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Why Some Wine Knowledge?

So why do you care?  Maybe you don’t like wine and you don’t care.  Maybe you buy a bottle every now and then as a housewarming or party gift and ask the person at the store what to buy, and that’s just OK.  If you’d like to be a little more confident that your gift is actually a good one, or you’d really like to buy something you will actually enjoy drinking, or you want to make your own choice at a restaurant, then a little knowledge goes a long way.  You can’t always assume the guy or girl at the store really knows what they are doing either.  Case in point:

Cheri and I go into to a wine store (no, this is not a joke which follows- well , kind of).  We’re looking (actually mostly I am but it doesn’t matter) for a large format bottle.  For those of you unfamiliar with large format bottles we’ll do an article on them in the near future, because they are really cool.  Essentially they’re big bottles of wine.  Most people are familiar with magnums, which are the equivalent of two standard bottles. (A standard bottle is 750 milliliters or about a quart).  They’re in every package store and wine shop, although they’re generally lower end wine.  Magnum’s in really good wine are far rarer.  The bigger bottles are rarer still.  Not many shops carry them.  I am looking for a double magnum (4 standard bottles) or maybe something a little larger.  All of these bigger formats have names associated with them.  The first as we go up the size scale beyond the double magnum is a jeroboam (this is a Bordeaux format and 5 liters).

So we go into the store, which is a large wine store in our area, and we wander for a while.  When this produces no results we search for help.  We find it in the form of three gentlemen standing together near the beer section.  One is stocking a shelf while the other two are discussing something.  We approach.  One asks, “Can I help you?”

The rest goes like this:

Me: “I’m looking for a large format bottle of wine.  Do you have any?”

Guy stocking shelf with dazed look: “….huh?”

Older guy next to him: “uh, you mean a gigantic bottle!?”

Slightly younger guy next to him with manager’s pin and European accent (this is a guy you would absolutely believe knows what he was talking about in a wine store): “Yes,  you mean a Jigaboom!”

Now in fairness it was close.  But I know it‘s a Jeroboam.  Cheri knows it’s a Jeroboam (she in fact bought me a double magnum for my 50th birthday, an excellent Brunello no less).  We both kind of started laughing, because he said it with such gusto.  We didn’t really say anything more as he informed us they would have to special order the Jigaboom.

Maybe they’re really knowledgeable about the wine they do have, although they didn’t give us that impression.  The point of the story is that the people in the store are human, not infallible, and sometimes not that knowledgeable.  You might want to come armed with some of your own.

All the way to the car all I could think of was, “Boom  Jigaboom  Boom,  …Boom Boom”!

A votre santé!