Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The HoseMaster's Buying Guide to Tasting Rooms

I am often asked by wine novices who are heading to wine country for the first time how to know which wines to buy in tasting rooms. Naturally, since I always toe the line when it comes to wine rhetoric, I tell them to buy the wines that taste good to them or received a 94 in Wine Enthusiast, never ones that qualify on both counts. But I also give them a list of what to watch out for when they are in tasting rooms. Signs that knowledgeable wine buyers look out for when deciding where and what to purchase. I thought I should share those insights with my beloved HoseMaster of Wine readers. Both of you.

1. Never buy wine in a tasting room if the hospitality person isn't wearing pants. It's fine if their pants are around their ankles. There's probably just a blogger behind the bar looking for a free tasting. Of course, that is the free tasting.

2. Never buy wine if there are goldfish in the spit bucket. The pets, not the crackers.

3. Never buy wine at a winery that is attached to a rope.

4. Never buy wine in a tasting room that has a life-size cutout of Tom Cruise. Just step over it and leave.

5. Never buy wine if the person serving the wines is wearing a shirt that says, "Will Work for Rohipnol."

6. Never buy wine if the winery dog is licking the tasting room staff's butts.

7. Never buy wine if the person serving it can't pronounce the name of the wine properly. "Our white Meritage is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sommelier."

8. Never buy wine at a winery if the only things edible for sale in the tasting room are panties and cheese made from cat milk. Cat brie is fine but can cause furballs in certain consumers.

9. Never buy wine at a tasting room where the handicapped bathroom has soft music, candlelight and a glory hole.

10. Never buy wine at a winery where the logo wine glasses are emblazoned with women whose breasts are bared when a cold Rose' is poured into them. You're at Armida.

11. Never buy wine if the tasting room staff is speaking in pig Latin.

12. Never buy wine at a winery where all the cars in the parking lot have "For Sale" signs on them. You're probably not at a tasting room, you're at an old Chrysler dealership. You're drunk.

13. Never buy wine at a winery where they ask you to not to spit but to spew it out your nose. Then retaste it.

14. Never buy wine at a winery if the tasting room staff greets you with a French kiss. This happens a lot in Mendocino. The contact high clouds your judgment.

15. Never buy wine if the person serving you has a name tag that reads, "Jesus Christ."

16. Never buy wine if the tasting room only offers a discount if you can make them cry by singing "O Danny Boy."

17. Never buy a wine from a tasting room that only accepts a NAMBLA card as ID. Unless you have one.


Samantha Dugan said...

17?! Who the hell stops at 17?! Not 15, not stop at 17? Yeah, that's all I got, I know dick about tasting rooms.

el jefe said...

I want to know how the heck you got a copy of my tasting room staff training manual?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gorgeous Sam,

I love it when you say "dick." And it's better in pig Latin. I don't know ick-day about tasting rooms. I ove-lay ou-yay.

El Jefe,

Wow, a famous twitterererererer visiting my humble blog. I loved your tasting room. I bought a bunch of wine from some guy named, "Reverend Moon." Lucky I had my NAMBLA card.

Anonymous said...

I would add "Never buy wine at the cellar door if the winery is located in Lodi." Temecula would be next on the list.

Never buy wine in a tasting room when the place has the appearance of a Williams-Sonoma store or the Giants' Dugout store.

I never buy wine at a winery which charges for tasting, but requires an "appointment" or "reservation" to give them money so they can provide a public relations service.

I support my local wine merchant, so I rarely buy wine at wineries which tell me they don't sell wine to "retailers." If they think I can afford to pay some restaurant two or three times their retail price, they're smoking dope. In fact, they ARE dopes.

I don't buy wine at wineries where all they can tell me about their wine is the numerical score from Parker/Spectator/et al. or that they made only 200 cases.

Does that help?


Charlie Olken said...

Lodi? Lodi??

Lodi is not Sicily for goodness sakes. I went to Sicily once. They have a place there named Corleone--Frankie Coppola told me it was named after the Don. Now, that's a place you don't want to buy wine. Although, latest word from Corleone is that they will make you an offer you cannot refuse.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Anon 1,

Yeah, "Giants' Dugout Store" is perfect! I hate it when I walk into a tasting room and it looks like an airport gift store. Says to me they only make wine in order to sell crap they bought from a fire sale at Spencer's Gifts.


And if you do refuse you wake up with Dan Berger's head in your bed. But, what the hell, he's not using it.