The Hellhole

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Ever since the World Market by my house closed, I've lamented a source for wine. Of course I can buy old standbys at the grocery store and there are liquor stores around, but WM had such a wide, eclectic collection and very low prices. Also, there was a description card near most every wine describing the taste - "hints of cherry", "hints of plum", "full-bodied", etc. which usually listed what foods the wine paired well with, so I could make an educated guess as to whether I'd like a particular wine and try new things with a bit of confidence.

Earlier in the week, Alan saw an ad for this place in our local "about town" magazine. Last night after work, I told him that I wanted to go there to check out their selection. Earlier in the day, I'd been to their website and the first two entries I saw under "reds"? Opus One and Silver Oak. Now, I love me some Opus One and Silver Oak is never a bad idea, but those are pretty spendy - much more special occasion treats than 'hey, it's Friday night and I want a glass of wine' wines. On the way over, I mentioned that to Alan and said, "So I might not even buy anything, but I figured we could check out what they had. Maybe they'll have some peasant-level wines too." Alan said, considering the location, that he felt sure they had lower-priced selections as well because he doubted they could stay afloat selling nothing but Opus and Silver Oak.

When we pulled into the parking lot, our opinion underwent a marked reversal. It looked like your standard strip-mall liquor store, complete with bars on the windows, a neon "checks cashed here" sign, a cadre of Bubbas standing out front gossiping, suitcases of Miller Lite in fists, and a woman shuffling listlessly toward the door in bedroom slippers, cigarette dangling limply from her mouth. EEEK! Still, we were already there and I had Alan for protection so I decided to brave it. Alan said, "I'm thinking you still might not buy anything because I've never noticed you craving the Boone's Farm or Manischewitz, honey."

"Well, I might want some malt liquor! You don't know!" I retorted.

"You're right, I don't," he answered. "You and malt liquor would never have occurred to me."

Inside, it was far more like what I expected from the hoopty-wine inventory. The store was H-U-G-E, with crates of Chopin and Ketel One vodka stacked ten feet high, rare vintages under glass cases in the plank-floored wine room in back, and row after row after row of new, untried wine sorted by type and country. We roamed around, checking things out. I was a bit lost without descriptions but some wines had little tags where they'd won Wine Spectator awards so I figured I could select a couple of those.

Then this chick came up and asked if she could help us find anything. I'm not sure if she really wanted to help or if her Spidey Sense told her someone in our tax bracket was coming too near the $380 bottles of Madeira, but she came over in any event. I explained we were new to the store, I was exploring looking for new things to try, and this lady just EXPLODED with information. She truly had sommalier-level knowledge and once I told her a few things about the kind of thing I generally liked, started spouting off things about the various regions in France, what I should try and what I should avoid, tastes, undertones, aromas, tons of stuff.

The lady, Cindy, recommended a few Bordeaux and since we were in that section, I asked if they had any Pauillac wines - I have a serious affinity for those. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Oh, I see! You don't just like French wine, you like best of the best!" Uh...okay...let's go with that, but it was more that I had this red which I liked it is all... "You won't find those out here with these friendly little Bordeaux!" she said, leading us back to the plank-floored part of the store where the Silver Oak and other haughty wines sneered at the lesser wines from their lofty perches. The whole way she was chatting about the soil, what made Pauillacs so rich in tannins, what gave them the layers of flavors and aromas, the recent years that were the bestest (2000 and 2003, evidently)...I was overwhelmed.

I never expected someone with that breadth of knowledge in the bars-on-the-windows liquor store in Conyers. It was fabulous! I was interacting with a living, breathing wine encyclopedia and my hesitant little statements sent her speeding to wine after wine she thought I'd like. For example, when she asked what I particularly liked about the Pauillac, I said, "I think it's that, whereas lots of wines have cherry or plum undertones, the Pauillacs have more of a blackcurrant thing going on and I really like that." ('Thing going on' - don't you wonder why Wine Spectator hasn't asked me to review wines for them???) That made her happy because obviously my refined palate preferred more mature Pauillacs to young ones. Really, about all I know about wine is that I like what I like, but this seemed to work well enough.

We bought three bottles on her recommendation and I chose one 10-year-old Medoc on my own. I am so pleased that Alan found this place! I can't wait to try more new and different things, especially with Cindy's guidance. I'm going to break out my wine journal again and catalog things. It was an auspicious beginning, and I didn't even go near their cask-strength MacAllan.

Oh yeah. They had that.

4 Comments:

  • Did you look for 'Obsession Symphony' & did they have it?

    mom

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:34 AM  

  • Yes and no.

    By Blogger Helly, at 12:46 PM  

  • How fun! We should have a wine-tasting party one of these days. Maybe a sleepover.

    By Blogger Nancy, at 6:56 PM  

  • Oh wow, I think I would swoon . . .

    By Blogger A Margarita, at 10:20 AM  

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