Hello! This is my first blog post as Side Hustle Wino! I have been cultivating this little seed of an idea for some time and I’ve decided its time to start taking root.
I’ve been drinking wine for a few decades now — it all started with Canei Rose, easily attained at any convenience store and/or gas station mini mart. Oh how I loved the stuff. I don’t want to give off false pretenses, I also love beer. And vodka. And tequila. I am not sure when wine became my favorite, I’m guessing sometime around the time I felt I had to start looking mature and classy around bosses and co-workers and eventually, other mothers.
For many, many years all that I could tell you about my wine preference was that I preferred red. Aromas? Flavors? Ummm…it smells and tastes like wine…. I had a firm philosophy that even if your first glass of something was “bad”, the second was sure to be more enjoyable and if you indulged in a third, it becomes actually really good. I’m Irish, don’t judge.
I lived in the Bay Area for a couple of years and the thing I remember most about visiting wine country was a feeling I experienced while in Napa one day. It is hard to put into words, but it was an other-worldly experience. I felt a sense of peace and safety and contentment and I literally thought to myself “this is where I belong.” I was 30, with two kids under 5 so it was a completely different journey I was on at the time, but someday I wanted to live right there. In 2007 I travelled to France as a chaperone with a group of high school students. In Nice, our hotel was right next to a grocery store. I bought a bottle of wine one night to take back to the hotel and the cashier opened it for me at the register. Napa had been replaced. I want to live in France.
You may recall a little movie called Sideways. This movie makes a lasting impression due to one scene. Its the scene where Maya talks about wine as a living thing. I got goosebumps. I had a euphoric moment – someone had just summed up how I felt about wine. Here’s the scene:
Of course, being the clueless wine drinker that I was, I gave a hoot about whether or not Miles approved of Merlot. I loved Merlot. Merlot would be my safe wine for years, until I eventually developed obsessive cab disorder. But Maya, oh, she was a poet.
Still, I would spend the next decade thinking that I just didn’t have a good palette. I can’t taste berries or tar or cigar ash. I just taste wine and most of the time, I like it. I watched Somm. This movie confirmed for me that I have no palette, however, it paradoxically ignited a passion for learning. I will forever be in awe of anyone who can blind taste a wine and identify the terroir. But, it wasn’t until Somm, Out of the Bottle that I again experience goose bumps. It was the scene at Schloss Valrads with books documenting sales of wine back to 1492. I didn’t have a Bucket List until I watched this movie. I began reading industry news. I became familiar with Decanter (my favorite publication). I attended more tastings. I listen to every podcast on the subject of wine. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Val and Steph at Wine Two Five. My absolute favorite. Here’s a link: http://www.winetwofive.com/episodes/ — you’re welcome.
Eventually my youngest left for college (more about that little wino in another post), and I returned to work. The single most defining factor in the evolution of my desire to obtain formal wine education was that, while I acknowledge my good fortune in finding employment, it didn’t take long to also realize that an 8 to 5 desk grind was not where I wanted to be at this point in life. Add an hour commute each way (which only 10.2 miles here in the ATL) and just YUCK! I had been perusing classes at the International Wine Guild, the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and the Atlanta Wine School for a couple of years and I decided that even if I never become anything more than an enthusiast I would pursue some form of formal education. I began reading How to Taste Wine by Janice Robinson and of course The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil. Ah, Karen, she is a poet. My heart literally flutters when I read her words.
I begin fantasizing about a life immersed in wine, where possibly, at some point, I may even be able to become gainfully employed. I decide to sign up for the 12 week online prep course for the Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators. Somewhere in the daydreaming, this little seed of an idea wouldn’t stop germinating and Side Hustle Wino was born. I am still not 100% certain where I am going with this, but I think there is a market for wine experiences — tastings based more on education than sales. I certainly understand and appreciate sales based tastings, but I think there is a different market out there as well. I am hoping my tasting abilities will eventually improve, but in the mean time I can throw my passion into the history, viticulture and production of this beautiful beverage.
My intentions were to create this blog upon return from trip to Italy in September. Unfortunately, I injured my knee so badly after our first day in Florence that we had to end the trip and return home. Surgery for ACL reconstruction and a complex meniscus repair followed. My CSW classes began the Monday after we returned from Italy, which now included surgery and recuperation. I’m a little behind in every aspect of life at the moment. As I write this I am 2 weeks away from the end of a six week no weight bearing sentence. Thank God for wine.
Cheers to taking a chance, to making a change, to believing in yourself. I hope you will follow me on this journey.