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Few subjects cause more angst than wine. For many, wine is a great mystery, a secret handshake or a password. It’s not necessary.
My job with this bi-weekly column is to help you navigate the complex world of wine safely, without intimidation or nonsense. You are in control.
If you take a moment and read my thoughts, I hope you find them valuable, educational, practical, and perhaps even entertaining. I will try to inspire you to engage and ask questions, make requests for future articles, and reach out. I listen but I know that I am an excruciatingly bad typist and have learned to use as few words as possible for practical reasons.
Let me start with a bit about me. I’m 64 and I’ve been in the wine business since, and I hate to say it since 1977; I started my career in the very place that Arrowine now occupies. At that time, you “veterans” might remember the “old” cheese and the bottle.
I am not only a retailer of fine wines, but also an importer within the limits of the laws of the State of Virginia. I have traveled extensively through France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, New Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Israel, l South Africa and Argentina looking for the best wines these places have to offer. I also hunt “new cultivators” whose work has yet to be discovered or who are not currently represented in Virginia or our area.
I proudly support the Virginia wine industry. Did you know that we are now the fifth largest wine producer in the United States? Virginia Wine is no longer an oddity; we produce the finest wine on the east coast. And many Virginia wineries are “world class!” »
I have traveled extensively throughout Oregon. I’ve been long overdue for a road trip to California and Washington State, but I have a store to run. Before COVID, I usually went on six shopping trips a year. That’s a lot of miles, moving every day, staying in small hotels with no elevators or air conditioning. And despite what people might think, crap food. So I usually travel in the countryside, and there aren’t many resources in the middle of nowhere.
That said, I wouldn’t change anything. You have to go where the wine is! I have met many humble and hardworking families, men and women who are truly jack of all trades; they grow grapes, turn the juice into something delicious, and then market it in many instances around the world. They can only practice their trade about forty times in their lifetime! So you must be a quick study. How many trades does this require?
I am the ambassador of these families. My job is to tell their stories and, where appropriate, to convey the risk involved at each stage. A career in agriculture is like walking a tightrope without a net. There are so many things out of your control, early flowering then late frost which can wipe out your entire crop, hail damage, too much or too little rain, excessive cold or heat, insect infestations, wood diseases and the list goes on and on.
And then you have to ferment the juice and try to put it in the bottle without screwing it up. Sell it and hopefully get paid. Making wine from your own grapes is not for the faint of heart. Trust me!
Congratulations if you have made it to the end of my ramblings, I have a secret to share with you. It’s the one simple thing guaranteed to increase your enjoyment of drinking wine or anything else.
Never, and I mean never, use glass without washing it thoroughly with soap and water before using it! I’ll explain why in two weeks and give you a little experiment to do at home.