Something new to put into you!
“Drinktuition” is about exploring, learning, sharing, and using that accumulated information to make better decisions about what we drink. Drink is something we put into our bodies daily but rarely give the practical attention it deserves. This is a blog built on the sharing of ideas and experiences to help guide each other to new, rewarding beverages.
Mostly, this blog will feature beverage (predominately, wine, beer and spirit) commentary and reviews as well as beverage industry discussion. Healthy, constructive, open discourse is encouraged for the benefit of all readers and contributors.
I have been in the retail wine and wine consultancy business for several years. Starting as a weekly exploration in college, my wine appreciation took a dramatic turn in 1997 while sharing a bottle of 1992 Ridge Bridgehead Mataro with a good friend. Years of self-education and constant exposure to new grapes and regions have developed my palate and made wine into a life passion.
As a retailer, I have developed a broad beverage knowledge of all manner of drinks including, various bottled waters, natural sodas, artisanal spirits, craft beers, and, of course, wines. My expertise lies in food/beverage pairing and casual beverage education.
Enjoy the blog and please contribute regularly!
-Armin D. Pfleiderer
Also, there’s this:
The following is an agglomerated and edited selection of my posts from a LinkedIn thread about what it takes to get people to try new wines. I think I have distilled my philosophy pretty well here and, hopefully, will give some of you insight into how I think and why I may lead you toward certain wines when you visit me in a retail environment.
I love when customers ask me how I got into wine. It gives me the opportunity to tell them the story that, every week while in college (when most of my friends were drinking only beer), I used to buy a bottle of something to sip during my Thursday Seinfeld/movie night. I would just sit there and share and study a new wine from a region or grape I never tried before while my friends and I watched indie and Chinese new-wave films. How pretentious!
One night, my buddy and I went to the local shop and split on a bottle of 1992 Ridge Bridgehead Mataro. We settled in for pizza and a movie and dug into the wine. That first sip was the transitional epiphany moment that took me from casual experimenter to passionate enthusiast. It was unlike any wine I had tasted before. All the plummy/blackberry fruit, the herbaceousness, the smokiness, the gaminess all coalescing into a cohesive whole that made our evening so much better than it should have been.
Now, I use that story to explain what Mataro is (how it is the same as Mourvedre and Monastrell) and often can parlay that into a customer’s month-long exploration of Rhone, SE Spain, Australia, California, etc. iterations. Sharing personal passion compels others to want to have similar experiences. We may not hit on their epiphany right off the bat, but what would be the fun in that anyway?
I think that equal to a winemaker’s perhaps unusual variety selection (like Mourvedre in California or Lagrein in Western Australia), the hands-on craft of traditional winemaking techniques (simple things like the foot crush some wineries still employ, for example) is a component that is leading some people defiantly back to “honest” wine. Steps like this are indicative of a greater willingness on the part of the broad consuming public to open themselves up to experience. If a winemaker is openly passionate about what he does and the means by which he does it, that translates down to the consumers.
There is a reason why even plonk like Barefoot comes in 17 different flavors. Some people will always remain staid in the consuming habits and only drink Barefoot Chardonnay for the rest of their lives, but they are becoming the dwindling minority. Those more aggressively willing to step outside the box will always find a home with winemakers who provide unexpected alternatives.
As a wine retailer, I believe that I frequently only sell stories. True stories of a place, of love and, often of a “hero” with passion and integrity. Once that is done, it’s up to the wine in the glass to continue to sell itself.
I am fortunate that I get to meet and speak with as many winemakers as I do. More often than not, if they are out on the road, thousands of miles from home to tell their stories, the passion is a given and their stories very much worth relating to my customers. Small and quaint as they may seem, those stories bring a sense of familiarity to something inherently very mysterious to consumers—and that is huge. It allays fears of the unknown and incites a willingness to explore in a way a back label or a rating review can never accomplish.
I’m finding that on online threads and conversation I am constantly repeating the phrase, “willingness to explore”. Clearly, this is central to my philosophy of wine appreciation and sales. My job is to excite in others their willingness to explore, or, to put it other terms, to share my passion for such exploration with others.
Not to overanalyze or bring undue weight to the subject, but, too much we want to stay within the comfort of our established adult lives for fear of being exposed as a fool or inferior in some aspect. However, what most of us really long for deep-down is that sense of child-like wonder that exposure to the (desirable) unknown provides. I have seen wine bring out more youthful exuberance in adults than anything else (with the exception of sports, for which fandom provides a completely other catharsis). That is one of the primary reasons I stay in this business—it sure as heck ain’t for the money!
So, to me, the key to getting people to try different wines is for all of us who sell wine (from winemakers to distributors to retailers) is to find as many ways to share our passion with others as possible. Love breeds love.
drinktuition by Armin D. Pfleiderer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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