Archive for January, 2010
"I Drink on the Job" – DONE! Off to the Printers..
Charlie Demonstrating Screwtop Sniffing Technique!
My book is done – off to the printers! I received the Author’s Proof copy in the mail yesterday of “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine” and I went through it thoroughly – found a few typos, but I felt it was good to go – Onward!! So do I feel relieved? Well kinda, let me explain:
First of all, now that the book is done, now I have to sell it! Oh, you mean these things don’t just sell themselves, shouldn’t I just sit back and wait for the royalty checks? After talking with quite a few first time authors, this myth was quickly erased for me. Marketing, promoting and selling a book today is a jungle – you gotta go out there with your machete and cut through all the brush in order to get to your sales paradise. I’ve been talking up the book for about a year now (according to my estimate, the book was finished about 8 months ago!) and I even held a pre-launch through Adams Morgan Main Street, a non-profit that was interested in having me speak at their monthly wine tasting. My formal “Launch” is on Wine Library TV on Monday, February 15th in a few weeks, but I still have pretty wide open plans.
I’ve signed up to be one of the wine seminar speakers at various wine and food festivals in the DC area including Great Grapes, Virginia Wine Showcase, and many more in Virginia and Maryland. The DC Intl. Wine Festival no longer has wine seminars, but I will be attending (still waiting for my Trade/Press pass, what’s up with that DC Fest??). I’m talking with various local wine retailers (a few national chains too!) and wine bars for events as well. When I charged speaker’s fees for wine tastings before, I cut out so many charities who couldn’t afford my services, now all they have to do is purchase a minimum number of books and they have an event to go!
I REALLY strained my sciatic nerve really bad lifting weights this week, and I can barely walk without wincing in pain – ouch!! I think that injury is related to stress – I had too much on my mind when I hit the gym and I hit it a bit too hard. If someone says you can’t be “over” motivated, they’re flat out wrong – I’m capable of losing a limb without noticing when I’m pumped up..but I really need to take it easy at my age (40+ – that’s all you need to know!), I have to be the turtle, not the hare..
OK, back to watching the snow fall in DC and wondering how to market my first book – questions like “where should I do a book tour?”, “will wine bar events sell books?” and “did I price my book right?” are all floating happily in my brain – think I’ll relax in front of the fire tonight – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Italian Vino for Wine Newbies
Charlie Adler Doing His Best “I Love Lucy” Grape Stomping Rendition!
I’ve been teaching and organizing wine classes at TasteDC TasteDC Website for over twelve years now, and just as soon as I think I’ve gotten it into an art form, I realize that every audience is unique – the principle that “one size fits all” just doesn’t hold water. That point plus the volunteers who pour my wine at events seem to have disappeared (you mean I need to keep in regular touch with them, shouldn’t they realize that I’m writing a wine book?!) means that tomorrow night I’ll most likely be juggling my notes, pouring wine and registering about 30 people all at the same time. Ahh, the life of a wine professional who drinks on the job, all is not fun and games!
The question is, how can I cover all of Italy in just under 2 hours? Although it’s a difficult task, I know I’m going to have to talk about food as well as wine. The whole premise of my upcoming book “I Drink on the Job” I Drink on the Job Book Website is that wine and food were meant to be together and this is based on the whole European food and wine lifestyle. Below are a few thoughts on how I’m going to introduce Italian wine to an audience that is starving to discover the pleasures of the Italian Table.
1) Break Italy down into major regions and taste and discuss wines that are representative of those areas.
Not an earth-shattering point, but it’s extremely practical. Some regions like Tuscany and specifically Chianti within that region are a given. I’ll focus on wines like regional Sangiovese, Barbera, Nero d’Avola, and Valpolicella. These wines/varietals have distinct regional variations and relate to the geography, climate and lifestyle of a given appellation.
2) Choose wines that deliver bang for the buck and represent the kind of wines that Italians would consume on a daily basis with their meals
Italy has some unbelievably fantastic show-stopping wines like Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello. As good as these wines are, their prices have sky-rocketed in recent years to such an extent that even your average Italian can only occasionally afford them. Piedmont has some excellent Barberas and Dolcettos that have never become fashionable in the world market, so they’re very affordable. Pinot Grigio has become popular in the U.S. but there are many whites like Vermentino and Trebbiano that are less famous in the U.S. and can be delicious at a reasonable price.
3) Share stories and anecdotes of my various trips to Italy that are “relevant”
Here are some fun stories that accomplish two things: 1) they entertain and get people to relax and relate to the wine experience and 2) they teach a relevant point about Italians and Italian wine that can help the wine consumer make purchase decisions when they need to:
-My trip to Vinitaly in 2004, where 4,000 wineries and what seemed like 4 million Italians (slight exaggeration!) hold a week of tastings and Italians get to show off their designer shoes and belts. This is held in the town of “Romeo and Juliet’s” Verona in the Veneto region. Lots of great stories from this trip including how we shut the bar down every night in our hotel in Bussolengo (those crazy Americans!!), and the amazing number of wine varietals that Italy produces.
-My buddy Antonio whose family comes from Piedmont not too far from Turin who told me that his family often visits a local farm where they purchase wines by the gallon jug for around $1 each!
-There are no spaghetti and meatballs in Italy – there’s spaghetti and then there’s meatballs, but they don’t go together, they’re served separately! This is similar to the Italian rule that you should never allow cheese to be shaved onto seafood, this is just a well-known “no no”!
-One quote from an Italian I met at a tasting is just a jewel: “in Italy, the trick is to find a job with the least amount of hours and the most amount of pay!” If you know anything about Italians, generally work comes second; friends, family and a fun lifestyle are more important!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
About I Drink on the Job
Wine: The Food Enhancer
Spice up your life! If you enjoy food, then wine will come naturally. It’s part of the seasoning of your meal. Think of wine as a way to enhance the flavors of food. As a full-time wine professional over at TasteDC and about to be released author of I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine I constantly get questions from new wine drinkers about food and wine pairing. My overall philosophy is that wine and food is a synergy: 1 + 1 should equal MORE than 2. I argue that this is the same way with spices and the cooking preparation of your dish. Chefs will often add spices and taste as they go which helps to layer flavors and adjusts the flavor of the dish. Wine has dual purposes as well: it wakes up your taste buds before you begin eating primarily with acidity, and it accentuates flavors in food. If this sounds complicated, remember – no one has ever died from a bad wine and food pairing, it’s a low-risk proposition, even if wine and food don’t pair well, you can still experience pleasure!
My suggestion is that since wine and food pairing is an art form at best, wine consumers should experiment. What works for you, may not work for me and vice-versa. Just as chefs are adding new combinations of spices and flavorings to their dishes, new wine and food pairing synergies will be discovered. I like to think of it as exploration – new adventurers are breaking out of the mold of old ways of thinking and discovering new ways to enjoy the pleasures of wine. Just like not every explorer discovered something of value or importance, not all wine and food matches will work. But why not experiment and possibly make a discovery? The world of wine and food adventures is much safer than crossing the Atlantic on a galley, the worst mutiny that could occur is wine critics and the wine “order” could ignore you or denigrate you, but with the new world of social media – who needs them anyway? Set sail my friend to a new world of Tasting Discovery – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Reality in the Wine World: Sometimes It's Just Better to Walk Away..
Comical story about trying to help a woman purchase wine in a wine store. I thought this person needed help, but I didn’t work in the store, I was acting as a “roving wine professional”, something I rarely do anymore because of incidents like this:
Charlie is looking at the wine displays in a concept wine store, where wines are listed by their “style.” He overhears a woman asking questions about wine to the store’s salesperson and decides to help out:
Charlie: “Miss, hi, I’m a local wine professional. May I help
Woman: “I don’t know. I’m looking for a bottle of wine.”
Charlie: “Do you have a purpose in mind? I mean is it for dinner or are you entertaining.”
Woman: “Maybe. I’m not sure.”
Charlie: “Are you just looking for a bottle to have tonight?”
Woman: “I’m not sure. I just want a good bottle of wine!”
Charlie: “Are there any foods you prefer? That might help me?”
Woman: “I don’t know. Maybe.”
I never seem to be able to help people purchase wines in retail situations – I think they’re just too overwhelmed or stressed out by the process of purchasing wine. As they say, if you don’t know where you’re going, all roads will lead you there – it seems very true with American consumers and their wine purchases. More stories and anecdotes like this are in my upcoming book “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine” Book Website Live after February, 15th, 2010.
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
So You Wanna Write A Book?
I’ve just completed the final touches on my manuscript for my book “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine” and I’m almost at the finish line. In football parlance, I’m probably at the five yard line just waiting to take the ball and break the plain for touchdown. But just as in football, there are defenders..
The lesson I’ve learned about writing a book and self-publishing is that you learn enough from completing a first book that it would be a big mistake not to write a second! There is a huge load of details you deal with in a first book and now I’m way up on the learning curve with one major hurdle: I don’t know how to sell/market the book! BTW – that’s very important, if you think that people will just “find” your book, well, there are alot of books on the market that sell less than 500 copies, and my breakeven point is about 1,500 copies. I’ve dealt with three edits, three designs, two covers, my publisher merging (that’s actually a good thing – Book Surge merged with Createspace which offers MANY more opportunities for product extensions such as DVDs, audio CD’s and even a new sales outlet), a web design (phase 2 right now for I Drink on the Job Blog – Soon to Be Website) and advice from many knowledgeable and kind human beings.
If you are thinking about writing a book, I think self-publishing is the way to go. If you can get a publisher to really put their marketing muscle behind a book or you’re a best-selling name author, the traditional publishing route might make sense, but if you want control over your destiny, self-publishing is supreme. My goal is promote my book everywhere I go and to ultimately have product extensions like audio CD’s, possibly a tchochke or two! Traditional publishers are having financial problems and are understaffed. They focus on blockbusters and books they can make money on quickly, it’s all about ROI. You might get an advance from a traditional publisher, but you essentially are indebted to them (they’re non-recourse most of the time with some exceptions) until you earn it back through sales. Self-publishing will cost you some money depending on how much you use the service – I’m probably just at $4,000, but I used their editing, cover design, and I will most likely use their PR/marketing as well – but you have no pressure to sell quickly. My thinking is that the book might have a soft launch to test different marketing avenues, and as it progresses, I might discover new potential sales channels. I’m only selling my book online and “in-hand”, but there are some retail outlets that may be interested in having me do book signings. I’m new to the process of book signings, I’ll blog about that when it begins in February!
BTW – I’m scheduled to be on Wine Library TV with Gary Vaynerchuk “Crush It” Book Site on Monday, February 15th, 2010, so peeps, you better be watching! Something like 100,000 people watch Wine Library TV every day, so I’m getting a strong start and who knows – maybe Gary will plug the book even more! He has a 10 book deal himself, so honestly, his book plate is full, so to speak – on the other hand, I may mention to him my wine audio CD’s, hmmm, maybe get a Gary V endorsement, but again, just one more option for promoting the book.
Last thought – people often ask me if I enjoyed the process of writing. My reply is generally, “No”. Putting my thoughts on paper was fun, but editing and trying to get all the pieces of the book together so that each Chapter fit into the big picture, was not an easy task. The longest paper I had ever written in college was maybe 25 pages, but with a multi-chapter 250 page book, it’s significantly more difficult. It’s sort of like college gut-level 101 classes: I always did poorly in general broad coverage courses, but in the 300 level and above I mostly got “A”s. My first book is my Intro book about me and my approach to teaching wine, actually more like “experiencing” wine. Any future books will most likely focus on an aspect such as food and wine pairing or specific ways to broaden wine knowledge. I’ll take one chapter in my current book and make it the premise for a whole book. Then possibly I’ll extend the brand with audio-CD’s and a new website. Another note: I took Gary Vaynerchuk’s suggestion to use my name domain (yes, I own charlieadler.com!) as the gateway domain for all future websites. If I become a “name” in the industry, there’s value to my vanity domain, and potentially alot of cross-pollination of my various endeavors.
OK, back to writing, editing and drinking – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I’ve heard so much about terroir in the wine press/blogging/twitter the last few years, that I’m past overwhelmed by all the statements and now into my denial phase. If you’re not familiar with “terroir”, it’s all about the “placeness” of a wine: the what, where, and how of the type of vine chosen, the varietal, the roots, the soil, the micro-climate, the wine maker, the regionality and of course all the factors that go into making the wine. For example, the “terroirists” or proponents of the idea that wine (and cheese, and beer, and pretty much anything you consume) should represent the unique characteristics of its region, are generally against much human manipulation, ie. chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, and too much use of new oak (this is a very short list, there are many more!). Their thinking is that we should taste nature’s gift the way nature intended it to be–use natural yeast, don’t filter or fine, and let the grapes ferment and express themselves the way they were meant to..enough, enough!
So what’s my issue with the concept of terroir? Does my skepticism towards the idea that you can (or can not) taste the soil in the final expression of the wine give me the right to throw the whole idea of nature’s expression out the window? Well, that’s not my point. I actually believe that better wine makers know and understand the locality they live in and they should use the least aggressive means of getting the vine to ripen grapes and express the full range of flavors. I believe that terroir, like character, is personal to each wine consumer. We each HAVE our own terroir (where you were born, your family history, the way you were brought up, etc.) and VIEW terroir differently – you say tomato, I say tomaato, well..you get the picture. We all express our own terroir, taste things in our own way, and we should each express our own opinions. The terroirists like many idealists are just too fanatical for my tastes, so to speak. They often condemn “manufactured wines” that have no soul, no individuality, and don’t represent a unique micro-climate. Fine–but just like the average American consumer, I want to enjoy a wine and I want it to taste good – what if 2 Buck Chuck tastes better to my palate than a $45 bottle of Burgundy, does that make me insincere? Isn’t there a place for mass market wines just like there’s a place for chain stores, or other commercially made products? Sure, I prefer handmade chocolates, but I’m not offended by the highly industrialized manufacture of Hershey Kisses, hey they taste good too!
The French say “to each his own” – so be it with wine. You only buy grass-fed organic beef from the farmer’s market, I like Prime-Aged corn-finished meat, but my mother swears by the tenderloin at Costco. Same with wine, each of us has different needs and goals in mind, so that should sincerely respected. I’d rather drink a local Virginia or Maryland wine (non-organic – it’s not possible at this point to produce organic wines in our area primarily due to humidity and rainfall during harvest issues) than an organic wine from say Chile. Both wines are great, but I can see the face of the Virginia winemaker at a local wine tasting room or at local tastings. I like the idea to keep money in the community when possible – that’s my feel good issue. For me, my sense of terroir is connected with the people I help in life – economically, spiritually, and in whatever way I can be of assistance. I don’t give money to international charities because I try to assist the homeless that live within a mile of a my home. My terroir is right here..
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler