I get a lot of emails from people who are interested in learning more about alcohol, but aren't necessarily ready to make it a career path. The truth is: working in a retail store will greatly increase one's exposure to different types of wine and spirits. However, if you can make friends with other people who share your interests, using the strength in numbers can be just as effective. Namely, it allows you to split the cost of a tasting between one another. It's not uncommon for a few of us here at K&L to organize a dinner, come up with a menu, and ask everyone to chip in to cover the fee. Like the Bordeaux dinner we did Wednesday night at John Bentley's, just a few buildings down from our Redwood City store.
When you pool your resources, you give yourself access to bottles that might normally be out of reach. Haut Brion Blanc, for example, isn't something I'm usually able to afford. But that didn't stop me from having a glass Wednesday night!
It also helps to invite knowledgable people to your tasting; specifically, folks whose egos won't detract from the atmosphere. Don't invite anyone who will just blabber about the one time they went to Bordeaux and tasted at all the famous chateaux. There's nothing worse than being trapped in a room with someone like that. Invite people who can help you develop your own palate. That's why we asked Bordeaux expert Ralph Sands to join us.
And our owner Clyde Beffa. He really knows his shit. If you can get the store owner to come, even better.
Book a room at a restaurant and have them put together a menu for you. Bring the wines in. Split the costs. That's the best possible way to taste as much product as possible in the best possible environment. I wish we could do this every week.
P.S. To read Jeff Garneau's write up on the wine blog click here.