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Posted: February 27, 2009

When everyone’s an expert

You may not know it, but we’ve got some killer wine experts in Colorado

Cathie Beck—The Wine Wench

Pop over to this Web site: http://tv.winelibrary.com. There you will find the enthusiastic (some might say obnoxious) wine expert Guy Vaynerchuck (VAY-ner-chuck). This is a guy who, just three years ago, set a camera up to record himself talking about wine, put up a Web site to broadcast the video, and thereby established himself as an average guy who likes wine a lot and likes talking about it even more — pretty much single-handedly morphing himself into “the wine guy.”

If you don’t think he’s struck gold with Internet social networking, wine drinking and a personality that can only be described as “largesse on steroids,” here’s a mini-list of venues he’s appeared on: "The CBS Early Show," "The Today Show," "Conan O’Brian," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Nightline."
 
No one’s begrudging him, but what you may not know is that we’ve got some killer wine experts in Colorado. Brenda Francis is one. Working under the credo, “there are no bad bottles of wine, only varying degrees of drinkable,” Francis runs the Denver Wine Meetup Group, is a working sommelier and a wine columnist. Her Denver Wine Meetup Group’s calendar is packed with wine events and the events often fill up within minutes of being announced.

Not only knowledgeable, Brenda is generous, having supplied this columnist with her personal list of good wines under $20 (see January 9, 2009’s “Wines That Were Great in 2008”). From her Web site (www.brendafrancis), she writes, “An undervalued bottle of wine is a gem, especially when it falls into the average Jane's wine budget … (the) goal is to teach people to think in terms of place and grape, rather than brand of wine.”

Sheila Carey, Argonaut Liquor’s wine buyer, is another local, completely dependable person-to-consult when choosing wines (www.argonautliquor.com). She distributes an e-newsletter at least once a week that offers wines at often unbelievable case discount prices. Though she’ll probably kill me for writing this, I’ve never known her to not return an email query. David Anderson at Applejack Liquors and “Steve” at City Wine (danderson@applejack.com and StvHnz@cs.com, respectively) are two other, local and very accessible wine experts. Beyond simply recommending wines, both can provide background, nuances on vintages and excellent overview of how a wine fits into the larger scheme of things. Steve is a gifted writer, often waxing poetic about the particular personality traits of a wine he recommends.

All that may sound heady and more than the average, “I just want something that tastes good” wine drinker, but it can be critical to know that a particular year’s Malbec pretty much went south, that there are better and more affordable sparkling wines that those from Champagne, France, and that Australian Cabernets may be the best buy in the business right now — and why.

It’s often the on-the-job people, the ones who take our wine orders at the bar or the neighborhood restaurant, who make our wine day, if you will. Unsung wine heroes like Dave Berry at Trios Enoteca (www.triosenoteca.com) and “Jackie,” the pretty and always pleasant red-headed server at Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge (www.dazzlejazz.com) are two people I’ve turned to more than once to just bring me something I like because if I have to make one more decision that day I may have to slit my wrists.

Neither has ever failed me.

I actually like Vaynerchuck. I think him sincere, hardworking and very much into the nuances of good wines and extraordinary grape harvests. Though some might sum him up as vacuous, he — and his continued success — proves a very good point: Doing what you love, educating yourself and then guerilla marketing until you’ve successfully taken ten years off your life, actually works.

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Cathie Beck, a/k/a The Wine Wench, can be reached at: TheWineWench@comcast.net. Please forward any and all wine events, wine-related news items directly to her.

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