Wine 101

When it comes to wine, we all started somewhere. Whether it was a bottle of Beringer White Zin or Boone's Farm, something sparked your interest about wine.

Everyone starts somewhere...sometimes we forget where we began. 

I'm by no means or would even consider myself an "expert" per say in the field of wine. I simply do this for a living about 60 hours a week, 6 days a week. I taste anywhere between 50 to 75 new wines a week depending on the season and the promotional push from the sales people. I just like what I do and probably taste more wine than the average person who does not work in this field.

My palate is no better than yours know that first and foremost! Your senses are like muscles, you have to work them out constantly in order for them to work in sync like a machine...or they get all flabby to the point where you get what I call "nonni arms". If you have an old Italian grandma, well you get the picture.

Let's face it, wine buying is intimidating! Nothing like a Poindexter ridiculing you over your choice of wine just because you like the pretty kangaroo on the bottle. You like it right and who is he to say otherwise. Wine should not be scary or intimidating rather it should be inviting and welcoming.

When did we all become wine snobs? Did we all just pop out and start drinking Screaming Eagle? I bet somewhere down the line all of these so called wine experts started drinking White Zin or Blue Nunn. Something brought you to the point where you wanted to drink wine, now it's just a matter of expanding your pallet and getting out from the rut you've been in.

My "colleagues" in this field all have their own swagger about explaining wine to you. Some throw out big terms while others like to name drop big vineyards which makes me believe that there is something more of a self confidence issue there that Dr. Phil hasn't fixed yet. Whatever the case may be, you the customer should feel at ease when purchasing a bottle.  This isn't buying your first house.  It's wine!

If your wine guy looks like my profile pic run! No just kidding. But if you hear someone spitting out that "They bottled left over Cherry Block juice ($100 a bottle) and are now putting it into XYZ wine for $10", run. It's a good sales pitch, but it's one of those too good to be true stories.

Ratings are all good to use as a guide line and I respect all of the wine critics, writers, bloggers, etc out there but sometimes you gotta pick you head up out of the Thesaurus and talk to people. I mean, fruit sounds appetizing but "gnawing on fresh upholstered saddle leather seats dipped in #2 lead pencil" does not sound like the optimal purchase for me at least. Again, to each their own just understand what you like. That is key! It helps me, the waiter, friends,etc. pick out better wines for you.

It's all about YOU! Don't let anyone tell you differently! If you've never had the pleasure or interest in drinking a first growth Bordeaux then all that jibba jabba isn't going to have any lasting impression on you to make a choice. There's a great scene in Jerry McGuire where he's yelling at one of his clients..."Rod! Help me help you Rod!" That's what we need from you. Know what you like...fruit, dry, earth, tannins, red or whites. There's nothing wrong with what you like after all it is your palate, but once in a while get out of your comfort zone and put something new in your glass.

So with that, I open up this chapter of my day to day life in the wine world to you with the hopes that one day we can sit around a table together and share a glass of vino! CHEERS!

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Lesley Ferguson Simoni August 23, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I highly recommend doing wine tastings along the CT Wine Trail - it's a lot of fun and you get try many different varieties of wine, and it helps you to figure what you do and don't like in a wine. Because of the wine trail I've discovered a love for red wines!
Wine 101 August 23, 2012 at 07:20 PM
The CT Wine Trail is a great way to get started on your adventure to understand wine and you are supporting local businesses! The best advise I can give anyone that wants to learn more is to go out and taste different wines. We also have a class starting up again in October in New Haven. You can email me at wineschool101@gmail.com for more info as to the who, what, where and when it all starts.
Herzovet August 23, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Just over the town line in Wallingford, the CT Wine Trail is in full swing. The already established Gouveia (sp) is a very popular spot for the after work 'Happy Hour' set and the year old Paradise Valley Winery just down the road is becoming a regular destination for a Saturday/Sunday outing. Both venues offer wine tastings and sell their wines during their opening hours. We have visited both in the last couple of weeks and enjoyed some very well-crafted products. So, head over to Whirlwind Hill Road and Windswept Hill Road for a taste of the local 'grape' - you'll be glad you did. Both of the named roads are off East Center Street.
Kim Coppola August 23, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I'm inspired to book another Wine 101 Class at my house!!!! You rock and yes, I can almost consider myself a "Wine Snob" thanks to you! I suggest we invite Julie to one of our classes!!!!
Michele Antisdel August 24, 2012 at 12:17 AM
My husband and I recently went to Jerram Winery in New Hartford. What a lovely place, excellent host, and teriffic wine...I highly recommend.
Ronald DeRosa (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I love the Connecticut wineries. I've been following the wine trail this summer with my girlfriend and we've been going to a lot of them. Jerram's was good, but I'd also recommend Hopkins in Washington (where I grew up/went to school), the Land of Nod in North Canaan and Lost Acres in North Granby. So many to choose from! - RD, associate regional editor
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Love local wine! If you ever head up to the Finger Lakes area in New York, there a lot of great wineries in close proximity to each other, especially in Geneva. Now when I hear Cayuga grape at Connecticut wineries, I feel like I've learned something. I was surprised that there are wineries in the Farmington Valley (Rosedale Farms in Simsbury, Lost Acres in Granby and two in New Hartford). The Connecticut Wine Trail actually is a cool way to see places in the state you never would have seen. Wine tastings don't take long (unless you're at Haight-Brown, which gets packed!), so it's a nice quick thing to do and feel like you're on vacation in your own state. They're fairly inexpensive too, except for one we went to in Clinton. Typically about $4 to $9 and you usually get a glass to take home. Thanks for the great blog post on an interesting topic.
Jaimie Cura (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 02:34 AM
I've heard about the Finger Lakes as a great wine destination but haven't been. I've actually only been to one vineyard in Connecticut - I have a lot of catching up to do!
Michael Hayes (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Interesting that Jessie mentions the Finger Lakes area. I had the pleasure of interviewing Gouveia Vineyards owner Joe Gouveia last week and he mentioned the area several times. His winery in Wallingford is a great place here in Central CT. Not convinced? This video will do the trick: http://patch.com/A-xhbN
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Thanks, Mike! I'll have to check it out. I don't have a stamp for there. Jaime, did you go to the one in Woodbury? It's on my list of places to try!
Michael Hayes (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Wallingford is close to Middletown ;)
Wine 101 August 24, 2012 at 06:31 PM
http://www.saltwaterfarmvineyard.com One of the newest CT vineyards. Beautiful weekend afternoon drive and you're in wine country!


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