In a few weeks I’ll be headed to Richmond for an informal reunion with some middle school friends. Time to bust out the scrunchies, pegged jeans, and Violent Femmes tapes…and now that we can drink legally, I’ll be leading a wine tasting for my ladies. Our hostess prefers white wine, and given that we’re talking about Virginia in late August, I think that would be best for everyone. She hooked me up with her favorite neighborhood wine store, J. Emerson, and the folks there have been incredibly helpful so far — they’re going to email me with suggestions for organic/sustainable Old World wines in the $20 range. I will, of course, post notes and pics following our tasting.
I love nothing more than finding great wine stores when I travel across the U.S., and I’m excited to visit these guys in person. For day-to-day wine education, nothing beats developing a good relationship with a high quality wine store. And one of the best ways to know if you’re in a good wine store is to pay attention to the mood of its employees — are they happy? Wine store clerks don’t get paid a lot (as I know from experience), but at the best stores they have plenty of opportunities to taste through the stock. If the employees don’t seem genuinely jazzed about working there, that probably means they don’t get the chance to taste much and aren’t too familar with what they’re selling. Open bottles behind the counter or in the back are another good sign of frequent tasting. And who knows, if you’re nice enough, maybe they’ll offer you a sip.