Chad Watkins

Chad Watkins

Interview: How to educate yourself on Wine with Chad Watkins

Chad Watkins is the founder of  UnCommongrape.com, where you can learn about wine in an unpretentious way. We talk about his leap from a retail job to striking out on his own and doing what he loves – drinking wine.

Below is a summary of our interview:

Quote

From 1 Timothy 5:23, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

His Journey

Well, Chad couldn’t believe he’d end up working with wine. It wasn’t that big of a deal while growing up. His family would have wine occasionally at holidays. But he didn’t see it becoming a profession of his. When he was in college, he studied History and French language. So that took him to France, and studied there for 1 year. While there, he not only learned about the French language, he also learned about their culture – wine is a big part of that. And Chad is an academic at heart. When he was in France he wasn’t even 21. But he made wine a big part of his life after turning of age. He started working at a small wine boutique shop, because they focused on small, artisanal producers. He barely heard of the larger producers like Robert Mondavi or Beringer when he was there. But he had to find a “real job” so he went to use his French degree writing abstracts for French periodicals for an online publishing. It was the most boring job he could’ve possibly had.  After 6 months there, he left and moved to New Jersey. Then, he found a job working part-time at a wine store, Gary’s Wine and Marketplace. And that exposed him to some amazing wine producers. Within 2 years he was helping run one of the stores and doing well. He had a great education there, but he wasn’t happy. It wasn’t the lifestyle or the type of life he was looking for. And due to the time spent in France, he wanted a more slow paced, laid-back lifestyle. He wasn’t fulfilled. Instead, he set out to find some value in building relationships with people.

Low Point

Almost from late 2012 to holiday 2013, Chad experienced a really difficult time. It was his career at the retail store  that was stressful and strenuous on him.  He was sure that contributed to his appendicitis and checking into the hospital. It was an eye-opening experience, and he wanted out of the wine business.

Aha Moment

When Chad started (un)commongrape, he realized it allows him to be creative and flexible and really allows him to pursue what he’s passionate about.

Chad’s work now  

Earlier this year, in January, he launched (un)commongrape. It’s his project on educating and helping people make wine a part of their life. wine is meant to be enjoyed, not collected. It’s meant to enhance your meals, your life and your gathering.

(un)commongrape is about making wine accessible to more people. It’s not only good for the rich or luxurious. You don’t need to spend $100 to get a great bottle of wine and you don’t need to be snobby about it. He feels that we’ve gotten comfortable with a trend of trusting the critics with the wine rating system, but he wants consumers to talking about ideas and exchanging thoughts with each other.

Chad also shed a bit of advice on developing a palate on wine. The only way to do that is to try wine. Always try new wines. Don’t try the same wine more than once. But every time you get the chance, try a new wine. In the last year, he’s probably tasted over 1,000 wines. Try any wine.

Stew Leonard’s finds a lot of sources for wine, and does a lot of private labels. They bring the cost down, too. But if you find a wine at Stew Leonard’s, know you might not be able to find it elsewhere.

3 Wine Recommendations that we think you’ll enjoy:

Reverdy Sancerre, Terre de Maimbray, from Loire, France, $23

La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva 2000 from Rioja, Spain, $27

Elio Grasso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008, from Piedmont, Italy, $23

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Lightning Round

Book Chad Recommends

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil

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Helpful Habit:

Always being willing to try something new and not being afraid of change.

Helpful Person

Immediately, he said his wife had the biggest impact. Her name is Jamie.  She’s been a huge influencer in Chad’s life.

Internet Resource

winefolly.com It’s very picture oriented. They have great charts and diagrams.

What’s Your Purpose

To help other people live better lives through the experience of wine.

Where to follow Chad

Visit his website, where you can find uncommongrape’s Facebook, his Google+ and his Twitter.

Parting Words

Don’t be afraid to try wine that you’re not familiar with. There’s so much wine and you’d be doing a disservice if you didn’t try it. Discover the great wines, out there.

One More Thing

If you enjoy this interview, please take some time to rate and review us on iTunes or Stitcher.

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