Being ‘the Wine Guy’ Part Deux, Revisited

The following is a bit of a re-write of a post from two years ago. I thought about editing the original and reblogging it, but after I did that last week, I regretted it almost immediately. It was one of my first posts and I thought that I should have preserved it for posterity, for when I become famous and then look back at “the early days” and chuckle.

That’s the way I see it.

So instead of editing this second post and reblogging, I left the original (which you can read HERE) and below is the revision (although I did not change all that much). If you read both, I would really like to know your thoughts.

When you’re a ‘wine guy’ there is certainly considerable responsibility, some of which I covered in Being the Wine Guy Part One.  Ah, but only if it stopped there.  The one thing all wine guys like to do is drink wine (no kidding) and most of the time drinking wine is more enjoyable when you drink with other people.  There are exceptions to this, of course, like my mother  (she used to have the same box of Franzia ‘Sunset Blush’ in her fridge for years) and my uncle (he is actually not that bad at all since he really likes wine, but it seems he only likes wine that he purchased at the $.05 sale at BevMo–you buy one bottle at the normal price and get a second for a nickel–and I am pretty sure he has it in his head for which of the two bottles he actually paid the nickel and that is the only bottle we drink), but all of our relatives live safely out-of-state. Instead, we often have friends over for dinner and crack a few (too many) bottles of wine.

Most of the time, people we invite know I am a ‘wine guy’ so I get a bit of performance anxiety and fret for hours over which wine to serve with dinner. I have this vision that people are going to come over expecting a wine epiphany, and as the wine guy, I feel obliged to provide it.  Strangely, there seems to be an inverse proportion at work here–the more I fret over the wine, the less people pay attention to it at dinner, and as far as I can tell, there has yet to be an epiphany, but I have not apparently learned anything from that.

There is another odd phenomenon: When we invite people over who know I am a ‘wine guy’ they inevitably say something to the effect of “What can we bring–other than wine of course, I wouldn’t dare bring ‘the wine guy’ any wine.”  So they go buy a fruit tart or a bouquet of flowers or a jack-o-lantern.  Nice gestures all, but…


You might bring some of these Japanese gummies to the Gummy Guy.

You might bring some of these Japanese gummies to the Gummy Guy. From

Let’s think of something other than wine, say gummy candy.  Let’s say you knew someone who was known as the ‘gummy candy guy’.  Absolutely went bezerk over gummies: bears, worms, cherries, hand grenades, whatever.  Would you even hesitate for one stinking second to bring him some gummies?  Heck no.  Not for a heart beat.  In fact, I bet the ‘gummy candy guy’ could have gummies coming out of his rear end and still gets a boatload of candy when people come over.  Now you might bring a small bag of ‘real’ Haribo Gummi Bears from your last trip to Germany, or a 17 pound bag of closeout colossal gummy hippopotamuses from the store in the mall that was going out of business, but sure as shootin’ you are going to take that bozo some candy.

What about chocolates?  Same freaking thing.  Beer?  Sure.  But wine?  Not a chance.  “I wouldn’t dare bring any wine to the ‘wine guy’.” Does that make any sense to anyone? If so, could you please explain it to me?  Would you ever say “I am not going to bring you any chocolate because you like chocolate”???  Or, “I hear you really like building Legos so here is a bouquet of flowers”???  Why is there such a fear of bringing a bottle of wine?

While on the one hand, I understand–people may be intimidated.  I drink a lot of wine and people think I know a lot about wine.  Generally, the average schmuck thinks they know very little about wine, so that is where the insecurity may set in.  Somewhat similarly, we are always hesitant to invite our friends who are professional (or really talented amateur) chefs over for dinner because we feel that they will be judging our cooking.  In fact, when we have had professional chefs at our place for dinner, my wife insists we only cook Korean food since she figures no one will criticize her heritage (she actually claims that it is due her familiarity with the cuisine, but we all know she is just playing the “Asian Card”).

But here is the key:

Bringing wine to a wine guy is nothing like my wife’s fear of cooking for Julia Child since wine guys are not expecting you to bring over a bottle of wine that you made yourself!  In fact, I hope you never decide to do that unless your name is Wes Hagen or Ehren Jordan. Having to try some bathtub wine sludge might be my worst nightmare–and my wife would be horrified.  Not since she would have to try the wine too (she would never admit it, but that would scare the bejesus out of her, too), but because she knows I would not be able to hide my feelings about how it tasted for even one nanosecond.  Sure, I would say the right things (I think), but my facial expressions would certainly let everyone know what I thought of the rot gut swill.

Luckily, I have only had to go through that once and coincidentally, we have not seen those people again.

If you really want, you can get this at Williams-Sonoma. Just don't make me taste it.

If you really want, you can get this at Williams-Sonoma. Just don’t make me taste it.

So unless the “juice” in the bottle is your own creation, wine guys are not judging you by the wine you bring over. I know that when I taste a bad bottle of wine, I do not think of who paid for it as much as who made it.  Really, there is a ton of perfectly acceptable wine out there–and you do not have to spend half your paycheck, either.  Generally speaking, even if you know absolutely positively rock bottom bupkis squadouche about wine, if you spend at least $10 and it comes in a regular size wine bottle, no wine guy is going to throw you out of their house or spit in your food.  Really.  Unless the guy is a complete jerk, but you wouldn’t want to hang out with one of those anyway, so who gives a honey badger?

There is an exception to this rule!  Please, please, please, PLEASE do not bring the ‘ironic’ bottle/jug/box of wine, thinking you are absolutely freaking hilarious and that you are so incredibly clever since you are the first to think of this.

Because you’re not–on both counts.

Franzia NO!All of us wine guys (I think I can speak for all of us) have received a 5 gallon jug of white Zin (I used mine as a door stop for several years), a magnum of some wine with some sort of critter or critter’s tail on it (you know exactly what I mean), or a 3 gallon box of Franzia (I actually returned the Franzia and bought a decent wine in a bottle–they had actually spent $16.95 on the box!).  Really, it was not funny the first time and it won’t be funny the next time.  Heck, even a bouquet of dandelions that you pulled out of your lawn would be funnier.

This is not an attempt to convince people to bring crack to an addict (OK, maybe it is).  Rather, it is just another attempt to take a bit of fear and mystery out of the wine experience. The next time you are going to have dinner with a wine guy do something new and unique:

Bring a bottle of wine.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Humor, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Being ‘the Wine Guy’ Part Deux, Revisited

  1. Professions for PEACE says:

    Great post! What a novel idea… don’t be afraid = bring some wine (yes even to ‘the wine guy’ – or gal). And I really appreciate your sense of humor. Both in your writing (and your tag line) and in your photos, as the pic of the cyclist (you?) with a huge load of wine strapped to the bike (must be you!) always makes me chuckle. Cheers! Gina


    • Yes! If “your” wine guy doesn’t appreciate what you bring, he is not worth your time. Thanks for the other comments as well! Technically, that is not a picture of me with all the wine, but I took the picture after loading up the bike….


  2. Laura says:

    This is like how people refuse to make me vegan food because I’m that “vegan” girl… No, wait, this isn’t similar at all… 🙂 I agree with you, but I understand how bringing wine can be intimidating when the person you are brining it for knows so much! Have you seen Somm? That movie alone scared me so much I just bought Bota box Pinot the next time I was at the liquor store… 🙂


  3. Good article, and I hope it helps people get over their intimidation. But I think there’s a deeper problem than wine-phobia.

    This has me wondering about wide-spread insecurity in general, and why so very many people suffer from it. Why do so many suffer from the sense of not measuring up in comparison? Why should social interaction turn into some kind of stupid contest! ? Where does this come from?

    Have you ever been intimidated just because someone knows more than you know about something? Is it this way in Europe, or is this an American phenomenon? (My experience with Germans is that they’re not intimidated by their friends’ expertise).


    • Very interesting points and I think you might be on to something! More often than not, when I am in Europe, people celebrate expertise. Here, they tend to either ignore it or worse, belittle it. Why do you think that is?


      • The Rhode Island cab driver who took us to dinner a couple of weeks ago would answer your question this way,(in that strange accent that’s halfway between Boston and the Bronx) “It’s because people here are STUPID!”

        Well, I don’t actually think it’s stupidity, rather more like immaturity. I sometimes see contemporary mainstream American social structures and exchanges (compared to European or Aboriginal cultures) as adolescent–energetic, hopeful, naive, full of promise and can-do inventiveness; but also bombastic, unrefined, and fraught with self-conscious insecurities. And the primary value here is on personal achievement/success. Compared to most Europeans, we’re a very competitive group of individuals whose first concern is to make sure we’re on top of the heap.

        But I’m only talking about what happens at networking business functions and wine tastings, and not about the critical crises. In those, for whatever reason, Americans do tend to show amazing self-sacrifice and heroism. (Might be adolescent bravado; the sense of invincibility?)

        I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I do like to think about such things and come up with wild hypotheses.


      • You should not diminish your hypotheses! I, too, am always trying to come up with reasons for why people act the way they do!


  4. Sonya says:

    I’ve had the experience of bringing wine to a wine guy’s house, and the bottle was never opened. In fact, it was still on the side board the next time we came over. It didn’t even have an animal on the label! Another time my husband brought a bottle from one of his trips overseas…again, never opened. Usually the wine guy had already picked out some bottles he was excited to try, and that was always fun, and the bottles were always WAY better than something we would bring, so we kinda gave up and switched to bringing desserts, flowers, Haribo from Germany, etc. 😉


    • Hmmmm. Well, if I am reading your comment correctly, I am pretty sure the wine guy in question has since changed his approach. He used to be focused on the correct pairings and all that bull, but now it is rather simple: if you bring it, we, er, they drink it.


    • We also had some friends that used to come over quite a bit. On one occasion, they brought a nice bottle of Saint Emillion and told is it was a gift, so I stored it in the cellar. I had planned to pull it out on a subsequent visit, but alas, they abandoned us and moved away to the big city. The bottle remains well stored in the cellar, waiting for the time that they might decide to return to our humble hamlet to dine with the common folk again….


  5. dwdirwin says:

    Ha- so you were with me on the wanting to compare the original and revised versions! I saw the few word changes because I knew to expect them, but none of the language in the original jumped out at me as being offensive. However, in the revised you should have changed the honey badger reference- that’s so two years ago 😉 Great follow-up post to the first one- and I can totally see your point. The bringing the wine thing isn’t as much of an issue here because we are surrounded by it and so many people are in the industry, it’s almost more unique to bring something non-wine related.


  6. Never! Gummy Bears for you. Brings me back to the time when my mother used to make her own wine. AWFUL!!!! But no one had the nerve to tell her except this one guy we brought home and…. I’ll let you imagine the rest. 🙂


    • Yeah, being forced to taste homemade wine is at the top of the list of horrors. I did it once and they were so proud of it, but it was just a mess. They said they wanted my “honest” opinion (but what they wanted was my honest opinion as long as it was good). I pretended to like it, then poured it out when they were not looking…


  7. rhchatlien says:

    Good article. I think it’s like the reaction we get when people find out we like classical music. Some interests / hobbies just have the label “pretentious snob” unfairly attached to them, and the average person freaks out: “Oh, I could never understand that stuff.” Ah well. BTW, I liked your edits. You cleared up one thing that bugged me in the first one–the sentence that said, “She will only make Korean food,” without an antecedent for “she.” I noticed a few other touches here and there too.


    • Thanks for the input on the edits. Some of my initial posts were rather sloppy and that “she” you mentioned jumped right out at me immediately. I never tell anybody that I like Opera, for some of the same reasons…


  8. dakegrodad says:

    I liked the second edition better


  9. So we are entertaining friends on Saturday night. It’s there first time over for dinner. I am roasting a lamb – okay, a leg of lamb, not the whole damn lamb. Instead of saying, let me bring dessert knowing our interest in wine and craft beer. He asked me specifically what beverage to bring. Is that just as bad?


    • No, I think that is actually fine–I try to make a point to tell people what we are having beforehand, so if they choose to bring a beverage, it might go with the meal. I have made the rule “If they bring it, we drink it” even if it does not work all that well with the meal. It seems to make my life easier….


  10. kriskkaria says:

    Wonderful story. I’d love to narrate it for my podcast. Let me know what you think.


  11. Pingback: True Devotion | Joy of Wine

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