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February 19, 2014

“The Best”

    Everyone loves to complain about their job. Even if they love what they do, they’ll find something to gripe about around the water cooler. If you’ve ever seen the film “Clerks”( a favorite of retail workers everywhere), you’ll already know that those of us in the trade LOVE to complain about our customers. No, not all of them, just a select few. My personal favorite is a customer I like to call Mr./Mrs. Best. The exchange usually goes something like this…

Me – “Hi, can I help you find something?”

Mr./Mrs. Best – “Yeah, I’m looking for a bottle of Chardonnay (or Merlot, or Cabernet, etc.) for dinner with friends.  Which one is “THE BEST?”

    Now there’s a loaded question. The Best? The best how? The best value? The best balanced? The best match to the food being served? The best purity of fruit? The best expression of terroir? I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

    The problem with “ The Best” is that it is a completely subjective term. How do you quantify the quality of a wine? I know lots of wine critics try to with their 100 point scales, or “stars” or “Bicchieri” (Glasses), but what do those scores really mean? It’s just the opinion of one individual (or group) that may have very different tastes than you do. You could ask ten different people what they think “The Best” Chardonnay is and get ten different answers, for ten different reasons. I’m not saying that some wines are not better than others, but to single out one bottle as “The Best” is a bit presumptuous.

    However, the solution can be easier than one might think. With just a little more information, we can figure out what wine(s) will match up well with their tastes and needs.

-What are they looking to spend? $200 wines can be wonderful, but so can $20 wines.

-What are they pairing it with? Veal Parmesan? Burgers? Good conversation? Whatever it is, we can find a wine to go with it.

-What do they usually like, or not like to drink?  If I’m thinking Malbec and they like Malbec,…we have a winner. If they don’t like Merlot, then I’m not going to recommend Merlot even if it is the traditional pairing.

-Then some fine tuning. We’ve decided on Sauvignon Blanc. Do they like 100% varietal or perhaps a blend, like a white Bordeaux? A minerally bottle from the Loire or one with tons of fruit from New Zealand? Something that’s spent a little time in oak or something fresh from stainless steel?

    Just by asking a few simple questions, we can find the wine(s) that are “The Best for you”, whatever your situation may call for. Leave “The Best” for the critics to argue over. We’ll just drink good wines.

-Roger Waxman

By | Published in: Wine