This month’s wine writing challenge is Epiphany, as selected by last month’s winner John, The Wine Raconteur. The first thing that came to mind was The Burgundy. But I feel quite certain you are sick of hearing about it….so, I thought I’d be bold and try something else.
The second best thing about working in a wine tasting room is
proving people wrong helping people try new things they were sure they hated.
BTW, I’d like to insert that if you didn’t know the best thing about working in a wine tasting room is drinking wine, then get out of my life–I don’t need that kind of negativity.
But back to
proving people wrong helping people try new things they were sure they hated. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. When it comes to wine, this is a rather fun challenge. I don’t do it to be cantankerous. I do it to prove to everyone I meet that there is a whole big world of wine out there–why limit yourself to just pinot noir or white zin or only true French champagnes [please hear that with all the snobbery it was intended] or only reds or whites or sweet or dry?
We all have a preference but to me there was nothing more satisfying than seeing a look of epiphany on someone’s face who bravely let me lead them out of their comfort zone and realized that they liked it out there.
What led me on this path to wine-enlightenment was that I started working at a wine shop that only sold Texas wine–this was back in the early 90s when nobody was talking about Texas as a wine producer. During my time there, I had many epiphanies there–but none more so than my first day.
On Day #1, I was told that being able to speak about the wines we offered and make recommendations was the most important part of my job, so my first task was to taste every single bottle on the bar that we had available for sampling. Whaaaaat?? There are 1, 2, 3…33 of them! Since that moment in time, I have found this to be THE BEST advice I’ve ever gotten in the world of wine (and it easily applies to most things in life): don’t judge, just try everything.
I’m not going to lie, I was not excited about trying the whites and rosés–I was a red wine drinker. And by red wine, I mean cabernet sauvignon and tempernillo. But I hated, hated, hated white and rosés–because my initial introduction to these wines were uber-sweet (of the added sugar variety) or mass produced (aka tasteless) pinot grigio or (shudder) white zinfandel or over-oaked California chardonnay .
Before you hit comment to defend your beloved [insert wine I just insulted here], KEEP READING!
Over the course of several days, I tried every single bottle that was available for sampling. And I’m not going to lie, I did not like 50% of it, but I did find some unexpected hidden gems, such as dry riesling, gewürztraminer, viognier, and French colombard. Suddenly my wine palate opened considerably! With these varietals and styles, I found fruity, but not sweet, flavorful white wines. Then I discovered dry rosés and French oak and realized that oak could lend itself to creaminess–not just tasting like I was chewing on a bark. So I revisited my arch-white wine nemesis: chardonnay. This time, I started with the French stuff, which had more fruit and just enough oak to get me used to the flavor. Eventually, I even found (gasp!) a few California chardonnays that I like. Of course, my hate also spilled over (pun intended!) into some of the red wines as well (**cough**merlot, pinot noir**cough**), but I now always try them because I have found some of each that I adore (think Russian River Valley and, hahaha, surely you had to know I was going to find a way to mention The Burgundy).
So it was in this spirit, that I would try to help customers who came into the wine shop with their broad-stroke declarations, like “I don’t drink Texas wine.” Of course not, because until two seconds ago you weren’t even aware that Texas wine existed….so you tell me what you like to drink and then hold on to your glass because I’m about to show you what’s been missing in your life!