about as relevant and imperative to us lowly wine lovers as watching super models give each other puppies. I’m over the bickering and squawking until blue in the face about things like points, natural wines and whose palate is more evolved, (such a smug comment that) old world or new world wine drinkers. Over it is a wickedly gross understatement.

 Teaching, tasting and talking about wine is my chosen profession, (well I guess it sort of chose me, I think if given the real option to pick what it is I do all day there may be some form of job title that involves me making sure Dave Matthews is relaxed, like all the time) so I think I should be making a bit more of an effort to assist those looking to me, (you poor fuckers) for help. I can make lists too dammit. Oh I won’t do those goofy, “Wine Predictions for 2013” or “My Top 10 Wines for Der Wienerschnitzel” or any other such noise but I got a helpful tip or two up my sleeve.

Wine Store Survival Guide:

  So I know a lot of people are a bit intimidated when they walk into a wine store, all those options, wines you’ve never tasted, things you’ve never heard of, weird labels with words like Quincy or Bourgueil rather than Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Franc…that’s a lot of “don’t know crap” but toss in the fear of wine people factor, well then it can be down-right panic inducing. As someone that works in one of those stores the idea that anyone might be afraid to walk in, well…it just makes me sad. I want everyone to feel comfortable about shopping for wine, and if you are buying your wines at the grocery store because of your fear of the unknown, then you are missing out on some really thrilling, interesting and passion inspiring flavors.

Don’t fear the wine merchant, don’t let what you have yet to learn keep you from advancing your palate. Don’t assume that the wine store is only for those “special occasion” wines or a place where only very knowledgeable shop….trust me, many of our customers don’t know shit about wine, and many of them don’t want to, they are there to have us find wines for them, you know so they don’t have to bother with gathering information they don’t feel they need just to find a yummy bottle of wine. That’s what we are here for and a great wine merchant will take the time to develop a relationship with you, learn what you love and teach you more about wine…if you are so inclined, the goal of a great wine shop is to have more people drinking, and enjoying wine, they want to give you pleasure…..well, that makes it sound like a whore house but I think you know what I mean.

                                                         (Much has changed in 11 years)

Now a quick word about wine professionals, to say that there are no self-inflated, information withholding, looking down their nose at you, blowhards would be a lie…they are still there, but their numbers are dwindling. Those tight asses are being replaced by a very passionate bunch of wine….well, wine dorks really. Wine dorks are just like any other variety dork, we gather information, collect, document our findings, basic nerd stuff right, it just so happens that the source of our particular dorkdum also gives us a buzz….sweet.

So I polled the staff, asked them which behaviors or comments made them cringe, not in an attempt to piss and moan but to help…help those of you that may be nervous or unsure how to behave in a wine store…we came up with a list, two lists actually, one specifically for attending tastings. So here you have it, The Wine Store Survival Guide or How To Not Look Like A Douche In A Wine Store.

1- Don’t ask, “Is this any good?” it implies that the retailer may have crappy wines in the store.

2- Don’t assume they are trying to screw you, they need you to come back so they wont intentionally sell you a bottle of crap wine.

3- Don’t ask, “Is it like a Merlot?” about every red wine you have never heard of. It’s not like a Merlot, it’s Sancerre rouge, I just spent 5 minutes describing the flavor profile, did it sound like a Merlot? If it did, then yes…it’s like a Merlot to you.

4- Don’t hit on the women working there, it’s not Hooters, show a little respect. Unless of course you are that tall glasses wearing guy that makes my heart jump about, then by all means...

5- Don’t bring in The Wall Street Journal or Consumer Reports and tell a retailer that they should have those wines. We taste wines and bring them in, not read about them and bring them in.

6- Don’t say this, “I had this great red wine on vacation, I can’t remember the name, but it was red and really good. Do you have it?” They have hundreds of them, they will need a tad more information before they can help you.

7- Don’t let your wee ones push a cart in a wine store.

8- Don’t wait until your wines are bagged to ask for a box or to have the price tags removed, we will gladly do both but ask before we went through the trouble of bagging everything…saves everyone time.

9- Don’t say “Only chicks drink white wine” not only is that incorrect it makes you look like a jackass.

10- Don’t ask why they don’t carry something….unless you are ready to hear the real answer.

11- Don’t be afraid to tell them what you want to spend. They aren’t sizing you up or judging your bank account…they need to know in order to find you the best bottle in “that” price range.

12- Don’t go in, confess that you know nothing about wine and then run the wine specialist ragged by saying, “Okay what else” to every wine they recommend.

13- Don’t tell them that you saw such-and-such wine at BevMo for less money. Sure it happens, (lots of reasons for the price difference not the least of which is that BevMo can buy hundreds of cases…a small retailer cannot) but telling them that is not going to change the price and does little more than make you look like a douche.

14- Don’t say, “Isn’t that pink shit for women?” first of all, that “Pink shit” is drier than your Merlot and secondly there are no wines just for women…don’t be a Neanderthal.

15- Don’t ask them to hold the wines you bought at BevMo behind the counter because you don’t want them getting hot in your car while you attend their wine tasting.

For Wine Tastings

1 1-   Don’t wear smelly junk! It messes with everyone; they are there to taste wine, not you.

2- Don’t tell the person pouring that the wine was shit. You may not like it but it isn’t shit, someone liked it enough to bring it in the store…could just be the person pouring for you.

3- Don’t treat the person pouring like a server, because last I checked, you’re not tipping them.

4- Don’t hit on the women pouring…it’s still not Hooters.

5- Don’t ask, (while being poured) “What does this wine taste like?” taste it and decide for yourself, we may be wine dorks but we don’t live in your mouth.

6- Don’t be a slob, mind the schmeg on your glass…cuzz, ewe.

7- Don’t ask for more wine or a bigger pour of the most expensive one, makes you look like a greedy beast…and lets us know that you are likely one of those people that makes the Costco sample carts your favorite lunch joint. .

8- Don’t bring the kiddies, not that we don’t like them but we cannot have them in the tasting area…not OUR law, but the law.

9- Don’t grill the person pouring, if you really want to know something, then ask but don’t make them give you the history of the estate, the case production and the winemakers name…especially if you have no intention of remembering it, it’s okay to just taste.

10- Don’t say, “Can I try number 6 again, I just want to make sure that is the one I want to buy” we’ve heard that one before…a billion times, might I suggest taking notes? We have a one taste per wine policy not to be dicks but because pouring extra of any wine throws the bottle count off and that costs us money…..something no wine shop can afford.

So there you have it folks, a little cheat sheet of things to avoid when shopping for wine or attending a wine tasting….hope it’s useful!

Don’t fear the wine merchant, shit…even if you committed every flub on this list they will still help you find a great bottle of wine and the really good ones, they will wait until you leave before making fun of you or calling you a douchebag. (Grin)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Remedy




Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chenin, Cheeky Old Guys, Cheetos & Cheer

So you know that moment when you wake Monday morning with Cheetos cemented and caked in your grill, one eye plastered shut, with makeup, you hope, your head a fuzzy mess of, “Is it still Saturday?” in your bra, with one sock on and a string of bright green Guinness beads around your neck? Dontcha hate that?! Ugh gawd, me too, and yet…Monday. Goddamn it. Saturday morning I was feeling feisty. Like all vibrant and saucy, feeling my inner wine nerd and so ready to get my three day weekend on, that was before remembering I was going to be visited by a south county “nearly eighty year old” that sort of scares the shit out of me because he is a friend of my beloved Michael Sullivan’s….dad, (an author and wine historian) and because he has already once been in the store and was able to pull my strings like fucking Geppetto the last time he was in. I’m rarely intimidated but I can add that cat to the short list of names like Washam, Sullivan, Olken and the like in that is confounds me, flatters but baffles me, how I was fortunate enough to land in their good graces. Not sure how I was able to pull the wool over their eyes, or charm Mr. South County but I would do it all over again… 

Got some wild hair up my rump to write a stupid fucking post Saturday morning about swimming around  the cove of my childhood, and lost like two hours pay to do so…that is a massive win as far as blogging goes, not only do I not get paid, I lose money. Score! That stupid awards business must be coming soon, I think that right there warrants a new category…So yeah, I wrote that piece, the whole time trying to put the focus on the fact that I never quite fit in the traditional, nor do my taste more importantly, go running for the extreme. I’m lucky enough to find myself somewheres in that muddy, murky, just a little undefinable middle and the older I get, the more I aim to keep it that way. As if that matters.

I popped corks on my odd little geek wines, tried to help Ronnie ready for our event, but it was the slightly gregarious and unquestionably intellectual Mr. South County that stole my attention and affection Saturday afternoon. Big, thick, wide frames on his glasses, voice powerful but smooth, always asking me “What’s next?” even after somewhere near ten wines. I let him taste, poke fun, bark and even nuzzle me, (a stretch there, for me anyway…so not a cuddler with customers, or anyone really) in order to get a better idea who he was and what he was into, a few boxes of Lambrusco and Vouvray later he was on his way and we were smack dab in the middle of our geek wine tasting and there I was, feeling already spent and a little dizzy…

Day sort of sailed past me actually. I know some folks showed up for my geek wine event, not as many as I’d hoped but the ones there were cool as hell and exuded that whole exploratory enthusiasm that inspires and feeds me. I learned…or was reminded I should say, that even in the face of a geeky wine tasting, tasty, like way fucking tasty, will always win as I poured some of the Vincent Careme Vouvray Tendre, the one I opened for Mr. South County even though I knew it was out of his typical price bracket, just because I wanted to see his face when he was met with such a sexy, curvy and down-right thrilling mouthful of wine….the one he walked out of the store with at least a half case of, yeah that wine and it was without question the hit of the afternoon. Not geeky, just damn delicious and in the end, all the intellectual chatter and geeking out aside, deliciousness is what matters…however or wherever you find it. Felt a bit happier to see that the Ca Montanari Opera, a dry Lambrusco was the runner up in terms of sales for the afternoon. We toasted the departure of a leaving employee with a bottle of H. Billiot Brut Rose, shared a gifted bottle of Redbreast Irish Whiskey, (thank you again Marilyn!) before Ronnie and I trudged off to drown my annoying funk in even more booze….why not tie the green shaded bag of over-indulgence on a day early right? Ugh…

Sunday morning found me hungover as hell and looking to dunk my head even deeper below the surface, what better way than with my beloved friend Merzie, on Main Street in Seal Beach where there were droves of Kelly green clad morons staggering about and stopping just long enough to either blather some incoherent Irish poem or barf in the bushes…perfect. I end up with a plastic goldfish, wearing sunglasses even, that was stuffed with two flavors of Cheetos, one flavor too boring and all, that I proceeded to share with anyone that would take some…strangely more takers than one might assume. There were Whiskey laced cocktails, strange white dudes in kimonos and somewhere in that mix, there was some much needed laughter. Monday morning had me once again feeling like ass but this time, rather than dunk and go for dizzy I went for holding on to the deliciousness of regalia, turning an eighty year old on to something new, the caramel like richness of Redbreast Whiskey, friends that will eat my Cheetos and the fact that I have a job where my bosses and coworkers will pull my, (somewhat tremendous) weight so I can stay at home and pound my fingers against my stupid laptop….stretch my voice and talk to any of you that are still listening. 

Things may get fucked up from time to time, including me but there is always a glass waiting, one more bottle of Vouvray to pop and for now at least, I still have this place…and a plastic goldfish sporting sunglasses. What more could I need? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Best Alone? Deadline Re-Post


So okay, I know I share a bunch of stuff here in this space, you all know far more about me than I am guessing you would like. I stand before you naked time and time again, my life, my friendships, my overindulgence…my heart; it is all out here on display for you all to read in between my miscellaneous wine posts or rants about this and that. Not sure if that brings you closer or runs you off, guessing it is a bit of both. Some stay, follow me along in my quest and self-exploration and others will flee in search of something more wine focused. I get it and don’t blame the ones that bail, adore the ones that stay and support me on my baby-legged stumble to find my voice in this big wine blogging world. For those that stay I continue to share, share my stories, my inspiration and myself…the only thing I really have to give to thank you all, all those fingers in my back, those eyes on me, that drive that pushes me to continue talking, oozing, waxing rhapsodic about whatever it is that bounces into this wacky head of mine…

So this evening, all alone in my home, I started thinking about sharing, how lovely, how codifying, how powerful it is but….sometimes, well sometimes it’s better alone. I’m willing to confess that sometimes pleasure is best served for one…especially when you are serving yourself.

Don’t go acting all shocked, don’t act like you don’t do it too, I know you all do, we all do, and sometimes there is nothing better than the pleasure one can derive than that from one’s own hand, one’s own voice and from one’s own purring sounds. Sure, the Internets assist, they lead us, toy with us; make us think of things that we might not have considered on our own. Offer scintillating photos of what we want, what we secretly ache for, make our mouths water for, “Just a taste” and then we are left to our own devices…our own will, our own want. Tonight I “wanted” more than I have in a very long time….alone or not, I was going to, have…take, and fucking feel…what I wanted, me and me alone.


To be alone with your, self seduction, the way you can feel the little hairs stand up on the base of your neck, the way the skin around your most sensitive parts seem to constrict, tighten and the way that feeling runs up the base of your spine. To have a room so silent that you can hear the groan of pleasure escape your lips, how sexy that echoing silence can be. Just you, your thoughts, your will, your want, your need…your nose caught up in the cacophony of scent, your palate wildly flicking away…bouncing, fighting to taste every last drop, the way your throat seems to expand to take it all in. There is nothing like it. Sharing is sweet, it’s wonderful but this feeling…unlike any other.


So tonight I pleasured myself, I’m not afraid to share that here. It felt fantastic, my hairs erect, my throat open, my heart open and me here, with all of you…exposing myself once again, sharing my self exploration with you. I opened a bottle of 2000 Paul Chapelle Meursault and drank the whole damn thing…alone. No one in my ear yammering about texture, length or premature oxidation, just me…alone in my library smelling home. Face washed, jammies on, little hairs tingling the base of my neck…


Great wine is best shared with people that can appreciate it, I have to agree….for the most part, but once in a while, there is nothing that can compare or compete with the knee weakening, heart pounding…….head spinning pleasure that can be had with a night of, “self pleasurevation”…

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Little Further Out

“Why did you go out so far?! How could you do that?! I was so afraid I was going to lose you Mouse, I just don’t understand why you went that far!” my mother screaming at me. I think I was about five, maybe four years old and had just been plucked from the ocean by a lifeguard, me, the water baby, needing a rescue and sending my mother into a terrified rage. I didn’t tell her of course. Didn’t mention it was my smaller-than-me visiting cousin that had gone too far, stepped off the cliff and pulled me back with her and that was why we were sent off into the near depths and needing help to return. This would be a pattern that has been shaved and reshaped but is still with me now…

I think it was called Balboa Bay but I could be totally wrong about that, much like I am so much about my foggy past, but it was where my mother would take me to float, splash and above everything else, swim while she wadded through the pages of her beloved and worshiped books. Days, whole days would be spent there, some of it playing in the sand, feeling the tiny grains rub rough against my flesh or tugging long strips of sea monster looking seaweed, the ones with the slippery leaves that would lick my ankles and scare the living shit out of me, from the ocean making the shore safe for everyone, punishing the beast for frightening me by pressing its bulbils tentacles, the thickly skinned bubbles that reminded me of warts, between my palms until they burst and released the most fragrant of sea potions. My mother all the while stretched out on a towel, arm draped across her brow as she lost herself in the pages, words, tales of people living for better…or just living more than she was. My skin stained brown from the relentless sun, my hair slicked back and white blonde from the punishing combination of sun and briny sea water, I would bob around in that water for days. I began to learn the cove, like truly learn it, just how far I could go, how many steps before my feet could no longer reach the bottom and my arms were powerless to pull me back. 

Three, there were three stages or rungs to the cove. There was the walking bit, where I could feel my feet stuck firmly in the murky and slippery wet sand, this was where I spent most of my time. I would turn handstands, dig for seashells, and run all Rocky Balboa like along the shore, my bare feet slapping the stinging bits of water pelting and then bouncing off of me. Then there was the “ledge” an area I would shimmy up to, my toes leading the way, where there was a dramatic and steep drop…one where I could feel my tummy plummet and heart begin to race the second I pinned my arms behind me and jumped. Falling, I could feel my hair float towards the surface as my body fell deeper into the cove, my insides tensing and twisting as I made my short decent into the deep end. Darker, colder, but exhilarating as my arms made big loopy swoops upwards, pushing me further under water. Lungs getting tighter, eyes growing wider I began to learn, this meant I was getting close, close to feeling my feet hit the bottom, close to bending my knees and pressing with all my might against the sea floor and catapulting myself back to the salty smelling surface. This place, this was my favorite place.  Not in complete control but not out beyond the cliff bobbing out of control. This place, this is where I find myself still, a million miles from that cove, my mother’s not so watchful eye, and slippery sea monsters masquerading as seaweed. Not bound by convention and not ruled by the desire to rail against it.  Fantastically out of control just long enough for my feet to settle into the muddy sand and push me back up. A place that sanctions my cravings and satiates my conformity, allows me to talk, bite, snarl, groan, lick, kiss, suck, taste, succumb and spring right back to the surface….and I never want to leave.

So it is without shock that I find myself here, late for work, writing about, thinking about my past and trying to figure out why it is I’m this way,  or like the things that I do, on the morning before a tasting that I had to do some tugging to get, and some backing off to make happen. Geek Wines, we are pouring some geeky wines this afternoon and I am fucking beside myself with anticipation. Randy allowed me to have this odd little tasting of wines that, much like me, don’t quite fit into the confines of tradition. Wild little wines that have their own quirky smile, sometimes salty taste and can make the heart pound away with confusion and wonder. Not weird, strange or bizarre…just somewhere in that unpolished and undefinable area between that and simple deliciousness….

I’m on my way…