Thursday, January 26, 2012

#Hashtag Hell, Wine Heaven, and some History: it's #PortDay!

I really appreciate everyone who follows me on twitter.  They are people of substance and good humor.  Either that, or spamming porn stars.  Sometimes, they're both.  Nothing quite like a spamming porn star with a heart of gold.  I think that was an made-for-TV special once.

My twitter followers have stuck with me through tweets like, "based on the view from a plane, there ain't shit going on in central Nevada." and "is there underwear for people with tails?"

But when a Twitter wine tasting comes along, I don't harbor ill-will if someone wants to unfollow for a bit.  Because it's gonna be a flurry of #Somewineormarketingmessageadnauseam.

Today is Global #PortDay, and twitter geeks (present company included) will be proclaiming the virtues of Portugal's legendary fortified wine, Port (named for the city of Oporto in Portugal, so if it's "Port" that ain't for Portugal, it ain't really Port.  It's just like the "Champagne" thing that gets my underoos in a wad).

Port is most often made from a variety of red grapes, sometimes dozens, but the most notable are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (aka "Tempranillo" in Spain), Tinta Cão, and Tinta Barroca.  The fermenting wine is "fortified" with neutral brandy spirits to stop fermentation, maintaining sweetness while running the alcohol by volume to around 20%.  This was originally done so the wines would be preserved enough to withstand the rigors of boat travel, as Port was extraordinarily popular with the British during Imperial times (in fact, much of the industry was controlled by the Brits).  Now, the fortifying is done because when you want something that is sweet that will get you messed up, Port is WAY better than Southern Comfort.

I hope to crack a bottle of Kopke 1987 Colheita for #PortDay.  I gave this to my wife for Christmas.  And aren't those the best gifts?  Ones that two people- madly in love- can share?  What better present is there than shared experiences with your life partner?  I have a feeling she's really going to love her new Julio Jones jersey (size Men's XL) and Futurama box set I'm getting her for her birthday.

Anyway, a "Colheita" is a single-vintage tawny Port, meaning it was made in the style of all the 10-year, 20-year, 40-year, etc. Ports (which are blends of several years of wine, aged for very long times in oak barrels), but all the grapes in this one were harvested in 1987.  Made me think:  what else was going on in 1987?

[dream sequence]

In the Year 1987:

  • A gallon of gas was $0.95.  Hamsters driving dinky cars used to get beaten up in 1987.  It was a tougher time.  And there was no "Party Rock Anthem" for their dancing pleasure.  Most likely, hamsters in dinky cars were flash-mobbing to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.
  • Speaking of music, the Billboard top hit of 1987 was George Michael's "Faith".  I'm more of a "Careless Whisper" guy myself, but smoky saxophone garners more appreciation now than it did in 1987.
  • Broadcast News won big picture.  Big friggin' deal.  Most memorable moment of the 1987 Oscars was the tearjerking presentation to Rick Baker for "Best Makeup" in Harry and the Hendersons (one of the few movies where John Lithgow is not typecast as sinister).
  • The average cost of a new home was $127,000.  At least some things stay the same.  Oh, except for that huge housing cost bubble in the mid-2000's when I bought mine.  
  • In a nail-biter, the Kingpins beat out the Zippers for "best vocal group" on Star Search '87.
  • Of course you already know this:  the incomparable Jackée Harry won the Emmy for Best Support Actress Role in a Comedy Series for 227.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure they're some damn good grapes.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Middle School Dance, Revisited

photo courtesy:

I knew cold-calling was going to be the price of admission.  What I didn't realize is that it is EXACTLY like trying to ask out a date to the 7th grade sock-hop.  And my proclivities in that arena were on par with screen doors on submarines, Crystal Pepsi, and Creed.  That is to say, abysmal failures (or at least embarrassments, in the latter case).

This was the first day I struck out into the meat grinder of wine sales.  Popped into 12 places, awkwardly (a word white people use for every situation) announcing that I wanted to sell commodity alcohol to said places.  

Sure, I know it's the lunch rush.  And I know another distributor just fast-talked you into a 10-case order of Crazy Bear Charbonnonay.  And I understand you just spent 20 minutes talking with the hipster chick in the stupid hat about your cheese order.  But, screw them.  Take your endless walls of wine, your established relationships, and your $20/each printed-on-real-papyrus wine lists and throw them in the f**king trash!  Why?  So you can buy wine from me!  

It's not a position of comfort for me.  Wine is- essentially- a commodity product to many.  For most consumers, wine is the Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay that washes away the hopeless ennui of suburban life.  Nothing more.  So, trying to put one's freshest-face forward to convince surly shop owners and (understandably) annoyed restaurant managers to drop the stuff with the heavy marketing behind it to carry small-production wines from unknown producers is tough sleddin'.

But, so far, it's not all bad.  There are folks out there who really care about the wine.  They are evangelists, and they are buying what I'm selling.  And, damn, that makes it fun... finding that girl who appreciates sweat pants and a knowledge of Legos.  Hope springs eternal, and it better, because the cold-calling begins at the crack of noon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I meant to wish Happy New Year and write a post about what bubbly to pop when ringing in 2012, but I decided to retire it to the boneyard with dozens of unwritten pontifications about what to pair with Thanksgiving dinner, how to get laid on Valentine's Day using wine + chocolate, and why pounding a case of Lodi Zinfandel with your hot dogs on the 4th of July is the "American" thing to do.

I had much more pressing things on my mind.

From a career standpoint, I'd come to a crossroads:  continue to pickle myself with the reliably-consistent whiskey of HVAC Wholesale Marketing (becoming perhaps a mutant Keith Richards-meets-Dave Lennox), or take the ill-advised plunge into the unknown world of wine sales.  On the surface, wine sales lured me in with its promise of drinking fabulously-expensive têtes de cuvée in an orgy-like fashion with young Tina Turners and David Bowies.  However, knowing so many in the industry, I understand the business is rough, and can leave scars and disorders for life... like wine orgies with rock stars.

However, I could no longer stand to stay idle.  Perhaps leaving good pay, benefits, security, and consistency to try my hand at the wine game measures up with some of the worst career moves in history.  David Bowie did Labyrinth.  Joe becomes a wine 'ho'.  Meh... I could've done worse.

I had a lot of people I respect tell me to go for it.  I had many others I also respect warn against it.  Sometimes, taking the risk is better than wondering "what if" every day.  I just couldn't say "what if" anymore.

So, as I try to bust my butt to help get Global Wines Georgia established in the Atlanta market, I hope to somehow manage to keep the blawg around.  It will not become a sounding board for events I'm hosting.  It will also not serve as a shelf-talker for the wines I'm pimping.  Ultimately, writing about wine was my first love associated with the beverage, so I'll try to weasel my way into the enviable niche of industry bloggers like two of my favorites:  Samantha Dugan and Nick Musial (the former a retailer/writer extraordinaire, the latter, a dastardly distributin' cuss like me, who just wrote a brilliant friggin' piece about the biz).

Whatever happens, I appreciate all of you who have stopped by here over the past few years.  I'll keep you posted, whether I make out with young Tina Turner or not.