by Steven Sinkler

Wine drinkers come in every shape and size.    They also come with every type of opinion and knowledge level as well.

I have now survived five summers as owner of The Wine Shack and have come to the conclusion that wine drinkers come in a couple of categories.   My guess is that you’ll find yourself in here somewhere.

“I’m not a wine aficionado”.  The most honest wine drinkers are also the newest to the world of wine.   This group is just starting out, don’t know much and are usually willing to talk about what they like, what they’re looking for and gasp…try something new.   I enjoy working with this type of wine drinker and I typically steer them to an affordable, yet easy drinking bottle of wine.

“Where are your sweet wines?”  This group is also a beginner’s group as they have started drinking wine, but still find red wines to be too big, too tannic or too dry for their taste buds.   Desert wines, sweet rieslings and moscatos are this wine drinker’s safe zone.  In the future, I’ll get them to pick up a bottle of Pinot Gris or off-dry Riesling, but for now, bring on the sugar.

“I drink anything but….”.  The exclusionary wine drinkers are an interesting group.   These wine drinkers have had a bad experience with a bottle (or two) and have written off that grape entirely.   These wine drinkers usually finish the “anything but” sentence with either “Chardonnay” or “Merlot”.

Chardonnay typically makes this list because the customer has tried a cheap California chardonnay that tastes liken a buttery piece of lumber.  I can’t say I blame them.  These bulk manufactured wines don’t help the cause of the world’s best-selling wine.

Merlot, a delicious soft red wine makes the list for a completely different reason.   In the 2004 movie “Sideways”, one of the main characters announces his total dislike and refusal to drink Merlot.    This single movie scene has sent Merlot sales into a nosedive.   Fortunately for those of us in Oregon, the same movie praised Pinot Noir and has resulted in a surge in sales over the past 10 years.   It’s not easy to combat the Sideways effect, so I usually steer the customer to a red blend (which may be mostly Merlot).   Don’t tell them….

“I only drink….”.   Another type of “exclusionary” wine drinker, the “I only drink” group is a bit peculiar.  The sentence usually ends with “red wine”, but it could also end with “cabernet sauvignon”.  Very rarely does the sentence end with “white wine”.   This group is trapped in a very small box, yet tends to wear their statement as some sort of status symbol, as if one wine was more prestigious than another.

I often wonder if this wine drinker is similar to the brilliant scientist who wears the same style of clothing every day, so he (or she) can spend more time thinking about important things.  Or, does this person eat the same food every day, as in “I only eat pork chops”?  It’s a bit strange.

Typically, when a customer proudly exclaims they only drink red wine, I’ll ask them what they have when it’s 85 degrees outside.   Of course, they say ”red wine” and give me the “what part of I only drink red wine don’t you understand?” look.  Oh well, I don’t try to change this group, but I will talk to them about trying a lighter red wine, such as Gamay, Grenache or Pinot Noir during summer.

 “I never spend more than $20 for a bottle of wine”.  I love the frugal wine drinker and consider myself a member of this group.  This wine drinker will go through my store in search of the best bang for the buck.  They aren’t usually looking for a specific wine, just a great wine at a great price.  We’re happy to oblige and have a great selection for the frugal wine drinker to choose from.  I’ll show them our “2 for $20” wines and the wines which are second labels from top producers, both incredible bargains.

“I’ll try whatever you’re pouring”.  These are my favorite wine drinkers! This group is ready and willing to try something new.  We usually have a bottle (or three) of Puffin wine open for tasting and many customers have never tried them before.  It’s fun when a customer is willing to try them all.  It gives us a chance to talk about Cannon Beach, The Wine Shack, Puffin wines and the specific wine they are enjoying.   The customer may have come in looking for a sauvignon blanc or red blend, but after the tasting, they may be leaving with a bottle of Puffin Pinot Gris or Cabernet Sauvignon.   This group is flexible and tends to follow their taste buds.  I am a proud member of this group as I can’t pass up a wine tasting.   I’m always on the lookout for a new favorite wine.

No matter what type of wine drinker you are, remember to have fun.  Wine is best when it’s served with friends, family and food.   We often take wine way too seriously.  Tonight, try this, open a bottle of rose’ with whoever you’re hanging out with, whatever you’re doing (except driving) and whatever you’re eating.   You may find yourself in a new category….I only drink rose’.    Cheers!

Please drink responsibly.