Wine and the Stay Home and Swipe-Right Movement

My mom told me today that she read that young people aren’t going out as much any more because everything, even dates, come right to your home. It’s the swipe culture. See, my mom is a champion of both of her daughters’ dating lives, hoping that her work may result in us one day settling down. She sends my sister and I the latest New York Times’ social commentary about what’s happening in the technology and dating world. My sister has recently been liberated from the forwarded Times’ articles since she moved in with her boyfriend, the car czar.

boom

 

A few months ago my mom was convinced that meeting someone online was weird and creepy and she’d have me text her at the beginning, middle and end of a date to make sure I hadn’t been kidnapped. It was ironic since I used to go days without any contact with my parents when I lived abroad. Now going to get a glass of wine with a stranger down the street needed a play-by-play, but I oblige because she’s adorable.

But now my mom was convinced that “nobody meets in bars anymore, it’s all online” (the tech and dating scene is a quickly evolving beast according to the Times, or, er, my mom). Weeks ago I was browsing through one of those horrid early 2000s dating websites (workoutguypdx and ballzztothewallzz were early admirers) when up pops a forwarded Times’ article from cupid. No subject heading, no punctuation and certainly no shame. Placed just above the attachment she writes, “have you checked bumble? you just swipe. shake if you change your mind. good luck.”

So I checked it out. I swiped right (‘hot’) a couple of times and left (‘not’) many more. A couple of times I couldn’t remember which way was which, so I violently shook my phone and got a redo. Bumble is the one that only allows a texting conversation if the woman initiates after a match. Guys feel more assured that, yes, we are into you. We have 24 hours to decide if we want to initiate. There are only photos, a brief bio, and a note of any mutual Facebook friends. Including your height and your residency sequence is important. So my Bumble bio read something like this: Likes house music, aspiring winemaker, 5’8″, PDX –> MAD–> PDX –> MAD –> PDX. It’s genius and on my first try I got a date with a tall, gorgeous foreigner.

With said foreigner we double-tap for an Uber, scroll for a pizza, click for a Netflix, and text to set a meeting time. Sure, at some point we have to actually talk to each other, but it turns out that when you enjoy someone’s company, that’s effortless, too.

My mother’s opinion of dating continues to evolve. Currently, people don’t even use actual online sites (she actually snickered at my last mention of Match.com). Regarding Tinder, she warned, “People just go on there looking for sex!” This made me giggle. But, sure enough, the Times published an article about a series of attractive, college-educated couples who had met on Tinder and married. This almost made her head explode.

So why all the fuss over a swipe? Well, I’m convinced that the wine industry is the same. People choose wine based on the label. Some people come into the tasting room where I work looking to nerd out and talk Pinot clones, rootstocks, and vineyard spacing. I can nerd out with the best of them, but I get that they mostly just want to take home a nice-looking bottle of wine and get a buzz. All the better if they have an attractive right-swipe to look at.

 

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Keeping My Mind Occupied, One Wine At A Time

Upon hearing of my predicament, a male friend of mine said, “Oh, we’ll get you back out there, don’t worry.” I latched onto his enthusiasm immediately and thought I’d ride the wave of opportunity.

My friend was quite amused that he was able to play matchmaker to such an eligible bachelorette. “Never married?” “No kids?” “Career?!” Correct, correct correct. Then he started telling me, “Oh yea, so-and-so is going to text you, you should totally go out with him.” That is a little informal I thought, but I’ve been out of the country and out of the dating game for almost 10 years. So-and-so did not text me. “Oh, he is probably still seeing so-and-so girl.” my sister added. Then I went so far so to fear that he had done a complete Google search of me and thought otherwise about texting me. Then I stopped. I thought. And I rationalized. Some guy I do not know, at all, may text me, or not, may be dating another girl, or not, or may have done a search of me, or not? No thank you. Call off cupid, I am not interested.

But friend was relentless. The next day he flipped out his phone and showed me a photo of a nice-looking guy I had seen at a recent party. “Yea, I guess he’s pretty cute.” “He’s totally going to text you.” “How does he have my number?” “I gave it to him along with your photo, thinks you’re hot.” Sure enough, later that day I receive a text from New Guy. It was so weird seeing a text come up from a person who was not my mother, father, sister, or ex. It made me very uncomfortable straightaway. Crushing sorrow just about hit me over the head and I could feel my fingers and toes go cold. I had to fight back tears then just as I do now. But I was on! I was being texted to!

While I was away in Spain, my first-kissed friends started having their second children. Woman, and I think to some extent men too, hit that age and start noticing things like different styles of baby strollers. We traveled for work and play jetting to London, Ibiza or France and talking endlessly about all the export markets we’d open. I knew that lifestyle couldn’t continue with a child, so I wanted to get as much travel in as possible in the moment.

I texted New Guy back and accepted a glass of wine with him. I was full of the enthusiasm that my matchmaker friend had contaminated me with.  I was content with my life in Spain. But one of the few things I missed was being able to sit down and have a conversation with someone without discretely questioning a verb conjugation. When you are speaking your own language there is no internal monologue about grammar. ‘Yea, I think the present perfect was a good call there, or the past subjunctive might have come across like I was showing off, like I studied a little too much’. So yes, I would have a glass of wine with New Guy, not worry about my conjugations and just have a good time.

And we did. We sat and had three glasses of wine and even moved to a table closer to the fire to continue chatting. It probably sounded like I had 10 years of conversation that was just waiting to come out. He walked me to my car and there was that weird exchange like he might kiss me. I was not sure what had happened, but my dopamine was raging! New Guy sent a text back to my matchmaker friend that date was great. I had performed well! My first date with a real American in more than 10 years. Hallelujah. More text invites followed. I kindly declined for some reason, unsure exactly what to conclude. I felt conflicted.

Finally, he invited me to a dinner party at his house with friends. Perfect; low key and low pressure. Only, when I showed up it was just us and another established couple. The dinner was superb. He was a talented cook and had great taste in wine. He introduced me to an Entre-deux-Mers producer I did not know. We talked about the trend of prolonging marriage and children. He told me about his life’s framework and how marriage might not fit into his framework. I am very direct with people that I immediately feel comfortable around, plus wine makes me feel comfortable around people. I asked him if he ever wanted to get married. He said yes-ish, but again with the framework and that marriage might not fit, and then I was just confused and started thinking about when all the townspeople raise the framework of a barn together. I realized we were not raising a barn or anything else here at this dinner party.

The night ended with a hug and I piled into an Uber. I woke up the next morning with entre-deux-mers swimming through my head and a pit in my stomach. I was alone.  As much as I want to move forward with my life and get back to that point I was at with my ex, I am not ready to date. Something good came out of that weekend though: I’d be starting work at a great winery in the Willamette Valley. I’d ‘start Monday and we’d see where it went’, they said. I have worked three shifts now and absolutely love it. I get to talk about wine all day and they pay me for it.

The adventure continues.

Falling Out of Love, Moving On With Wine

I was recently heartbroken. Like, heart.broken. And by a man no less. Not by a cellared Barolo that turned out to be corked or a life-long family pet that passed. But by the man who I thought was really The One. I opened the door to the guest room to greet him on Christmas Eve morning and he had gone. Just. like. that. Four years of frustration, despair, sorrow, and relief rushed out all at once. But then young Leonardo DiCaprio’s one-liner, “I could go at any time” which he says honestly, blankly as he gazes over at Juliette Lewis in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, started replaying over in my head.

Of course, poor Arnie had a real condition while with my guy I was referring to the sudden starts and stops that marked our relationship. Like one of us could get cold feet and disappear in the middle of the night without a whisper. I never could have gone out like that but you only really learn about people when they’re presented with a desperate situation. I guess the back country of Oregon can really strike fear into the hearts of men. Or was it something I said? When one chooses a dramatic exit, it is usually the build up of many things said and unsaid over a long period of time; a lack of agreement. I cannot blame him. I have many, many good memories; the good certainly outweigh the bad. But sometimes both parties do everything they can and still it is not enough. And I certainly don’t have any regrets.

Now, it is true that I cannot listen to any Adele and I change the station when “Photograph” comes on. But I don’t drown my sorrows in La Marca or sop up tears with a box of Kleenex while watching Prince of Tides. Chocolate is not being indulged in nor is drunk texting an option. I am 32 after all, come on. (Hah.) What I am doing is working, writing, and letting my mind wander to new possibilities that were not previously considered, like, for one, backpacking through wine country in eastern Europe or South America. Even the small luxury of having large periods of time to study for the UC Davis certificate or the WSET Diploma can now be considered since now there is no one to cook for, make plans with, spend time with, care for and love.

What-Wine-Pairs-With-a-Breakup

So, my 2016 has started with a major shift. I did not know how to kick off a fresh year in blogging, but I think now I have found my narrative: local Oregon girl comes home after many adventures abroad to knuckle down and dominate wine before it dominates her.  There are many projects on the horizon and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by people who love me. I assume with time the nightmares will subside. You know the ones, where you are looking for someone and you literally cannot find your way without them. You are searching and calling their name and asking friends and strangers, but nobody even knows who you are talking about. They’re like a ghost.

It may be uncouth to share something so personal in such a public place, but I once saw a blurred-out image that came from Anthony Weiner’s phone on the national news so I think you all can deal with a little light introspection. So, with that, cheers to 2016. Cheers to triumphing over Diploma and Davis. Cheers to family, friends and grandparents. Cheers to a new job. Cheers to a new President who I hope does not eat pizza with a fork and knife. For I am sure that 2016 is going to be a wild, wild ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Struggle Is Real: A Review of First Episode of Esquire TV’s “Uncorked”

I am seeing more and more what I like to call the slow democratization of wine. Thomas Friedman said the world is flat because a tech guy in India can do data processing for a company in California. I say the world is flat because I can get all kinds of wine by the glass at my local wine bar. Bartenders and servers are now as likely to be knowledgeable of the wine list as the sourcing of the chicken. I can go online and pick from thousands of bottles from small producers across the globe and make price comparisons across sites. Anyone can participate. This is what made the first episode of “Uncorked” hard to watch.

If anyone can be a wine expert anymore then why do I need to watch a few self-centered young New Yorkers traverse the city to meet up for tastings at 8 a.m.? And, I don’t really need to know that you are swishing and spitting to get rid of the toothpaste taste. We were already told that you life’s work is so time consuming that you had closed at 1 or 2 a.m. and then had to run to make your tasting on only a few hours’ sleep. Let’s hear about the wines! Or at least some gossip about the girl you picked up at a bar last night who only drank lager (oh, the tension it would create for you, the sommelier!).

In another scene they are gathered at an apartment deducing a red that must come from Burgundy, or was it Beaujolais?  It felt too exclusive, when wine consumption should be inclusive. The fraternity of the main characters in cult classic Somm did not compare to the awkward chumminess of very different personalities in “Uncorked”. Maybe the cast just hasn’t gelled yet.

The show starts in the restaurant of one of the Master Sommelier candidates. They run through a flight of wines as the camera pans around and gives brief bios as the person appears on the screen a la MTV’s “The Real World”. One guy had taken the MS exam three times, another nine. But he’s persevering. No judgment.

The premise is set: we will follow the six Master Sommelier candidates through their daily rituals and see which cracks under pressure. Will the fissure be big enough for the MS judges to detect, or will they keep their composure and make it through the incredibly difficult service, blind tasting, and theory portions of the highly rigorous MS exam? I want them to succeed. As someone who would like to one day sit for the Master of Wine exam, my hat is off to them. I can relate to the tedious tracing of maps, the late night flash cards and endless blind tastings.  I felt empathy for the one candidate with shaky hands who spilled part of an $800 bottle of red while decanting. The show seems not to have found its groove yet.

The most cringe-worthy moment came as they crossed over into Brooklyn. One of the worst things about wine today is the hipster sommelier who only wants to talk about Jura or sherry. And, here we go into the heart of Jura-dom. The overly exuberant and the unpolished sit down at a trendy Williamsburg bar. They are debating between a spatlese and an auslese. The climate is so cool in the region of Germany where these two white wines come from that winemakers often have a problem with too much acidity and not enough sugar to convert to alcohol. These particular wines are some of the few wines in the world that are legally classed by their must, or sugar, weight, which is so very cool! They legally have to have x grams of sugar to be able to be called spatlese or auslese! It was totally lost on them when the girls next to them asked why they’d ordered white wine with pork. The overly exuberant one spouted off some flippant remark comparing their choice to the commoner’s beer, because it’s easy. Or something.  The girl was not impressed.

The two more likable characters are a girl from New York and a kid from Texas. She is self-effacing and enthusiast. He is totally out of place with his disarming laughter and unforced, charming demeanor in the bustling NYC restaurant scene. But neither is any match for the formidable judges that await them at the Eleven Madison Park “taste off”.

The second part of the first episode introduces the real stars: four Master Sommeliers at the top of their game. They are polite and restrained throughout the contest and we get a chance to see which of the candidates really shines.

I’ll certainly tune in to the next episodes of “Uncorked”, but I hope they tone down the condescension and play up the enthusiasm that initially drew them to this career. Wine should be for everybody to enjoy and those that know more should educate, not exasperate.

Diary of a Wine Importer, Chapter 1

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Starting a new wine importing business is much like going to the gynecologist. You thrust your wines out there in front of someone you don’t know, you shudder silently while they take their samples and then you wait, nervously, for what feels like years to get the results. They finally call or respond to your email to say that while they liked your selection, they could not find a space for them right now. It is a particular kind of rejection. When someone says they are not interested in carrying your wines, they are saying, quite literally, they do not like your taste. Do I have bad taste? Is my palate wimpy?

The waiting game

How will they react?

When I tell people I am a wine importer, they coo that it must be great to taste wine for a living and lament that they cannot travel so often for work. But it is really the same as any other entrepreneurial pursuit -the hours are long and solitary and you never know if the payoff will ever come. I believe in the wines I am trying to sell and love to tell the winemaker’s story since he or she is not here to tell it in person.  But the fact is, there are so many wines out there on the market now. American’s thirst for wine has grown up and their desire even for off-the-beaten-track varietals is there, but is there really room for another small wine importer? I have to believe there is.

The first person I tasted with was a family friend. We were tasting under the assumption that it was a market test in which to get feedback from an industry veteran, the family friend. I forgot my corkscrew. Then, with my borrowed corkscrew, my hands were trembling so much to get the first cork out that I broke it. I snapped that bad boy right in half. We tasted through the first few wines and I had forgotten to taste from lightest to full bodied so we started with a 14.5% powerhouse and ended with an albariño, with a mishmash of ABVs and styles in between. I had my perfectly calculated Excel prices prepared onto a pdf to which the family friend recommended that I either round up or round down because no retailer would know what to do with a $5.21 or $9.38 price point. What pricing tier was I going for?

I used to be a wine buyer for an online retailer in Europe. I was on the other side of the table and I personally did not like when the person with whom I was tasting talked incoherently about facts and figures. It distracted me from the analysis. In my inaugural tasting, the one I described earlier, I mostly kept quiet at first. But there were too many long silences between our swirling and gurgling. So instead of sitting terrified that he would hate everything, I shook my hands of their shakes and started to tell the stories of the wines he was trying.

When I feel that the tasting is going well.

When I feel that the tasting is going well.

I lived in Spain for a number of years and used to bike through wine country on the weekends. Often my partner and I would end up running into one of our winemaker friends and have lunch with them. Or we’d pop in for a barrel sample and be on our way. If we weren’t biking we were otherwise involved in the daily promotion of the local wine industry. These were the details that should move my wines to sell.

Most of the winemakers were working class farmers who just happened to be producing something that can be shipped halfway across the world and enjoyed for a $12 BTG promo. Of course, in between Ob/Gyn visits I was wise enough to look up BTG and discovered it meant by the glass and is one of the most widely used acronyms in the beverage industry. I am not even comfortable writing LOL in a text, but I guess if I want to sell wine I’d better get on board.

I am being selective. I have two tastings this week with two very important restaurants. I have eaten at these establishments and respect what they are doing. I can even imagine one or two of my wines on their list. If they want to talk BTG or distributor FOB, or TCA, or DOC, or OND I am game. If they ask about differences in vintage, I’ll be prepared. If they want to know where the winemaker spent his last vacation, I’ll make it up. I’ll offer suggestions for pairings with their star dishes. This time I will swallow my fears and not allow the silence as protagonist. The products do not sell themselves and I have to remind myself that I am representing my gals and guys back in Spain who would love to see their wines drunk so far afield as Portland, Ore.

It's too quiet...

It’s too quiet…

This is the first chapter of what I expect will be many. I figured I would have to do five or six tastings before I ever made a sale. So, until then, can you buy me a drink while I am still pre-revenue?

Five Things To Remember As A New Wine Importer:

  1. Always bring a corkscrew.
  2. You know your product better than anyone, so talk about it and sell it. Only iPhones sell themselves.
  3. It is hard to sell unknown regions. Try that much harder.
  4. Make clear what your philosophy is.
  5. Price matters. Get the best wine in your category for the best price.

10 Things They Should Tell You Before You Move To Spain

I have lived in Madrid, Salamanca, Zamora and now Valladolid. I came here in my early 20s on a whim to learn Spanish and to try to conquer some personal fears, namely, like being in a new place surrounded by people I didn’t know. With a single backpack and zero knowledge of Spanish, I raced along trying to get ahead of the learning curve. Eight years later, I am still afraid of everything, but now I feel brave, like I have the tools to deal with any situation.  And I’ve learned that you can’t control curiosity and that’s not a bad thing.

After much back and forth, I’ve compiled an essential list of things that you should know before leaving to live like a local in Spain. Some of the below are Spanish-specific, like their quizzical nature; and, some are universal like respecting those differences which you can’t explain.

1. Spaniards stroll about at the same time of day for indeterminate amounts of time with absolutely no destination in mind. My parents came to visit me once in Zamora. On Saturdays and Sundays at 7 o’clock the streets were flooded with people. My dad asked where everyone was going as the stores were closed. “This is their thing. They might walk to the park or down to the cathedral and back stopping every 50 feet to chat with friends”, I told him. Its meant to aid in digestion after the long sobremesa. What you should do: Avoid this high-traffic time at all costs!

Strolling

2. You’ll have to take a stance on bullfighting. And since we don’t live in an Ernest Hemingway novel, you are probably already against it. Or at least you will be after you go to a bullfight. It’s brutal and inhumane, and I keep those thoughts to myself when people ask what I think. It has already been banned in Catalunya, but in Castile and Leon, where I live, it is a national pastime. What you should do: It is always a balancing act respecting a cultural tradition while being firmly against it. You can say you understand the history and then go home and donate to the Humane Society.

3. The food and wine is out-of-control good and cheap. The big cities are more expensive, sure. But you can get an excellent pressed cappuccino, butter croissant with ham and cheese and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice for €2.70 (£2, $3) in my town. At the market, try spending more than €20 at a time for a week’s worth of beautiful, seasonal pesticide-free fruit and vegetables. You can’t. And you can drink world-class wine for €3 per glass. What you should do: I think this one is obvious. Get your hands on as much cured ham, lechazo, and revuelto de boletus as possible and invite a friend to share a bottle.

Animals Eating animated GIF

4. People will be talking about you all the time. The Spanish are a super-curious bunch. As soon as you get established in a new apartment, your neighbors will know who you are in no time. That circle will get bigger the smaller the town is in which you live. In villages, someone you have never seen before will approach you and ask you how the [insert event] was the other day even though you are sure you have never seen them before in your life. Even if they don’t engage you in conversation, believe me, they know you and that’s why they are whispering and looking your way. What you should do: Get out there and socialize! Your jarring friendliness will be received as arrogance or superficiality, but don’t take it personally. And, once you’re in, you’re in for life, so keep plugging away at it.

5. They have one of the most efficient metro systems in the world, but you can only pay certain bills on certain days of the week at certain hours. The European Union funded Spanish freeways and modernized the infrastructure, but other parts of Spanish society are still very old-school. In the case of paying bills, most only accept payment at the bank (at specific banks, by the way) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Also, your residency is assigned according to the province or municipality where you live. You have to register with the local city hall when you move to a new province or potentially be fined. What you should do: Register yourself at the local city hall and sign up for automatic bill pay, obviously. Do people still go to their local branch?!

6. Corruption is alive and well. And people are angry about it. You can’t believe how brash the corruptors are, from the rampant creation of slush funds to stealing from public accounts. There’s no bribing of the civil guard when they go to give you a speeding ticket, but you do get a sense of the system when you walk into any government building to do business and over half the staff is out having a leisurely coffee hour, or shopping, or what are they doing? There is plenty of corruption in America and other parts of the world, but there the perpetrators generally go cowering into the shadows when they are discovered. Generally, but certainly not always. What you should do: Expect to wait when it comes to bureaucracy. On the plus side, most civil servants are helpful, despite the bad press.

politician

7. Spaniards will party until late and will still able to get to work. I’ve always managed to surround myself here with people who have a strong work ethic even if it takes time to separate the wheat from the chaff. The younger generations coming up now are smarter and better prepared than ever before and in the cities long lunches are frowned upon or are being eliminated altogether. It is true that Spanish productivity is lower than other European nations, but that could be improved with a more flexible labour market…and less partying until late. What you should do: Recognize that a lot of deals get done over long meals and cocktail hours, which are essential in Spanish business. But don’t be fooled, you might not be used to this rhythm and you can wiggle out early if need be.

8. If you are cold they’ll say you have the flu, if you are hungry they’ll say you are malnourished and if you don’t clutch your bag tight, it will surely get knicked right out from under your nose, they’ll say. The Spanish are classic fatalists. Someone’s future somewhere may have a silver lining, but it is not anyone they know. This attitude of impending doom haunts them in little ways like learning a foreign language (They claim to be terrible linguists, when they speak fluently), or bigger things like foreign diplomacy (Rajoy vs. Merkel). Most of Spain suffered greatly during the Spanish Civl War and beyond. The modern-day worries are rooted in grave moments in their history. What you should do: If someone suggests you have the flu, go ahead and eat that delicious homemade chicken soup they just brought over.

9.  You will say “see you later” to everyone and “enjoy” to complete strangers in restaurants. In Spain you will quickly learn to say “hasta luego” to everyone from the bank teller (see #5) to your fishmonger. It’ll start to sound more like “atalogo” the thousandth and one time you say it. If you embellish the parting phrase with a good dose of “vale” (okay) and “venga” (that’s great), they’ll mistake you for a local for sure. And nothing beats the lunch-hour camaraderie like walking into a dining room, smiling, and saying, “qué aproveche” as you walk by each table. I can’t imagine walking into a restaurant in San Francisco and announcing, “May your meal be delightful!” But again, that’s Spain. What you should do: Learn those two phrases and embrace them immediately.

you-did-it-o

10. Spain will be in your heart long after you leave it. In fact, I’ve tried to leave it at least twice and I keep getting pulled back. The most remarkable thing is the way that family plays such a central role in society. The aunts and uncles of my significant other will always call to ask me how I am feeling if they get word I am ill, and his immediate family will text me to congratulate me on a successful exam. The whole family is incredibly respectful, and ultimately, very curious about where I am from and what I am about.  The economic crisis in Spain has been an upheaval, but thankfully Spain still has its greatest resource: its people,…and all those delicious little tapas from around the country. What you should do: Take a trip to this country of contrasts, if you can. Visit regions as disparate as Galicia and Andalucía and Castile and Leon and the Basque Country to really get a sense of it. And, “Buen provecho!”

10 Things You Should Know Before Starting to Date Someone Who Loves Wine

This post is inspired by a recent the kitchn post about romance with a foodie. In my case, the protagonist is wine, not food.  My significant other enjoys drinking a nice glass of wine and will sometimes tell me what he smells, but he doesn’t want to join me as I work my way through the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine, for which I can’t blame him.

It is hard for wine lovers to go out into the real world and behave like someone who could just as easily order red as white. It is harder if the restaurant wine list includes ALL the producers of a lieu-dit in the Côte d’Or that you’ve only ever read about in Wine Spectator. And if there is a sommelier or the wait staff is well-informed? Game over. We’ll be here all night. And your partner needs to understand that.

I’ve written the below list for anyone starting a relationship with a wine lover. There are some things they should know.

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1. You will be taking a corkscrew with you where ever you go. It does not matter if it is a long weekend getaway to the beach or the delivery of cookies to a neighbor’s house. Your wine lover never knows when the opportunity will arise to try that one wine he or she has only dreamed about. The worst thing is to be faced with that bottle and no way to remove the cork. Better pack two.  And a notebook for scribbling tasting notes might not be far behind, either.

2. You should schedule ‘no-drinking nights’ as soon as possible and stick to them. It is not to be a buzzkill, but consuming wine, an alcoholic beverage, is fun until you can’t remember the last evening you spent without a glass of wine or two in your hand. It is generally supported that a glass of red wine a day is a great antioxidant and can protect against heart disease, but it is a hop, skip, and a jump over to headaches, grogginess and more. Anyway, it tastes so much better if you have waited all week to pop the cork on that new sample!

3. Wine pairings are real and your partner will be that much more into you if you participate in the fun. They do amplify or soften the food you are eating. And they are not what they used to be. Red wine with meat and white wine with fish is passé. Americans are drinking quality wine in large numbers now (just surpassed the French in terms of volume) and our gastronomy is farm fresh. Have a hand in trying a new pairing, either select the wine or prepare the dish.

4. Wine selection takes time. Have you got a half an hour while your partner inquires with the guy in the wine department about every square acre of Chambolle-Musigny? Didn’t think so. Head over to the produce department and start planning for dinner…for the week. If the selection is for a holiday or special dinner, you might as well stay at home.

5. Brunello is a local sangiovese clone and Barbaresco a nebbiolo – they’re not medieval Italian princes. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll learn things like this through the course of your relationship. Some of it will be useful, most of it won’t. In no time you’ll be rolling terroir off the tip of your tongue and wonder when your French got so good.

For some reason, it usually coincides that a wine lover will also be a (nerdy) intellectual for whom all the wine facts in the world won’t be enough. And this person will be able to tell you a tasting note from 1999 or remember the first time they tried a grand cru, but they can’t recall what they had for dinner last night. Selective wine memory, it’s very scientific.

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6. The best gift you can give is wine-related. It might be a humble Central Valley blend or a splurgier, well-researched, vintage foreign import. Also, there are wine books, wine tastings and the never-fail wine country retreat. Remember, for an oenophile the pursuit is lifelong and they can never learn enough.

7. A big part of your partner’s disposable income will be spent on wine. And it may be more than they’d like to admit. Set parameters, especially if there is a shared bank account. Then accept that you will be introduced to more wines from South America than you can imagine and new clothes and other ‘material items’ will be forgone for it. Even if you have no couch to sit on or plate to eat off of, there will be a healthy stock of wine around to ‘drink now’ or ‘for laying down’.

8. Vacations will have a certain wine theme. And I don’t mean that you’ll take a bottle of Spätlese Riesling with you on that beach trip. But that you’ll actually be going to the Mosel on a five-day river cruise during which you will meet with the winemaker and tour the vineyards up and down the terraces. There you will learn about another winemaker in another Weinbaugebiete who only makes Kabinetts, whom you’ll make plans to visit. And this is only Germany. Wait until you get to Australia.

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9. There will be spitting, purple teeth, swishing, and swirling. There is lots of swirling and nosing in wine connoisseurship. It is constant. They probably swirl unconsciously out of habit and likely have a particular style. Just let it go, they’ll never stop swirling for you.

And now you can also start holding the glass at the stem. It does not make you a snob, it serves two purposes: a. wine should be served and consumed at an ideal temperature. If you are cupping the glass, you are driving up the temperature of the liquid inside and nobody likes warm rosé; and, b. If you sprayed perfume and your wrist is so close to the rim of the glass that you can’t smell the wine, it takes some of the joy of discovering aromas in the wine.

10. Life is too short to drink bad wine. And there is so much competition for your wine budget these days that you don’t need to drink bad or even mediocre wine. Congratulations you found someone who enjoys one of life’s small pleasures, embrace them. Salud!