Wednesday, April 14, 2010

do you LOVE what you do?

Most of us would acknowledge the fact that we get at least a certain amount of satisfaction from our jobs, but there truly aren’t a LOT of people who REALLY love what they do for a living.

Through our company association with the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, I’ve met a lot of VERY interesting people in the last couple of years, and recently had the pleasure of meeting a couple who definitely capture the entrepreneurial spirit that the Chamber tries to foster.

Dean and Maggie Noonan bought a company called Winestyles on May 1, 2008. Although the store was originally opened in October of 2006, the absentee owner didn’t do an effective job of promoting the business, which provided an opportunity for Dean and Maggie.

In recent months, Winestyles has provided the wine at several Chamber events that I’ve attended, and I’ve also attended a few of the Thursday evening tastings that they host.

Since I’ve long been a fan of wine, I recently interviewed them in order to learn more about their business. The response that I found most interesting to my questions was this one:

When I asked Maggie how they got involved in a wine store, her answer was quick and direct – the LOVE of wine.

They’ve traveled to Italy, France, and the wine country of California, which means that their vast knowledge of wine comes from “hands on experience” rather than formal wine classes.

I'm not a wine sommelier, but after close to 50 years of enjoying wine, I've got a pretty good working knowledge of the beverage. However, I’ll have to admit that I have learned two very important lessons from them in recent weeks.

The first one is this:

My favorite varietal has long been Merlot, which I have always considered to be a “robust’ wine. Thanks to their tutoring, I learned that Merlot and Malbec (another one of my favorites) can come in a variety of styles, and can vary greatly, depending on both country of origin, as well as individual wineries within a specific wine growing region.

The second lesson that I learned came about as a result of joining the monthly wine club.

I picked up my first two bottles last Thursday, and was initially disappointed because both bottles had SCREW ON CAPS, which I’ve long associated with

cheap and inferior wines.

However, I did some research about both wines (this month’s specials are a 2007 Pinot Noir from the Whitehaven winery in Marlborough, New Zealand, and a 2007 Condor, a Cabarent and Shiraz blend, from the Penley Estate winery in Coonawara, Australia) and discovered that they are GREAT wines that are very affordable.

I also discovered that for at least a decade, some of the world’s finest wineries have topped off their wine with a screw on cap rather than a cork, a fact that is not widely known by the general public.Technically speaking, though, the seal is actually called a Stelvin Enclosure, and its use will likely continue to grow into the future, in large part due to the scarcity of good cork.

Uncorking a fine bottle of wine CAN provide a certain mystique, which is more fully explained at the link below:

this stuff ain’t Ripple, honey.

The world’s most expensive wine is a 1907 Champagne that was recovered from a 1917 shipwreck in 1998. At $275,000 a bottle, this stuff isn’t cheap, but GOOD and enjoyable wine doesn’t have to be either expensive or intimidating.

The beauty of a place like Winestyles is that it truly DOES have a neighborhood “feel”. Mega stores like Binny’s may have a larger selection of wines at many of their stores, but they’re not likely to call you by name when you walk in the door, something that’s a regular occurrence at Winestyles.

It’s often been said that, in the spring, a young man’s fancy turns to love. In the near future, the Merrick Rose Garden on the southwest corner of Lake and Oak will come into bloom, which means that we will soon be entering “the days of wine and roses”:

the days of wine and roses

If you’re starting to feel the mood of the season, I’d recommend spending at least some time with your friends at Winestyles, the place where “everyone knows your name”.

You’ll be glad that you came.

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