On Being a Wino

Yeah, I’m a bit of a wino. I used to work in a small winery in New York State in the tasting room. Best. Job. Ever. It was a second job for me. I’m a work at home mom, and this provided me with the perfect outlet to get out of the house and be around adults and a have adult conversation. People who come to wineries aren’t there to talk about their kids, they’re there to talk about wine. They’re there to either talk knowledgably about it or learn about it.

I miss that job. I’d still have it today, but for the fact we relocated seven hours away for my husband’s job. Sure, there are wineries here in Virginia, and the people seem personable enough, but this one was home. These people were my people. That feeling of acceptance is hard to find.

This little winery takes itself just seriously enough. The winemaker is good at what he does. He’s not afraid to experiment. It’s a small, respectable operation. Their wines have won numerous awards in the region. It’s a very successful, part-time business. They could very easily make it their careers. They’ve got the equipment, the staff, the marketing, the location, the word of mouth, and the product to grow the business into something bigger. But they don’t want to do that. They love wine. So they don’t want their hobby to become a job, or something that might bring them extra stress. They want to keep it fun. That’s why I can’t bring myself to go work for another winery in my new home. I have the experience and know-how to be hired quick. I can talk the talk and walk the walk no doubt about it.

But I’m unconventional.

See, I know that whether you spend $7.99 or $799 on a bottle of wine, there’s no guarantee that when you open it up and taste it, you’re going to like it. If you spend $300 on a bottle of Chateau Pavie because, well, hey, it’s Chateau Pavie, and aren’t prepared to pour it down the drain when you open it up and hate it, then you should stick to drinking cocktails. Because the reality of wine is, you could love and hate both a cheap and expensive bottle of wine. It’s all about your palate, not what somebody tells you is good. That’s what they think is good. Or what they think they’re supposed to think is good.

There are so many bottles of wine out there that unless you’re sitting down with, like, Andrea Immer, nobody you’re drinking with is going to be able to tell the price of the wine you serve them by the taste. Nobody. I know this to be a fact. I’ve drank with lots of people and quite a few sommeliers in my day.

Having said all that, I buy what looks like I’ll like. It might be a $7 bottle, it might be a $20 bottle, it might be a $30 bottle. I usually don’t go above $30 and that’s usually only for a special occasion. I try to keep my stuff under $20. I also buy what I’m in the mood for. Currently, I’m on an Argentinian Malbec kick, can’t get enough of it, even if it’s in August.

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