Episode #20 Latah Creek Winery Spokane

Only a handful of wine makers in the state of Washington have as much experience as Mike Conway.When Mike opened Latah Creek and Hogue Cellars in 1982 (in a partnership with Mike Hogue), there were only 18 wineries in the state. After two years as the head wine maker at Hogue, Mike left to concentrate on Latah Creek. The full history of Latah Creek can be read on their web site.

Mike crafted his winemaking skills in the 70’s working for wine giants E&J Gallo, Franzia Brothers and Parducci. It was while at Parducci that he honed his skills for white wine and brought the slow cold fermentation process to Washington state (cold fermentation brings out a natural residual sweetness in white wines at a lower alcohol level of 8-10%). It is the white wine line-up that helped Latah Creek grow to a 17,000 case per year company.

100% of Latah Creek’s distribution is done in the Northwest. The annual release of their Spokane Blush, Maywine, and Huckleberry d’Latah are highly anticipated in the region. While 70% of their sales are comprised of white wines, Latah’s future focus is the introduction of small lot reserve quality reds. The current Vinosity (reviewed below) is an example of that. While at the winery I also tried the 100% Petit Verdot. If these two reds are any indication, Latah Creek may quickly jump to a 25,000 case per year operation. In talking with Mike, his passion for Washington wine comes through. He wants to expose some of the great grapes that grow in this state (Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Malbec) to his customer base.

While Latah Creek has been a business of two people for 20+ years, in 2005 daughter Natalie joined the team. Mike and Ellena’s vision had always been for Natalie to carry on the business. In elementary school, while all the other children wanted to be firefighters, pro athletes and politicians, Natalie wanted to be a wine maker. Natalie graduated with honors from EWU with a bachelors in biology. Shortly after, she joined the team. Under her dad’s guidance, Natalie is already contributing to the wine offerings with Natalie’s Nectar dessert wine and the Vinosity red blend.

One thing that sets Latah Creek apart from all other wineries in town is their spacious tasting room and the selection of gift/boutique items. Mike’s wife, Ellena, runs the tasting room and has done a fantastic job of stocking it with whimsical gifts, wine accessories, and artful decorations. During the holidays, tasting room traffic increases exponentially, and not just for the wine.

Latah Creek; Mike, Ellena (and now Natalie), and their wines, are Spokane institutions. “Spokane is the reason we’re here,” Mike says. Beside’s the wine, Latah Creek’s gift back to the community is their support of the arts and many other charities. The Conway’s are particularly proud of their sponsorships of the Spokane Symphony and the Foster Parents Association.

If you’ve driven on the freeway in Spokane, chances are you’ve driven past Latah Creek. The winery and tasting room sit at freeway’s edge between the Pines and Evergreen exits (13030 E Indiana). If you’re headed to the Valley Mall, take a quick detour and enjoy a free tasting of their wines. Of the 13 offerings only 2 are over $20 (Petit Verdot and Vinosity). The tasting room is open seven days a week from 9AM – 5PM.

Look for Latah Creek in the Social Media world on Twitter @latahcreek and on Facebook. Visit them on the web at www.latahcreek.com

The NectarView

NV Latah Creek Vinosity Blend

  • The Stuff: 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah and 23% Zinfandel. Produced from various vineyards in the Washington State (Wahluke and Columbia Valley) 13.5% alcohol
  • The Swirl: Dark violet color with nice translucent tones. Not completely opaque. Moderate legs representing some good residual sugar and alcohol.
  • The Sniff: Boom! Awake with dark blueberry and Cassis. Get a faint whiff of a tender spice and cocoa (could be the Zin).
  • The Sip: While not entirely a fruit bomb, this wine has some very nice structure. I can definitely feel the Syrah, but the strength of the Cabernet balances it out. The heat and playfulness of the Zinfandel keep the finish alive for some time adding a nice acidity.
  • The Score: At just $20 retail this is a heck of a buy! I score this wine a strong 4 (out of 5). If I found this wine for anywhere south of $15 I would buy several bottles.

The Dudes Guide: Part 3 Snort Suck Swish

Her smell is intoxicating. The aroma seductively locks you in a trance causing you only to think about her taste… Dude, you wanna kiss her! We don’t realize it but women are toying with our minds with all their elixirs, concoctions, and perfumes. The smell is the erotic trigger to our brain causing us to lose all sense of logic and control.

Sexy Wine

Tasting wine is a similar experience. Wine is a lover to be enjoyed, caressed, and passionately embraced. This is something that guys need to learn. We’re not used to the delicate intricacies of a woman (or wine). Most of the time we fumble along hoping our bodies connect in the right way. A real man appreciates the arresting aroma, savours the supple style and drinks in delicate drama that is a woman (or wine). Dude’s it is time to move from our slam a shot mentality to the savor the senses experience that is wine. This is a gentle love affair not a one night stand.

In the first two posts we talked about;

Today, we are going to talk about tasting wine. Wine can be described as a symphony with its subtle nuances and bold phrases emphasizing the rise and fall of emotion. As guys, we’re used to a drum solo – bam – it’s loud and fast and it’s over and we’re happy – time to sleep.

Let’s explore the way to taste and enjoy wine (dude style)

The Swirl: Getting Her Ready

Lay her back, rub you hands in a circle letting her get excited. She gets aroused as the friction causes her to breathe. With the motion you take notice of her color, her quality, and her clarity. Her juices run down the…GLASS! We’re talking about wine here guys!

Exploring wine begins with the swirl. People swirl wine to allow oxygen into the wine. A nice crystal glass and the shape of the bowl help the wine to breathe and prepare the next step; the sniff. Don’t over pour your wine. A four or five ounce pour is plenty (remember wine has twice the alcohol as  a normal beer). Leave enough room in the glass so that when you swirl you’re not spilling on your girls new dress. That is a major foul and will probably not lead to the desired outcome of the night.

The Sniff: The Intoxicating Allure

The flurry of motion has released a myriad of aromas that flood the nose. With a deep inhale you allow the smell to penetrate. Your brain becomes excited at the anticipation prompting a heightened awareness of the other senses. Careful not to rush, you enjoy the smells before you dive in to taste…THE WINE. We’re still talking about wine here guys!

Wine, more than any other beverage, offers a variety of aroma (and taste). These tastes vary greatly between region, grape, year, and personal style of the wine maker. Enjoy the smells of the wine. Refer to the second post in this series for a stereotype of the seven common wines you’ll encounter.

Sexy WineThe Sip: The Explosion in Your Mouth

Your senses are nearly on overload. The aroma has you transfixed, the anticipation makes you swell with excitement. Your mouth waters as you expectantly take it in. The flavors dance across your tongue. Now more than ever your senses are aroused as the full climax of the experience is revealed…still talking about THE WINE here.

As you drink in the wine, let it sit in your mouth. For the first few sips, let it rinse across all parts of your mouth from front to back. Take note of how it tastes different on the tip of your tongue to the sides of your mouth. Good wine will reveal different secrets even after you swallow it (the finish). Some wine will be smooth and sweet and others will be dry and tart. These different flavor profiles work well with different foods. Like food, you’ll develop a preference for some, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

Enjoying wine may seem as intimidating as talking to a Victoria Secret model (while she’s still in her unmentionables), but the sexiness and complexity is revealed as you pull back the covers of the Swirl, Sniff, and Sip. Keep these basic principles in mind and even the most basic dude will experience the foreplay and climax that is tasting wine.

On a final note, guys; be willing to experiment. We all want our ladies to be playful in bed and open to new experiences. We need to take our own advice. It’s okay to walk into the store and buy 3-4 different bottles just to taste. Even better, take your lady on a day trip to a few winery tasting rooms. This is a fun and affordable way to explore new experiences. Be a man, don’t be a friggin’ sissy. Man up and go wine tasting. You just might have fun and you just might get laid!

In the final post of this four-part series we will attempt to demystify buying wine at the store and ordering at restaurants.

Episode #19 Nikos Wine Bar Spokane

When wine in Spokane meant a handful of wineries and a small selection at the local grocery store, Niko’s owner Laith Elaimy anticipated a trend and took a chance by hiring Pauline Riley, his wine representative from a local distributor, to run his wine menu. The seemingly odd pairing of Niko’s Greek Restaurant and its mediterranean menu and the Niko’s Wine Bar has resulted in one of Spokane’s finest places to enjoy not only a great dinner but a huge variety of wine.

“Wine is food for the soul,” says Pauline, “we want to provide a place to bring people to good conversation and good wine.” Niko’s not only provides a great dinner menu and wine selection but is a premier location for VIP dining rooms, valet parking, and catering; all of this in the heart of downtown Spokane on Post and Riverside (just 2 blocks from Riverpark Square).

Pauline is one of the go to wine people in Spokane. She is a trusted expert in the community. Her years of experience have made Niko’s wine bar the place to enjoy a good glass of wine, a fun wine flight, or buy that special bottle retail for the last 12 1/2 years.

The wine bar, an extension of the restaurant, is a quaint nicely decorated room to enjoy wine. Pauline prepares a new wine tour sheet every few weeks that features between 40-50 wines by the glass, chosen from their 1100 bottle cellar. The menu favorites are the various wine flights where you can experience regional, international, varietal or producer flights. Pauline even likes to feature a “anything but Sideways flight” where patrons get all Merlot. My favorite is the blind white or red flight where Pauline brings you a random selection. After the tasting she brings out the bottles challenging you to pair the wine you drank with the correct bottle. It is a fun and challenging tasting.

When I asked Pauline what she wants people to experience at the wine bar, she said, “I want people to embrace new wine in an environment that is conducive to shared experiences. I want to serve the best selection of wine in a beautiful location using quality stemware. Life is too short to drink the same wine twice.” Niko’s has been voted by local Spokane Inlander readers as the region’s Best Wine Bar and Spokane’s Best Wine Selection for ten straight years!

Whether you are a wine expert, new to wine or, somewhere in between (like me), Niko’s has developed a fantastic reputation as the spot for wine in Spokane. With so much wine available, Pauline sees her job to be your wine professional helping you select the best wine for your needs. “You have a Real Estate professional or a finance professional, why not a wine professional.”

The NectarView:

  • The Stats: Niko’s Wine Bar is open Sun – Wed 4pm – 10pm and Thur – Sat 4pm – 11pm. Open Friday for lunch from 11-3 (all entrée’s $10)
  • The Social: www.nikosspokane.com 509.624.7444
  • The Streets: 725 W. Riverside (Riverside and Post)

2010 represents Niko’s 25 years in business. To celebrate the longevity Niko’s is offering a $25 gift card to use on a return visit when you enjoy dinner during 2010. You heard it here first. Tell them DrinkNectar sent you.

How To Fail at Social Media in 2010

FailAnyone can succeed. Failing is an art form. With all the how to succeed without even trying articles and books in the world, I figured, “who’s here to help the guy that wants to fail?”

Obviously, I jest. No one intentionally sets out to fail, however there are several things that lead us down a path of failure. In the wine industry (which these posts are originally intended), the majority of wineries are small businesses with 1-10 employees. It can be a challenge for these small business owners to jump into the Social Media waters. NOT getting involved could put your business at a significant disadvantage. For tips on where to begin, see my two previous posts:

For those businesses that are jumping in for 2010 – here are five ways to avoid success using Social Media.

1. Begin without any set objective

You know what they call the man who is wandering around the streets with no place to go? Either homeless or lost. Being listless in the Social Media world is easy. Goals are for wimps.  Jump in, start tweeting, create a Facebook business page, update your status occasionally. Make sure your posts offer no real value, are vague and self-serving, or are completely random. These actions will solidify your failure.

Success starts with a clear measurable goal. Here is an example. “Winery X will develop greater brand awareness in our community about our tasting room events. We will achieve this by connecting with local wine lovers through Twitter and Facebook. Our goal is to connect with 500 local wine lovers and drive tasting room traffic sales up by 15% by the end of the year.”

When Walmart wanted to get the word out that it had received a huge shipment of the most sought-after toy just in time for the year-end shopping season, the retailer turned to its more than 400,000 Facebook friends first. – From Baltimore Sun

2. Do not create a plan or strategy

Anyone can build a bookshelf with some plans. Where is the challenge in that? Plans are good only if you want your shelves to be straight and the bookshelf to remain standing once all the books are on it.  Avoid success in the Social Media world by approaching it without a plan.

Success continues with a plan or strategy. If your goal is to drive tasting room traffic up 15% by the end of the year avoid the strategy tips below:

  • Promote your Twitter and Facebook accounts  on everything you send or print (email, web site, business cards, mailers, print ads, trade journals, and how about even your WINE LABEL, etc)
  • Start following people in the wine industry or friend them up on Facebook (usually in smaller chunks of 50-100)
  • Create Twitter / Facebook cards to specifically hand out or attach with each visit or purchase in your tasting room (store)
  • Add a blog to your web site and create a weekly post about something related to your business; tasting room, wine making, harvest, events, etc.
  • Once you have a following try hosting a tweet-up at your tasting room (invite your followers to come by and taste wine while tweeting about it)

When asked how Twitter has helped their business, Montaluce Winery (@Mvineyards on twitter), says, “We have seen an uptick in winery traffic, especially with a younger audience. We certainly see more contact with people who influence Atlanta food and wine.”

3. Be self-serving and erratic

Constantly posting self-promoting tweets or status updates may generate you some followers or friends, but it won’t create loyalty and action. Perfect way to fail, tweet 20 times a day, “Come by our tasting room and receive 10% off all purchases http:/addlinkhere.” You can also fail by being erratic. Develop a small following or fan base and then disappear. How does it look when fans ask you questions or post on your wall and never receive a response?

Success equals collaboration. The internet is full of relevant information. You don’t have to create everything you share.

  • Post links to helpful industry items (how to taste wine, fun reviews you read, interesting blog posts or newspaper articles about wine).
  • Promote events that are not your own (community interest, other tasting room hours, etc)
  • Mix up your own posts, don’t always tweet the same text or information.

4. Avoid Interacting With the Natives

Those on Twitter and Facebook are connectors by nature. One of the best ways to fail is to avoid conversation with people. Do not comment on people with insightful posts. Never @people (send them a tweet) or write on anyones wall. Talking to people is scarey and intimidating.

Success equals conversation. Set aside some time each day as marketing time to connect with people.

  • Ask people open-ended questions? – “What wine did you drink with dinner over the weekend?”
  • Comment on other people’s posts. Read the blog, comment on the blog, then re-tweet the blog RT @nectarwine ->great insightful post on wine trends for 2010 http://drinknectar.com

Director of Social Media for St. Supery @RickBakas, on his web site http://justbrand.me says, “provide a stream of relevent and useful information…your audience most likely feels overwhelmed with all the information being broadcast on social networks. “

5. Do not respond to your fans or brand mentions

Your customers are online. If you want to fail, do not get online. An even bigger fail is to be online and never respond to your fans who ask questions. Do not respond to fan page posts. Ignore retweets (RT) and direct messages (DM). Never use Twitter search to see if people are talking about your brand. Doing these things will ensure your social media failure.

The people experiencing success are doing the following things:

  • Use TweetDeck or HootSuite to manage Twitter. This will give you an efficient view of all @ reply and DM’s so you don’t miss a mention or message. Never let a @ or DM go unanswered.
  • When you see fans or followers in your business, thank them with a tweet or write on their wall.
  • Offer periodic specials just to your fans to promote loyalty.

2009 was the year Twitter and Facebook came of age for business use. 2010 is the year that businesses who use Social Media will begin to see an advantage. Customers are online. They become your fans. You create loyalty. Your customers become your ambassadors. Social Media gives you an army of marketers who will promote you to success. Are you ready to succeed or fail in 2010?

Nectar Monthly Honors: December 2009

Since I’ve only been at this blog thing for 7 weeks and December marks the close of my first full month, I thought I would start a tradition. I’m sure as history books of wine blogging unfold, this will be recorded as the start of something monumental. Those mentioned in these posts will receive world-wide notoriety and others will pine and clamor to be considered among the elite. Ah, who the hell am I kiddin’ this is what I liked and thought was cool this month!

Wines of the Month

I reviewed 25 wines in December. Several of them came from my video reviews of three local Spokane wineries. My bias is not Spokane, it’s just my geography.

Best Value Under $15: Lone Canary Bird House Red ($10-$12)

While I didn’t taste this wine during my video interview with wine maker Michael Scott, I did pick up a bottle for consumption. Of the 10+ bottles under $15 from this month, this was the clear winner.

  • The Stuff – 55% Syrah, 22% Cab Sauv, 21% Merlot, 2% Sangiovese; Various Columbia Valley vineyards.
  • The Swirl – a dark garnet color, not quite plum
  • The Sniff – initial reaction was honey and vanilla but opened up to include the blueberry and spice of a Cab / Merlot.
  • The Sip – Initially wasn’t feeling it. Left the glass and came back 15 minutes later. Dark berry with cedar and a slight cocoa finish. Medium tannin and a little hot on the alcohol.
  • The Score – At $12 I would rate this a low 4 out of 5. Solid quality with good flavor characteristics, smooth finish and good structure. If I can find this wine at under $10 it easily becomes part of my Nectar Value Team.

*Runner up 2007 Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc ($7)

Best Wine: 2006 Mark Ryan Long Haul ($48)

We enjoyed this wine over Christmas (Episode #17 Christmas 2009). This was one of our purchases from the September trip to Woodinville, WA. The wine was spectacular then and even better to celebrate Christmas with. Hands down the best wine I drank all month.

  • The Stuff: Right Bank style blend with 48% Merlot 46% Cab Franc and 6% Petit Verdot.
  • The Swirl: Moderately opaque with translucent edges. Nice jewel tones
  • The Sniff: Wow, this glass is alive with aroma ranging from spice to coffee to vanilla to dark cherries. Alive with juice.
  • The Sip: An explosion of fruit with the right amount of structure balance and tannin to enjoy alone or with a big steak or red pasta dish. This is like sex in a glass. The orgasm of flavor blew me away!
  • The Score: At $48 I would definitely buy this again and again as long as my credit card allowed. Taking into consideration the economy and value, this wine scores a 4+. Get it at $35 and it is a steal and a 5.

A twitter friend said they recently picked up several bottles for just $29. At this price I would buy a case.

*Runner up 2007 Robert Karl Claret ($20)

Random Favorites Highlights from December

The post that made me spit wine out my nose: Drinking With the Wine Whore (make sure you watch the video)

Best Wine Picture (Rated R): DrinksAreOnMe.net – Cork Taint

Best Wine Quote: WineTonite – Apples and Wine

“Men are like a fine wine. They begin as grapes, and it’s up to the women to stomp the mess out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have with dinner.” – Ed Thralls

Most ‘heady’ Wine Post Good Grape “When Altruism Needs to Equal Cooperation

DrinkNectar Posts (Most Viewed) Wineries – Missing the Social Media Money?

The Government and the Three Tiered Mafia

I’m honored to have an article featured on Cork’d today. This web site is part of social media and wine sensation Gary Vaynerchuk’s media empire, Vaynermedia.

In the article I talk about the Three Tiered distribution system in the wine and spirits industry and how the current laws are archaic, anti-competitive, suppressive toward capitalism, and communist in enforcement.

As long as the three-tier system is in place, the U.S. wine market will continue to be a crippled shell of what it could become.

Can we fix it? If Social Media has any power, it has the power to call problems to people’s attention and unite those of diverse geography into a solitary voice.

Read the article at Cork’d and leave a comment. Let’s look back at 2010 as the year that something revolutionary began to bring all wine to all people across the U.S.

The Under $10 Quest Continues

During round one of the Under $10 Quest, I stated that we drink a lot of wine. I listen to my twitter friends go on and on about specific wines and then I look them up only to choke at the $50 price tag (or more). I thought my day job paid me pretty good green, but I guess it’s not enough to afford the purple that my friends are drinking. Thus, the quest continues.

As I mention in the video, the goal of these reviews and videos are to provide you a resource of trustworthy wines. I want you to walk into a store confident in your pick of a specific wine label. Life is too short to drink crappy wine. Why waste your money on 3 or 4 cheap wines in search of the jewel when you can rely on others to do so.

Basically, I’m in search of a starting line-up of dependable wines that I can go to on a daily basis. I need designated hitters, relief pitchers, and pinch hitters to come into the game when the game is tight. Tonight’s lineup includes a rookie and two veterans called up from Triple A to show their stuff.

The NectarView

2007 Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc

  • The Stuff: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Columbia Valley, WA (Bacchus Vineyards), never oaked
  • The Swirl: Super clear with a mild golden delicious apple tone
  • The Sniff: Cut open a pineapple, squeeze some lemon and spray a small spritz of vanilla room spray and you have the nose of this wine.
  • The Sip: Strong acidity on the upper palate with a smooth citrus and lemon peel flavor across the tongue. There is no tartness and the alcohol is not hot. Not overly huge in structure but has great flavor for the price.
  • The Score: $11 retail but only $7 at Cost Plus World Market, I score this a 4+ (out of 5) for value and flavor.

The wine reminds me of summer. When my wife and I were first dating we enjoyed a few bottles of this wine on the deck as we shared our stories and got to know one another. This is definitely a player who will be added to the roster for a crisp summer wine or a wine to pair with light seafood or poultry dishes.

2008 Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • The Stuff: 85% Cab and 15% Syrah from Colchagua, Chile. Vineyards are original non-grafted wine stocks brought over from Europe – sounds pretty cool. Neat looking bottle, taller than average with a real cork enclosure.
  • The Swirl: Moderately opaque plum with watery edges
  • The Sniff: Was difficult to pinpoint at first but the fruit was immediately overwhelmed by evergreen tree, minerals, rocks, and musky dirt. With much effort could smell the black currant.
  • The Sip: Overwhelming minerality on the back immediately took over the fruit that was trying to come through. Very chalky, like eating dirt.
  • The Score: At $9, there are way better value Cabernet Sauvignon’s out there. I score this a 3-. Could be the youth of the wine, but I’m not going to cellar a $9 wine. (See update below)

This wine strikes out and not only doesn’t make the team but gets sent back to Single A ball. UPDATE: After spending some time in Single A (24 hours) this wine is starting to show some promise. The minerality is nearly gone and most of the chalkiness has subsided. Decent fruit flavors of red currant and cherry along with leather.  Root1 has moved up to AA ball, but I’m still apprehensive.

2007 Dancing Bull Zinfandel

  • The Stuff: 100% California Zinfandel from various sourced vineyards. Synthetic cork enclosure
  • The Swirl: Deep dark opaque plum, slightly cloudy with hints of ruby and garnet. Strong legs indicating high residual sugar.
  • The Sniff: Good strong nose that leads with strawberry, vanilla, tobacco and cocoa
  • The Sip: The wine was slightly disappointing as it came across as one-dimensional. The nose was a tease and the palate did not deliver. After two hours in glass, the flavor profile did open up. One dimensional is not bad, just not super interesting.
  • The Score: At just $8, this wine scores a solid 3+. You won’t go wrong getting this wine and the predictable taste may score well with beginning wine drinkers.

This Zinfandel doesn’t make the starting team but is sent down to Triple A to potentially be called up as an injury replacement.

So far the team is struggling. I have a few good recommendations from fellow wine bloggers that I hope to try soon. If you have suggestions, please leave comments. I’m looking to field my team with a variety of wine styles.

2010 is the year of buying local! I want to strongly encourage you, when possible to buy your wine from a local retailer (wine store, wine shop) or directly from the winery. Doing this helps keep profits directly in your community.

Life is meant to be shared with friends. Share life over a glass of wine and DRINK.HAPPY!

The Dudes Guide: Part 2 of 4 Got Grapes?

Redneck Wine

You mean there is more to wine than the wine that comes in a box and the wine they sell at Wal-Mart?

“The Dude’s Guide to Wine” is a wine primer for the average guy who tends to reach for a beer in all social situations. This four-part series began with three reasons all guys need to know at least the basics about wine.

1) Success: At some point you’ll experience success in life and wine may seem more appropriate.

2) Stupidity: No guy likes to look stupid and life events will eventually lead you to bring wine to a dinner party or having to order wine at a restaurant.

3) Sex: Girls love wine. Guys love girls and sex. Wine can lead to good sex!

If one or all of these reasons are not enough for you, then you are free to leave this blog and go back to the porn you were looking up.

The Sexy Grape

Like a woman, there are several subtleties and intricacies of wine grapes. They can be coy, sweet and seductive like the girl next door in a private school uniform or they can be bold and brash, oozing sex appeal, like the stripper you met…well…nevermind. The trick is to avoid the skanky cheap tawdry whores while learning which ones you can bring to dinner with your mother.

There are over 10,000 documented grape species (varietals) grown in just about every region of the world. Attempting to understand them all is like trying to understand the hidden meaning behind the statement, “do you think she’s pretty?” Most popular grape varietals can trace their roots to France and Italy. The largest wine-producing states in the U.S. are California, Washington, Oregon and New York.

As a dude, we need to keep it simple. We may be able to tell you the important facts, like who was the MVP of Super Bowl III (Joe Namath), but memorizing hundreds of grapes and their characteristics just aint going to happen. Let’s talk about 7 basic grapes, what food they go with and when you may enjoy them. Much more could be said about each grape discussed below. In the interest of basic understanding, I’ll be offering the stereotype of each. While many experts may weigh in on their opinions and insights, The Dude’s Guide to Wine is just trying to keep it simple for the average guy who may confuse maceration with…you know…

Sex and Wine

RED WINE: The sultry sexy diva that can fulfill your wildest fantasies. If you’re not careful you’ll wake up in the morning recounting the night vis-a-vis The Hangover. Red wine grapes are described as earthy, spices, dark red fruit (cherry, plum currant, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry), smokey, tobacco, leather, and more. We could spend hours undressing the specifics of each.

Cabernet Sauvignon (cab-ur-nay saw-vin-yawn)  The king of wine grapes. Pairs best with steak, pasta and dark chocolate. Flavors of spice, dark berry, leather and cocoa. This is your strong-willed woman who likes to show she is in charge. She likes it hot and when you get her going she’ll let down her hair and show you her kinky spicy side.

Pinot Noir (pee-no nwar) – If Cab’s are the king then Pinot’s are the queen. Not queen as in a drag queen but because they are of royal decent and require a lot of attention and effort to put out a good wine. Pinots are very versatile and pair well with beef, poultry, fish, lamb, pork, spicy and creamy sauces. Pinot Noirs are like your high maintenance drama queen who likes diamonds, fancy cars, nice clothes and carry their dogs in their purse. At the end of the date you’ll find your wallet a little thin, but the payoff is ‘hot.’

Merlot (Mare-low) Merlot pairs well with red meat, pork and red pasta dishes. A medium bodied wine that is less bold than its blending partner Cabernet Sauvignon. The unappreciated Merlot is like the girl in those teen movies who starts off unassuming, wearing glasses and has bad hair and acne. With a little make up and hairspray she turns into the movie hottie (Ten Things I Hate About You).

Other Red ladies to date after you’ve explored the ones above: Syrah (the current Elvis of wine), Sangiovese (our Italian lover), and Zinfandel (the sexy hussy)

Sexy Wine

WHITE WINE: Known by many as refreshing, classy and cool, white wine should be treated like a lady. Be careful, although she is cool and refreshing, she can sneak up on you leaving you dazed and confused.

Chardonnay (Shar-don-ay) Chardonnay pairs well with poultry, pork, seafood and heavy cream butter based sauces. Flavors of buttered apple, pear, tropical fruit and melon leave a long impression on the mouth. Chardonnay will remind you of the cute Miami beach hottie wearing the skimpy brazilian cut bikini. Once you talk to her, you find out she has a personality and a brain! Score!

Pinot Grigio (Pee-no Gree-gee-oh) Italian for Pinot Gris this grape pairs well with acidic foods like red pasta roasted chicken and roasted pork. Refreshing flavors of pair, apple, and lemon prevail. Depending on where they are grown they can have light or medium bodies. Imagine sitting on the deck in the summer with your high school sweetheart. She has a glow from the heat, her top is clingy and her short shorts are tight. This is Pinot Grigio.

Riesling (Rees-ling) This German sweetheart is a diverse lady that can pair well with many foods (including spicy and Asian.) She is a great starter with appetizers and can wrap up the evening with dessert. Depending on where she is grown she can be sweet or dry, light or full. Picture the college professor with her hair in a bun and button down white blouse. She’s got the brains to intrigue you and the character to mystify you. Get her behind closed doors and…well I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Champagne (Sham-pain) Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Brut are known as party animals. These ladies often let loose and get wild. Flavors of baked bread, apple sauce, strawberries, cream and vanilla are often experienced. Food pairings are more than just with dessert or for toasts – try Sparkling wines with Asian food, seafood, poultry, and appetizers.

Every dude should know a little about wine. Wine has romance, imagination, character, and beauty that surpasses other adult beverages. Now that you’ve got a basic knowledge of seven types of wine you can begin the process of exploring the new world. For other fun explanations of wine varieties see my Rock n Roll Wine Pairings Part 1 and Part 2. Thanks for reading, now go grab your girl and a beer!


*Photo Credits SacreBlue.com and Media.PicFor.Me

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