Michael Bray

Wine Columnist Michael Bray

Greetings and happy New Year to you!

I am thrilled to be back before you drinking wine, answering your questions, delivering relevant and local wine news and most of all … having fun! My team at Passion Vines will attest of my favorite mantra: when you’re learning, you’re growing; and when you’re growing, you’re happy. So, why not commit to a life of learning and growing? So, with your help and my guidance, we’re going to commit to a year like no other. Are you in?

I always start the year with a bit of reflection and gratitude. Here are some questions to begin with on remembering 2018:

1. What was my favorite wine of 2018?

2. What was my favorite wine experience in 2018, and who was there?

3. What am I most proud of regarding my wine growth and development?

Questions on creating 2019:

1. What would I love to feel more confident about? Is it wine labels that cause me stress as I stand at the wine wall at Circle Liquors or Canals? Or, is it the wine list at the historic, Knife & Fork Inn? Or, is it not having the vocabulary to describe what it is I actually like in a wine?

2. How am I going to learn more? Are you going to seek out formal classes or books? Are you going to attend more wine dinners at The Iron Room in A.C., with special guest speakers? Are you going to commit to opening more than one bottle at your favorite BYO restaurant?

3. Why is this important to me? This is a good reminder that all worthy endeavors begin with a point of intimidation. However, by having a strong WHY, you’re chances of following through is far greater. Are you a server, who wants to make more meaningful connections with your guests/tables (not to mention, greater tips)? Are you looking to feel confident for when you take clients out to dinner? Simply put, create a compelling WHY and you’ll find out HOW.

If you feel like I’m making this too formal, I get it. However, I love this topic of wine and I’ve watched it be the vehicle of confidence and joy for thousands of customers and team members over the years. It’s amazing what can happen around the dinner table with family and friends … and quite frankly, complete strangers. Why not?

I’m leaving you with a bit of homework. Please answer the questions above. Think about them. Here’s the best part, I guarantee that if you commit to the work, what you’ll experience is far greater than just the knowledge of wine. From experience, you’ll discover history, geography, food, flavors and aromas and the best part, more meaningful relationships. Does it get any better than that?

I would be honored if you would email me your answers and as always, your wine questions throughout the year. I will continue to use this column to answer you. Together, we will keep learning, growing and doing throughout the world of wine.

Drink passionately,


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