: I want a glass of wine, but I don't know any of these.
Me: What do you normally like to drink, even though I know you are going to say "Oaky Cab Sauvs"?
: Oaky Cab Sauvs.
Me: We don't have one of those. But try this (pouring a taste of Carneros Pinot Noir and a Valpolicella Ripasso). The first one has the style you want, but the second has the weight.
Me: Okay, try this. I normally don't go in for Mendoza Malbec, but this one is really balanced. It won't be oaky but it is stylistically and weight-wise the closest thing you're going to get to what you normally like. And hey, why not try something new?
: Hunh....mmmm....ssssooo confuuuused....must...have...oak!
Me: Or let's do something totally different but that you'll love: a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. It's like cocoa-dusted raspberries and—
: Raspberries?!?! In WINE?!
: You do know wine is made from grapes, right?
: I'd never think of raspberries and wine...or cocoa...and WINE?
Me: There's a lot of fruit to smell in wine when there isn't a whole forest of oak to mask it.
: But oaky wines are always the most expensive.
Me: Yes! You've hit upon something that's very controversial in the wine industry. It's the effort on the part of winemakers to please Robert Parker and his peers, a bizarre oligarchy of mouths that only respond to oak, plum, coffee, chocolate, smoke, and—provided there's enough of the stuff I just mentioned—tobacco. So any wine forcibly made to taste like these things get higher points and higher prices.
: (Pointing to a funky, poopy-licious biodynamic Rhône Syrah on the menu). I'll just have the Syrah. Is that like a Shiraz?
: Yes. Yes it is.