For “Beginners”…

Just go out there and taste, is what we say.  And the only reason you deem yourself a “beginner,” more than likely, is because someone told you that’s where you are in your wine experience, or you’ve either intentionally or unintentionally been made to feel and see yourself as such.  We, here in the 1Stop office, believe that if you’re drinking wine, have a rough idea of what you like, then you’re as much a wine “aficionado,” “connoisseur,” “maven,” or whatever glossy term is now fashionable, as the next one tilting a glass.

Try different varietals, vintages, AVA’s, producers, winemaking styles, price points.  Just have fun.  Isn’t wine supposed to be fun?  That’s why we’re in the business, right?  Isn’t that why a wine consumer spends fought-for funds on corked containers with once-vined fruit in its borders, holding that ever-entrancing character?  When tasting, which inherently entails trial and experimentation, taste everything, even the varietals that you think you won’t like, or been told you won’t.  And especially make yourself taste the wines that aren’t fashionable, not trending.  We’d love to know what your wine experience is, what you like, when you started liking it, and what you haven’t yet sipped but soon aim to.

My first go-to varietal, or bottle rather, was a Blackstone Merlot.  I bought my first in 2002 (think the bottle’s vintage was 2000), while living in San Ramon, having company over.  I loved what I tasted, and from the little bit of research I did on Merlot’s varietal, I felt a wave of interest invade my newly-chorused wine vision.  From there, I tried Syrahs, then went through a Chardonnay phase, of course Pinot, Zinfandel (mostly from Dry Creek and Rockpile), and now I find myself a Cab hound.  All by whim, just having fun, playing with my finds.  So, we have to ask, what are some of your wine catches, finds?  Where have you been with wine, where do you want to go?  Do you have a certain level you want to reach, or are you just sipping to sip, like most of us here at 1Stop?  Let us know!  Sip, sip …

FYI – In my glass now, a nice 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, that saw a little French Oak, the rest stainless.  This bottle was given to the 1Stop office as a gift, I think.  I used to hate Sauvignon Blancs, I mean loathe them, fiercely.  This is, till I tasted one produced by a young Sonoma Valley winemaker, whose approach was different than this bottle (in that it was 100% stainless steel).  And, again, just because someone, be it yourself or another, places you in the beginner boat, don’t limit yourself, don’t not try something because it’s not a high-end or “luxury” label.  Taste what you want, what you have, whatever wine you meet.  Have fun.

-The 1Stop Crew

Back2Work, sipping for more scribbles [02182012]

Saturday.  Slouching.  Beyond tired, but I went to work.  Excited to be in the presence of wine’s world.  And write.  I was more than hell-bent on being a writer today, not having been on a self-assigned mission in a while.  Started in the VIP Room, then to the main bar.  Holiday weekend, all smiles, positive energy.  Characters eager to sip, learn about wine, talk about it.  Jack on my mind most of the day, coupled with genuine, very persistent, exhaustion–it was difficult to concentrate.  But I kept the little notepad close, pen ready.  Was talking with one group about Zinfandel, how its character can at time be almost palate-abusive; too loud, forceful; almost unorganized, no matter what a winemaker does.

Had another discussion about Meritage–its pronunciation, components.  “How is it pronounced?” she asked.  I told her, gently, that it’s a union, or blend, of “Merit” and “Heritage.” We then both made fun of other ways it could be annunciated.  “Thank you for not being snooty about it,” she said, smiles.  I seconds later found mySelf tasting the ’09 Rockpile, scribbling notes, logging its character’s every syllable.  “Sweet assault on senses; deep, dark, deliciously evasive; sexy siamese cat..” I wrote.  And now at home, 9:27am, I mean PM, I again sip.  First wined session in weeks.  Also reflecting on how, for once, the VIP Room didn’t frustrate me, unnerve me in anyway.  It also taught me a bit about my place with patience, with Art, Life.  Jack then came to mind, how his early arrival shows me that assignments need be done (printed, edited, for vend) early, always.  And, how Life, my Life, must embrace Art, my Art, belligerently.

I then tasted and took notes on a 2007 Petite Sirah, Dry Creek.  I’ve loved past vintages of this bottled character, but none have squeezed and enticed my focus like this one.  I called it “Yummy, Inc” in my notes.  Also denoted how it appears in glass, sits on palate, like “Yummy ink.” Can’t help but laugh a little, now at home, looking though this rushed journalism.  And it was frustratingly but energizedly frenzies today.  Pour, sprint, chat, pull from shelf…  Welcome, set glasses, pour the introductory white, move down bar, scribble character notes, capture dialogue…  All over again.

Wrote, “Reds sing more songs than whites.” Remember this stemming from a conversation I had with sippers moderately new to wine pursuit.  They disclosed that they didn’t really get reds, know how to appreciate them.  “What’s the real difference between red and white wine?” the guy asked, leaning on the bar space to the left of his girlfriend.

While one lunch, I just walk around the Wild Oak Vineyard.  That’s it.  Well, not really.  I wrote, took pictures.  A lot.  Of both.  Then, thought that I need to sometimes STOP writing.  Just live, enjoy.  Easily the most memorable lunch hour I’ve ever had at the winery.  I’ll be back on Monday, and will more than likely devote my 30 minutes with identical vein.  I again thought of Jack–his character, what he embodies as a symbol.  He’s more than a metaphor.  He’s telling me, just being there, wiggling and squealing in front of me, or in my arms, that my writing deserves Life.  Real Life; place on a page.  Little Jack orders me to follow through with the chapbook projects.  Done.  Thank you, little Sir.

One of my coworkers commented on how negative people in a tasting Room “feast on you, eat your soul.” I laughed, and agreed.  Still agree.  Wine, as I’ve written from DAY ONE, is meant to be unifying, not divisive.  How could anyone bring negativity into a place of Art?  One social, peaceful, enjoyable?  I’ll never get it.  Another thing I’ll never understand, on a separate but still similar note, is how winery management/ownership can willingly, reflexively underpay their employees.  Moronic.  This is the part of “the industry” that I’ll never stop citing, attacking.  It’s unjust.  And I don’t expect Them to change.  They won’t.  They don’t have to.  And neither do I, so don’t expect me to keep my mouth shut, or pen still.

Not really one for aerators, but I met one today that “antagonizes a wine’s intentions,” as I jotted, again hurried.  Right after my discovery, met a nice couple from LA (Louisiana), who recently relocated to my old neighborhood.  They, exemplary of the positive, friendly, civil, enthusiastic guests that all tasting Rooms/wineries welcome, especially the female character.  Direct gentle questions about wine, its origins, histories, styles.  They made me think about my wine, the project with Katie–how it’s developing, how it’ll taste after bottled for 4-6 months…  They, especially she, more than any other guests today, made me connect to my wine ambitions.  And now, with these deep red sips, think of my barrel again, as it rests up there in the production facility.  What’s it doing right now?  What’s it thinking?  How does it want to attach to palate?

Wrote a short poem in the vineyard, in between pictures.  The two not-so-little Jackrabbits I saw racing between the rows indicated that I need to write faster, more.  There is NO time to be excessively delicate.  Another sip of this Rockpile…  I’m told I need to, tonight, write solely poetry.  Compile more verses.

Back to my notes–”5:06pm. Sipping a sexy Merlot, stocking shelves.” Now, I tilt the glass, working at home.  I’m also envisioning, AGAIN, the travels from this writing.  Would love to return to a stage, read for those who’d listen; those who enjoy listening to thoughts, exchanging ideas, and I WILL be back in the classRoom again, doing just that with willing students.

This wine, Romantic like I remember wine being.  Glad I’ve waited to enjoy a glass.  Going to sip slow, respecting little Jack.  He’s still at the hospital, but still…  Tempering my tilts more than b4.  For him.  Want to be a focused penman, not a diagonal diarist.  So, sipping slow.  Enjoying.  Can’t tell you how annoyed I get when people stumble into the tasting Room just to drink more, accumulate more effect.  It’s disgusting.  I’m not THAT.  I’m a writer.  Now, of immeasurably elevated aim.  Looking through the pictures, as I always do.  They show I need log everything.  EVERYTHING, as time won’t ever slow.  And it doesn’t need to.  The wine tells me I don’t need to, either.  That I shouldn’t.  Sip more, see what else I need do, need not do.  Sip, scribble…  What I now need do.