Monday, May 3, 2010

Good Things Come?

I don’t like to wait. At all. I’m not talking about your garden variety impatience. I swear. I’ve got that, too. In spades. But I am capable of looking forward to something for days, weeks, months, a year without losing my mind over it; I just don’t happen to believe in postponing wonderfulness for no reason other than to “save it for later.”

In my mind, nothing will ever get any better simply because I have put it off. If anything, the opposite happens: the act of deliberately delaying gratification has a directly negative effect on the joy I feel when the moment does happen.

Now, I have been told – by, oh, just a few people who may or may not know what they are talking about – that my stubbornness far exceeds normal levels. Fine. Got it. But if I want something reasonable and feasible and I am told to wait because someone wants to make the thing or the experience overly precious, well, I don’t take it very well.

I would rather break every single one of the “good” dishes because we were enjoying using them than have them sit around collecting cobwebs. Because, uh, yeah, dusting is something I’m always ready to “save for later.”

Pretty candles? Burn ‘em. Fancy lotion? Rub it on. Artisan chocolate sea salt caramels? Yes, please. I’ll take three, for here. Hand-milled lavender soap hand-carried over from the South of France? Ooh la la lather up.

Wine is a different story, though. I was all set to open a 2004 Conde de Hervías Rioja last night. It was just an ordinary Sunday night, but I wanted to try that wine. I’d made up my mind, dammit. I was this close with the corkscrew, wild-eyed and intent.

Suddenly, the clouds parted, and I heard a voice from above saying “It’s too early! Wait.” Then the wine gods proffered a ram-in-the-pre-phylloxera-thicket Domaine Henri & Philippe Gallet Côte Rôtie 1999 to take the place of my prematurely sacrificial Isaac/Rioja. And you know what? For once, I listened. There's a part of me that really believes that 2004 Rioja will be worth the wait. Unless I get really thirsty.

For those of you who are anxiously awaiting our new catalog, don’t worry. You didn’t miss it. We are adding lots of exciting products this spring, and for now you can keep up-to-date via the website. We’ll also be sending out real time New Arrival email announcements, and I expect to have a beautiful new book in your hands around the first of June.

Believe me when I tell you, it will be worth the wait.

A

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Mouthful

I'm very excited to be attending the North Carolina Winegrowers Association's Tasting Room Profitability and Wine Clubs workshop with Elizabeth Slater next week!

Try saying that 10 times, fast.

It's been hard to keep a straight face when calling my vineyard and winery customers to find out if they would be there as well. I work in a cubicle, and my coworkers and I all can't help but listen in on everyone's conversations. Every time I spoke to one of my buyers, by the time I got to "Tasting Room," the other sales reps sounded like they were falling off their chairs in peals of laughter. I could barely contain myself. But I don't think I flubbed a single syllable.

The workshop is Monday and Tuesday, 8-5 both days. Lunch is included in the registration fee. There's a special rate at the Marriott. I think there are still some openings, so if you hadn't planned to go, and can spare the time and get to North Carolina by tomorrow night or early Monday, you should register. Ms. Slater is supposed to be pretty amazing.

There are only going to be a handful of exhibitors, so please stop by and say hello to me. Let's make each other rich and famous!

A

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

White Wine Lovers Are People, Too

Once again, here in North Carolina, we have gone straight from winter to summer. Central heat to A/C. Sweaters to sundresses. A week ago I had to put on a coat to go check an order in the warehouse. Today they’ve got the big fans running out there. On my lunch break today I went for a walk and got pink cheeks, pollen-coated eyeballs and blistered feet from my flip flops. Spring, as it were, has sprung.

Last night, in celebration of the NCAA championship and the warm sunny weather, I had an amazing wine: 2006 Weingut Knoll Loibner Riesling Federspiel. I mean, this stuff was crazy good. And it got me thinking about how white wine drinkers are so often left out. There are truly fabulous whites out there – like Txakoli, Beaujolais Blanc, Rkatsiteli – and it makes me a little nuts when they get sidelined in favor of, well, anything else that just happens to be red.

Red wine drinkers get to use all kinds of cool gadgets, too. Hey, I like gadgets, so I decided to try aerating the Riesling using the Vinturi aerator for white wine. Oh, my! It opened up with oxygenation and really just kind of blew up in my mouth. Delicious. I was reminded that ALL wines, unless they are very old, can benefit from aeration. Tonight I’m going to try a simple bottle-top aerator like the OxyMor on another bottle of white. Perhaps a 2008 Domaine Labranch Laffont Pacherenc Du Vic-Bilh Sec. It is spring, after all. And my team did win.

Oenophilia Spring Sale is going on now! Get 10% off all Oenophilia brand products on orders of $250 or more. Ends 4/9/10. Orders must be scheduled to ship no later than 4/30/10. May not be combined with other offers. Discount does not apply to distributed products. Spring fever, anyone?

A

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tutus & Mohawks & a Sale

I saw so many amazing things over the weekend; I don’t even know where to start.

Saturday morning, I was in a local independent toy store with my son, who was choosing a birthday present for a friend. The saleswomen were all atwitter and agog, completely transfixed by something on the other side of the little mall. I was dying to know what was going on, so as soon as we walked out I looked in the general direction of their interest. There was a new store getting ready to open. It was full – full! – of frilly pinkness. Think: six-year-old girls’ paradise. I’m not kidding. Every single thing in the shop was pink. That was surprising enough. But the person sitting on the floor – legs splayed, reaching up to hang fairy wings, princess dresses and ballerina tutus onto racks, wearing combat boots and cargo shorts – was sporting a cleanly shaved head, save for a Mohawk with eight-inch spikes. Awesome.

And later, when we went to the party, it was like stepping into another world. My son’s friend’s apartment was on the backside of the building. As we rounded the corner I saw groups of Burmese men – specifically Karen, I think – standing, talking, waving us in the direction of the festivities. There was a huge pot of something cooking outside. (I later found out it was goat.) Dozens of shoes were piled just outside the open door. My son quickly slipped off his Converse high tops and disappeared inside. I stood in the doorway. The floor was layered with carpets. There was no furniture. The birthday boy’s mother, in traditional dress, was seated with her back against the far wall. Other women surrounded her. An elderly gentleman, also traditionally dressed, welcomed me and took my offering of tangerines. I asked when I should come back. The party would end, he said, in five hours.

Later, I went for a walk through town and saw the most glorious star magnolia tree. Ever. Hidden on a side street, generously swathed in blossoms from top to bottom. Enough had already dropped to cover the ground. I stood under it and just inhaled. Aahhh.

And on Sunday I saw Duke win to advance to the Final Four. (Full disclosure: I am one of the rare Tarheels fans who are pulling for the Devils in the NCAA Tournament.) My brackets are actually looking pretty good.

There are some pretty amazing things to see on our website right now, too. We have Woozies® now! It’s a wine glass coozie and a crazy-hot seller. I recommend the pink. Or the cheetah. Rawrr. And the Pulltex Pullparrot opener. I love the orange. We’re having a big sale with up to 40% off of more than 40 products. If you’re not set up to access the wholesale side of the site, just request a login from me.

I’ve also got a special, beginning Thursday, April 1. 10% off of all Oenophilia product when you place an order of $250 or more. May not be combined with other offers and all the usual small print stuff. Ends Friday, April 9. We will be closed on April 2 for Good Friday.


A

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Random Fun

It's a wordle of my blog so far!

Wordle: wine lovers

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just Nod if You Can Hear Me

The other evening I had the unfortunate experience of certain technical difficulties resulting in a loss of Internet access. I know. The horror!

Now, I’ve got a decent amount of technological expertise. Or, more specifically, I have experience in dealing with temperamental equipment-types. I used to teach, which means I’ve spent quality time with cranky copiers, pissy printers and sullen servers. At one middle school, Estelle (that’s the printer), was so needy that I oftentimes had to dismantle her altogether and stroke her various cartridges a bit before she would give me what I wanted. No matter. I’m trainable.

And I’m pretty good at pulling plugs, hitting reset buttons, reconfiguring and rebooting. Whatever it takes to get me over the hump and where I want to go. But the other night! The other night, nothing was working. And I had no wi-fi. I need wi-fi. I have blogs to read, news to peruse, social networks to check in with, email to catch up on, things to do. We have a new wireless router, so the problem had to be with the modem, and nothing from my usual bag of tricks was working.

I wound up having to call customer service for McTeleCorp, Inc. One of those loops where you put in your phone number and choose from their menu of various problems and indicate your modem type and then hhhooooooldd. Forreverrr. There wasn’t even any muzak or that canned “your call is important to us.” Just silence. The only reason I knew I hadn’t been cut off was because the counter on my phone showed how long the call was lasting. 28 minutes and 43 seconds I waited. And no. No one helped me. I finally hung up. But the thing that made me feel so crazy is that I’m stuck with McTeleCorp, Inc. For a good long while.

Here at Oenophilia, it is our goal to provide top-notch customer service, where you actually connect with someone. This is what sets us apart from the crowd. Facebook us, tweet us, send us a fax or an email. Pick up the phone and give us a call. There’s always a real person on the other end. And I can say with all sincerity that my customers are very important to me.

The lines of communication are open. There’s no monopoly, no contract. I know you have choices, and I am very grateful that you choose to do business with me.

A

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Big Four-Oh

We’ve had some pretty wild winter weather here in North Carolina, so it has been quite a week. I went sledding last Saturday! My kids have forgotten their locker combinations and their teachers’ names. I’ve eaten lots of cold weather foods like meatloaf and cheese fondue and hot fudge sundaes. Hey, it’s always ice cream season. I’ve also had the opportunity to partake of some choice, special occasion-type beverages. Lillet. Champagne. Negronis. An ’89 Grace Family Cab. Some Riesling in a box.

Yes, indeedy, it’s been quite a week. And this is good. It is an excellent lead-in to the coming weekend.

The Big Day.

Sunday!

February 7. Yep. It’s my birthday. I’ll be 40.

I know. I know it’s also the Super Bowl. WHO DAT. And, um, whatever Colts fans say. Can we talk about me, now?

I love my birthday. I can’t help it. You can tell I’m excited when I start using ALL CAPS. This is how I was raised, I swear. Birthdays rule. When I was a kid, I thought February was ALL MINE. No matter that my younger sister’s birthday is also in February. All mine, I say. Valentine’s Day, are you kidding? Chocolate, flowers and cards? Mine. Ash Wednesday: a no-brainer. My name on the calendar page in February? Must be a special day for yours truly. Obviously, we did not do Lent.

But I never, ever co-opted the Super Bowl. EVER. Never occurred to me. We do ACC basketball around these parts. Pro football, not so much. Eh.

This year, however, I have decided to be a fan. I actually know who is playing ahead of time. I've decided which team I’m pulling for. I plan to actually watch some of the game and not just run over to the television during the commercial breaks.

I’m thinking it’s the only way some people will come to my party.

I’m excited about turning 40. Really. I think it’s going to be a great year, full of all sorts of new experiences. And if you are feeling adventurous and thinking that “all sorts of new experiences” sounds promising, I have a special offer for you:

Through the end of next week, get 40% off of one case of any new-to-you Oenophilia product – one that you’ve never tried, or one that you have not ordered in at least 2 years. All you have to do is ask for The Ashley Atkins Big 4-0 (Ta-dah!) Birthday Adventure Try-Something-New Special. Or something along those lines.

The fine print is down below. Let me know if you have any questions. Isn’t February fabulous?

A


The Deal:

Get 40% off of ONE case of any new-to-you Oenophilia product – one that you’ve never tried, or one that you have not ordered in at least 2 years.

Regular minimum order requirements and shipping charges apply. May not be combined with other offers. Offer not good on distributed products such as Vinturi, Pulltap’s, etc. Minimum order amount must be met prior to adding discounted case.

For example, if you need 2 cases of Maximus corkscrews and 4 Vinturis, you’ve got a subtotal that meets the minimum reorder amount. If you’ve been wanting to try, say, the Hammock rack, you could add it to your order for 40% off, or $56.40 instead of $94.

Purchaser pays freight on discounted item. Orders must be placed by Friday, February 12, 2010. If you want, you may delay shipping until as late as February 26, 2010.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

With Apologies to Wine Snobs

I realize that, with a title like “For Wine Lovers,” this blog runs the risk of offending serious wine connoisseurs. The title comes from the name of the company I work for: Oenophilia. I am not a wine connoisseur. In fact, I suppose you could say that I am decidedly anti-intellectual when it comes to wine. It’s not that I have anything at all against people who do intellectualize wine. I have great fun listening to aficionados geek out about such things as “the smoky gunflint nose;” “inner mouth of cherry stones, spices and cedar;” “minerality;” “resolved tannin;” “opulence;” “nose of fresh black fruits licked off granite;” “oily, petrol mineral notes;” and “good acid structure.” Quite often these are the true oenophiles, full of bacchanal passion, whose pointy-headedness does not at all interfere with – but rather, intensifies – their ability to experience great pleasure.

I like to listen closely and sip along, trying to have an “aha!” moment where I see exactly what they are talking about. But mostly I just enjoy the wine and the company and the fantastic figurative language.

I do get excited about the stories though. I love to hear about the farmer whose family has worked the same little vineyard for centuries, the Roman-built terraces still in use, the grapes picked on belay, the sherry so precious that the bottle came with a lock on the cap, the local who travels abroad to bring obscure wines back home to an appreciative clientele.

I have a cache of wine list survival strategies for getting by when not in the company of connoisseurs: I’ll often choose sparkling over not. Pink wine on hot afternoons. Red wine on a hot date. Chenin Blanc is usually promising. Barolo is godwine. I’m digging Malbec right now. Anything Basque, such as Txakoli, should be great. I love a minerally Riesling from Alsace, but American Riesling tends to be too sweet for me. There are Chardonnays that make me swoon, but I also know that some are too oaky for my taste.

Like I said, I get by.

North Carolina has almost a hundred vineyards and wineries, and I’ve gotten to know many of these people through my job. It’s been great fun to visit these wineries and taste the variety they have to offer and see their bottles on the store shelves.

And I have a trick when I’m buying in local retail settings: turn the bottles around and look on the back label. There are several importers in my area – Wine Without Borders (France); DeMaison Selections (Spain and France); Haw River Wine Man (US, Argentina, Greece, Italy, France, Germany); and Jon-David Headrick Selections (France) – who are local people who work with farmers. They are business owners who founded companies with the sole purpose of bringing us what they truly believe are the delicious wines of the world. I see these men at brunch or at the farmers’ market. Their kids hang out with my kids. I can find their wines at local restaurants, too.

Sometimes I find it’s best to try something I’ve never heard of before. I might get a higher quality wine for less money. And less pretension. But Pinot Grigio is usually my standard safe bet. Because it is aged in stainless steel tanks, I find that even cheap Pinot Grigios are dry, light and, if it’s very, very cold, refreshing enough for sharing with friends.

And that is the most important thing for me when it comes to wine, that I have it in the company of good friends and good food. Wine is ancient. Wine is organic. Wine is the result of people toiling in the dirt. It is not a thing that should stand alone under cold analysis, valued only for its investment values.

Wine should flow like laughter and be appreciated as an integral part of food and gathering. Swirl it. Sniff it. Swish and gargle if you like. Tell me about saddle and bell pepper and juicy apple and earth. But then tell me if you think it’s delicious.

A

Tasting quotes swiped from local wine geek Nathan Vandergrift on Wine Asylum (myasylum.com)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy 2010!

OK. So I'm not exactly speedy in rolling out a Happy New Year post. We've been quite busy here, which is very, very good. And we successfully navigated Inventory – yes, that's with a capital "I" – last week in a warehouse that was not as freezing cold as I'd feared. With my four layers plus coat and scarf, I was actually too warm. Imagine that.

I hope you had a good holiday season. I sure did!

Twelve hours driving.
Eleven strands of lights.
Ten Stump Sound oysters.
Nine pieces of fudge.
Eight cups of eggnog.
Seven long walks.
Six official Christmas celebrations.
Five giddy children.
Four days off.
3-D Avatar.
Two new cashmere sweaters.
And a polar bear swim on Christmas Day.

If you are my customer, or if you are just thinking about becoming my customer (yes! yes! what are you waiting for? do it now!), and you are not on my email list, please consider joining. Use the link on this page to email me a request. I send out regular missives, updates and promotions. And of course you may unsubscribe at any time. I hate spam, too. I look forward to working with you in what I am sure will be a fantastic year.

You can also find Oenophilia at www.facebook.com/oenophilia and www.twitter.com/oenophiliacs. These are great tools for us in getting information out there. I'd love for you to fan us and follow us.

A