Issue 30

Welcome to VivinOmaha!

Welcome to VivinOmaha!

I wouldn’t have thought anything could get much better than a vertical of high-end Napa Cabernet dating back to 2006, seemingly endless trays of beautiful charcuterie, cheeses, and breads, and discounts on bottles of wine with waived corkage, but somehow I was wrong. By itself, that would have been amazing, but pairing all of that with forty other wine enthusiasts and Vivino users made the afternoon something truly exciting and noteworthy.

If you’re not familiar, Vivino is an app that I, along with many other wine lovers, frequently engage with. When I first got into wine, it quickly became one of my go-to resources for selecting great wines amongst the often-daunting sea of labels that confronts one in every grocery store and wine shop in Omaha.  Using the camera on your phone, Vivino will scan a wine label, or even an entire shelf of wine, and tell you what dozens, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of wine drinkers have thought of that wine and vintage prior to you. A form of social media, I follow people like “Jay” “HCC” and “Dadavoodoo”, as well as Jack Madrid, Christine Havens, and other well known wine lovers, reading their reviews and often taking their suggestions. In addition, I write my own tasting notes, offering further accolades to wines I love while warning people away from those I dislike.  It’s fast becoming a community, and I regularly meet up with other users in person. Then it occurred to some friends and I to gather Vivino users together in Omaha, so that’s exactly what we did.

On Sunday, July 23, nearly forty people arrived at Corkscrew in Blackstone, where manager Zach Ferguson, proprietor Jessica Keith, and a healthy pour of staffers were working hard to ensure that everyone got to taste, and rate, the Varozza vertical that had been arranged. Varozza, a historic Napa property (that I wrote an article about in a previous issue of FSM) makes one of the better estate Cabernets in the Napa Valley, and this was the first vertical I had seen that wasn’t at their winery. The 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Cabernets were available to Corkscrew patrons that afternoon.

Guests appeared to approach the tasting one of two ways. Either they worked seriously from one end to the other, tasting solo or with a partner, taking notes and scanning labels, or they took a more laid back approach, getting a taste of wine, ambling off towards the charcuterie, chatting casually with others who favored their leisurely system. “Which wine am I on?” a woman asked me, taking a bite of bread slathered in mustard with cheese on top of it. I looked down at her tasting card. “Looks like 2010,” I told her. “Sounds good,” she said, striking off toward the middle of the room. Taking wine seriously is fine, I thought. Not taking it seriously is equally so.

Wine is a great equalizer, and a means of connecting people to one another. There were people at Corkscrew that day that I had seen there countless times before, and sommeliers I recognized from other wine establishments in Omaha. There were also guys who would clearly rather have had a beer, acquiescing to the wishes of their wine-loving spouses, and many people I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. I think my greatest complaint about social media is that it is often used as a substitute for real life, where people have “friends” rather than friends, and a place that people can act bravely or cowardly from behind the comfort of a screen. But at Corkscrew in Blackstone, the Vivino app and some pretty great wine brought real human beings face to face to socialize, converse, relax, and share a glass of wine –and that’s the kind of social media that I will gladly get behind.

Ultimately, the event was a terrific time, and as a lover of great Cabernet, a regular at Corkscrew, and a passionate Vivino user, I’m grateful to everyone who made it possible – especially to those who attended the event. In fact, it was such a good time that we’re organizing another one. The next “VivinOmaha” event will be on Saturday, December 2, from 1-5PM, and feature dessert wines like Port, Madeira, and Sauternes, just in time for the holidays! Watch or for details about this upcoming event. You’ll be able to buy tickets on Corkscrew’s web page, or in person at either Corkscrew location. I hope to see you there!

Mark Gudgel

Mark Gudgel

Dr. Mark Gudgel is a wine writer and educator who holds credentials through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and is working towards becoming a Master of Wine. His interest in wine was sparked on his honeymoon to Napa and Sonoma. Gudgel and his wife, Sonja, have co-authored several articles as well as a book on the wineries of Nebraska, to be released in the spring of 2017. Gudgel is a regular contributor to Food & Spirits Magazine and American Winery Guide, as well as the blog he maintains with his wife, Mark and Sonja live in Omaha with their children and their dog.

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