July 27, 2023

A Lesson in Vino: with Minister of Wine, Marcus Hanson

About Marcus:

Before Marcus Hanson became an opera-singing Minister of Wine here in Minneapolis, he grew up in what is unofficially nicknamed the "Magic City" of Billings, Montana. His path to Minnesota was set in motion when he was offered a music scholarship for tuba at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Marcus not only forged his college and music career in this fine state, but he also – adorably- met his wife at "band camp," as he calls it. It was technically an International Music Camp for very gifted musicians, but adorable all the same.

While Marcus excelled as a musician, he quickly realized that career opportunities for professional tuba players were fairly limited. Even still, his impressive Baritone voice took him around the globe with “InPulse," his former acapella group, for six successful years. At this time, it was Marcus' InPulse bandmate who introduced him to the world of fine wine, which became something of a new passion for him. One day Marcus asked himself: "Can you sell wine? That would be a cool job." It turns out - yes, you certainly can, and he has now been doing it successfully for over 13 years. Marcus even incorporated his beautiful operatic singing voice into his wine tastings, asserting that the combination of wine and music is absolute magic – and we couldn't agree more.

In this week’s blog post, we were lucky enough to sit down with Marcus and learn all about selecting the perfect vino.

Lesson 1: Finding Value in Your Vino

According to Marcus, the greatest value in wine is found in bottles priced between $15-30. With a price tag under $15, wines are most often regionally generic and therefore don't have any distinct flavor profile. He explains that wine under $15 is seldom exceptional. With a price tag over $30, the cost is often tied more to the price of the land or the brand and can be far more subjective. Within the $15-30 range, it is possible to find wines from world-class regions made by family-owned wineries (i.e., smaller batches) that express the vintage they are from. Many of these will outperform similar wines at higher prices. In the words of Marcus: "A wine over $50 had better be exceptional."

Lesson 2: Recognize "Emotional Terroir"

Terroir, or 'Sense of Place,' is the way in which the land/climate expresses itself in wine. Emotional Terroir is the term for the feelings that can be created when experiencing wine in a unique setting. When you are sipping a glass of Brunello with an exquisite meal while watching the sunset at a Tuscan Villa with your loved one, do not expect that wine to taste the same when you drink it with your plate of spaghetti back at home. The same goes for the Pinot Noir you had at the mom-and-pop Domaine in Burgundy after you biked up to their winery or the Champagne you opened to celebrate the birth of your first child. Context creates emotions, and sometimes, that cannot be replicated.

Lesson 3: Variety is the Spice of Life

Marcus explains: "We are not destined to drink one wine for the rest of our lives." According to him, exploration is imperative, and your next transformative wine experience could be just around the corner." He suggests having a couple of "go-to favorites," but that "to stop exploring is to stop the learning process."

Lesson 4: Visit Your Local Independent Wine Shop

Marcus believes these establishments genuinely have your best interest at heart because they live and work in the very communities of the same community of customers they serve, and – in his experience - they genuinely care about ensuring an exceptional experience. Find a local independent wine shop with a buyer/consultant you trust who can get to know your palate...and lean on them for specific recommendations.

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