We are very excited that the fabulous book Wineocology, written by Caitlin Stansbury and Heidi Shink, is now available to wine-o's across the globe. This book will help you make sense of the volumes of information about wine and even earn you some legitimate authority when sipping with friends. We had the opportunity to interview Caitlin about her new book and let's just say that she is definitely someone we could sit down and share a bottle (or 2) of wine with.
This Girl: When ordering wine, are you more likely to order a varietal that matches your meal or your mood?
Caitlin: The two are inextricably bound together. Ultimately, mood trumps all because even if you’re pairing the wine to the food, your mood is likely to determine your food choice. It’s telling that one of the first questions I ask people as a sommelier when I’m helping them choose wine is, “What are you in the mood for?” This does not mean that I will completely ignore food & wine pairing. Regardless of my food or my mood, I am always trying to take my sensory experience and pleasure level higher and nothing turns up the dial on pleasure like a fabulous match.
This Girl: What advice can you give to the wine-savvy woman on the dating circuit, who may not be picking up the tab, but who insists on picking the wine?
Caitlin: Don’t be cheap, but don’t be greedy either. Dating is the process of getting to know somebody and what you do and say and the choices you make on a date are all sending messages to the person you’re with about who you are. Being wine-savvy means that picking the best wine doesn’t always mean picking the most expensive thing on the menu. The most important thing that you can show someone who you’re getting to know is that you care about their opinion and what they might enjoy as well as your own tastes. Choosing the wine is an opportunity for you to do something thoughtful for your date and that thoughtfulness is expressed through the style and quality of the wine and through how much you both are likely to enjoy it together. Ask questions! Find out what may be a good fit for your date and express yourself through your consideration as well as your good taste.
This Girl: We’ve noticed that there are a disproportionate number of vineyards owned and operated by men, yet in my bartending experience, women are more likely to order wine than men. Why the disparity?
Caitlin: The economics of the world, including markets in any trade-able good, have historically been dominated by men for centuries. And certainly property ownership and winery ownership is no exception to that trend. We often forget that even here in the United States, women were not able to open an autonomous credit card in their name until 1972. They had to be a rider on their husband’s or father’s card! So in almost all areas of commerce, women have had a late start coming to the table. Thankfully, that’s a condition that is starting to change in the last 100 years and hopefully the wine industry, just like any other industry, will continue to be more inclusive of women and reflective of their ascent into all areas of business and ownership. Traditionally where women have had power is in running the household, which includes making decisions about décor, entertainment, and of course, culinary preparations, including choosing beverages! As an extension of this role, women tend to naturally take initiative on wine choice far more often than most people think.
This Girl: We recommend that every hostess keep a few spirits and wines on hand for impromptu and last minute get-togethers. If you had to pick one white and one red to keep on hand at all times, which varietals would you choose?
Caitlin: I have to add a third wine to the choices here because you always have to have some sort of sparkling on hand for surprise celebrations. My desert island would have a bottle of small-producer Champagne at the ready. For white wine, I adore Chenin Blanc because it generally pleases everybody. It’s complex, tart, and mineral-driven while having a mouth-coating silky texture that emulates what most people adore about Chardonnay without being as pedestrian and common place as most Chardonnays are these days. For red wine, a Pinot Noir is essential. As a middle-weight it can handle the widest range of different foods from fish to light meats. It’s silkiness makes it easy to enjoy for wine novices while it’s aromatic complexity appeals to the most seasoned aficionado.
This Girl: Our readers would love to know your wine pick for someone on a tight budget, and someone with money to burn.
Caitlin: The money to burn answer is easy. It’s not a tough task to pick great, expensive wines. What’s hard is finding great values. My advice for anybody who wants to understand how to get the most for their money, whether they buying expensive or reasonable wines, is to read Wineocology. It teaches you what the components of quality are so that you can recognize them no matter how much the price tag is on the bottle. Wineocology empowers you as a consumer to do what I do for a living as a sommelier, which is in essence, to find fabulous wines that are under-valued. In general, for expensive wines, I like choosing ones that have bottle age on them already so that I don’t have to wait 20 years for the wine to come into its own. If I won the lottery, I would go to auction and buy a load of 1959 and 1961 Bordeauxs for instance and blow my money on the time value of the bottle age. Instant gratification is hard to beat! For inexpensive wines, my advice to the novice is rather than focusing on specific varieties, start with some historic wine producing areas that are not as famous as say Champagne, Burgundy, or Napa. There are amazing and affordable wines coming out of Southern Spain, Argentina, Australia, and lesser known areas of France like the Languedoc or the Jura.
This book is currently available at your local bookstore on online here. And...if you leave a comment or question here for Caitlin, you will be entered to win one her book!