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Brian Wing – NorCal Wing Man

July 18, 2010 The Press 4 Comments

In our continued effort to support those who support wine, we arrive at Brian Wing. Brian writes, where he pairs food with wine, predominately from his Sonoma backyard. One of the things that caught my attention was his generally pleasant demeanor. He is a nice guy and it is evident in his writing. He does not claim to be a master critic but takes his writing seriously.

But, one questions remains. Is he hecka, or hella bad?

How did you become interested in wine, was there a particular wine experience that sparked your current passion?

“Back in the early nineties I worked in the restaurant business, and by working I mean waiting tables, and by restaurant business, I mean Lyon’s.  For those of you unfamiliar with Lyon’s it’s kind of like a step above Denny’s…  Anyhow, after working there for a few years and learning about mixing drinks for the service bar we had there, I ventured out to work at a more upscale steakhouse called The Hungry Hunter.  It was there I discovered wine (and food really).  As a waiter there, you had to know what went into every recipe, sauce, side dish and so on.  Included in this knowledge was what wines would pair with what dishes, so once a month the staff would gather in the bar and we would taste some of the wines on the small, but decent list.  This is when I tasted my first Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley).  I wish I could remember what vintage it was, but I was hooked.  I recall the velvety supple nature of Alexander Valley Cab, just writing this.  Perhaps this is why that AVA is still my favorite for Cabernets!”

Do you have a favorite wine memory (this might be an actual wine you had or a time with a winery or particular trip…something along those lines)?

“Back in 2006 on my first Anniversary, my wife’s Aunt and Uncle took us on a trip to Europe for a wine tasting adventure I fear I may never have again.  We started in Rome, Italy.  We spent four days seeing the sights and enjoying awesome food and drinking great wine sitting on the various piazzas throughout the city.  After that we hopped in a rental car and began an eight day journey driving up through the heart of the Tuscan Countryside, and then up through the Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape, and Saint Joseph stopping at some outstanding wineries and meeting some fantastic people.  We finished that trip off with four days in Paris.  Now that’s a wine trip I could do over and over again.  (Anyone care to sponsor me?)”

Why start a wine blog?

“So this is an interesting tidbit.  I am currently working on my MBA at Sonoma State University.  I started my blog almost as an experiment in social media, but it has turned into so much more than that.  In my class one of our assignments was to do a book report (weird I think, that a Masters course would be doing book reports, anyhow…).  I chose to read Crush It!  I’m guessing that 99% of all wine bloggers have read this one, so you all know the value of using social media for self-branding and self-promotion.  Anyhow, this experiment has turned me on to some great people, both in the blogging world and in social media marketing in general.  I have tried to steep myself in all aspects of social media marketing and I think that I could have a career in it, if I wasn’t already so far down my current path in Information Technology.  So the biggest takeaway from starting a blog is understanding that you’re creating some sort of community and that it’s a two way communication (hopefully) and this conversation is where you make friends, share information and build trust.  Somewhere along the line you also build “brand equity” which you marketing types should take heed of!”

Is there a part of writing Norcal Wingman you most enjoy?

“The wine reviews are okay, but making the food then sharing it with all two of my readers is the best part.  I love to find great wine and food pairings and share them; I hope this is where I can at least add some value.  I’ve had some major flops and those are really fun to share.  It’s not a perfect world and I’m no chef or sommelier, I relish my mistakes; because when I make them I learn from them.”

Do you use the words hella or hecka (It’s a NorCal thing)?

“Hella.  I hella use that word exclusively, and actually, people that use hecka are hella dumb.”

Who excites you in California wine making?

“I wish I had a single person or winery I could point to and make a definitive statement, but I just can’t.  I think the most exciting part of winemaking in California is the push toward youth.  Obviously the “boomers” are the lion’s share of the wine market but the younger wine drinker are getting a lot of attention.  I think that wine still has a huge image problem and it feels elitist and snobbish in certain circles.  So anything that breaks down that stereotype and or real barriers excites me.”

If you could offer one piece of advice about wine to a newly interested person, what would it be?

“Don’t be afraid to taste anything.  Don’t be that guy/girl that says, oh I only drink whites/reds.  Try every wine you can, they all have something to offer, especially the really bad ones!  Educate yourself, whether it’s through a local college or university, a wine club or even your own wine tasting group/club.  The more you know about wine, the more you will enjoy wine and in the end that’s what wine is all about, enjoyment.”

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Follow Brian on Twitter: @norcalwingman

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brian says:

    Thanks so much for the interview, it was hella fun! I really appreciate your support. Keep up the great work, you have a cool thing going here!


  2. Wayne says:

    My pleasure Brian. And you do the same, it is good to see someone who enjoys it with out a massive ego, like me or that Steve Paulo guy.

  3. […] that anyone would actually be interested in what I have to say?  Anyhow, Wayne Kelterer of  A Long Pour (Fifty-two weeks with California Wine), a very cool blog about California Wineries and winemakers, asked some fun questions.  Go over and […]

  4. Cartman always says hella, that’s good enough for me. But seriously, I knew I liked you for a reason, bro. Simi Landslide was the first Cab I really, truly, honestly fell in love with. It’s the Alexander valley connection.

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