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Get It On With Dr. Wine Guy

Blog - Wine Industry

A wine guy is like a wine doctor

When you walk into the doctor’s office, hopefully the doctor will ask you many questions. Do you have insurance? :) How can I help? Where does it hurt? How long have you had this problem? Are you allergic to anything? What kind of shape are you in? But what happens when the “wine doctor” doesn’t understand your language? With wine advice, this happens the majority of time because we all grew up eating different things, experiencing different things, and many of us in different cultures. Are you a hamburger, mayo-only, with a Coke dieter? Did you grow up on Saag Paneer? Are you a Tofurkey lover? Our habits and experience make our definitions and our definitions are all different. Obviously, the doctor will have no idea where you are coming from or your version of the wine descriptors you use.

Even though there are universal terms that the wine community uses, the definitions differ. Someone’s full-bodied, dry red is someone else’s light-bodied, kinda sweet red. Are we speaking tablespoon of turbinado sweet or biting into an apple sweet? A great wine guy will hold your hand and ask many specific questions about your experience to learn your palate, where you’ve been and where you want to go. If you walk into a shop and ask for a full-bodied, strong, and serious wine and the wine guy puts a bottle in your hand… (This is what people are used to.) I vote that you run. This is not a wine guy. This is a sales guy with bottles of wine to sale. A sales guy will point at magazine scores or stacks of wine cases without learning your palate. A great wine guy wants to figure out where you are, create comfort and trust, and most importantly help you get the best of breed for you.

A wine guy is extremely important. The right wine guy can save you enormous time and money and bring intense liquid epiphanies to your life. And chances are that the right wine guy also has many other experiences (epicurean delights, recipes, restaurants, travel destinations, etc.) that he can share with you. After all, that’s why most of the serious wine guys are in this industry to begin with. It’s a lifestyle. It attracts a certain perspective and romance.

The best way to let your wine guy get to know where you are coming from and your definitions of the terms you use is to name specific wines you like and maybe even more importantly don’t like! Give feedback. Assuming the wine guy is familiar with the wines you name, he should have some sort of grasp on your angle. Usually there is a pattern. Sometimes there isn’t, but usually the wine guy will get a better picture of your idea of dry, acidity, tannins, alcohol, and style. Even if you don’t recall the specific vintage, there is generally a “house style” of a winery. Juicy-fruit or dirt in your mouth, there is a wide range…When you are at a restaurant for dinner, write down the wines you liked or didn’t like (or take a photo with your phone) and keep them in your wallet for your wine guy. At a friend’s house? Get in the habit. Find a shop you trust. Find someone you click with that is willing to play at your speed. Looking for a killer sweet red? How about Melnik (Bulgaria), St. James Velvet Red (Missouri), or old faithful Peteroa White Zin (Chile). All extremely different. All brilliant in their own style and accords. A great wine guy tries wine all week long filtering out the lesser for the more. Even if your tastes don’t align with his, he’ll know exactly where you want to go (hopefully!).

Most people don’t take advantage of the experience and education of the wine talent out there, but I assure you that your wine guy can be an enlightened guide. Why “get along” when you can “get it on“?

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