Buying that “Surprise!” Wine

Hey, Cisco the Harwich Spirits Shoppe cat here…

Man, I’ve been waiting 25 years (back to the “Off-Cape Days”) to write this post… The question is all too simple, and all too common… “What wine does a non-wine person buy when he (or she) wants to purchase a gift of the grape?” How many times have I faced this dilemma? There have been parties, weddings, birthdays, holidays, “Thank You” gifts, graduations, anniversaries, wakes… You name it, and I’ve been there. I’d explain that I didn’t want something that would gag a maggot off a gut wagon, but on the other hand I couldn’t afford more than a case of beer. And without exception, every time I asked that very simple question, I got a barrage of “wine-expert” questions back… “Red?”, “White?”, “French?”, “Californian?” Umm… How do I put this delicately??? I know far, far more about buying feminine hygiene products than I do about buying wine… And I know absolutely nothing about buying feminine hygiene products. The upshot was always the same – I bought the case of beer and left in Goober-like humiliation.

So, finally, I asked Cliff, one of the folks who runs Harwich Spirits Shoppe a very simple question… If he was forced to walk into a wine shop with a $20 bill and he needed to buy a bottle of wine as a gift, what would he buy? He gnawed over the question, milled about the store, and gave me a simple answer (gasp!) He’d purchase a 2005 Chateau Greysac Medoc. His explanation was simple – it’s a quality red wine, it has a nice aroma and color, it goes with a variety of foods, it has a flavor that holds its own, and is a good value at $18. Problem solved!

And there you have it… An answer to a question as old as the ages. And even better yet, you can leverage that answer to get other answers… For example, suppose you’re headed for a clam bake and you need to pick up a bottle of wine… Now you can confidently (non-Goober-like) stride into HSS, and step right up to Bruce (or Lena, or Cliff, or Biff) and say, “I’m going to a clam bake and I was thinking about bringing a gift… What do you think about a 2005 Chateau Greysac Medoc.” Now you have an anchor point. You’ve established a price and quality range… If that’s an inappropriate wine, fine. The right one isn’t far away and the staff will get you there.

It’s amazing how a cat can find insight into life’s most profound questions… Next time, maybe we’ll explore existentialism…

Pondering in the racks…

Two cats blogging,

Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.


One Response to Buying that “Surprise!” Wine

  1. […] unspoken truth be told, the subtly of wine is only 10% grape and 90% experience. Put another way, a $20 bottle of wine and good friends or a good book is worth far more than a $500 bottle of wine and doldrums or worse. […]

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