Cheers! Wine Consultants

By Dan & Krista Stockman


These days, there is one question we get asked most often: “How do you choose what wine to drink?”

This is a big change from when we were writing the Uncorked column for The Journal Gazette. Back then, the question we heard most was, “How do I choose a good wine?” We think the change is probably because we used to – thanks to the newspaper column – come in contact all the time with people who didn't know us. Now that we're not on that particular public stage anymore, the questions we get are from friends – usually friends who already drink and love wine.

Regardless, the answer to the question we hear today is easy: Whatever is new and different. Whether it's in a store, at a winery or looking at a restaurant's wine list, we're always on the lookout for things we've never had before. In fact, several years ago we were at Joseph Decuis restaurant and we spotted an obscure Austrian red on the wine list, and had to try it. We love Austria's flagship wine, Grüner Veltliner, the acidic, minerally, in-your-face white, but rarely, if ever, see an Austrian red. Our choice was so out of the ordinary that the then-restaurant manager, our friend Carmen, came out to see who ordered it. When she saw us, she started laughing. “I should have known!” she said. [It was Erich Sattler's St. Laurent, and it was delicious, by the way.]

We're not sure whether our adventurous spirit (at least when it comes to wine) is from the way we got started in wine, or whether it's just because we've had so many wines that it's hard to get excited about yet another California Chardonnay or Merlot or whatever the popular wine of the moment happens to be. But something new? Something different? Something we've never had before? That's exciting.

Of course, we've always been adventurous when it comes to wine. When we were first dating, we were trying to impress each other by serving wine, but neither of us actually knew anything about wine. Fortunately, just by dumb luck, we each found bottles we both liked. So as we got to know each other, we got to learn about wine. Yes, we learned from books, like “Love by the Glass,” and wine columns, but mostly we learned by just trying wines. Since we've always embraced the chance to try something new, it still comes naturally to us.

Long-time readers may know we use Cellar Tracker to manage our wine cellar, as it's the only way to keep track of all the bottles we have. But one of its many cool features is the ability to look back at the wines you've consumed. And the beginning of a new year seems like the perfect time to do that.

So here's a look at some of the new and different things we got to try this year:

Fielding Hills Old Vine Chenin Blanc. While we've certainly had Chenin Blanc many times, we've never even heard of it with an Old Vine designation before. We found it at the winery in Washington state and knew we had to try it. It was big and rich, but instead of being overpowering, it was supple and graceful. Yum!

Klinker Brick Albariño. We love Klinker Brick wines, especially their Old Vine Zinfandel and their incredible Old Ghost Zinfandel, and have even been to the winery in Lodi, California. But Albariño is a white grape usually grown in Spain and Portugal, not California's Central Valley. Like the Old Vine Chenin Blanc, it was rich and wonderful without being heavy.

Domaine Petroni Corse Rosé. We love French rosé, but had never seen one from Corsica before, so naturally we had to try it. Like any great rosé, it was completely dry, but this one was also incredibly juicy. Another gem we would have missed if we had stuck to the tried and true.

La Nuit Blanche Cabernet Blanc. Made by French winery Le Chai Au Quai, Cabernet Blanc is a new grape – a white-grape version of Cabernet Sauvignon. It had the big structure of a red Cab, but the mouthfeel and fruit of a white wine, with a hint of nuttiness in the long finish.

Oliver Winery Creekbend Vineyard Crimson Cabernet. This was another new twist on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape – this one is a hybrid of Cab and the more Midwest climate tolerating Norton. It smells jammy, but we think that perhaps we opened the 2017 too soon. It tasted more like a Chambourcin with the fruit almost hidden, despite the smell. We can't wait to try it again, perhaps with a little more age on it.

Olivery Winery Creekbend Vineyard Cabernet Doré. Cabernet Doré is another hybrid of Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton, but this one is a white grape, like its grandparent Sauvignon Blanc. It was brilliant sunshine yellow in the glass, and had a heavier, more viscous body like a Vignoles, but the intense acidity and citrus of a zingy Sauvignon Blanc.

These were all wonderful wine experiences we would have missed out on if we had stayed with our old favorites. So if you find yourself in a wine rut, simply look for a new adventure on the wine shelf – you never know what you might find to love.


When choosing a wine, aim for an adventure