I just read Matt Kramer's editorial in the latest Wine Specatator:
in this article, he describes his experience shopping in a wine store without his usual internet access and his guidebooks, and comments on how lost he felt despite his prodigious experience as a wine writer. He comments that there is very little information on bottles to indicate the style of wine. He also notes that there are just too many wines to taste, and that it is impossible to be familiar with a majority of the bottles on the market.
As a wine neophyte, I found his article to be oddly reassuring. I have a huge interest in wines, and amongst my close friends, i am considered to be the wine expert (how sadly mistaken they are! I often wish I could fulfill their heightened expectations of my wine choosing skills!) I am often confronted by a large wine list in restaurants, and I often feel that despite all my efforts to educate my palate, my choices will come down to a glorified guess. That, or I'll have to choose a bottle that I already know well, and then I feel like I am missing out on an opportunity to try something new and exciting. If I am lucky, I'll have had a chance to review the wine list before going to the restaurant, or the sommelier in the restaurant will be an absolute gem (like the sommelier I encountered at our last meal at Per Se. She was appropriate, informed, enthusiastic, and made the meal a glorious food-wine synergy event! If only that could be repeated at every restaurant meal!)
I have a similar experience in the wine shop, and love it when I encounter a member of the staff who can help guide my choices. However, I am more willing to take chances on educated guesses than Matt Kramer. If I come up with a stinker, well hey, that is just an expensive part of the education process!
Anyhow, I would be very interested in hearing the perspective of our local wine board experts. Any tips on how to make the most of educated guesses without the help of sommeliers and informed staff? And is Matt Kramer's experience typical, or is it possible to feel completely confident without internet and guidebook backup?
To the Chowhound editors: please please please leave this on the Wine Board!! I know you want to put it in Food Media, but I really would like the opinions of the Wine Oracles on the wine board.... and not all of them seem to travel to the Food Media board. This really is a wine topic....