Wine People, Wine People Problems

My First Sip of Wine – A Mother’s Day Story

Today is the day after Mother’s Day; it’s also a Monday; I am also sipping my first glass of wine of the work week. I still have some sentiment that survived the first day back at work after a great weekend and it has me thinkingĀ about my very first glass of wine. #Nostalgia (Oh, wait… I am not currently on Instagram… so just “Nostalgia”)

As an adult I spent many years many miles and states away from my family for pretty much every major and minor holiday. Since moving back to my home town about a year ago I have made up for lost time by spending holidays, weekends, evenings after work – every opportunity I have – catching up for lost time. A top priority has been my secretly elderly grandmother. I say secretly because although she has surpassed the age of 90 she still is never caught without high heels on, hair done and very fashion forward outfits and accessories.

She’s never been a traditional grandmother in the sense that she was rarely in the kitchen unless it was to make a drink, she went salsa dancing every Friday through her late 70s, and her favorite grandmother/granddaughter bonding involved long hours at the mall. If she weren’t 4’11” and size 5 shoes – her closet would have been what I was raiding in my high school years. Instead I was stuck stealing my sister’s clothes (Sorry, sis!).

I have a lot of memories of growing up with her as a favorite mentor. Playing dress up at her house when I was 10 and actually the Ā same size as her isĀ a highlight. I remember her saving the best parts of the rotisserie chicken she brought home for dinner for her dog. I remember her threatening us with any object within reach if we didn’t behave – her high heel, the broom, the fly swatter. And I remember her never following through… at least with me (Sorry again, sis. And naughty cousins). I remember trying on her lipstick and spritzing her Chanel no 5 on my neck (she probably should have more than threatened me at this point).

And I remember Mother’s Day when I was around 9 years old. She and I were out with my mom and sister for a girls’ lunch. The second my sister and mom walked away to use the restroom my grandmother pushed her wine glass in front of me. I am sure I looked at her like she was crazy because she laughed.

“It’s no big deal. They serve it in church, don’t they?”


“Hurry, before your mom comes back!”

Now my grandma may have seen this as European and cool… but she was also smart enough to know my mom wouldn’t agree. I took a quick swig and tried not to make a face as my mom returned with my sister. This was the first sip. I don’t know if it was good; not likely as it was just the house wine at a place holding Mother’s Day brunch. I do remember it was red. And I remember my grandmother winking at me with her long, fake eyelashes when my mom asked her if she was enjoying her wine. Our secret. I don’t know if she did the same with my sister or my cousins when Ā I wasn’t around; if she did we were all pretty good at keeping the secret from even each other.

Now I realize this isn’t much of a story – just a brief memory from childhood. The first sip of thousands and many more to come. But to me, that day, that secret, are the basis of a close adult friendship I’ve come to have with my grandmother. The first of secrets we’ve kept, gossip we’ve shared. More than 20 years later and I still love to share a glass of wine with her and talk about our lives. At 90+ years she’s lived 3 times longer than me and has the stories to prove it. She’s shared wine with incredible people of the past; she’s had wine made from grapes grown on vines long ago replaced and vintages from before I was ever born; but today,Ā her favorite person to open a bottle of wine with is me.

Wine People, Wine People Problems

I’m Out of Wine! Winter Wine People Problems…


Since the weather has the equivalent of “Hell Freezes Over” I have done all I can to stay in the house and hibernate. I literally only leave for work and mandatory appointments. I try to grocery shop one my way to and from work and appointments. I hate the snow. I hate the cold. I am NOT people who should live in the Midwest but here I am. So that bone chilling cold and snow seeping into your knit Ugg boots (which I loveĀ but are not at all reasonable for actual weather) there is only one thing that has been able to truly warm me up – Red Wine.

Now I drink a lot of wine all year round so you would think I had this figured out, but this is my first “real winter” in many years after living in a much warmer climate. I’ve looked into wine delivery but it turns out unless you’re buying like 10 cases at a time, it’s hard to find. I have tried planning in advance – buying 12 bottles at a time (which nicely usually comes with an additional discount) but there’s a problem that comes with that. It’s sort of that, “If you build it they will come” thing – except in Wine People translation it’s “If I buy it, I will drink”.

That’s right, for some reason 12 bottles only seem to last as long as 6 bottles. Winter is turning me into a wine-a-holic. The only solution I can think of? Sunshine. And if you can’t bring me that, someone send me some teeth whitening strips because this red wine is taking a toll.

Wine People, Wine People Problems, Wine People Resolutions

Wine People Resolutions


I was going to do this first thing in the morning but as a wine person on New Year’s day …well, I was feeling a little rough. I still am feeling a little “wine flu” ish so forgive any misspellings or grammatical errors (or post them in the comments and I’ll come back and edit. I really hate sh*tty grammar).

Anyway – I was thinking of some resolutions for 2015 – I came up with the obvious: Lose weight/get healthy (but I make and break this resolution daily so no need to make it for the whole year), drink less (this was early in my hangover when I wasn’t thinking clearly), be better about saving money, travel, etc. But serious resolutions have nothing to do with a new year, it’s more just a decision to make better choices and I feel like people can do that at any time. So, today, I present all you Wine People readers – Wine People Resolutions!

Take a wine upgrade.
This is always a challenge Ā if any of your other resolutions are financially based so I am not talking about huge upgrades or all the time. If you drink 3 bottles of wine a week make one of them a few bucks more than you usually spend. You’d be surprised to find the differences between a $5 and $8 bottle of wine.Ā If you’re always going with the least expensive glass of wine on the menu, move it on up. You might find it’s worth a few extra dollars or you might find your old favorites can’t be beat!

Move over to red wines
I am not a biased wine drinker. I love white wine, red wine, rose, port, grappa… the list goes on (obviously). But I remember when I was stuck in a place where I was only drinking white wines – specifically sweet ones. It’s hard to break out of this trend but I am believer in expanding your palate. If you’re drinking Moscato probably don’t jump over to Cabernet but use 2015 to gradually transition into other wines. Try a drier Riesling, move on to some Sauvignon Blanc and on to some Pinot Noir (the easiest transition red wine since it’s normally a bit lighter in body). Take suggestions from friends and other Wine People you know.

Learn to love Merlot.
Once upon a time, around 2004, Paul Giamatti was in one of my most favorite wine movies in existence and told everyone NOT to drink Merlot. A few reminders about Giamatti’s character Miles – he was a bit unstable, he knew his stuff about wine, and he was carrying around a Right Bank Bordeaux the whole movie (mostly Merlot) which he really loved. Somehow – people still trusted that Miles was right and Merlot was out and Pinot Noir was in. My issue with this? I adore Merlot. I lean toward Miles opinion on California Merlot (just not really my style) but French Merlot, Washington Merlot, Merlot from anywhere else in the world – I love it. Give Merlot a chance in 2015.

Ā ReadĀ about wine.
Although I learn better by doing – which for Wine People means drinking wine – I also am an avid reader and wine is a topic that has always interested me. Wine People love to share their information with you – subscriptions for Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast are a good way to get excited to read about wine – plus one piece on non-bill mail every month. I hear there are some great wine blogs out there (ahem, feel free to follow). Wine books are everywhere, too, but be sure to check out the authors backgrounds and also check dates of publication for any fact based books because wine is every changing. Also, previously mentioned Sideways is also a book, and there is a sequel called Vertical.

Ā Travel with wine.
They are growing grapes for wine making on 6 of 7 continents now (get your act together Antarctica!). All 50 states in the USA are growing grapes, too. If you can’t afford to visit all these amazing wine growing places, have some “around the world” fun with their wines at home. If you’ve already tried all over the California and Pacific Northwest wineries expand your horizons – Texas, Arizona, New York all have some great and highly rated wines. Tried your share of Italian, French and German wines? Try Austrian and Greek wines.

Love the Wine You’re With
At the end of the day, Wine Resolutions are about loving wine and enjoying yourself while tasting them. Buy what you like, don’t be intimidated, ask questions to Wine People. Happy 2015!


Wine People Say, Wine People Wine Tasting

Wine People at a Wine Tasting


I experienced the ultimate tasting yesterday; a FOUR HOUR CHAMPAGNE (and other sparkling) tasting. I have done tons of wine tastings in my years as a Wine Person but I truly believe when you add bubbles, it gets extra interesting and the fact that there are 5 types of Wine People at a wine tasting becomes obvious quickly.

Wine Person #1: The “Expert”Ā 
I am going to go ahead and get “The Expert” out of the way. S/he is at every single tasting no matter the cost, no matter the product, they are ALWAYS there to taunt the Wine People doing the pouring. They start out by doing the very intense tasting: they hold it up to the light and then back down to the paper with the pricing, swirl so hard you’re not sure how they haven’t spilled it everywhere and by the time they settle down, all the bubbles in the champagne have disappeared. Next they do the gurgling, air sucking thing (which I understand is proper protocol) and then sloppily spit into the bucket being shared by the entire group of 100 people who have paid to be there. A bit of it splashes into his/her face butĀ s/he seems not to even notice.

Now, Wine “Expert” realizes s/he has some questions. “Is this authentic Champagne?” At this point Wine Person Pouring thinks s/he’s gotten off easy; that perhaps this is just a normal Wine Person asking the usual questions and is happy to confirm, this is, indeed, real Champagne from France. Don’t worry Wine Person Pouring, Wine “Expert” is NOT done.

“Oh, yeah? Which Crus specifically is it coming from? Which Crus specifically are the Chard grapes vs the Pinot grapes coming from? Why aren’t they sourcing from the same Crus as insert name ofĀ very specific competitive champagne houseĀ sources from? Who are the growers? Why did they make a 2002 vintage? That’s not a very good vintage.”

Okay, Wine “Expert” – we get it, you’re trying to stump Wine Person Pouring. When you couldn’t you went with an insult. But then, just to make sure Wine Person Pouring doesn’t accidentally begin to engage with another consumer, you ask to “re-visit” one of the champagnes. S/He politely obliges hoping maybe you’ll move on to the next table after – and it seems to have worked – but not before you turn around and comment, “I have no idea WHY Wine Spectator would have given THAT 92 points.”

Thank you, Wine “Expert” – we are sure that following your questions and condescending commentary you are more capable of ratingĀ the products than those at respected wine publications. Why don’t we just take your palate for fact, discount that others at this very large gathering have enjoyed it or may enjoy it, and dump the rest down the drain. You, Wine “Expert”, truly are the only thorn in the side of a very fun event, so instead we will all move on and continue enjoying ourselves.

Wine Person #2: The Happy Hour-erĀ 

Okay, this is much more Wine People than Person because the Happy Hour-ers travel in packs. They don’t believe in spit buckets, they don’t believe in maximum 2 oz pours, and they don’t believe how lucky it is that $20 just bought them 4 hours of drinks.

The Happy Hour group are like the high school cool table – Ā even though they’re in the exact same place doing the exact same thing,Ā they are having more fun than every one else. They’re laughing and dancing and taking selfies and are becoming new BFFs with whichever Wine Person Pouring has their new favorite in an attemptĀ to get infinite refills throughout the next 3.5 hours.

As for whether the Happy Hour Group will actually buy anything – probably not. In my experience only about 25% of the time will they consume so much that they actually turn around and buy a case or 2 of their new favorite but usually they just get an Uber and head home.

Wine Person #3: The Wine Purchaser

This one is hands down the Wine Person Pouring’s FAVORITE attendee. They are legitimately there to find new wines to love and will buy anywhere from a few bottles to a few cases of wine. Ā The Wine Purchaser is knowledgeable butĀ not condescending.

Some Wine PurchasersĀ are looking to collect (buying big $$ bottles) and others are looking for daily drinking (meaning many bottles). Regardless, The Wine Purchaser is the reason these events are suppose to exist, the reason the Wine Person Pouring has a job, and unfortunately areĀ usually only about 5% of the group. Regardless, without them these events would seize to exist so if you’re not one of them, thank one.

Wine Person #4: The Storyteller

I used to not totally love this category of people, especially at free wine tastings. The conversation would go something like this:
Wine Person Pouring: Can I offer you a complimentary taste of wine?
Passerby: I don’t drink as alcoholism runs in my family starting with my great grandfather…
Passerby: Alcohol is a gateway drug that will lead down the path to hell. Let me quote this passage…
Passerby: Let me tell you this tragic story of a drunk driving accident/alcohol poisoned friend/abusive alcoholic person I once knew.
… Thanks for the fun sucking. A simple “No, thank you” would have sufficed.

But I’ve found those Storytellers are strictly at free events. As for paid events, IĀ LOVE the Storytellers and I can listen to them all day. Their stories are about having traveled the world, seeing Bordeaux and Champagne, Tuscany and Umbria. The Storyteller has met some of the world’s top winemakers and Sommeliers. Although their stories may include some facts and information, the stories are mostly the root of wine – romance. You can see their memories coming out of them with a smile on their face while they imagine the scenes they are trying to describe to you. The Storyteller makes me want to drop everything and travel the world trying all the wine just to return in a non-specific amount of years and eventually become a Storyteller myself. I aspire to be you, Storyteller.

Wine Person#5: The Drunk

So I actually cannot dump on The Drunk. The Drunk usually starts out as one of the above Wine People but due to intoxication – things begin to escalate quickly. The drop of a wine glass, the knocking over of a wine bottle, the hugging of friends and strangers, Ā and proclamation of their love of every wine they try. As long as it stays innocent enough it’s pretty humorous. They like to toast with each 2 oz pour, “To my ex-husband, who would have never joined me at anything this fun!” or “To you, Wine Person Pouring, without whom I would not have 2 oz of wine in my glass!”.

As long asĀ The Drunk avoids falling over or going all Miles (Paul Giamatti) in Sideways and chugging the dump bucket, s/he is like the live entertainment at any wine tasting.

Can you think of any other kinds of Wine People at Wine Tastings? Which category do you most fall into?