Whether you are having someone over for dinner or, perhaps, going to someone’s house, there are those times you might find yourself in the company of a true oenophile (oe·no·phile noun: a connoisseur of wines). Even if you love and drink wine often, there will always be that person that knows more than you do, knows the difference between Rhine and Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux, Languedoc and Loire Valley. That begs the question: how do you authentically impress an oenophile without looking like a poser?
Step 1: Do a bit of research. Do you know what this person typically drinks? Most hard core winos have a country or type of wine they tend to buy more often. Use that as your starting point.
Step 2: Head to a reputable wine/liquor store in your area. It doesn’t have to be the biggest store, but it should have knowledgeable staff. Not the store with the 22 year old who swears that mixing Red Bull and Franzia Fruity Red Sangria is the way to go. (That drink has a time and a place. This is not it.)
Step 3: Steer AWAY from your wine-lover’s typical wines. I.e. if they travel to Napa every year, have visited 95 wineries there, have fifteen cases of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon at home, do NOT head to the California aisle of the store. The goal is to find something with which they are less familiar. Ideally something similar in style, but off their current wine radar. Again, a knowledgeable clerk will be able to recommend something similar, yet different.
Step 4: When in doubt consider up and coming wine regions. Portugal, Croatia, Greece all are producing great wine. Selecting something from one of these regions will intrigue the oenophile.
Keep in mind: you don’t need to be a know-it-all. It’s ok to admit to not knowing. Simply saying, “I know you are a fan of Napa Cabernet. I found this Spanish Morvedre and thought you might appreciate it. I haven’t tried it but it came highly recommended.” A true oenophile, while they may have favorites, will be interested in trying something new. By surprising them with something out of the box (figuratively — but perhaps also literally), you will impress them with your thoughtfulness, if not your wine knowledge. And really, isn’t that more important?