Keeping as Many Balls in the Air as Possible…Without losing One’s Own!

8 Jun

The title above is a quote from my business world. Specifically, from Abe Jacob, the Godfather of Theatrical Sound Design. He’s a mentor and friend, and the man who was not being satisfied as the sound mixer for Jimi Hendrix,  The Mamas and the Papas or the other 60’s acts he worked with. So he started designing sound for Broadway shows such as Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s quite famous in the small world of theatrical sound designers. (How does this relate to wine? I’m getting there!)


But today, Abe’s famous tongue-in-cheek quote, “What exactly does a sound designer do? (He/she) Keeps as many balls in the air without losing one’s own!” is quite apropos to me, as I struggle to complete a blog post I started some time ago whilst making  a living in a totally different industry, while tackling multiple projects simultaneously, and trying to be father, husband, techno-genius and wine director at the same time.

Today, the cherry on the sundae is that I have promised a group of friends a wine tasting, and I’m terrified that what I have planned won’t please everyone. While I know that ultimately it’s impossible to please everyone, I’ve got a great plan yet I keep second guessing my choices. At the same time, I have other friends, associates, and co-conspirators whom I know would LOVE to attend this get-together, but I can’t invite them as the group is already maxed out in size. So, too, is the wine. I thought I’d pick ten bottles to taste, which is about two more than most people can really handle at a tasting before their mind or taste buds explode and they just want to stop thinking about wine and enjoy something in their glass. Currently I’m at *15* bottles, and I have about three or four more I’d like to add! Ball after ball goes in the air. Knowing sooner or later, something is going to drop.

Agreeing to hold a tasting is the same as committing to teach a master class (something else I do in my professional “production” life). You might or might not know the level that each of your attendees has attained. They might not like what you serve, they might not understand what your goals are or why you are sharing these wines. You need to keep everyone engaged, and you have to accommodate all the levels of your students simultaneously, making sure everyone learns something that is appropriate to their own level. It’s not for the faint of heart, believe me.


In this tasting, the goals are simple yet expansive: to allow a varied group of people to taste a series of wines, to begin to understand and identify individual  grapes used for single grape and blended wines, and through the process of tasting, begin to understand the language of wine as well as to be able to understand the differences between a basic vin du table versus a well-crafted, world class vintage. I’m hoping the difference will be obvious, but that’s where the terror comes into play, long before anyone even mentions terroir. (You saw that joke coming a mile away, didn’t you?)   For the advanced oenophiles, it is a taste test and comparison in evolution of style, price point, as well as terroir. As designed, any level of wine drinker would enjoy the selection.

wine notes

What can I expect from this tasting? I sincerely hope that all my guests will:

1) Learn more about wine than they knew previously

2) Experience new wines they enjoy tremendously

3) Have a good time

4)  Retain their wits and manners

5) Refrain from drinking to excess.


Honestly, with all I have left to do on my platter, I’m happy that I was still able to use Abe’s quote. If life gets any tougher, I might have to amend it to juggling chainsaws or something I learned in the circus- which is a very different blog post for another time.

Because you were wondering, for my tasting I have selected wines that range in price from under $10 per bottle to almost $100 per bottle.  Choosing price point bottles and selecting flavor samples to match wine language is almost as difficult as figuring our what foods I can serve that will pair with all these wines and prepare in advance. I hope I can keep from changing my mind,  but ultimately rolling with the changes is part of what I’m good at, both personally and professionally. Maybe that’s why this is a challenge without being terrifying. 

No one ever said that life would be easy. If however,  you look at it the right way, then boy… is it fun! 

I lift my glass in a toast to you, fellow wine lovers. Here’s to opening a bottle and finding something you love inside it.


à votre santé!

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