When I sell wine I talk to people about the wine, what it tastes like, the grapes, the wine maker, the price and many other aspects of the wine. There are times though when someone throws me a curved ball…. I sometimes assume that people know what they are talking about and then realise that, like most of us… we know so little. (Not just about wine… most of us know very little about a lot of things.) I thought I would share with you a few of the most common and sometimes humorous misconceptions and quotes that I have heard or made over my years selling wine over the telephone.
- Merlot and Pinot both have a silent T. (Apparently Greta Garbo one said to Jean Harlow, ‘The T is silent dear, as in Harlot.’)
- Chablis is made with Chardonnay grapes as are most of the white wines from Burgundy. Most white wine from the Loire, like Sancerre and Pouilli Fumé, are made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
- Champagne is a region of France. You cannot have Spanish Champagne, Italian Champagne or English Champagne or even Indian Champagne which I heard about recently. (Sadly the French are a bit picky about this.)
- Rosé wine is not a mix of red and white wines. The blending of Red and White wines is highly discouraged and illegal in France. (Rosé is made from red grapes, but the wine is drawn off before the skins colour the wine too much.)
- If the wine has a ‘nutty character’ it does not mean that the wine maker added nuts to it. (This also applies to herbs, apricot, kiwi, apples, tar. cigar or chocolate.)
- If a wine offer is too good to be true… it probably is.
Below are some reasons why people did or did not want to buy a particular wine.
- “I had a girlfriend of that name once and I don’t think I should stir up those arguments again.” (The wine was Margaux – pronounced Margo, the character played by Penelope Keith in the Good Life)
- “What colour is the label because I have just decorated the dining room?”
- “I only want screw top wines now, I need to open them quickly”
- “The bottle is too large to fit into my fridge.”
- “I like white wine, my husband likes red wine… so can we have some Rosé wine please.”
- “I am 86 now and I want wines that are ready to drink now.”
- “I would like a case of 12 of those please, the doctor said I would be here a while longer.” (as it happens he is still here and still buying wine!)
- Me – “What sort of wine do you like?” Customer – “The red one!”
- “The last wine I got from you, 5 bottles were corked, It tasted great but the bits of cork in it had to be fished out of the glass.” (I did suggest that the lady should buy a new corkscrew to solve this little problem.)