What got you into wines? What was the catalyst?

After all the years not knowing what the mystery was about, I wanted to know what the different varietals tasted like. One by one varietal and the journey began and then it was more tastings from there.

Wife…before she was my wife. Had to have some way to get her to eat dinner with me.

My parents got into it after a business trip to Napa. A few sips of some killer juice and a whole new world opened. Really good wine was so different than anything I had ever had. So much going on, so complex, so multi-faceted. A never-ending world of choices and experiences.

It’s the worst thing, financially, that has ever happened to me.

I forget how old I was but I was still just a kid. My dad and I were driving from Sun Valley Idaho to Boise and we stopped at a truck stop. My dad asked me what I wanted and for some reason I answered “wine and cheese”. I have no idea why I said that. Im pretty sure I had never tasted wine at that point. For some reason he bought me a small 1 serving bottle and some cheese and let me have a few sips as were driving (times have changed…) I remember how completely delicous those sips of wine were. Then I think a year later I had some Champagne at NYE. And then in middle school I remember I tried some white wine from a box. And then some asti spumante about a year after that. All these experiences added up to me realizing I really really really loved the flavor of wine.

When I got to college I started studying books about wine and visiting lots of wineries for tastings (even before I was 21). Also around that time my uncle opened some mature Bordeauxs for me. That made me realize how incredibly complex wine can be when aged and the importance aging wine.

I always say that it was my Father who got me into wine because he was (and still is) a big fan of French wines; mostly Bordeaux and Loire. It was one more thing that we could enjoy together. But if I am really honest with myself, I have to admit that it was because of a girl. We were 20 and she really liked CA Chardonnay (and the occasional Pouilly-Fuisse). I was with her for three years until I realized how much I liked Riesling.


  1. New girlfriend. At fine dining establishment. Waiter made me feel about 3 inches tall when I ask about the wine selection. Promised I would never let that happen again. I ate, drank and slept fine wine. Never went back.

Wife started it. drinking the 96 Mouton at release turned me into a total geek.

My neighbor (a very good cook) convinced me to try a bottle of chardonnay (Markham) at a dinner she made for me.
Until then, it was nothing but Glen Ellen and Fetzer… their sweeter wines. That was step one.

Next, my brother got the bug for Cali cab, and opened up and shared a bottle of 97 Arrowood Reserve Speciale cab. It killed me that it was so good.

Finally, my wife and I honeymooned in Napa and Sonoma ten years ago. We shipped home about 10 cases of wine.

It’s been ‘downhill’ ever since!!! [cheers.gif] [cheers.gif]

Did he call you Zach?

Mine was a fantastic 7-course pairing dinner at Napa Rose. I didn’t realize how amazing wine was when well paired with food. I then joined eBob’s forum to learn more about wine, then got booted off, and now have to babysit you guys.

I was never into wine until college. I got my first serving job at the Ruth’s Chris steakhouse. Back then the laws were different and pharmaceutical companies would spend tons of money taking doctors out to dinner for presentations. There would always be a minimum amount that the company would have to spend to reserve a private room. Many times, the only doctors that would show up would be younger residents. So, sometimes the companies would not meet the minimum. One night, a rep was staying late and I was cleaning up. He found out that we were still a few hundred under the minimum so he asked me to bring out a few bottles of 1982 Haut Brion. He had a half of a glass and told me to have the rest of the bottle. That is what opened my eyes.

The next day I signed up for a class at Grapevine market. I wanted to try all kinds of new wines and learn how to sell them. Have never turned back. It is funny to think back and be able to pinpoint one bottle.

Booted off is not quite what I would call it.

It was 1998 or 1999. I was 34 or 35 and a craft and micro brew beer guy. I HATED wine. [snort.gif]

One of my neighbors became a buddy. He was hugely into wine. He and his wife organized a wine club where they would talk about a region and its wines and then everyone would taste 8-10 wines that Gunnar had selected. It was the hottest ticket in the neighborhood (so to speak).

My pal invited me several times and I repeatedly declined, stating my dislike of all non-beer related alcohol. (after all, I had tasted Mad Dog 20/20, Boones Farm, Blue Nun and Mouton Cadet as a kid/teenager). I remember telling Gunnar, " No, not my thing … Sipping wine and saying something like ‘Tastes like feet.’. He laughed and thought I was crazy (and stubborn).


Anyway, my ex finally insisted that we attend one of these events, if for no other reason that our neighbors were there and everyone wanted to be there. The first tasting I attended was a white Burgundy tasting. We learned about the Cote d’Or. I tasted and experienced the mineralogy and flavors of the various appellations and vineyards. I was HOOKED. hitsfan

My pal was “amazed” at my supposed palate. I told him what I tasted and he claimed that I was dead one. I ended up ordering a case and a half of the wines from Nejaimes. The next tasting a month or so later was Gewurtztraminer. Again I was hooked. In fact, other than my buddy, I was the only one who liked what we tasted that evening. I bought a 6-pack of 1989 Marcel Deiss Bergheim Gewurtztraminer. It was all over then.

2000 Bordeaux futures soon followed …

Next thing I know, it’s 2011, I have done and quit the whole Cali mailing list thing, I have ventured throughout the European wine regions, experimented with Australia pepsi , etc and have 5,000+ bottles. I am now selling wines for the first time and refocusing my collection to my true loves of Burgundy (red and white), Barolo/Barbaresco, Bordeaux, Riesling, Brunello and Rioja.

What a long strange trip it has been.

Thank you Gunnar Christensen! (I think?!?)

A 1992 Smart Money magazine article describing the values to be found in 1990 Bordeaux first caught my eye. Since I often attended business dinners with associates who were clueless about it, I had an opportunity to differentiate myself. And then once I tasted my first 1990 Lagrange (which was highlighted in the article as a great value) and realized that wine was a subject that greatly rewarded the pursuit of knowledge, I was hooked…

  1. complete noob. got invited to a barrel tasting with Michael Browne when they were making wine at Freeman (?).

tasted through darn near every barrel and asked every “dumb” wine question a novice might ask: “what kind of wood is that?”, “that’s called a ‘bung’?!”, “how do you get the juice from there to here?” and so on.

while the wine was delicious, the best part of the day was the time spent with Michael. he was a gracious and generous host, and answered every question thoughtfully, without condescension or making me feel like a dope. he really made wine less intimidating and more approachable…an experience i will never forget.


My newbie-epiphany moment…I was having dinner with my gf-at-the-time at the LA Peninusla hotel Belvedere restaurant. Food, service was top notch. Wine was a 98 Dom. Drouhin pinot from Oregon. At the time it was the best wine I had ever touch my tongue.

Thousands of dollars later…I’m still chasing the dragon

Living in the Frankenwein zone in Germany as a soldier in the seventies. Got the bug and never stopped.

PS: what KIND of wine does one get at a truck stop in Idaho???

  1. Started working at a party/general store in East Lansing with a very nice wine selection. Tried a couple of bottles. Game over

For me it was dining out at nice restaurants and being intimidated by the wine list. I just wanted to dine out and not feel like a fool

It probably was Gallo or something