Check out market updates

A Wine Taster, Not A Connoisseur!

A Wine Taster, Not A Connoisseur!

By: Michael S. Hatfield
November 05, 2015

Flying Coast to Coast, fellow crew members assumed and often stated, “Being from California, you have to be a wine connoisseur: right?” Yeah, right. Actually, the assumption that I am an elite wine connoisseur could not be further from the truth. In fact, I am a wine enjoyer with no particular education or expertise in vito or vinoculture whatsoever. Fortunately for me, though, over the years I’ve learned a little from other well-learned sippers what a great wine looks like, smells like, and tastes like–well, sort of, anyway!

Many decades have passed since swilling Boone’s Farm’s finest out in back of the grocery store to discover I am actually an admirer and fond of a great many fine wines. I am no longer afraid to speak up at dinner parties and discuss attributes of a special wine along with everybody else. But nevertheless, I am still just a wine drinker, only one member of a very large group, and likely never to aspire to the elevated status of an elite connoisseur!

It used to be I could enjoy one wine about as much as the other, then I looked around and wondered (in ignorance) what all the fuss was about. It was sometime later in that decade, my Italian paisan Gio from Tuscany began to “help me along” in the ways that wine is made, the taste one can expect from a certain type of grape, wines that compliment certain foods, fruit-forward and all those wonderful wine attributes. More simply put, I am very grateful that my pal shared with me what one should discern in the smell and taste in a glass of fine wine.

I suppose a person could just “go-with” the word of Robert Parker or another well-known wine expert, and assume his recommendation of the wine to buy is the best choice. However, that methodology lets someone else make your decision for you. That way may just not for some of us unruly children. And why, do you say?

A politician recently commented on an article that presented a popular Hollywood actress “as being very beautiful.” The politician disagreed, saying “in no way is that woman beautiful.” The truth of the matter is, the actress discussed is attractive, but perhaps just not to him. A subjective choice, that’s it! This same analogy can be applied to the subject of wine preference, “beauty is in the eyes (in this case, the taste) of the beholder!” I say, “I like whatever wine I like!” Just so.

We are so blessed here that, like bankers working close to the vault and so near the money, we as Californians live nearby to some of nature’s finest vines in the treasured valleys of Napa and Sonoma. One often questions, “what’s the difference in wines produced in Napa Valley as opposed to wines created in Sonoma Valley? “Not a whole lot,” according to genuine A-Number-One experts. They assert “world-class wines flow abundantly forth from the wonderful soils of both locales.”

Well, what about the quality of French and Italian wines, you ask? After all, wine has been produced in Europe since the beginning of man on the planet. Wine from Italy and France are absolutely excellent, according to this wine drinker! My pal Gio says, arguably, “California wines come from the sun and European wines come from the soil.” Right!, then I say, “I don’t know which locale I like better–I just happen to like them all!” There is nothing like a fine wine to compliment any dinner and complete the dining experience.

Accustoming oneself to fine wines and learning to select the finest of wines has its drawback, financially, as one can bet it will not be long before your wife is no longer satisfied with a two dollar glass of Chablis, too! You hear me? My lovely must view the color in the light, swirl the wine appropriately, smell the nose, taste the nectar and provide a learned evaluation of her own! Nowadays, she is the connoisseur in this family!

I do so love our California wines–the Rombauer Chardonnay, the Muscardini Rancho Salina–how do they make them so darn good? But I must contribute, this wine drinker enjoys the Barolos, the well-constructed Bordeaux, and in particular, the awesomeBrunello di Montalcino too.

It is true enjoyment of a fine wine is subject to one’s subjective opinion, but only after that person graduates into being interested in the subtle distinctions of the fine nectar of the vines. Price often means very little and just because you pay a lot for a bottle, does not necessarily ensure it will meet your standards.
In my view, an amazing home must absolutely include a great wine cellar. But what the heck, I am just a Realtor who absolutely loves to help his clients fill, and then empty!, their wine cellars. I am a wine taster, you can’t call me a connoisseur, though.

*Listen to Orson Welles “I shall drink no wine before its time.”

Michael S. Hatfield enjoys working with Real Estate Buyers and Sellers as a Broker Associate with the Michael Hatfield RE/MAX Accord Team in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. His passion is leveraging his experience as a Home Builder, Developer, large company CEO to his clients real estate goals. As a frequent guest on “Your Financial Life” on KGO TalkRadio 810am, Michael has enjoyed residing in the Bay Area his entire life.

A former Captain and FAA Designated Lead Airline Check Pilot for one of the nation’s largest International Airlines, Michael frequently authors articles on airline issues as well as real estate matters.

Michael may be reached at (925) 322-7775 or at His offices are at RE/Max Accord in Danville with 9 more locations serving the Bay Area.