My friends rock. They really do. Last Sunday they allowed me to drag them to one of my favorite wine stores, The Wine Library, to take them on a buying lesson and a "tour."
Shopping in a wine store is like going to a museum with an ever changing collection. There's always something to see and learn. If I'm not careful, I will get lost in the regions represented and the labels that are new to me. The upside of going with friends is that it keeps me focused. The downside, for them, is that I will bore them.
According to my friends, I didn't bore them on our tour though I'm wondering if the trip was more for me than it was for them. Considering I bought yet another 4 bottles (after the case I purchased last week), I'm thinking there might be a little "yes" in there.
But I digress (what's new). My tour group decided to start on the 2nd floor (yes, the 2nd floor, which is why this is one of my favorite wine stores). The 2nd floor houses wine from some of the more unexpected regions (Hungary, Greece, Austria - my friends love their Gewurtztraminer, even if they can't pronounce it).
I like to think of the 2nd floor as the weird hallway you discover when wandering through a 100 year old house. You don't necessarily know what's there, but why not explore? Whenever touring a new store, or even visiting an old favorite, I recommend getting to the "strange hallways" with the stuff you're not as familiar with. That's one great way to learn. And who knows, at your next dinner party or housewarming, you could be discussing a Portuguese wine you just fell in love with on one random Sunday afternoon.
You also may find some really amazing stuff that's just fun to see, touch and wonder "what if." The 2nd floor is where the Wine Library has the climate controlled cave with the really special stuff - large format bottles of Opus One, aged bottles of Caymus - basically your good, classic, older wine. I'm lobbying to get a buriel plot in that room for when my final bell has been rung. As I was taking my friends through the room I'm pretty sure they were thinking, "who in their right mind would spend so much money on wine?" as I was calculating the pay scale I'd have to get to in order to buy bottles like this more frequently.
Since I was driving and since I kept reminding my friends about the copious cheese samples on the 1st floor, I was able to hold their attention throughout the rest of the 2nd floor. After a quick breeze through the sparklers, we were finally on our way to the 1st floor.
Our first stop was at the gourmet store. Despite a large brunch, we all partook of several cubes of very good cheese. In fact I think some friends might have spent more on cheese than on wine!
After all the cheese, the tour lost its steam but with the 1st floor wine aisles still unexplored, we soldiered on. Through Spain and France and Italy and California and other U.S., we forged our path through the 1st floor and showed The Wine Library the true meaning of Dewey Decimal. O.k., there is no card catalogue at The Wine Library, but just thinking about the prospect brings a smile to my face.
Ultimately my friends seemed to have a good time and it was nice and heart warming to share one of my favorite stores and one of my greatest passions with friends. The irony that I took several friends from my book club to a Wine Library was not lost on me. Like the many evenings we've discussed, disagreed and explored our different feelings on a book, at the Wine Library we got the chance to share our different feelings on another topic that allows for many opinions and no wrong or right answers. Then again, I still maintain that it is a fact, and not an opinion, that White Zinfandel is not a real wine.
Well, until the next dinner, wine tasting, field trip, good day or bad day, cheers!