Guest Blogger Dan Paulus: My Journey to Wine

My name is Dan Paulus and I am a WINE ENTHUSIAST!

The event that brought me closer to the wine industry was the 2006 NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis, Indiana. I went with a group of men of who were either my college buddies or their fathers. We went to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse, a fine establishment with a wine list that would make most wine stores jealous. I recall sitting at a table listening to my friends’ fathers describe various wines and telling stories about where they first tried a wine, what they thought of it, as they debated over which wine would best compliment this evenings spread.

As I listened, I couldn’t help myself but think either I fell into a group of grown individuals that either had passion for wine or were complete con artists with excellent stories. It was then that I decided I needed to embark on my own wine journey and gain knowledge so that when we ventured to the next Final Four I would be aptly prepared to show off my wine gusto.

I got back to my apartment in Columbus, Ohio and got caught up in the business world again, but maintained committed that at my next vacation slated for June I would make a conscious effort to begin my exploration in the wine industry. June arrived and I recall walking into a grocery store and looking at all the varieties and not having a clue where to start. I recognized a few names; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, but I was overcome by the vast selection. WHERE DO I START?

I walked out of the grocery store and ventured to a wine shop where I found the staff to be increasingly more helpful and much more knowledgeable. I explained that I wanted to learn about wine, but was “green” to my taste, knowledge, etc. They questioned me, do you like dry? Oaky? Full body? Aroma’s with nose? White or Red? Sulfite allergies? Etc. To the point that I just about had a crisis in the store, as I felt like I walked into a Chemistry test completely unprepared at Florida State University with my answering of questions laying in the balance of my future.

I remember saying, “I like sweet stuff.” The wine associate took me to the German section of wines and handed me a bottle of Riesling. He informed me to chill it and come back soon to tell him what I thought. Oh how I loved the sweetness of this particular Riesling – so much so that I drank the first bottle and quickly went back to grab two more. I felt like it was the death of a salesman that next day; my excitement for wine was quickly overshadowed with the hangover from hell, as I laid on my sofa questioning,  “why I did this to myself?”

Case and point made, I could have never drank another glass of wine and been completely happy. I went back to see my wine counselor and we began to make headway with the recommendation of the magazine, Wine Spectator. He quickly showed me why I felt like hell as he showed the alcohol content to be around 13% or nearly three times that of a Budweiser product I had accustomed myself x 3 bottles… I recall leaving the store with a magazine thinking is this really worth it?! I am now buying paper, not wine.

It was truly at this point, I realized I was moving beyond just wanting to get drunk. I wanted to know a product, a line, everything associated with a wine. I read the magazine in the next few days and like a kid who fell off his bike I ventured back to the wine shop and embarked on my new hobby – wine.

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  1. What a wonderful post – thank you Dan! I love various wines…I know a bit about them, but I’m still an amateur… my husband is the one that has all the vino information.

  2. That wine is so refreshing on a humid, sticky Memphis summer day. I love it on the patio.

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