subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

Is there a typical day in a wine critic’s life?


People often ask me what a typical day is like in my wine critic’s life. There’s really no such thing as a “typical” day. One day I might be flying first class — say, to Beijing, teaching a class to Chinese MWs, or consulting to an Indian winery on how to grow Pinot Noir. Another day I might be addressing a Fortune 500 business group in New York or San Francisco, while another day I could be assisting Michel Rolland or somebody like that with putting together a blend (called a “cuvée” in French). Just yesterday, the White House cellarmaster had me in a three-way conference call for two hours with the White House chef on determining what wines to pair with the food for President Obama’s upcoming State Dinner for French President Nicolas Sarcozy, which I am invited to with a guest. Interested in being my date? Let me know. (By the way, the amazing Carla Bruni will be there.) Last week, the bottling line at an important Central Coast winery broke, and they sent a limo up here to Oakland to bring me down there and figure out how to fix it. (It proved to be a little easier than the BP gusher!) This coming week, the wife of a cult winery owner has asked me to help her prune her olive trees. I, personally, detest physical labor, but I am happy to supervise her workers. I understand she is having Thomas Keller prepare our lunch. He might ask me to develop a new amuse bouche for him to serve at French Laundry, as he did a while back, when I created his pear with mushroom duxelles appetizer that’s been such a big hit. Or I might advise a wine store on how to better arrange their aisles and display their bottles, or a graphic designer on how to perfect a bottle label, or a winery on how to create a Social Media strategy that actually works, etc. etc. etc.

So you can see that the very notion of a “typical” day is absurd, and shows how little the average person understands the true nature of the wine critic’s work. But, for those who are still curious, here’s what I can do. I can share this page from my appointment calendar. This is a fairly standard representation of what a day at home here in Oakland is like, although of course anything can pop up to interfere, as it did last Wednesday, when Gavin Newson insisted — and he would not take “no” for an answer — that I come over for cocktails with him and Jennifer and try his new vato loco. (He is our next Lieutenant Governor and I don’t want to get in The Gav’s crosshairs!)

Anyhow, here’s my daily appointment calendar for today, Wednesday, July 14, 2010.

7:30 a.m. Wake-up call. Power drink, espresso, toilette, then off to gym.

8:00 a.m.
Workout. 24 Hour Fitness. Abs, upper body, stairmaster. Wine to drink: Riesling Kabinett. Remember to put wine in free water bottle you got at WBC10.

9:30 a.m. Manicure, pedicure. Wine to drink: Fino from last nite. Drop tux off at dry cleaner.

10:00 a.m. To San Francisco. Shop at Union Square. Buy Champagne flutes (Lalique, 40% tax writeoff). Check out shirt sale at Saks. CDs at Rasputin (new Eminem? Listen 1st), definitely OMG/Usher.

12:00 p.m. Lunch with J.___ at B44. Lamb brochettes supposed to be incroyable! Wine: whatever Pablo [waiter from last time — is he still there? Hope!] recommends.

2:00 p.m. to SOMA. Hot stone massage @ Kenjo. Wine to drink: ‘95 Cristal. Check out new Jewish Museum thing on way back. Bring Jeff’s Covenant.

3:00 p.m. Meet C.___ at Brasserie Wine Bar. Sancerre flight. P.U. 1/2 lb. smoked salmon at Whole Foods next door.

4:00 p.m. Home. Shower. Nap.

5:00 p.m. Check messages, emails, tweets, phone calls. Make sure to return Maynard James Keenan’s call from yesterday re: Blood Into Wine 2. See who’s online at Facebook chat. Check out blogs (1WineDude, Jo Diaz. Is DrVino still active?) Browse online NY Times. Search Google news for “Heimoff”.

5:30 p.m. Catch second half of Keith Olberman. Wine to drink: Beer!

6:00 p.m. Taste new Napa Valley cult Cabs.

7:15 p.m.
Limo pickup for dinner at Ozumo. Reservations under “Harlan, B.” Dressy-casual. [Wear “Happy Face Grapes” tie that came in Napa auction goodie bag.]

10:15 p.m. Limo home. Glass of ‘77 Warre’s. Another exhausting day! To bed. Zzzzz.

P.S. To my many French friends and admirers, Happy Bastille Day!!!

  1. Sorry I can’t join you at the state dinner…my cover would br blown 🙂

  2. You really drink wine while at the gym?

  3. Tori: No.

  4. Gee sounds like a good day but Olberman!!? I always took you for an O’Reilly guy

  5. Flip: Yeah right.

  6. Mon dieu! Wasn’t that you I saw in the Dust!

  7. Bill Smart says:

    Funny post. The gym here in town serves wine. Does that count?

  8. Your gym serves wine? Sign me up!

  9. Jo, that was me, dusting myself off, getting ready to fight again! Great to see you. Can’t wait for the Giants game this Sun. with José.

  10. I’ll be your date to the WH! I promise to both shower and shave, but please only a kiss on the check afterwards as I was married in the C church and have two yung’ns.

  11. Steve, you’re the first and only one who applied, so I guess it’s you! Will get back with details.

  12. Not long ago, a cartoon appeared in the New Yorker; a couple sitting at a dinner table with a bottle of wine. The woman asks, “do wine writers suffer, and all that?”


  13. I saw that. Nice to see you’re reading smart stuff. Cheerio!

  14. Reading smart stuff? Are you referring to the NYer or to 🙂

  15. Hah! NYer of course.

  16. Vinogirl says:

    Well, I actually mentioned the dinner first…but Steve Christian actually identified himself .

  17. Actually not epic. Just average. An epic day is watching Mad Men reruns and taking a good siesta after lunch.

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts