There’s No Cheese With This Wine: An Interview

by Margo Ruter

In line with the wine theme we’ve been lushing about this week, we thought we’d get an expert opinion on the matter.  My neighborhood in Chicago’s Taylor St. area has a pretty little wine shop that hires experts to help their customers find exactly what their palette craves.

Tim, the wine expert on staff, has been in the wine industry for over ten years.  He began working at a wine store at age twenty, built a career in the beverage industry, and often works as a wine shopper for restaurants in the Chicagoland area.  I stopped in to ask him a few questions about the industry and to see if he agreed with the Danes.

Occam’s Taser: What do you think is the most important factor when choosing a wine?
Wine Shop Tim: The most important thing to consider is how you are going to drink the wine. For example, are you drinking it as a cocktail or are you cooking with it?  Are you serving it with a dish?  All of these factors play a huge role when determining where to begin.

OT: Do you recommend foods with wines you sell?
WST: Not always, wine is not a beverage that requires the attendance of food.  Some wines always taste best with certain dishes, and other wines are designed to be drank alone.

OT: Is there a major difference between screw-top and cork wines?
WST: Absolutely.  Screw-top wines are for drinkers that want their wine now.  Cork wines are designed to be sold to collector drinkers.  If you want to age your wine past the purchase date, the cork does the best job at preserving the taste.

OT: What about the labels of wines? Some people pick and choose their wine based on the label, but what’s your take on the art on the wines?
WST: The labels can have a huge effect on the buyer. The label industry is caters to specific generations.  Many new wines are designed to attract the attention of younger drinkers, and the more classic designs are obviously more traditional.

At this point, he brought me around the store and compared various labels that are designed for younger wine drinkers. Of course, being the tender age of 21, I found myself especially satiating over some of these labels.

At first glance, they look like normal bottles of wine, but in comparison to some of the more traditional bottles, the difference is obvious. – Tim

OT: So do these labels on these wines have any reflection on their quality or taste?
WST: Not really.  It’s the same as judging a book by its cover.  From the label, you can tell where it’s from, who made it, and who buys them.  There is more of an effect on the market of wine sales, rather than their taste or quality.

OT: Research in Denmark linked wine drinkers to having a taste for healthier foods.  Do you agree?
WST: Absolutely.  Upon launching a career in wine, my diet completely transformed from burgers and beer to wine and filet.  I also smoke cigarettes a lot less now that I drink more wine than beer.

OT: Do you find there to be a class element with wine?
WST: For sure.  Wine is more expensive than Miller Lite, even cheaper wines tend to add up to be more expensive than most other alcoholic beverages.
OT: Does this have anything to do with your diet?
WST: Directly.  No one wants to drink wine with a greasy cheeseburger.  People want to drink wine out of leisure, or with a nice piece of grilled chicken.
OT: So drinking wine is a lifestyle?
WST: It can be.  I personally think that most wine drinkers tend to use more of their left brain than their right.  Of course, this could be a tangent and have virtually nothing to do with the essence of wine, but I like to think that wine facilitates creativity.  Most of us working here at the shop are musicians.
OT: What about your employer?
WST: He’s a musician as well.  This could all be a coincidence, but you rarely see a person who prefers to drink wine that doesn’t have an artistic side to their personality.

Post-interview with Mr. Tim we sat and opened a bottle of wine that had a label that I liked.

Tim offered supporting evidence for the Danish researchers and provided more alternatives to the healthy lifestyle of wine drinkers. So bottoms up kids, you can start your healthy kick with a $10 investment of Yellow Tail from the local convenience store.

Keep sippin!

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