I hate wine. At least, I used to.
The look on Betty Kaufman’s face when she first heard me say that was one of absolute horror. As a self-proclaimed “winer” and a 5 star Yelp rated representative of Wine Shop at Home, giving people a reason to love wine is quite literally Betty’s business.
I should start at the beginning.
I come from Texas. No doubt, there are plenty of wine drinkers from the south. However, most every southerner I know views wine tasting as elitist. We tend to share the view that wine tasting is something snobby rich people do. Furthermore, we generally believe all wines can be divided into two simple categories; good and bad.
Thanks to those beliefs, I’ve spent most of my life politely avoiding wine when it was offered, or taking one obligatory sip before announcing it wasn’t for me.
Shortly after moving to Mountain View, I was commissioned to write an introduction to wine video script for new bartenders. Through research, I learned a good deal about how many different factors can affect the taste of the wine, from the shape of the glass to the food consumed alongside the wine. I had just begun experimenting with fairly inexpensive wines when I met Betty at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Before meeting Betty, my wine drinking philosophy consisted of three steps:
1. Open bottle. 2. Pour wine into glass. 3. Sip and decide if it’s any good.
Learning new steps seemed intimidating, but I was willing to try!
At that morning’s Chamber meeting, Betty was a presenter. What better time than 8 AM midweek to have a wine tasting with business colleagues?
Betty was a fireball. No one has a right to be that happy and animated so early in the morning! First, she gave us a multiple choice test with questions about our preferences for food and drinks. How we answered determined our “vinotype”, or the type of wine we would likely enjoy.
All my life, I’ve been teased for my taste preferences. “A little coffee with your cream and sugar?” or “You only like fruity, girly drinks!” You name it; I’ve heard it in reference to my extreme sweet tooth. Now I know there is a reason I always reach for the sugar!
After answering questions about how I like my coffee, and whether I can stand the taste of salt or artificial sweeteners, I was presented with my result: sweet. Sweet vinotypes typically enjoy smooth wines with little acidity and bitterness, and often prefer fruity varieties to those that are more dry.
Betty brought a Chardonnay that she said would appeal to most everyone in the room. As everyone finished the test and started sharing results, she was quick to jump to the defense of those of us with a fondness for sweets. We couldn’t help the fact that we are super tasters.
Imagine my shock! I thought I hated wine, not that I was simply sensitive to tastes.
I sipped and Betty saw my “I don’t like this” face. She had a trick up her sleeve, though. She gave me a lemon wedge to suck on, then urged me to try the wine again. To my delight, when I sipped the wine again it had a marvelously subtle sweet taste to it.
I am sold. Thanks to this chance encounter, I’m motivated to try new flavors and textures, both in food and in wine. Who knows what I’ve missed all these years?
Since my morning drinking adventure with the Chamber, I’ve been to a wine and fudge tasting at Betty’s house. It has become her mission in life to help me find good quality, affordable wines that I can enjoy. She understands why I like certain wines and hate others, and that’s made her knowledge as a wine expert even more valuable to me.
Whether you’re a wine novice like me, or a wine lover like Betty, she can find you something tasty to enjoy. You’ll never have to worry about being a wine snob with a friend like Betty.