wine and bottles

Like everyone, I am good at some things and not at others. My “not” list bothers me. I have spent decades trying to learn French. Beyond “oui” I am just a “non.”

And there’s wine and wine paring. I’ve gone to classes, read, red and white, sipped, spit and gotten ever more confused. It’s worse because I cannot tolerate a wine snob. So if I am around one while they are rattling off which hillside in Tuscany has the best grapes, I’m at a loss. All I can say is “Chianti” and hope I don’t embarrass myself, and my wife, too much.

My rescue has arrive. There is a chain of wine stores, Total Wine, based in New Jersey that has created an iPad app that I love. And, no, I am not above sitting down at my table, opening the iPad and searching for a great recommendation.

The app is easy. Pick a food category, say salmon. Pick how it is being prepared, say roasted. And finally specify if there is a sauce or spice that is accompanying the dish, say a heavy sauce.

What does the app do? It provides a list of several wines recommended for the dish. An array of wines that may range the spectrum form sparkling to dessert/rose. And price points ranging from $5-10 to $40+. You can limit the type of wine, to say red and keep the price point to say in the $20s. Some combinations, like this one return a short list of just a couple of wines. You can even set up a combination where this app has no recommendations, which is a gentle hint that you need to probably consider a different type of wine.

Is it gauche to break out the iPad? No, I don’t think so. People unfold those little pocket guides all the time. As for that wine snob who has it all in his head, if they are pleasant about it I will admire their encyclopedic mind. But if they are obnoxious, not only do I not like them, I don’t trust them.

I’m going with my iPad.

Now, about that hillside in Tuscany that is the best. When you hear that from someone, then shy away. It’s just like someone trying to tell you a hurricane out in the mid-Atlantic is going to hit Miami. The glory of wine is all the uncertainty. One year, the April sun will be shielded by clouds a bit, the vines will get a late start and the grapes will not be quite ready to take full advantage of perfect August heat. It’ll be the hillside in the next valley whose grapes are more able to thrive in this one summer’s environment. You can’t predict this. You can’t prove it. All you can do is open the bottle, sip and enjoy the wine for what it is.

You don’t have to worry about “best.” You can just savor the “good.”