Tom Jones + Church + Wine=Epiphany

Epiphany – A festival commemorating the Wise Men’s visit to Christ, celebrated on Jan. 6th. Another definition is a “sudden realization” or “eureka moment”.

I love my church peeps. (www.churchinthecliff.org) Because of their encouragement, I became a Sommelier.

So when Pastor Courtney asked if I would be willing to do a wine tasting with an “Epiphany” theme, I said “absolutely”!
Then my first “sudden realization” was…what have I agreed to??? Epiphany Theme? What does that mean? Do I go with one varietal that gets maligned? Say a Riesling that  is sweet (because most people think that is the only way they come) and serve one that is not sweet. Or perhaps pick one varietal that has been grown on several different regions of the world and talk about how climate and wine making style can influence the flavor profile of a wine.

Then I remembered my audience would be people who probably have never done a wine tasting and are very visually driven (we have a lot of creative people in our Church). So I thought of what would tie easily into Epiphany?….Labels! I would find Epiphany inspired labels, and that way, I could introduce several wines so the group can learn about basic flavor profiles of different grapes.

I knew my quest was going to take me all over town, so I decided to take some of the CD’s I got for Christmas along for the ride. I chose Tom Jones’ Praise & Blame. This is his latest gospel/rock influenced CD. Absolutely fabulous! His voice is so strong and clear.

I love Tom Jones and I’m proud to admit that I have thrown panties on the stage while he was singing. It was something I wanted to check off my “bucket list”.

As I’m listening to his songs about questioning faith, the struggle to be a good person and social justice; I’m struck with how totally and completely happy I am….I’m traveling from store to store taking photos of wine labels, listening to music that conveys how I feel and preparing for a wine tasting…I love my Sommelier job and I love the people who I’m doing this for.

So when I got home I immediately sent Pastor Courtney 29 labels to choose from. We got it down to 5:

Because I could not afford to buy all of the wine (the cost was $10-$15 a bottle) needed to do a tasting of this size (about 20 people), my Church Peeps signed up to bring a certain wine. It got pretty funny when emails & phone calls were flying saying “I can’t find Hope” “I need 2 more Miracles” “We got all of the Lucky Stars”.

All of the wine was procured and the tasting was set! The Epiphany festivities had begun. I knew it was going to be fun and challenging because I had never had any of the wines and I never know what kind of questions I’ll get.

The first wine was 2009 Hope Verdelho. The Verdelho is a Portuguese grape that smells fresh, fruity and honeysuckle. The taste is spicy citrus. It is a palate cleanser so it goes well with seafood. Epiphany Moment: The smell and taste are totally different and the sweet wine lovers were disappointed because they thought it would be a sweet wine. My Moment was that I always thought Verdelho was a Spanish grape.

Next was 2006 El Miracle Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc blend. The smell was light fruit of pear, apple, lemon. The taste was about the same. This was a very nice blend and very drinkable. I don’t like to use blends in tastings because it is hard for some people to pick out the different properties of each grape, there is too much happening in the mouth. Epiphany Moment: Lots of happy people trying to pick out the different flavors. My Moment: I under estimated this group.

2009 Lucky Star Pinot Noir was up next. The smell was black fruits and earthy, not very strong. The taste was a little rough. I wanted the earth/gravel flavor to be softer. Epiphany Moment: Color difference between Pinot Noir and Malbec. My Moment: You pay more than $10 for good Pinot.

Pastor Courtney chose this next wine because it reminded her of the Wise Men: Ensemble Red Blend (Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel). The smell was black fruits, vanilla, gravel. The taste was spicy cherry, plum, earth, raspberry. This was a favorite with the group. Epiphany Moment: Syrah & Shiraz are the same grape spelled differently and there is no such thing as white Zinfandel. My Moment: I really like this wine!

Last was 2008 Secreto de Viu Manent Malbec. The smell was berries, violets, chocolate. The taste was rich plum, earth, tobacco, with almost a velvet feel in the mouth with a little tannic quality. Epiphany Moment: Malbec will stain your teeth, the artwork on the label is cool, Malbec is a French grape. My Moment: Chile is making damn good Malbec.

The questions were amazing and the comments were wonderful to hear. I’m so glad that everyone had a great time. Nobody felt intimidated. We all laughed and learned. As my friend Teri said, ” It was Epiphantastic!”

My job as a Sommelier is to be a guide, not a judge….

What good am I?/If I’m like all the rest/If I just turn away/When I see how you’re dressed/If I shut myself off/So I can’t hear you cry/What good I’m I?

Written by Bob Dylan. Sung by Tom Jones

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11 thoughts on “Tom Jones + Church + Wine=Epiphany

  1. I think you should be church in the cliffs resident sommelier like other churchs have resident theologians. Kind of similar work I’d say, cracking people open to new tastes and smells and prayers. Thanks for such a beautiful evening and lovely post. Xxo Courtney

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  2. I love it! It just goes to show that buying by the label is not all bad. My favorite label is the “Homage” series by Jan Schrem’s Clos Pegase, famously banned in the first issue by having an abstract Full Monte. I will attest to the drinkability of each in this series though.

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  3. LOVE this posting. I often select wines based on the label. Is that wrong? My thinking is that if “they” put thought into the label, they must put that much thought into the wine….So, basically, I am a slave to the graphic artist.

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