One of my favorite parts of the wine experience is working with a wide variety of people. Just a few weeks ago, I was leading a tasting at Chateau Thomas with a few young women. We were enjoying the wines and each other’s company, cracking jokes and popping corks. These particular young ladies were primarily sweet drinkers, so I had them try what we generally call ‘Summer in a Glass,’ which is a blend of our moscato and Strawberry Blush (a white zinfandel base with sugar and strawberry extract – sickeningly sweet for a dry drinker such as myself). Before I could tell the ladies what we call this concoction, one of them shouted “Oh! This tastes like Mariah Carey in a glass!” As we laughed about this exclamation, I thought to myself, and then shared with the girls, how true of a statement it was. Even though I had never thought of this blend in such a way, I knew exactly what she meant. This blend had a certain quality that really did match the persona of Mariah Carey in a glass. This experience reminded me of one of the simplest joys of wine: the wine industry is a people business.
One of my least favorite experiences is going to a wine tasting where the associate slaps down a list, pours a tasting, and walks away. When he sees your glass is empty, he comes by, pours another wine, and leaves again. This process on repeat is enough to make me walk away from a wine bar. Tasting is all about the experience, and a tasting associate can make or break that experience, subsequently establishing a reputation for that winery. I love my job at Chateau Thomas not only because of the people I meet every shift but also because of the people with whom I work. We play off one another, making jokes with shared customers and offering suggestions for pairings and recipes. When I hear someone say they enjoy dry reds, I swoop in and recommend the Tosca, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese that is absolutely perfect. Whenever someone pours our Vintage Port for a tasting, we throw a Port Party, which means everyone in the tasting party and most of the staff stop what they are doing to have a taste of port with a bit of chocolate. Wine tasting should be an experience, not a chore, and the tasting associate makes or breaks the tasting.