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As we grow older, it is expected of us to become more refined human beings. A part of this is refining is our palate for alcohol. I’m not saying you have to give up cheap domestics altogether because Lord knows I love me a cold Busch more than most things on this earth. There comes a time, however, that it may not be appropriate to order the tallest light beer a place can offer.
You should probably go ahead and order a glass of red with that $50 steak your boss is buying for the promotion they are about to give you. And if your girlfriend’s dad hands you a couple fingers of scotch, you should probably be able to handle it. Recently, my wife and I have taken to wine tasting in an effort to expand our wine rack’s spectrum past the three different colors of Moscato that sit there at all times. Here are a couple of tricks I have learned so far. Follow these and you can trick everyone into thinking you’re a proverbial vintner.
1. Stop at every winery you come across.
Wine tasting is fun. There is nothing quite like taking a Sunday drive with your significant other and catching a buzz out of nowhere because you guys hit up three different wineries. Each place is a little unique and has a different way of doing things. It’s cool to see each vineyard’s niche and experience what sets them apart from the other joints around.
2. Have a designated driver.
If you aren’t careful, the wine can sneak up on you real quick. It isn’t like sampling a flight of beers – wine is more potent. If you plan on making an afternoon out of the ordeal, it is best to have a DD. In my case, this is me. 100 percent of the time. But I don’t mind because the missus is in her element when she is sucking down wine and a happy wife is a happy life. Don’t drive drunk, it’s not that hard of a concept. It’s generally not a good idea to fuck up your entire life because you were flirting with the legal limit.
3. Talk up the winemaker.
These guys live the life. When a lot of us are out here grinding, holding down jobs that we don’t particularly like just to get by, these people have taken the plunge into small business ownership and are now reaping the fruits of their labor. They wake up every day to experiment with different blends and recipes in order to bottle delicious grape juice for us to enjoy. I have yet to come across a joint where the head guy hates his job. Most of them are legends in their own mind that have seen some shit. Sure, you are just like every other asshole that has walked into the place before you. “Oh yeah, we are just here for the weekend and saw your sign on the side of the road so we decided to stop in!” I have yet to come across one of them that makes your experience miserable though, so it is never a disappointment trying out a new winery. Let these guys chew your ear off and fill your head with knowledge so that you too can speak “wine” if the situation calls for it.
4. Try different types.
Generally, a winery has a wide spectrum to choose from ranging from Dry to Sweet made from different berries and shit. Don’t get stuck trying out the same types of wine. You are there to try new things and expand your palate. The other day my wife had six different “sweet” wines on her card and it wasn’t until the final sample that she realized the grave mistake she made. I’m over here trying a Syrah with a bold black pepper finish. Even if I regret my decision, I can say I tried something new. Like, I know you like Riesling, but do yourself a favor and switch it up. I convinced her to switch it out for a “Semi-Sweet” white made with apricots. Baby steps I guess.
5. Don’t give advice to other patrons.
Best case scenario is you are the only party in the place. But most of the time there are going to be other people scoping out these wineries just like you. Maybe you’re at the point where you have had three or four, 3-oz. samples out of the dozens that the place offers before another couple walks in. This does not make you an expert on all that the vineyard has to offer. There is nothing worse than sitting there sipping on wine and having some random try to offer up their two cents on the red blends that they just had. If I wanted advice, I would ask the guy behind the counter, thanks. If someone asks your opinion on something, give it. But at no point should you be the guy at the end of the counter giving unsolicited advice. That guy is the worst.
6. Don’t spit.
Some yuppies will try to tell you I am wrong in this regard. Fuck em. If you want a clean palate choke down a couple of those crackers they offer. Like the mentality you should have for everything else in life – finish it. By spitting, even if the wine is good, you are basically saying, “Yeah it was good but not good enough to finish.” Imagine if you brought that mentality into the bedroom. Heaven help you. I have always been a firm believer in not wasting. Wounded soldiers the night after a party always make my heart heavy. Alcohol is a blessing. Don’t waste it.
7. Buy a bottle.
Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle of something you just tried. Don’t be that shmuck that just walks in and drops $5 on a tasting and walks out. These places don’t make shit off of tastings so pony up a few bucks for one of their bottles. Sure you can get an $8 bottle from the store on your way home but that’s not what this is about. You’ll never regret coming back to that bottle at a later date. Or that same night, whatever works..