I try not to be a wine snob. I really don't. I have on occasion downed a few glasses of Charles Shaw ($2.00 a bottle) with dinner and been perfectly content. It is not my wine of choice, however. I tend to prefer bottles in the $10-30 a bottle range... not that price is important. The quality of the wine is the most important thing... it's just that most wine makers and sellers are capitalists, and well aware of correlation between flavor and price point.
I ended up going out to dinner with A., an old high school friend who was out for his semi-annual convention trip to meet and greet with clients. We ended up going out to a pleasant Italian restaurant for dinner, along with one of A.'s colleagues. I arrived about 40 minutes late, and they had already ordered some appetizers and wines by the glass. After I arrived, we settled on what we were each getting (I got pork tenderloin over some nice northern Italian-style white beans) and then began to negotiate which bottle of wine to get with dinner. I initially suggested an "old vine" California Zinfandel that I don't often see on restuarant wine lists. A. immediately voted that down, claiming he didn't like Zinfandel. We eventually settled on a good Tuscan Chiati.
After the meal was over, A. mentioned that he didn't like Zinfandel because he didn't like sweet, pink wines. I immediately stifled a mental "ARRRRGGGHHH" and calmly pointed out that Zinfandel is a rather full-bodied red wine (and one of my favorites.) He must be referring to White Zinfandel, a wine generally marketed to people who don't otherwise like wine.
Fast forward to later in the evening, and A. and I find ourselves at a cigar bar enjoying a couple good cigars and some very reasonable bourbon and rye whiskey. We get to talking to one of the guys standing at the bar next to us. It turns out the guy is an small run, artisan wine seller. He works in a skyscraper across the street from the cigar bar.
Once he establishes that we both like wine, he starts telling us about his business. It turns out he sells to some rather prominent executives at Company O. among others. He also starts talking about wines he knows we've never heard of... because a) they wineries only make a few hundred cases a year, and b) those cases sell for (several) hundreds, if not (a few) thousands of dollars. I at least know enough about wine to keep up... I think A. is rapidly getting a little lost. When the wine seller starts going on about knowing Heidi Barrett, the winemaker at Screaming Eagle Vineyards, even my eyes begin to glaze over. When the seller asks A. if he's had any of Heidi's wines (she makes wine for several vineyards), I have to gently tell A. that he very probably hasn't... because a case of Screaming Eagle has sold at auction for over $500,000 and I can't see A. buying into any wines in that segment of the market.
At the end of the evening, since we're all buddy/buddy, the seller offers to come back the next night and bring a few interesting bottles to try. "Wow, an opportunity!" I think. I know that A. is thinking the same.
At this point, fortune runs against me. I awake the next morning feeling lousy. The cigar and the alcohol from the previous evening conspired with the stress I was feeling all week from the car accident a few days before. Mrs. Geek had a very sore throat all week, and I was afraid that I was coming down with this illness too. It was just not the night to go out drinking.
Yet there was the bit of the wine snob in me that did not want to abandon this potentially great experience solely to A. A.'s taste in wine is somewhat undeveloped... as the confusion between Zinfandel and White Zinfandel attests. A. wouldn't even know what he was drinking. Hell, I probably barely knew enough to know what I would be drinking... the seller was talking about bringing some barbaresco, an Italian wine I know very little about. I tried to recruit my wine fiend friend J. to come along... he has the developed palate to fully appreciate almost anything. When he was unable to make it, I knew that I would drop out.
That turned out to be relatively smart move. I got a call from A. just over an hour after the wine seller guy was supposed to drop by and he hadn't showed. Part of me wants to write A. to see if he ever did show up... and part of me doesn't.
The wine snob in me doesn't want to hear that the guy did show, and A. got to try what I missed.
on 2006-03-02 at 4:19 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond