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Warning: This post details - and advocates - actions that are sneaky, surreptitious, and downright manipulative. If you are of tender constitution, or high moral standing, I suggest that you turn away now.
Still with me? Great - that's why I love my readers! You people ROCK!
Please note: In this post, you will encounter the use of Chardonnay and femine pronouns. I'm using 'Chardonnay Oak-Butter bombs' simply as an example in this post - you can feel free to replace that with any wine vareital / style that you don't like. Similarly, I'm using the female pronoun because it matches my particular experience - feel free to substitute the male equivalent to suit your needs.
Anyway, this will all make sense in a minute or two (I use that phrase a lot... is that, like, a mulligan for bad writing?). Got it? Good - let's get down to business!
The Problem: Wine Hell
Many of you will be familiar with this scenario: You're on a date with your wife/girlfriend/partner/whatever. You're about to order up a fantastic dinner. Then you remember it, like a nameless fear from the dark recesses of your consciousness:
- "My Wife only ever drinks super-oaky, buttery Chardonnay. I don't like those - and it's totally a BAD match for the food we're gonna order!"
Dude has been in this situation - and he is here to help you out. I will give you in this post some super-secret tactics to surreptitiously convert your loved-one away from the wine you don't like, thereby giving you a modicum of a chance to enjoy some wine that you do like (at least once in awhile).
Before I get to the brass tactics, let me tell you Dude's story...
Dude's Tale of Wine Woe
My wife used to drink super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs. It was the only thing she'd want to order when we dined out. Now, Dude likes him some good Chardonnay, but when the wine tastes less like apricot & toasted brioche, and more like it came from a jug of rubbing alcohol that has had a stick of butter mixed into it using a two by four... well, let's just say it doesn't make him jump for joy.
Besides personal preference, I don't like the super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs because they severely limit your choice of a really killer food & wine pairing. Why? Chardonnay is fuller-bodied (hefty), but doesn't have an overwhelming flavor profile; think baked potatos, or lobster. Naturally, you'd assume that a buttery wine would pair well with a buttery dish, and you'd be right. But oak tends to pair well with smoked dishes (the oakier, the smokier). When is the last time you had buttery smoked lobster? Or cooked it at home? It's just not that common.
Make Her a Convert!
I kicked my wife off the super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs habit, by following one of the super-secret, tried-and-true tactics described below. I converted her to a lover of other wine styles. If Dude can do it, you can do it. Having said that, no guarantees are explicitly stated or implied regarding your potential success (especially with the more, shall we say, difficult cases you might encounter - see below). Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
If you want to get out of Wine Hell, you gotta get her to break that habit! It's important to remember that our mission here is not entirely selfish - that same dinner-ruining potential exists for any similar situation in which your partner is harboring an overly-narrow view of potential wine choices. (That's what I tell myself, anyway, so I sleep OK at night).
Just as in matching wine & food, a good pairing is essential for these tactics to work. For this 1WineDude.com experiment, start by determining what type of Subject profile best describes your dining companion, and then try the Tactic best-paired to that profile.
Got it? Good - let's boogie!
Subject #1: "The Newbie" - This is a person who is choosing to drink plonk simply because she doesn't know any other wines, and therefore resorts to picking what she considers 'safe'.
Conversion Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
Tactic: "The Power of Suggestion" - You pass yourself off as someone who knows a bit about wine, and subtly suggest a different wine with dinner, one that you "heard was really wonderful" from an equally-knowledgeable wine buddy.
Why it Works: The Newbie is not necessarily afraid to try a different wine, she just doesn't know which ones to try next. Gentle suggestion, and the promise to buy her some of her same old wine as a safety net, will go a long way with The Newbie. Play your cards right, and you come off looking like a veritable knight in shining armor, rescuing her (and yourself!) from Wine Hell.
What Could Go Wrong: Don't play your cards right, and you come off like a smarmy know-it-all jerk. Whoops! No wine for you!
Subject #2: "The Victim" (a.k.a., "Once Bitten, Twice Shy") - This wine drinker tried another wine in the past, but she either had it with the wrong food, the wrong dude, got a bad bottle, or had some other semi-traumatic experience. Now, she plays it safe to avoid getting burned again.
Conversion Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (dependent on previous level of victimization).
Tactic: "The Killer Combo" - Unleash the Killer Combo on her, Bruce Lee style. It goes down like this: You make her dinner, and make the night as special as possible. You tailor the dinner to a food she likes - and you find the most killer wine combination you can to pair with it (assuming this is not her usual plonk, of course). For example, you could branch out with some Viognier and Coconut Halibut.
Why it Works: You're providing a safe and inviting environment for the Victim, which is essential to getting her out of her timidity to a suggestive open-minded state. The Killer Combination of the great pairing and you're good deed will leave an indelible positive mark on her wine psyche - viola, wine curse broken!
What Could Go Wrong: Picking your own favorite food and wine and ignoring her preference can result in disaster, exposing you for the selfish jerk that you really are - which is doubly disastrous if she gets turned off to one of your favorite wines and never lets you order it again.
Subject #3: "The Immovable Object" (IO) - This girl likes her buttery, oak-bomb Chardonnay just fine and has been drinking it for years now and doesn't want to change and does NOT want to hear about it again THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!
Conversion Difficulty: Difficult to Impossible (proceed with extreme caution!)
Tactic: "The Bait & Switch" - The IO can only be countered by the most cunning trickery and deceit. Pretend to order her usual plonk, but instead order another (possibly similar) wine that is much better (to you, anyway).
Why it Works: If you time this correctly, The IO won't discover the bait & switch until after she's already acknowledged that she is enjoying the wine. In order to protect her pride, she may be forced to acquiesce. If discovered prematurely, you may be able to feign ignorance ("Oh, this is Pouilly-Fume?!?? Drat, I thought for sure I'd ordered Pouilly-Fuisse! You know, just to see if you'd like it, it is Chardonnay after all..."). With French wine labels as confusing as they are, you might just get away with it.
What Could Go Wrong: Just about everything. You are entering a veritable mine-field, and will need to execute each step flawlessly to win over The IO. Even then, you risk dire consequences should you falter on even the slightest misstep. Good luck... you are going to need it...
Assuming you have made a successful conversion, encourage your partner to expand her wine knowledge through wine books (ahem... might I humbly suggest purchasing her the 1WineDude tasting guide?) and tastings. You may just have a beautiful wine tasting future together.
And which Subject was Mrs. Wine Dudette? At the advice of counsel, I decline to answer...