For some reason in my line of work, people like to attach fancy names to what I do for a living. When it comes down to it, I am no connoisseur, not a sommelier, but simply a man who has the luxury of doing what I love for a living.
Feel free to call me what you will, but know that I am a wine lover, a father, a son, a boyfriend to one and a friend to many.
There has been a stigma surrounding the world of wine for far too long, my friends. It is time to break that wall down.
Wine is no longerand hasnt been for a long timea product reserved for the rich or the wine-savvy. There is no law that says you have to be able to correctly identify an aroma in a wine to enjoy it. There is no rule that says if you cant pronounce a wine label that you should avoid it, or feel stupid asking someone what it is.
So, if anyone ever laughs at you because you dont know where the Rhone Valley is, you have my personal permission to spit in his or her drink.
One thing I always stress to my customers and staff is that all of our palates are different. Our taste buds are laid out in intricate patterns that are almost as varied as our fingerprints. So, if a wine reminds you of blackberries and pepper, and your friend says plums and licorice, well, guess what? Youre both right.
Another myth to dispel is that wine is always created by some artist or visionary. Now, granted, there are certain wines that may fall into this romantic idea, but never forget that wine, in its true essence, is an agricultural product. The farmers with muddy boots and dirty hands that tend to the vineyards, and do more physical labor than most of us do in a day, should get a 90-plus point rating. Mother Nature should get an award for making the weather cooperate.
We can thank years of glaciers, volcanoes and other factors for making soils hold the right balance of limestone or shale or slate that give a wine its complexity and balance.
I probably wont remember what movie a quote is from, who our 11th president was, or even the names of the musicians in my favorite band. However, I will remember which Spanish wine my friend fell in love with two years ago when she has forgotten.
This column will explore this often-confusing and overly-extravagant world, and hopefully shed some light on the simple beauty of crushed grapes. And in case we ever forget, wine is an alcoholic product, and we usually drink to get drunk.
What Ive been drinking lately
Red Hook Copper HookSometimes you just want a beer
2002 Cims de Porrera Solanes (Priorat, Spain), $30Amazing red blend of 60 percent carignan, 20 percent grenache, 10 percent cabernet and 10 percent merlot
2004 Gougenheim Malbec (Otono, Argentina), $14By far one of my favorite reds for less than $15.
Damien Hunter is co-owner of Cru Wine, Cheese, Lunch at 509 E. State St. For more about Cru, call (815) 986-2633 or visit the Web site at cru509.com.
from the May 2-8, 2007, issue