Monday, January 25, 2010

Adventures in Wine #2 - January 2010

With a slightly different group, we gathered again. This time we were blind tasting - comparing grapes, and new world vs old world. Discerning the flavors and learning to put a name to that flavor is a skill for which we all strive. Do you taste earthiness, minerality, black cherries, citrus? How about wet earth, chalk, teachers (no, not the last one; that was just a hilarious moment). How oaked is it? Being guided by a passionate expert, it becomes a great learning experience. There were brief moments when our Wine Host lost control of the group but he managed to wrest it back amidst the laughter. And when he waxed on a bit too long in his enthusiasm, his able assistant gave him a gentle nudge to move along.

One member of the group is an Executive Chef and we prevailed upon him to bring the appetizers this time. At our last gathering, he had brought the bulk of the food and anything anyone else had brought paled in comparison. So this excellent decision resulted in a gourmet spread worthy of a fine restaurant.

Wines were kept around the corner and served from within a brown paper bag, identities concealed. Beginning with Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, we compared Chardonnays from France and California, and Rieslings from Germany and Michigan. Moving from whites to reds, next up were Pinot Noirs from France and California. Our one Italian wine was a Sangiovese from Tuscany, and the next four wines were blends from France, Australia, California, and France. (The resulting discussion reminded me of a funny Frasier episode in which Frasier and Niles are competing against each other for Corkmaster of their Wine Club. The final blind taste-off bottle is identified as a Merlot by Niles and a Cabernet by Frasier. The wine is 45% Cabernet and 55% Merlot so Niles wins.) Our last taste-off bottle was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and although we were all sorry to see the evening end, our taste buds were saturated (someone’s lips were numb :) and any further tastings would have been for naught.

It was a very enjoyable evening and here are two important things to take away:

~ Only novices hold up their wine to the light to judge it visually; instead look at it against a white piece of paper.

~ Amateurs are tentative about their opinions; professionals make statements with confidence.

In vino veritas ~

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