In vino veritas, in vino fortis
If you've shopped at the Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits shop on 12th and Chestnut in Center City, Philadelphia, you may have run into Max G. He's incredibly tall, skinny, and friendly. His knowledge of wine is vast, which is particularly impressive because he is still a young man, but not surprising for wine is clearly his passion.
He can help find the right wine for you or the right wine for the occasion. You do have to speak his language a little. If he asks you what kinds of wine you usually like, you can't just shrug and say, "Mostly reds." That's not going to work. That gives him nothing to go on. So at least remember the names of a couple wines you like, or varietals you favor.
He's happy to help at any price range. If you're looking for something to impress the guests, he's your man. But he's a champion of lesser-known varietals and regions, and is always happy to help the bargain-conscious shopper find an underrated gem. We've picked up a few Max G. picks from Portugal lately that we've enjoyed.
OK, so you're getting a sense of Max G. Now let me tell you about another guy.
A couple months ago, a balding, barrel-chested man in a sport coat, about 50 years old, puffing on a stogie, blusters his way into the Wine & Spirits shop. "Can I smoke in here," he booms to no one in particular as he pollutes and poisons the entryway.
No sir. It is 2013. Like anyplace else in the entire country, no, you cannot smoke a cigar in here.
I'll call him OMITU: Only Man In The Universe
. I can think of no reason other than an intense, consuming solipsism that could convince a man, in our place and time, that barging into a store with a lit cigar might possibly be permitted.
OMITU takes himself outside to enjoy smoking a few minutes more. When he returns, he does a little shopping at the front of the store before heading back to the more serious wines. "Do you have any good Barberas," he demands.
Max G is happy to oblige. He points the man to the selection of Italian wines, describes in some detail several Barberas, and recommends one Barbera in particular as a fine example of the varietal and a good bargain at $22 a bottle.
OMITU cogitates on the selection and proclaims, "There's a Barbera up by the registers that's on sale, sounds like a good one."
Max G says that, yes, it is a decent Barbera, but his recommendation is by far superior for the price. You won't be unhappy with the cheaper Barbera, but you will be happier still with the better Barbera. But OMITU was not swayed.
I was impressed and pleased that Max G stuck with his recommendation in the face of this rude, pompous, ridiculous man who, in the end, wasn't willing to spend 10 dollars more for a superior wine. (To be fair, my wine purchases are generally inexpensive, but I try not to act like an ass about it.)
And so OMITU took a somewhat inferior Barbera to his Italian BYO that evening. I am not sure he would have appreciated the better.
There are 3 morals to this story:
- An expert, when confronted with the contradictions of the ill-informed, should stand his ground.
- The churl, when consulting the expert, would do better not to second-guess his opinion.
- Max G's picks at the Wine & Spirits shop are consistently excellent.