say the most interesting things. One key element to being a good wine
professional is to listen to your customers-but sometimes it is not
as easy as one might think. Those of us in the trade, who are comfortable
with winespeak, should always bear in mind that not everyone shares
our lexicon and our obsessions regarding wine. While we work hard
every day to make wine more accessible, that doesn't mean we can't
see the humor in some of the misunderstandings we encounter along
the way. The following anecdotes are not in any way meant to be mean-spirited,
because we all have to start somewhere in this great world of wine.
One night a guest asked me to recommend a slightly sweet white wine.
After further conversation, I recommended a Sp■tlese by J.J. Prum.
The guest informed me quite earnestly that he had had spatulas before
and had found them to be sticky sweet.
On another evening, a customer asked me to recommend a Zinfandel.
Upon doing so, he asked me if it was a "country wine." I asked him
if he meant earthy or rustic. He said, "No. When you drink it do you
get the feeling that you're in the country?" I was a bit dumbfounded.
I did not know if he meant a specific country, or if we should be
clanging cowbells in the kitchen.
On yet another evening a party sat down, with the woman saying that
she wanted Opus One and the man saying he wanted to try something
different. I recommended Caymus Special Selection. When I returned
to the table, the woman informed me that she did not like the Caymus
and that I should bring over a bottle of Opus. I brought over new
glasses and a 1987 Opus One. I poured a taste for her, but she inadvertently
picked up the glass that contained the Caymus (thinking that it was
the Opus) and proclaimed it to be "far superior to the Caymus." I
did not have the heart to tell her.
And finally, one evening, a man wanted me to help him choose a Petite
Syrah(!) for his Shellfish Sampler. After tasting it, he told me that
it was not BIG enough, and asked what else I would suggest. I said
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