Calling All Wannabe Winos

Author’s Note: This post includes a giveaway; details in the final paragraph.

Can you really enjoy something if you’re utterly ignorant about it?

I think you can. I like playoff hockey even though I don’t know what icing is. I often go to museums with only one Intro to Art History class in my arsenal. And I enjoy wine. I know for sure that I prefer red to white and don’t like ones that cause you to smack your tongue against your lips. That’s the extent of my oenology.

pinot noir St. Barts

Each year when we head to St. Barts, I resolve to a. speak more French and b. learn more about wine. On this, our 7th trip, I finally tipped the scales in the language department. Sort of. I prattled on to everyone in my best textbook French. However when people responded, I had no clue what they were saying, offering a shrug and a lame apology:  Je suis désolé. Maybe next year I can add the other conversational component.

I was more successful with the wine.

St. Barts wine shop La Cave

Last year we saw this intriguing sign on the road outside of our villa. Who could resist? We were welcomed warmly by the owner, Cyrille Noyart. I confessed my ignorance, about the French language, wine, art, hockey. He dismissed my concerns and led me into La Cave to pick out some wine.

He suggested a rosé from Provence and a Mersault. I still can’t wrap my head around rosé (the French are crazy for it, drinking iced buckets of the stuff at lunch, on the beach, in the shower.) Maybe it was the white zin fad of the ’90’s that soured my palate. The Mersault, however, was delicious. So I returned before our flight home and purchased two more bottles and two pinot noirs.

St. Barts wine

I wrapped them carefully in towels then in dirty laundry. The return home was an anxious one because I expected to be summoned to security to explain broken glass. I looked for another solution for this year and discovered Rollups from BottleWise. A heavy duty resealable plastic pouch is enclosed in a nylon pad that rolls up – hence the name. I packed my purchases and gamely loaded them in my suitcase with new pale blue bath towels and filmy beach coverups. Hoisting my luggage off the carousel I was relieved that it wasn’t leaking and thrilled when I unpacked to discover the wine was fine.

To be honest, I don’t really know any more about wine, even after two years’ of handholding by Cyrille. Robert Parker certainly isn’t calling to ask for my impression of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau. But maybe I’ve learned a bit more about packing.


BottleWise has generously donated a Rollup as a giveaway. To enter, leave a comment on the blog about your area of ignorance, be it wine or whatever. One winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, May 28th. US residents over 21 only. Good luck.

41 thoughts on “Calling All Wannabe Winos

  1. I would say I am pretty ignorant of wine, but love it just the same. A good Malbec always does me, but that probably has more to do with the month I spent in Argentina. One thing I do know is a hundred dollar bottle is not better than ten.

  2. My brother in law collects high priced bottles of red. One particular bottle was engraved as a gift from his daughters and was valued at $2500. His 88 year old father opened that bottle handily at his midday lunch when his $6.99 bottle of red was emptied. He drank it the same. Put the same cut up apples and peaches in the glass. Smiled the same in spite of the screams of his son. He’s the picture of health and contentedness. Maybe that’s all we need to know about the art of picking a good red afterall!

  3. In a previous lifetime I lived in California and toured the state collecting wine. Then that life came to an end I began a new one. I remember being very broke and after work going to a convenience store and found….A Find. Good Chard for cheap. Then i moved out of the state to the Southwest and thought all was lost. There are some good, nay, great wines here, and some not so great. I would love to find out more about overseas wines and have given up my California snobbery, Thank heavens! Tell me more and re-educate me. Love your blog! . Italian wine is quite lovely, by the way.

    • Wish I had more to tell and an ability to navigate a wine list. I’m usually very happy if I see a zinfandel from California’s Russian River Valley as a choice. Thank you for the compliment about the blog. If you haven’t met yet, check out his blog. You will find a kindred spirit in regards to Italian wine.

  4. I don’t know enough about Italian wines, for someone who’s half Italian and visits there occasionally. I thought I knew about varietals here, but there’s a whole new set there to learn about. Last time I was there, a friend gave me a bottle of wine to take back, and I was so afraid it would break that I left it with another friend, so this BottleWise Rollup would be perfect.

  5. I too like red more than white, and like a previous commenter, really enjoy a Malbec. And a $10 bottle is sometimes better than a $100 bottle! Spot on, Michael!

    I love your adventures and can’t wait to read more!

  6. Thanks for the like! And I’d say there isn’t a lot that I know about wine other than what I have to know as a bartender. Beyond what makes it red/white/pink, the names for reds/whites/pinks, and the fact that they use grapes there isn’t much I do know!

  7. I am starting to learn about wine — by which I mean I can know what I like and don’t like, know basically how to tell different properties and what goes with what meal. But that’s it. My shameful ignorance is that I still am not very clear on the stock market. As a college junior…I feel I should probably start learning, especially since some friends were saying just the other day that they should (or already have) invested in stock…I’m so behind…money things make my head hurt. When my dad tries to explain them I smile and nod and it’s a like foreign language to me. Time to start trying, I guess.

    • Advice from someone who’s a bit older? Get a good, basic primer on personal finance. Jane Bryant Quinn is a good resource; I prefer her to Suze Orman. It’ll give you a gentle introduction to all things $$. And I find a glass of wine helps with the lessons. Thanks for entering.

  8. I am very ignorant when it comes to wine. I think all white wines are Zinfandels. Although my wine of choice is a Moscato, I am open to trying anything. I think once I continue to explore all my interests I become a little more knowledgeable, aka less ignorant. HA!

  9. I could happily devote the rest of my life to expanding my knowledge of wine, while my liver hollers, “Noooooooo!” That said, the sweeter vintages are still a mystery to me. After a very long love affair with dry reds, I’m only just now starting to give the lighter fare a second glance. Silence, liver!
    Very funny, delightful post. Cheers!

  10. You can’t compare zinfandel and rose wines – two totally different animals 🙂 Of course, living in Nice there is a lot of roses to taste and discover, not to mention the various reds and whites – I’m not an expert, but a total wine lover in knowing what I like! Thanks for visiting my blog, too.

  11. These rollups have to be the best ever, I ordered two last year before I went on a cruise to the Panama Canal it saved my wine along with my clothes. I only drink Rodney Strong Cab so I’d say I am ignorant about other wines; am I willing to try others? Nah.

  12. I drink a lot of wine — a whole lot, but don’t have a very discerning palate (hmm, perhaps a connection in there somewhere…) My family’s celebrations favor wine pairing dinners — the sommelier delivers a tasty, hand-picked selection for each dish and a few bon mots about the vintner, the grape, the weather, the terroir etc. It’s fabulous, dinner as theater (and about the same price). Great way to learn about wine. But I’m intrigued by the little known, under-appreciated local vintages like those mentioned in this NYT article, ROAD TRIP!

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  14. The best thing about wine is it is like art, it doesn’t mater who did it or when, only that it makes an impression. This, of course, can happen over a bottle of “two-buck chuck” or a $200 bottle all the same. The most important part is good company, laughter, and fond memories.

    PS, Chile is my favorite “bargain bottle” locale…with Concha del Toro (Marquis de Casa Concha, any varietal, really) and Casa LaPostolle in the absolute upper echelons…both brands with price ranges from less that $10 through the $80+ category (Don Melchor by Casa del Toro is amazing and easily 1/2 the price of similar Bordeaux or Napa Valley red and LaPostolle’s Cuvee Alexandre is easily among the best bargains for the price).

    Happy wino-ing 🙂

  15. I am a wine new bee! There isn’t much I know about wine so I am pretty ignorant, however I have noticed that when I drink red wine I cannot drink as much as I can white. A friend of mine said something about tannins so this is where I’m really showing my ignorance does white wine not have tannins??

    • There are tannins in both wines but more in red because the grapes ferment in their skins. That’s what gives the wine the red color too. Learned this fun fact during my tour of the Owera vineyards.

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