In the spirit of democratizing wine appreciation, sommelier superman Josh Wesson will divulge his strategies for navigating what can often times be a grocery store’s best-kept secret: the wine aisle. In his Austin FOOD & WINE Festival class, Grocery Store Greats, Wesson will arm you with a few key pointers to minimize your supermarket spending while still selecting an impressive bottle of wine perfect for your palate and wallet.
AF&W: Having founded (and sold) the successful wine store chain, Best Cellars, you obviously have thorough knowledge of the supermarket wine aisle. Not to have you divulge any secrets of your class… but can you give a few teasers of the tips you’ll be sharing?
JW: Set a price-cap before you start wandering. The wine aisle is not the best place to impulse shop. Shop with a purpose. Know the context in which you’re going to enjoy the wine (at dinner with a medium-rare steak; at a picnic table with fried chicken; in a hot tub with Swedish twins).
AF&W: What do you hope people walk away with after attending your Grocery Store Greats class? How would you describe your teaching style?
JW: I’m all about helping folks find their inner sommelier. The most important lesson I can teach is that are no absolutes when it comes to enjoying wine. Everything begins and ends with trusting your palate—nobody owns your taste buds but you.
AF&W: Switching gears to Texas, what are some of your favorite places to visit in Austin? Any particular grocery stores with great wine selections that you make sure to scope out while you’re in town?
JW: There are so many great places to buy wine in Austin, from well-stocked grocery stores like Whole Foods, Central Market and Fresh Plus to dedicated shops like the Austin Wine Merchant, House Wine, East End Wines and Lake Travis Wine Trader. If I have my way, I’ll hit them all during my grape-stained tour of town.
AF&W: What about your top advice for festival-goers, in terms of keeping track of all the wine and food knowledge they pick up throughout the weekend—any useful tricks?
JW: The hell with writing tasting notes on clumsy books—so 2011! Simply dictate your comments on your smartphone, and then take snapshots of every bottle that pleased you.