Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bootlegging, Choice and taking recommendations

It's funny to think about buying wine here in ATL to take to KY for my parents. It seems that they just can't get some of the cool wines we get in ATL at home. My late Father would fax a list of wine for me to pick up for him and bring home whenever we headed that way--he even placed an order before he died since we were already scheduled to be there the following weekend. Why was this necessary? Our prices were better here, our selection was better, and the wines were current family favorites.

I can't speak to pricing as much, though I have bought some wine at Sam's club at home (Owensboro, KY) and found their prices were low as found here in ATL metro Sams's clubs. I can speak to selection as their local Kroger did not sell wine (only beer; not sure if that was a local rule, KY law, or something else) and there isn't much selection in shops as the focus seems to be on beer and liquor (you can find a ton of single-barrel bourbons there, many I've never seen outside of KY). I hate that it is so tough to ship wine from out of state, but rules have been relaxed as they were part of one vineyard's wine club and receive a few shipments a year. I like the fact that they can get wines delivered, but sometimes you need help in the form of advice before committing to purchase and delivery of a 'new' wine.

Earlier in the Summer they got a recommendation from a staffer at Total Wine in Kennesaw to try a zinfandel called Truscott (I think it was an Amador county red). They bought it blindly and it turned out to be amazing (the selling point was that it was worth over $20 but they sold it for $15--right up Dad's alley!). When I picked more up for them last month it had received high 90's from some wine guru so I'm sure that 'secret' is now out and it will soon be sold out. Contrast that with a patient associate trying to help some other people purchase some vino while I was waiting for help loading up that Truscott--the people gave a few names that they liked and asked for help with other selections. He patiently showed them at least 5 or 6 different wines that blew away the wine they were comparing and they ended up going back to the wine they started with. Why? They wouldn't step out of their comfort zone I guess! As a huge zin lover, I happened to know the wine in question (though I can't remember it)--it was good, and around $20 per bottle. He pulled several comparisons, from large producers to smaller/lesser known producers and they kept coming up with reasons to go back to their "safe" wine. What a shame--they could have saved money and had some great juice, but they weren't open to "change". So the wine message today is to shop around, look for people you trust and be open to trying new things. With so much good juice on local shelves, it's easy to try something inexpensive. Focus on a few varietals that you may not know well (like Malbec, Carmenere, Grenache for reds, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio for whites) and get a feel for what you like. Then start experimenting with different producers and countries. Ask for recommendations and see what happens! Fun places? Try Total Wines & More (Perimeter location does wine tastings all the time), Vino 100 in Alpharetta, and Cost Plus World Market (sometimes slightly pricey but always a varied collection of wines) as well as your local warehouse clubs. Don't forget local retailers; you can chat with someone to see if their tastes are similar (give them some of your faves) and take a chance! Enjoy! Bo

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do you know your stuff?

Check out the Atlanta Wine School's latest quizzes. I didn't do that well on the first two! I Actually did better on the last; perhaps I guessed better. Sometimes a bit of knowledge is a problem (at least that's what I'm telling myself today!). I have never done well on multiple choice tests anyway ; ) Cheers! Bo