May 16, 2008

I Used To Be A "Beer Guy"

No, not a suds vendor at a ballpark. I was a beer drinker until about three years ago. At that point (right around my 38th birthday) I decided to explore the world of wine and was completely taken aback at how fascinating that world is.

A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon a site called - a daily video blog where the host - Gary Vaynerchuk - tastes different wines and gives us his down-to-earth and irreverent (and passionate) opinions about wine and the wine world. Highly entertaining and immensely informative, Gary Vee's vLog entries are an excellent resource for anyone who loves wine or is new to the love of the grape.

Here's one of the latest. Anyone who likes, loves or is interested in wine who hasn't experienced "the Thunder show" is in for a treat:

Posted by Gary at May 16, 2008 06:45 PM | TrackBack

check out

former Microsoft guy started it as a hobby. I got into it probably 2 1/2 or 3 years ago, and it is interesting to watch it develop. Bottom line - track your wines and take notes and most importantly see what a bunch of other winos thought as well. I'm more interested in what a bunch of folks who savored a wine over dinner thought about it than I am some pro who swished and spit for 9 seconds. Throw enough of those educated amateurs together and you've got something.

Posted by: tdp at May 16, 2008 10:03 PM comment about the pros isn't a crack at Gary Vaynerchuk at all. He's one of the good guys. As he did in this video, he's all about value per dollar spent. That is great, and he provides a valuable service.

Posted by: tdp at May 16, 2008 10:05 PM

I see no reason why one can't develop a fascination for wine and yet still enjoy beer -- especially well-made beer. A lot of the same concepts can be applied to both beverages -- the interplay of taste and aroma, the importance of terroir, especially when pairing...

In defense of the "pro who swished and spit for 9 seconds", I'm sure tdp realizes that there's more to being a pro, especially one of the "good guys", and that sommeliers and store wine stewards (at least the ones worth their paychecks) have spent a lot of their time learning a hell of a lot more about wine than most of us will ever know -- and from talking with wine MAKERS, those folks are even MORE esoteric -- in order to know what they're tasting when they do that "9 second swish and spit". I moseyed over to the wine library, and watched a Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio showdown. He hade a point about how one is the wine he'd drink for his own tastes, the other is the wine he;d recommend to most of his customer's, knowingtheirs. He also makes great observations regarding what foods pair well with each wine. Both of those comments reveal a lot about what's iunportant in a good sommelier: A good understanding bot only of the wine, but of the drinker, and of the food.

Having said that, I agree that the opinion of well-educated and passionate amateurs is also of use. People who love wine and who spend a great deal of time drinking it certainly can develop very sophisticated palates, even if they're not PAID for them. And the fact that they aren't paid fortheir opinion doesn't make it invalid. Wine drinking is to a great extent a very subjective thing, and everyone's palate is different.

Which is why although I respect and consider the opinions of both the pros and the amateurs, the opinion I'm most intersted in is my OWN -- not because I know wine better than Vaynerchuk (I don't -- not by a long shot), or the Microsoft guy (I daresay even he is light years ahead of me), but because I know MYSELF so darned well, know my palate and pereferences. The wisest advice I was ever given about wine was from a winery owner who said "The best wine, Brian, is the one you like". Certainly, I'll heed the advice of people like this in order to knwo where to look for a new wine and which one at which to look, but in the end what determines whether or not I come back to awine is how my palate reacts to it, and I'm not going to let someone tell me to like or not like something, if that judgement is counter to my tastes. All the wine magazines and websites in the world will not tell you as much about a wine as actually having a glass in front of you, looking at it, swirling it, smelling it, and tasting it for yourself. That'swhy, if you really are fascinated by wines, I recommend less time at, and more at winery tasting rooms, tasting parties, and wine bars.

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at May 17, 2008 01:44 AM

Well, if you like husband MAKES his own. One time he made blackberry wine that came out more like brandy.

Yeah, Husband likes his vino as well; he's always bringing some hooch home from deployments. The French stuff was quite good.

Me? Beer here!

Posted by: GroovyVic at May 17, 2008 06:40 AM

I'm with you, Sous. I always come back to the Pirandello phrase "If you think it's so, then it is so." If you think it's good, then it's good. So many people have great amounts of baggage about wine, and want to be told what to like. They dread being caught liking something that is considered swill to those in the know. Obviously, there are broad generalizations you can make reliably...the 100.00 stuff is usually to die for...but man, there are better and better 12.00 wines all the time. I keep finding new stuff I like, and with the vast quantities I drink (three kids under age 6, ahem), I can't afford expensive stuff.
My latest favorite? Delheim Pinotage Rose, from South Africa, with a convenient screwcap!

Posted by: Monica at May 17, 2008 08:00 AM


I don't know good from bad wine, beyond the essential(boone's farm, MD 20/20 are not to be given as gifts). But do not abandon the the beer front, check out the local microbrewery. Their product is light years beyond anything produced by Coors, Busch & Co.

Posted by: kmr at May 17, 2008 10:15 AM


I'm sorry for mistaking you for Robbo. If you need a good wine tasting movie, try renting Sideways....

Posted by: kmr at May 17, 2008 10:17 AM


Exactly. Sure, as your palate gets more mature and experienced, you'll start to see what those people were talking about, and you'll be better able to articulate Why you like a wine, and you should be open-minded about trying something new, but always, ALWAYS drink what you like.

I'm fortunate to live in Oregon, which is why I can get a drinkable wine for less than $10, why I am just as lucky when it comes to microbrews, and why I think "Sideways" missed the boat in one respect -- there are some nice pockets of Pinot grown in California, but Pinot really reigns supreme closer to the 45th parallel -- Burgundy, Oregon, and New Zealand in particular.

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at May 17, 2008 01:23 PM

I couldn't even get into the wine aspect of "Sideways" simply because I was so put off by the plot of a bunch of people behaving very badly and then whining about it. Not nice a-tall.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at May 17, 2008 03:01 PM

I can say with absolute confidence, that Sideway's entire wine tasting theme was completely over my head. The refrain "Don't go to the Dark Side" was the signiture of the movie (at least for me)...

Posted by: kmr at May 17, 2008 04:06 PM