Disappointment. Get used to it if you’re a fan of grape juice, because loving the vino is a one way street. Once you’ve had a glass of elixir that truly moves you, it’s hard to go back to the same old vanilla mediocrity you got yourself used to. You want more. You want to be moved again. But how does one go back to the farm after experiencing a few nights of the MC Hammer lifestyle in the big city? How does one go back to watching WNBA reruns after seeing the Celtics play the Lakers? Sure, I could walk into the nearest reputable wine shop and purchase a bottle with a price tag equal to the GDP of a third world country, but that’s no guarantee drinking it will make me see God. The trick is—no, the fun is—no, the joy is finding that little unknown gem that is way under priced and treating it like your favorite little indie band whose every song is just so good but nobody has yet heard of them.
The first thing you have to do is find a good store. Good wine shops have good people. Basically two types of people work in wine stores: the ones who love wine and want to share that love, and the ones with the “I’m here because I messed up at White Castle” expression on their face. Good wine stores have an abundance of the former. Next, ask them questions. Build a relationship. There is no wine equivalent of the “when’s the baby due?” question that caused so much trouble with your sister’s friend. Try to find a person with your taste. Think of it like finding a movie critic with your tastes because with wine, one man’s Gone with the Wind is another mans Gigli. Will this guarantee a hit every time? No, but at least he/she can eliminate wine’s version of the Leprechaun series. It skews the odds in your favor. It sets yourself up to win more than you lose.
Arizona Stronghold, Nachise Blend ($19.99): Nachise reminds me of my cousin who returned from Europe sporting an accent, drinking tiny, strong coffees, and wearing a beret. It’s completely American, yes, but it mimics the Rhone style perfectly.