If you feel like a 36-handicapper standing on the first tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links when you walk into a wine shop, this is for you.
Wine can be intimidating. There are more than 1,300 wine grape varietals in the world. Even if you just narrowed your focus to drinking wine in California, “You could drink California wine for the rest of your life and never try it all,” says Advanced-Level Sommelier Jeff Birkemeier, the Wine Manager of Stave Wine Cellar at Spanish Bay.
To help you navigate the extensive world of wine, Stave Wine Cellar offers a series of wine classes for your enjoyment and education. Whether your palate is as basic as “white or red?” or you want to build upon existing wine knowledge, these classes have something for everyone.
With its creative menu of about 200 specialty bottles from around the world and more than 50 wines by the glass, Stave is the perfect place to explore wine. “We give the wine list a big face-lift probably once a month,” says Birkemeier, who is always searching for new wines to add to the Stave collection.
We caught up with Birkemeier, who shared some strategies for discovering your new favorite wine on your next visit to Stave:
Stave specializes in 2-ounce pours, so you can build your own flight if any particular labels catch your eye or choose from the selection of flights Birkemeier has crafted. Explore a renowned region or dive into a particular grape.
Birkemeier has fun with it, putting his expertise to great use with flights like, “For the Cabernet Lover Who Wants to Try Something New.” And for the adventurous, Birkemeier usually throws a rarer flight into the mix. “The further along I get into wine, the weirder and more obscure my tastes get,” Birkemeier admits with a laugh.
An educated pourer like Birkemeier can help you out with this. Let’s say you like buttery Chardonnays. He would try to find you a full-bodied white wine from another varietal. “Usually I find that it’s an easier transition to get the palate as close to the original palate, and have it be different on the nose.
“That’s what we love to do – find good substitutes for new-world wines. Once people get used to those, you take them a step further. If you just go from one end to the other, it’s a bridge too far.”
That’s what we love to do – find good substitutes for new-world wines.
These are the Big Four Factors that make any wine taste the way it does. “I like to try and keep as many of those things constant as possible, and then change up one of them,” Birkemeier says.
So you can learn about aging by trying different vintages of the same wine. Or discover different wine-making styles by tasting what different producers do with the same grapes. Or compare Pinot Noir styles from Burgundy vs. Oregon vs. California. The combinations are endless.
We hope to see you at Stave! See our list of our upcoming events or drop in seven days a week!