BITS & BOBS

I often wonder how I ever got involved in the wine world. My first ten years at Kings Market (Valmark Inc.) were spent working on the freight crew, and wine was one of the farthest things from my mind. I grew up with my single mother, raising six children. I never experienced my mother drinking wine at a meal simply because she could not afford it. My only experience with wine was watching the Catholic priest partake of it every Sunday at the pulpit. Wine was never a part of my life until a certain point in my career at Kings. At some point, my curiosity was aroused although I can’t pinpoint a time as to when. If memory serves me correctly, I used to receive orders for wine when no one else was around to do it. There was this one delivery guy who would not pass for a wine aficionado at all. When I would check the order that he was delivering, he would spit out the types of wine so eloquently that it impressed me. I think it impressed me so much that it inspired me to learn more about the subject. That was the beginning; look where it got me. Of course, there is so much more to share; I will save that for another article.

Although Memorial Day weekend can be big regarding sales, it depends on the weather. Last year it was a beautiful weekend, this year not so much. We have been busy, but nothing compared to last year. Because it was cooler and wet, red wine dominated sales. Red blends, Cabs, Merlots, and European reds were flying off the shelf, along with a fair amount of hard liquor. One good thing about crappy weather on a holiday weekend is the business it brings to our local restaurants. When it rains, tourists tend to dine at restaurants. We all want to share the wealth, it’s healthy for our local economy.

As is very common this time of year, my YouTube content slows down a bit. I try not to let it happen, but invariably, the busy time of the season takes over, not to mention the lawn upkeep… Just saying. I have a cool idea for some upcoming episodes, and I hope you enjoy them. I have twenty subscribers, over a thousand since the last time I looked. I want to thank all of you for your continued support. One of my favorite subjects for my channel is interviewing winemakers or people deeply involved in the wine world. Recently, I was able to set up an interview with Keith Johnsen, owner of Elevens Imports, and Ashley Trout, owner and winemaker at Brook & Bull. I am very proud of both interviews. They are quite informative and entertaining. If you haven’t had a chance, check them out.

One of the most satisfying parts of my job is learning the palate of my customers and education. I’ve watched many people I know go from knowing very little about wine to becoming astute on the subject. This is through education on the wine aisle and tasting events that I have set up for people to participate in. I am very excited to have been a part of this growth in the interest in wine for my customers and the personal growth in knowledge for many of those I have come in contact with over the years. This is especially true regarding my wine department assistant. Watching his knowledge of wine grow over the years and his skill in helping customers find the wine that will fit their needs is something I am very proud of. Wine is a complicated subject, but only if you make it that way. In our department, we try our best to take the mystery out of the subject and help people to enjoy the wine experience without pretentiousness.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

One thing about being known as a wine expert (and I use that term loosely), is that when a wine related gig comes up, so does my name, especially in my hometown. A couple of my friends bid on a special wine event that was offered up at a fundraiser. It was for six people to be held at someone’s home who collects special wines and wanted to share them with a small group. A spot opened up for someone to join this group and lo and behold, they asked me if I would be interested in joining them. Of course, you know that I jumped at the opportunity. What a great experience! The host and hostess are the nicest people and the wines they brought out were phenomenal. They set up a couple of caquelons with dishes of raw chicken and beef to fondue in the pots. Absolutely delicious as it went perfectly with the wines presented. A 2000 Bordeaux (a classic vintage), 1997, 2001 and 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia, 2013 Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2013 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay HIllside Cabernet Sauvignon. All of them aged very nicely. We ended the night with a 2003 Fonseca Vintage Port served with a chocolate mousse that was to die for. Needless to say, it was a perfect match. It’s moments like this that make me glad I chose a path in the wine world.

My wife Susie and I are feverishly working on our plans for our trip to Crete. Of course, Susie is the driving force behind the planning. We have a room booked in Chania and she has narrowed down the timing of the flights. I know I’ve mentioned this many times; Susie is very good at planning trips! If anyone needs advice, I recommend seeking hers.

We will also be staying in Irakleio for a few nights and it will be from there that we visit wineries. I have a couple in mind and will soon set dates to visit them. All very exciting! We also plan on staying in one of the coastal resorts to relax before we head back home. We are really looking forward to this trip and I hope to get some nice material for Stan The Wine Man TV.

Memorial Day weekend is just a few days away, which is the kick-off to the busy summer season here in the Juans. To prepare for this, I, with a lot of help from Scott, Kent and Daniel reset the beer case this past Friday. We started at 5:30 a.m. and finished about five hours later. We cleared out the slow-moving products and replaced them with some exciting new choices. If one of the products that got cut was one of your favorites, I’m sorry about that. However, we did research on the performance of sales for each product over a years’ time. The cut-off was this. If we only sold one unit a week, it had to go. Some that we cut did less than that. I think you understand that if we only sell on six-pack or less of a beer, hard seltzer or hard cider a week, that is valuable space being taken up. Hopefully you will find a new favorite in the choices I made to fill those spots. I’m happy to get that project completed. Bring on the weekend.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

I want to thank all of you who rallied to my side to get me over one thousand subscribers on my YouTube channel. You guys are awesome! Now, I have to figure out how to get my viewers to watch my episodes longer than 4 minutes. That’s the average time most take to watch. I get it because most of us, including myself, have short attention spans. I need a hook of some sort to get you to watch to the end. The reason you ask? I must garner three thousand viewer hours in a year before YouTube pays me for advertising on my channel. This past year was a little rough for me since I moved and then went on vacation. There was a three-month span when I put no content out on my channel. That’s a lot of viewer hours lost. I don’t expect you to care that much if I get paid for what I do on YouTube, but for those of you who like to support what I do, please watch my episodes longer than three minutes. I’ll try harder to engage your attention!

This week, we are doing a beer case reset. It’s always a big chore to weed out the slower-moving items and find the right packages to replace them with. We must expand the RTD section (ready-to-drink cocktails). This is a huge category and I believe it will continue to grow. Believe it or not, hard seltzers are starting to slow down in sales. White Claw is still the big ticket in this category, but even that brand has slowed down. I think we can weed out quite a few items there. Hard ciders are slowly picking up, but I don’t believe they will ever dominate the market, at least in our area of the world. This is partly because we have a fairly large group of people in our community who make their own hard ciders. And, they do a damn good job! There are some very good new craft beers coming out to the market, so I am looking forward to giving our beer case a facelift.

I would like any input you would like to give me on future YouTube content for my channel. I have an interesting segment coming soon. Aside from a blind “Carmenere vs. Cab Franc episode, I would like to review the top-selling three wines in each of my sections at Kings that are under twenty dollars. As an example, I will try three of my top-selling Chards under twenty bucks. Then on to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, red blends, Zinfandel….You get the picture. It will be fun to educate myself as to why they are so popular. It will be mostly about understanding what these wines deliver that attracts the customer, aside from the price point. I work very hard at finding wines that deliver at a fair price. The more I understand my customer’s palates the better I get at finding the wines that they will enjoy.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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STAN’S PICK FOR MAY 2024

I’m actually getting this up before the middle of the month… Are you impressed? Anyway, once again I go to Spain to find a great value! This time, it’s a lighter style Garnacha that could actually be chilled if you so wish. I personally am not a huge fan of chilling reds, but I get it. Like Rose’ on steroids I guess. This little gem is from Madrid and I believe perfect for Spring drinking. Pair it with roasted chicken, salads, prawns, salmon, lamb, mussels, you name it.

2021 Zestos Garnacha Tinta (Vinos De Madrid, Spain)… $13.

Aromas of strawberries, black raspberries, pomegranate and licorice. Raspberry and strawberry notes on soft, structured tannins, with hits of pomegranate and licorice underneath. A little “grip” on the finish with a solid kiss of white pepper and spice. Pomegranate notes linger. Good balance and integration. (B-)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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