Jim Duane of Hi-Time Wine Cellars Will Smell No Wine Before It's Time

Jim Duane first started working at Hi-Time as a summer job during college in the 1970s. His education in wine began shortly thereafter.
Jim Duane first started working at Hi-Time as a summer job during college in the 1970s. His education in wine began shortly thereafter.
Danny Liao

As Hi-Time Wine Cellars' Jim Duane says in today's cover story, "If you are here, you are going to be pulling some corks."

As someone who received his wine education through the Costa Mesa store, has served as the Champagne buyer for years and twice visited the French region that produces the bubbly, Duane has certainly pulled a countless number of corks (when he was not twisting them off).

Duane considers Chuck Hanson, Hi-Time's longtime wine buyer and brother of founder Fritz Hanson, his mentor.

“He has a really good palate," Duane says of the 85-year-old. "He really taught me how to taste wine.”

Duane, who resides in Laguna Niguel, recounts the advice Hanson gave him to develop a good nose for wine:

1) Go to a market produce section.

2) Pick up a piece of fruit.

3) Look both ways to make sure no one is watching, especially the produce manager.

4) With a finger, slightly bruise the fruit to release the smell.

5) Remember that smell.

6) Move on from fruit to fruit doing the same thing.

7) Move on to the store's spice aisle and do the same thing.

8) Catalog each distinct smell in your mind so you recognize the ones in the wines you sample.

“That’s how we do it,” Duane says. “We think about every taste, the esters (fruity flavor) and smells that are present in wines.”


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