Tag Archives: wine consumer

Wine: The Food Enhancer

Spice up your life! If you enjoy food, then wine will come naturally. It’s part of the seasoning of your meal. Think of wine as a way to enhance the flavors of food. As a full-time wine professional over at TasteDC and about to be released author of I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine I constantly get questions from new wine drinkers about food and wine pairing. My overall philosophy is that wine and food is a synergy: 1 + 1 should equal MORE than 2. I argue that this is the same way with spices and the cooking preparation of your dish. Chefs will often add spices and taste as they go which helps to layer flavors and adjusts the flavor of the dish. Wine has dual purposes as well: it wakes up your taste buds before you begin eating primarily with acidity, and it accentuates flavors in food. If this sounds complicated, remember – no one has ever died from a bad wine and food pairing, it’s a low-risk proposition, even if wine and food don’t pair well, you can still experience pleasure!

My suggestion is that since wine and food pairing is an art form at best, wine consumers should experiment. What works for you, may not work for me and vice-versa. Just as chefs are adding new combinations of spices and flavorings to their dishes, new wine and food pairing synergies will be discovered. I like to think of it as exploration – new adventurers are breaking out of the mold of old ways of thinking and discovering new ways to enjoy the pleasures of wine. Just like not every explorer discovered something of value or importance, not all wine and food matches will work. But why not experiment and possibly make a discovery? The world of wine and food adventures is much safer than crossing the Atlantic on a galley, the worst mutiny that could occur is wine critics and the wine “order” could ignore you or denigrate you, but with the new world of social media – who needs them anyway? Set sail my friend to a new world of Tasting Discovery – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

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Does America Have “Poor Wine Self-Esteem”?

gary_vaynerchuk

Does America Have Poor “Wine Self-Esteem”

I saw the awesome Gary Vay – Ner – Chuk on his #aucrush #crushit “Crush It” book tour this past Wednesday at American University’s Kogod College of Business. I wasn’t just seeing Gary to hear about his book, but frankly I had a bit of an agenda: I wanted to promote my own book “I Drink on the Job” on his fun web show Wine Library TV (I have good news at the conclusion of this Blog Post!). Since I obviously wanted to draw some attention to myself in an audience of 200+ mostly college students, I wanted to ask a relevant question about wine to get Gary’s point of view. I was so excited/thrilled when the Moderator pointed at me to ask a question, I literally jumped up in the air, I was really pumped up by the show!

My question for Gary was about American’s “confusion” with wine and what he thought the problem was. In usual Gary fashion, probably the most quotable man in the wine business as well as all of Wine 2.0, he spewed out one-liners like “We’re stuck on 16 adjectives”, “People have no wine self-esteem”, and “I’ve seen grown men sweat at a business dinner..” His key point was that there’s a lack of what he calls “wine self-esteem” in the U.S. I thought this was something to delve into further because it’s one of the main reasons that I wrote my book “I Drink on the Job”.

According to Wikipedia Definition “Self-esteem”: “Self-esteem” is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. According to Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV WineLibraryTV, his newest book “Crush It” Crush It and many other entrepreneurial ventures, this is the biggest “problem” among American wine consumers today. Here’s the UStream Video of the event Gary Vaynerchuk Video at AU Crush It (I’m at about the 36th minute, he definitely noticed me!).

Throughout my book, I mention episodes of tension with American wine consumers in the real world. Examples include the woman who almost fainted when she found out I had purchased wines with screw top closures for her corporate event, the gentleman who almost went ballistic when I suggested that Robert Parker may not in fact be a “wine God”, and the woman who would not accept a pour of wine from me – at a wine tasting! Throughout my twelve year career in wine, I have experienced so much wine anxiety that I think Gary hit it right on the head – it’s actually American’s lack of “wine” self-esteem. Much of the proof of this is anecdotal, but when I teach TasteDC’s TasteDC Website wine course Wine Basics 101, I get the same questions over and over again: what do the “legs” of wine mean, is a more expensive wine a better wine, how long should a wine age, etc. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the questions, in fact, I think it’s very healthy to have strong curiosity about wine. I think the problem is that too many people believe there is in fact a right and a wrong answer. Too many wine professionals portray wine as something “difficult”, “complicated” and “mystical” – why else would they “de-mystify” wine? You only de-mystify, what is a mystery. What if wine professionals simply told new wine consumers to try a wine first and see if that person gains pleasure or to make wine part of daily meals? I spend over 200 pages in my book “I Drink on the Job” portraying wine as an everyday staple – drink it every day with your meals and the mystery disappears like the secrets to a magic trick. Once you get past the “illusion” of wine, it becomes an enjoyable part of your day, and a way to improve the pleasure of your meals.

As I always like to say: “Drink first, ask questions later”..but of course, I’m..

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

So Who Is the American Wine Consumer?

The American Wine Consumer?

The American Wine Consumer?

Editing my first Chapter of my book I Drink On the Job I realized that I’ve met thousands of first-time newbie wine drinkers, but I know very little about their demographics and characteristics except for two facts: they have high incomes and they are well educated.  But what does that mean? 

My Wine Basics 101 class has taught literally thousands of people in the Washington, D.C. area about wine and the wine culture, but most of the information I have on the consumers attending is only anecdotal.  So I always ask people, what was your first wine experience that made you want to learn more about wine?  The answers vary quite a bit, but I’ve come up with a “picture” of the general newbie wine drinker in the DC area:

  1. Well-traveled or at least has been outside the U.S. a few times,
  2. Enjoys good cuisine and likes to eat in a variety of restaurants,
  3. College educated and very likely an advanced degree as well,
  4. White collar worker with a decent income

So the criteria is income, education, likes to eat and travel, that’s a good start to figuring out who is and who isn’t a consumer wine drinker.  This also fits across the U.S., I’m pretty sure no matter what city you travel to here from LA to Portland, to Miami and back to DC, you will find a similar type person drinking wine.  So how is this signficant to my book?  I base my book on the European concept of food and wine: food and wine were meant to be consumed together, and wine is simply part of most meals.  A truck driver in France will grab a glass of wine with his cafeteria lunch just like an office worker might grab a glass with lunch at a cafe–drinking wine is simply no big deal and no major decision in most of Europe, particularly France, Italy and Spain.

I’ll leave with this thought: many Americans drink wine for a variety of reasons such as its sophisticated, complex and it is the drink of choice at formal affairs; their European counterpart barely differentiates the experience of drinking wine from grabbing a baguette!  Another factor to consider of course is that a standard glass of wine in France is a few dollars or so, about the cost of a Coke, while in the U.S. most wines by the glass sell for around $7 or more.  This may not seem like a big deal, but the markup in wine here is so high that it becomes clear why American wine drinkers need to have more disposable income: it simply costs more in the U.S. than Europe to enjoy the wine lifestyle..

Almost forgot, some workplaces in Europe allow workers to drink wine as part of their lunch, but that’s a separate Blog entry – cheers!

Charlie “I Drink On the Job” Adler