Wine geekiness 9-27-2023

It comes with the wine writer territory: people encounter me at the grocery store, in elevators, on the street and ask me about wine. “As a wine geek…” they begin their question.

Hmmm. Wine geek?  

The original meaning of geek was a “highly intelligent, but introverted person.” When the term entered wine nomenclator, geek also suggested someone who championed unfamiliar grapes from obscure producers.

Well, I assert Gus Clemens on Wine is not that. Not introverted. Not focused on obscure wines.

Almost 16 years ago when a newspaper editor asked me to begin this project, the assignment was to write about wine in general for the general population and to suggest wines that everyday people could find without trouble or travel. I worked at the approach; the column began running in October, 2008.

Yes, I do occasionally challenge readers with uncommon grapes or techniques—white malbec and güner veltliner, for instance. But the wines have to be accessible at grocery or wine stores, online, or from the maker’s website. If extraordinary efforts are required—physical visit to the winery, any effort that includes passports and vaccination proofs—the wine never is recommended.

So, while I accept the “wine geek” sobriquet with a smile, I don’t consider myself one. Actually, I strive not to be one. The same applies to “connoisseur” and “oenophile.”

I do love wine and all the stories that abound with wine.

I do enjoy a my job includes appreciating wine almost every day and writing wine stories.

But I do not think of myself as a wine geek, connoisseur, or oenophile. I consider myself a writer and humorist whose subject happens to be wine. That is the job a newspaper editor challenged me to do, and one I have enjoyed ever since.

I thank each of you for being part of this adventure, even when you call me a geek.

Tasting notes

• Joseph Carr Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2020: More tartness and assertive black fruits than previous vintage, but remains a tasty wine that will pleasure many palates. $12-18 Link to my review

• W. & J. Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Ruby Porto: Jammy plum and chocolate delight. Serious acidity balances ripe fruit sweetness. Velvety richness masks high alcohol. Engaging finesse. Intense, focused through long finish. $25 Link to my review

• Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley 2019: Smooth celebration of dark fruits framed by well-done oak. Plush with tart blackcurrant notes. Savory elements and herbal traces add character and depth. $44-55 Link to my review

Last round: I used to be in a band called “The Missing Dog”… You probably saw our posters on telephone poles. Wine time.