Winery Log, Summer 2018; Wine tasting with the Lions

Again, how do you meet new people? The answer depends on what kind of people you are looking to meet.

Let’s assume you are looking to make a new friend, either socially or at work. A big party seems too random to make a meaningful connection with someone new. You’re looking for someone in whom you share something in common. This is the essence of wine tasting with the pride. These are the Wine Lions.

Practiced and precise, a wine tasting Lion knows what they like and what they are searching for in a wine. They may try whatever is offered, but they came in the door knowing they wanted a heavily oaked Petit Verdot or a Sémillon heavy Sauterne. Winemakers love & hate Lions, because as tasters they know themselves well enough to be comfortable in their opinions, possibly knowledgeable about other regions and methods to spark conversation and if they have the wine prey being stalked, good sales. The if is the sticking point, and it is just as much onus on the taster as the winemaker. Like good music, a good movie or good art, if it clicks between them it is a joy to witness.

Lions are no better or worse than Herd tasters, in fact, many groups contain both. But Lions will be the first to suggest a glass outside or a shared bottle. Like a pride taking down a kill, the finding and sharing of a good wine is everything to them, and if the group validates their discovery, they will leave with more bottles of it. This is good for both winemaker and taster.

Being on the side of a summer vacation lake, Lions for us are not universally snooty dry-only wine lovers. Like Oog the cavewoman bringing back rabbit, herbs and berries, they tend to have a group with diverse tastes with them and know smooth trumps dry or sweet for a household on vacation. It warms a winemakers heart to see a well-balanced mixed case go out the door with a Lion, though hopefully not to be tied to the hood of their truck. It’s summer, and the best bottle of wine in the world is still subject to the physics of a 95° day.

Lions can take on a negative aspect at times when they begin to believe they represent the epitome of good taste. Wine Lions make the worst sort of wine critics. At a wine tasting they can begin to make fun of other’s tastes as being rank amateurs, or unknowledgeable about the finer nuances of hunting wine. Instead of passing along useful tidbits to help these others, they guard sacred ideas or hunting techniques like some rabid trail guide protecting their secret spot. Besides drunks, few things at a public wine tasting go over so poorly as an opinionated jerk exposing their version of good taste; and this certainly included us winemakers as well as guests. If you find yourself roaring detrimental comments about a particular wine over the heads of others at a wine bar, go ahead and put on the fur collar, Mufasa. The winemaker is regretfully going to watch the quiet couples at the end of the bar disappear out the winery door, driven away by your indiscriminate roaring, and taking their sales dollars with them.

On the other hand, if a winemaker is going to watch a full case of Cabernet Sauvignon go out the door, it’s going to be in the hands of a Lion.

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