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"Can I help you pick a wine?"

So it happened early this summer.  I was at the wine section of the supermarket buying some wine for the house.  A young couple was there trying to pick a bottle and conducting a debate about what to buy.  The gentleman must have seen that I had several bottles in my cart (you get a discount when you buy six) and asked me, "Is this a good wine?"  He was holding a bottle of wine that shall go nameless. 

It was their lucky day!  Did he somehow know that I was very familiar with wines?  I would equate this to going on a vacation and asking a stranger to take a picture of you and your family at a famous tourist spot and having that stranger turn out to be someone like Ansel Adams or a Dorothea Lange.  They would not just point and shoot.  They would take your little disposable camera and try to take a photograph worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.  Well, I was that stranger! 

The couple had been tasked with bringing a bottle of wine to a friendly get together and did not want to choose something out of ignorance.  I asked them what they were looking for and then proceeded to introduce them to a few bottles that would meet their needs.  They were very grateful and I was glad to have helped.  I was high as a kite!  I felt like a Grand Master Sommelier that had just help save the world from disaster.

Since that day, I make it a point to go to the wine section of any store that I may be in and check to see if there is anyone there that needs my help.  I only approach people that look like they may be struggling.  They will have this intense look of concentration and will sometimes have their hand on the side of their face.  I ask, "Can I help you pick a wine?"  In all but one occasion the person responds with, "I'm looking for something sweet."  What they are really saying is that they want something fruity and not tannic.  We will save that for another post.  In the mean time, I will continue to do my part in making this world a better place and hook people up with the right wine. 

What do you do to make the world a better place?   See you in the supermarket!

Great Trader Joe's Wine Find

I have a friend that is an insider with Trader Joe's wine.  She gave me a tip on two great wines they have for $4.00.  The 2008 Viriato Tinto de Toro is a Tempranillo.  It has lots of berry flavors including strawberries and a very smooth finish.  Very easy to drink.  The 2008 Bear Boat Sauvignon Blanc is from California.  It has lots of citrus fruit and tropical fruit flavors.  Also easy to drink.  If you find these, stock up.  There is no guarantee they will last.  I will keep you all posted if I hear of any other great finds.


Pairings

I want to bring up pairings.  A pairing is when someone has decided what specific wine will go well with a presetermined dish.  Often times you may see parings offered at a fine restaurant.  This means that the chef who has prepared the meals has also determined what wine will go best compliment each course.
Typically, you would pair heavy, bold food with a big bold wine or light food with a lighter one so that there is no clashing on the palate.  You may have heard that red meats should be paired with red wines and white meats with white wines. 
But long ago, there was no such things as pairings.  Wines were only available regionally.  So if you lived in an area where only red grapes were grown, you drank red wine with what ever it is you were eating.  There was no opportunity to do a pairing.  Something else to consider, what if you do not care for red wine but you enjoy a good ribeye?  Can you have a chardonnay with your steak?  Or if you don't like white wines, are you going to dring that cabernet with halibut?  Will the wine police come and issue you a warning?  I don't think so.   My sister-in-law does not care for red wines so we always has chardonnay with whatever she is eating and enjoys it all.
When I do pairings, I try to choose a wine that will compliment what we are eating.  Rich, savory foods with a bold red;  lighter foods such as a dinner salad with a light wine;  desserts with a very sweet muscato or even a port.  But lately, I have been working on this project.  I would arrange wines into a spectrum starting with bold beefy reds on one side and go down to light, fruity whites on the other side.  I find a wine that best compliments a meal on the spectrum, let's say spaghetti and meat balls.  A light red wine will give you a great dining experience.  But I believe that there is a wine directly opposite the one chosen, on the other side of the spectrum, that would give you a completely different and equally as pleasant dining experience. 
I think of it as wine fusion.  We do it with foods.  I'm sure you have heard of Korean Tacos, Avocado Eggrolls and Crab Rangoon Pizza.   I am eager to try Peruvian-Japanese food and I am sure you have heard of chefs Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse who have become famous doing fusion foods.  Why not do it with our wine pairings? 
So my first choice with pairings is to choose a wine that compliments your meal.  But don't let that paradigm stop you from being adventurous.  Try mixing a fruity wine with a spicy meal or turn a light dish into something bold with a big red.  Remember, the best person to tell you what you like, is YOU.  Drink what you like with what you like.