January 22, 2008

Relationships, Aussies in the House, Classes, and a Cute Story

Several people have noticed that although there are many, many restaurants, wine-based stores, shops, etc., in Las Vegas, there are only a few that are showcased here. “Why is that?” they wonder. Well, it’s pretty simple.

All of the local places here aren’t just businesses – they’re relationships. In each and every one there are real people who greet you, offer assistance, deal with you honestly, and are always appreciative for the business you bring, even if it’s just a little.

The restaurants we love offer great food and wine choices with fair prices. I have yet to have a negative experience at any of the restaurants that I’ve linked to, and I doubt if it will ever happen because of their love and passion for the business.

Our retailer friends are the same. Not only do they have great selections and fair prices, but also the owners/proprietors are very knowledgeable about what they have to offer. I have tried more wines on the recommendations I’ve received at the shops than I probably would have ever tried on my own. They often recommend wines that have been off the Wine Spectator/Wine Enthusiast radar. The bad thing about that is the effect on my budget. Oh well.

My love for Paso Robles is well known by the regulars on this Blog, of course. The wonderful winemakers with the laid-back, friendly attitudes who are so generous with their knowledge and their wine are now a relative rarity in the “real” “Wine Country.” The warmth and love there are almost addictive, and I can’t wait until I get up there again!

Here’s a shout out to Elliot Pemberton, who, along with his father-in-law, Jim Lambert of Stanley-Lambert Winery, did a whirlwind tasting of their expanded line at our favorite local places this weekend. I was only able to make it to the tasting at Marché Bacchus, and discovered an incredible cab, their new Silent Partner Cabernet Sauvignon. While it’s not in my budget yet, you can be sure that I will be grabbing a bottle as soon as I can! Great seeing you, guys, and thanks for the terrific wines!

The first Combatting Swirl Envy – Lite! class for 2008 had its launch last week at Valley Cheese and Wine, and what a great time we had! This season is starting out to be a fun one, and the plans are in place for even more. Last week concentrated primarily on swirl basics, touched briefly on wine racism, defined Swirl Envy, and described gender issues in spitting.

In the next class we’ll be talking about bottles, closures, corkscrews, pouring, and storing wine. Lots of hands-on show and tell! And swirling, of course! And I now have something special for those who sign up and pre-pay through PayPal via this Blog. If you do, you will receive a raffle ticket in class for a chance to win a wine-related item – either a book, some other wine accessory, or a piece of Vegas Wineaux Gear™!

There are more classes coming up in February, and those will be posted shortly. By the way, several of my co-workers, students, and friends have discovered VC&W and affectionately call it the "Stinky Cheese Place." They love the cheeses there, and realize that Kristin is there to educate them on artisanal cheeses, which have character and complexity. She's not really a "pusher." :-)

There’s a little story I’d like to share with you at the insistence of one of my friends. It’s definitely not wine-related, but I love it when things like this happen.

On Christmas night, my family and I (Mom, Aunt Joyce and cousin Byron) went out for our annual dinner, but decided to do something a little different by going to the buffet at the Wynn. I won’t go through the annoyance of standing in line for such a long period; it made Disneyland lines seem like a blink in comparison.

There was a dad and his kids in line in front of me. They were Asian, and as far as I could tell, couldn’t speak English – at least not very well. We nodded and smiled, and I played Tetris on my cell phone while passing the time. After a while I noticed a weight on my left leg. One of the man’s sons, a little boy of about, say, six or seven, was slowly losing the battle to stay awake. He had one arm wrapped around my leg, and he nodded and dozed while leaning against me. I reached down to hold him there and he snuggled against the soft fabric of my jeans and slipped into sleep. Talk about a hand around my heart! This little guy had had it and needed a nice soft place to nap. The dad turned around and the universal look of embarrassment raced across his face. I smiled at him and waved him away. We were going to be standing in the same spot for quite some time, and I just reveled in the feel of a little one depending upon me for comfort.

As was inevitable, the line started to move and the dad reached down to pick up his now soundly sleeping son. We smiled and he undid the latch on the stanchion and took his other sons out of the line. The spell was broken, but what a warm and wonderful memory.

And no, we didn’t get to eat that night. After a 90-minute wait in a line that snaked outside of the buffet in the hallway, there was an additional 90-minute wait once we got into the buffet itself. We threw in the towel and finally ended up eating pretzels at the Rio. But that’s another story.

More on wines next week!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Irene,
    Yes it is true that some of the Napa Sonoma wine country has gotten a snotty attitude these last years I often find this an expression of the tasting room staff rather than the actual owners who are by and large wonderful people and most gracious. I have yet to decide the reason but some given a prestigious tasting room job often take on an expanded ego which does not portent hospitality. Often this is just nervousness on their part and once getting to know them it often fades, go figure, but I do feel that this is a battle we locals that have lived here since all these "Big Name Places" were small mom and pa outfits need to fight against as it is an atittude that does not serve tasting rooms ever!