When friends introduce you as a "wine expert," do you smile demurely, but agree? Do you have several bottles open and resealed in the 'fridge? Do you always get your recommended daily dose of wine? If 'Yes!" you may be among the proud ranks of wine geeks.
Here are a few more signs to tell for sure:
• Suggested retail and availability: About $15.99 at wine and liquor shops, specialty grocers (distributed by Pure Wine Co., Burr Ridge)
The Italian wine renaissance of last century bypassed the South, but recent investments in quality winegrowing have borne fruit. The indigenous Negroamaro grape once yielded wine as black and bitter as its name; with Palama's vision "Arcangelo" has the intermingled forest floor aromas of earth, herbs and berries with vibrant mouthfeel and long, satisfying finish. Serve with hearty cuisine, such as Puglian eggplant stuffed with anchovies and olives, Indian lamb curry or Chicago-style pizza.
Your schedule, dress and even hygiene revolve around wine: A morning tasting means a big breakfast but no mouthwash. An evening wine event means low heels (to prevent trips), a wine-colored ensemble (in case the spit bucket spits back) and extra cash in case a cab home is prudent.
Dining out, you swirl and sniff any beverage in a stemmed glass. You pick up the wine list before the menu and determine what you're eating based on what you're drinking.
Cooking at home, you reflexively splash wine into every recipe, from soup to ice cream. You have never purchased "cooking wine."
When confronted with a wine snob who feels they know more about wine than you do, you listen up, figuring you may learn something.
You are on a first-name basis with at least one wine merchant. You know the dates and times of the best in-store tastings and keep a stemmed glass in the car. You have plotted a route linking weekly errands and favorite wine shops and drop in, just because.
You scrimp on vacations and other luxuries, but if a great wine presents itself -- even $100 per bottle and up -- you grab it. Your real bragging point, however, is a well-made, off-the-beaten-path value, not an overpriced "big name".
You haven't worn perfume or cologne in years.
When friends plan a party, you're the person delegated to bring wine (and that's how you want it).
You find wine to be the most fascinating topic of conversation even when it involves meteorology, economy, international trade … Your second most fascinating topic is wine and food.
You know the blend of Sassicaia, the location of the Colchagua Valley, how to pronounce "meritage" (and why) and the producer of at least one banned California wine label.
You don't count sheep to beckon dreamland but tick off grapes: A is for Airen, B for Baco Noir, C for Catarratto ... and every so often make it to Z is for Zweigelt.
• Proud wine geek Mary Ross has an advanced sommelier certificate. She's also a certified wine educator. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mary Ross
Daily Herald Correspondent