I was so excited when I was gifted my first bottle of authentic Italian wine that I stuck the DOCG seal to my wine notebook. My friend and coworker Susan Quirk had just come back from Italy, and being the thoughtful wine fairy that she is, she brought me back a bottle of 2007 Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano.
I was so excited to open it that I did not even think about what I was having for dinner, or if my food would complement the wine. Boy, what a mistake that was.
I should have saved it until it was time to study Italian wine, so I would have known that it was truly an excellent wine. I would have known this because it carried a seal of approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, which all Italian fine wine must bear.
There are four quality levels for Italian wines. Starting from the lowest:
Vino da Tavola
Vino da tavola means "table wine". Wines in this classification may not state the region or the grape varietal in order to allow for lenient blending.
Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)
Wines labeled IGT follow the same basic rules as Vin de Pays in France or Landwein in Germany. IGT wines are labeled with the region they were created in, but they do not meet the stricter standards required to be labeled DOC or DOCG. Many Super Tuscans are labeled IGT.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
A DOC label names the geographical location where the wine is made, and indicates that the wine follows all the region's rules for permitted grape varieties, winemaking techniques, minimum aging and maximum yield per vineyard.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)
DOCG rules are similar to DOC, but stricter. Allowable vineyard yields are typically lower, which is thought to produce higher quality wines with more concentrated flavors. Plus, DOCG wines must pass a laboratory chemical analysis and a taste test by a government-licensed panel.
Now, let's get to the fun stuff: the tastings. It's hard to find a favorite in a country covered with vineyards and such diverse terrior, but we'll start with the three most important regions.
Piedmont's most prestigious grapes include Nebbiolo, Barbera, Muscato and Dolcetto.
I opened a Salvano 2007 Barbera d'Alba DOC from Piedmonte. Immediately permeating from the bouquet is a smoky, sweet and earthy scent with a flavor full of history. I love the currant and red berry flavors of this wine. However, it is the layer of herbaceousness that is more prominent in the palate of this wine that makes you say "Viva Italia!"
Although this wine does not have a deep garnet color, the body of the wine is very deep. This is definitely a wine with soul. The Barbera grape gives the wine that familiar sour cherry flavor that is prominent in many Italian wines.
Everyone knows that I am a self-proclaimed "red" girl. When it comes to Italian wines, I tend to toe the line with the Deltetto 2006 Langhe Arneis and the Marrone 2008 Solaris Moscato d'Asti DOCG. Deltetto is a beautifully balanced symphony of flowers and stone fruits with what tastes like a golden delicious apple mixed into it. This is my golden elixir. The Moscato d’ Asti tastes similar to the Deltetto, but with a sticky honey and grape-like sweetness. In the words of Winnie the Poo, "Mmm, taste like honey."
For my sweet wine lovers, you have reached your destination. Solaris exhibits a pale lemon color with just the right amount of velocity and fizz. One of the most beautiful characteristics of this wine is the bouquet, which I can only describe as floral fruit. Familiar with the Chiquita banana character? That would sum up this wine. This wine is syrupy sweet decadence that provides a clean palate with an enormous finish.
Veneto has a prominent position as the largest wine-producing region in Italy. It is also the region where Bardolino is made. The Corvino grape is the predominant grape of this region.
Until I tasted the Giarola 2007 Bardolino from Saint Valery [sold out!], I thought I had a clear grasp of Italian wines. However, there are over a thousand grape varieties in Italy, so my education on these wines has a long way to go. Bardolino is made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, producing a light, dry red wine with red fruit flavors and very chewy tannins.
Do not eat chocolate and drink this wine together. This is a no-no. I wanted drink my wine and eat chocolate too. Bad decision, but hey, this is part of my wine education.
Bardolino is made the same way as some of the wines from the Valpolicella DOC, which is the second most important DOC next to Chianti. The greatest difference between the two wines is the change in percentages in the blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara.
Ca' de' Rocchi 2006 Desto Valpolicella Ripasso is a heavy hitter. Regular Valpolicella is lighter in body and has a fruitier palate, but when you add the must of Amarone to deliver more complex flavors, you add more alcohol to the wine as well. The wine is ready to drink with the right food partner, such as blue cheese.
Welcome to the home of the Super Tuscans and the infamous Chianti. My first taste of Chianti was the Castillo di Oliveto 2003 Chianti Riserva. It was filled to the brim with cherry and oak on the nose. Although the Riservas are mandated to be aged in oak for two or more years, it was such a lovely treat that I quickly forgave the oak.
So the next time Susan jets off to Italy and comes back home with a present for her good friend Chandra, I will thank her by opening the bottle and toast to our friendship ... over a meal this time.
During my first week of studies, I received a suggested wine list with my tasting assignments. One of my assignments was to taste an Australian "GSM" ... a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grapes.
To my delight, the Rhône winemaking region in France is full of GSM blends, and I have developed a crush on these flavorful Frenchies. These are primarily created throughout the Southern Rhône Valley area ... but we'll get to that a little later. Let's explore the Northern Rhone first.
Northern Rhône is known for its négociants ... wine merchants who buy grapes and wine from smaller growers to sell under their own name. Some of the wines produced by négociants are so popular, they even have fan clubs.
I realized right away why I developed such an instant crush on Rhône wines. It is because the primary grape varietal grown there is Syrah, also known as Shiraz in Australia and other parts of the world.
The most popular vineyards in the Northern Rhône are in Cote-Rotie AC, Hermitage AC and Cornas AC, where deeply colored and robustly spicy wines are made. Cornas AC is the only region that grows 100% Syrah.
White Rhône wines are made with Viognier grapes, or a blend of Marsanne and Roussane. The two varietals are often blended together to produce high-alcohol, fruity wines with good acidity.
The Maison 2545 Roussanne, Vin de Pays d'Oc, has quickly become one of my new favorite white wines. This wine smells like a wonderful dessert, and as shocked as my taste buds were, tastes just as wonderful as it smells. After going through the razor-sharp dry wines from the other regions of France, I was very happy to receive this sweet treat.
Southern Rhône wines are produced by cooperative cellars, were the winemaking facilities are co-owned by a number of growers. I like to think of Southern Rhône as the land of the blends. It is here that you can find the GSM-style wines that we touched upon earlier in this post.
The Camps des Garrigues 2006 Vacqueyras is the perfect representation of GSM-style wines. No wonder the top of the label says "Perfection du Rhône". Camps is filled with full black fruit flavors and aromas, with a hint of cherry and spice in the mix. This is a luxury that you can afford.
Next up are the popular Cotes du Rhône wines from Southern Rhône that are more favorable to the wallet while still giving the hint of glam to your glass. What I love most about the Jean Berteau 2006 Cuvee Prestige is the blackcurrant familiarity that I am used to. Syrah and Grenache give that jammy flavor, with a hint of spice that is not as full of bite as the over-baked fruit on the Down Under gems. The Mourvedre tops it off with rounded tannins and added color.
The beauty of the wine is that you can have spice, but not the "bite" that sometimes come along with pepper. This is like the uptown girl who likes downtown shoes. I know it sounds funny, but that is how I am always going to remember this particular wine.
While I wait until another time to finish out my wine tastings from Rhône with the Jean Berteau 2007 Cotes du Rhône Blanc Cuvee Prestige, I was not disappointed at the tail end of this journey. Immediately I was hit with a full nose of apricot and something else that I could not fully put my nose on. However, this wine was smooth and refined, just like the uptown cousin I just finished describing, sans the downtown shoes.
Until next time – Mo Wine!
If any of you can remember my learning experience with Bordeaux, you should remember that they have a thousand appellations. Fortunately for us, there is only Vin de Pays du Val de Loire, and that covers everything.
The Loire is France's longest river. The Loire Valley is made up of the following regions: Central Valley, Touraine, Anjou-Saumur and Nantais. Most Loire wines feature light, simple fruit flavors with lots of acidity and crispness.
Loire Valley Wine Map by Loire Links - Click to Enlarge
The Loire Valley has quite a bit of land in varying climates so let's start smack-dab in the middle with the Central Valley. I know that most of you have passed at least a dozen wines with the name Poully-Fume (pronounced "Pwee-foo may") and Sancerre ("Sahn sair") on the bottle, never knowing that you were passing Sauvignon Blanc. I know because it has happened to me on numerous occasions before my journey in wine started.
The main grape varieties in the Central Valley are Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Both Sancerre and Menetou-Salon are known for cultivating Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, while only Sauvignon Blanc is grown in Poully-Fume. Sancerre is a white wine with dry, high acidity and herbaceous notes and flavors. This wine is not made for aging, so if you were gifted a bottle and are saving it for a special occasion, remember that every day you wake up is an occasion for Sancerre.
The main grape varietals from Touraine are Cabernet Franc for their red wines, and both Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc for their white wines. The red wines from Touraine are mostly a blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay (remember Beaujolais?) and Malbec. However, in most wine stores it will be found as Gamay de Touraine, or whichever variety is the greatest in the wine.
This is white wine land only. Chenin Blanc is the only grape that is grown in the area. The wines in the region can vary from extra dry, sweet or sparkling. I am not a big fan of Vouray, as I feel that it can be acidic with a chalky undertone.
This area is responsible for producing red wine and some rosé wines that are made from Cabernet Franc. Chinon makes Loire's most prestigious red wines. These are fragrant wines that are juicy with mild tannins and crisp acidity. I refuse to chill my reds, but when you are dealing with high acidity wines, you might be better off chilling them to alleviate some of the bite.
This area produces the superstars of Loire, because this is the heartland. As with the other various areas, you can find Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, as well as Gamay and Groulleau. Groulleau is a grape that is indigenous to Anjou. Groulleau and Chenin Blanc blended together make some of the most famous rosé wines. Saumur is known for their production of sparkling wines. The only sweet wines that you may find in Loire are still made from Chenin Blanc, only they are affected by Botrytis in order to fully develop the sweetness that will offset the acidity of this wine.
Muscadet sur Lie
Photo by Michal Osmenda
This is the South-Eastern area of Loire and home to the only region that exclusively produces Muscadet and Muscadet sur Lie made from the Melon Blanc. All of these wines are dry with green apple and a more rounded-out acidity texture.
During my studies of the Loire Valley, I have found only the white varietal. Although I did not have a breakthrough food pairing, these wines do well with melon and, dare I say, fish. However, it will depend on how the fish is cooked. I don't suggest fried fish. Not that I know firsthand. (Wink, wink.)
Very early in my wine experience, I was exposed to Riesling. However, it was only recently that I learned that not all Rieslings are sweet.
I also learned that Riesling is the best wine to pair with almost any Asian-inspired dish. As someone whose favorite food is Thai, I should have known that. Believe it or not, I have never enjoyed a glass of Riesling with my Thai dish. Oh my, how quickly we learn! Riesling has a lullabying effect on those spicy Asian/Pan Asian dishes, and the various types of Riesling have just as much variety as the spices and flavors of most Asian dishes.
Due to the varying temperatures and rainfall in Germany, many of the wines from that region are susceptible to noble rot -- a fungus that can enhance and sweeten the grape's flavors -- which helps Germany make some of the best late-harvest Rieslings in the world. Riesling is the "it" grape for Germany.
German wines are divided into two categories: table wine and quality wine. Within these two categories there are many German wines that range from mouth-puckering dry and acidic to syrupy sweet luscious wines with candied fruit flavors.
Deutscher Tafelwein is the lowest classification. These wines must reach a natural alcohol level of 5% and the use of chaptalization (adding sugar to increase the final alcohol content of the wine).
In the early 80's, Landwein ("country wine") was introduced as the equivalent of the French Vin de Pays. The wines must come from one of the specified 19 areas of production and they can be either Trocken (dry), Halbtrocken (off-dry) or Classic, which is middle of the road dry.
If you are shopping for a German quality wine, make sure that there is a QbA on the bottle, which stands for Qualitätswein bestimmer Anhaugebiete ("quality wines produced in specified regions"). This indicates that the wine is from one of the 13 quality regions and the wine has not been blended with any other wines. The label will show the region and the style of wine that it is.
Prädikatswein ("quality wine") is the top classification of German quality wine. It was formerly referred to as Qualitätswein mit Prädikat ("quality wine of distinction) and abbreviated to QmP.
There five styles of Prädikatswein:
A very delicate Riesling that is made light in body with crisp acidity. Kabinett is known for their green apple and citrus fruit flavors. The finest Kabinett Rieslings come from the Mosel region of Germany. The wines from this region will have a greenish coloring with flinty and citrus notes.
This is a late harvest Riesling that has slightly more body and can have more pineapple or exotic fruit aromas and flavors. Spatlese can either be Trocken or Halbtrocken.
This is the highest Padikatswien because it is made from individually selected, overly ripe grapes, but it is still considered a dry wine with richer fruit flavors than Spatlese. I find that some Auslese have a longer finish.
Rare expensive wines made from grapes affected by noble rot, which produce a highly acidic, flavorful wine.
This wine is literally made from freezing the grapes until all of the juice is solid. When the grapes are crushed, we are left with a syrupy wine that is high in fruit flavor and high in acidity, without the assistance of noble rot. I have only had the privilege of trying Canadian Eiswein, and let me tell you: I love sweets just like the rest of us, but I was not expecting that kind of sugar cane sweetness.
Please note: Do not pour this wine as you would any other white wine. In this case, "a little dab will do ya."
The grapes have been so affected by noble rot that they turn into raisins and produce very sweet wines from individual grapes but only from the finest vintages.
Although Germany is widely known for sweet wines, their focus recently has been on producing dryer wines to satisfy the needs of the consumer and resume their place in the hearts of many.
Prost! (That's "cheers!" in German.)
Here is a fun fact: Did do you know that Alsace was not considered a part of France until after World War I? Up until that time, Alsace was still considered a part of Germany.
|Map of Alsace, France|
Alsace is separated from the rest of France by the Vosges Mountains. At the base of the Vosges Mountains lies the Rhine river, which gives Alsace a very complex variety of soils that are evident in the wines from this region. So when I started studying Alsace Riesling, I immediately likened it to their German counterparts. I was in for an education in topography once again.
Out of all of the regions in France I've studied thus far, Alsace has the least complex appellation system, with only two Appellations d’Origine Contrôlées for "still wine" (non-carbonated) and one for sparkling wines. Excuse me as I breathe a sigh of relief! Alsace wines can be labeled as Alsace AC or Alsace Grand Cru.
Alsace Grand Cru wine can only come from one vineyard, and it has to be made from one single noble grape variety with the exception of three, which DO allow blending. The four noble grapes of Alsace are Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris.
Riesling is a sturdy grape variety that is golden, dry but has good body with crisp fruit flavors of peach and apple. This wine generally does not have high alcohol content. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2008 Louis Reffelingen Riesling with Pepper Jack cheese. Yummy!
Gewürztraminer has a higher alcohol content than most Rieslings. Whenever I have Gewürztraminer, I immediately smell lychee and I know that I am in for a good glass of wine. I like my wines on the spicy side, so this wine always goes well with Thai food, which is my favorite.
Muscat grapes are no longer grown widely in Alsace because they produce low yields and have a tendency to develop rot. Muscat has a very dry, heavy grape taste.
Each Grand Cru has a dedicated committee that is responsible for making sure that the production of the wine meets the criteria. Grand Cru labels show the name of both the vineyard and the grape, whereas most of the Alsace AC labels show only the individual grape varietals.
Late-harvest wines, known in France as vendanges tardives, must be made from one of the four noble grapes and can be either dry or sweet, as long it has a certain percentage of residual sugar. If you see Selection de Grains Nobles on the label, note that this will be an exceptional vintage of sweet wine due to a fungus called botrytis, or "noble rot".
Pinot Gris, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir are used for sparkling and rose wines. Although they are not widely planted, they can make excellent "young" wines that you can drink early.
In my next post, I'll explore the quality wines from Germany. Until then...
In my last post, I was so relieved to be done with Bordeaux ... not that anyone can EVER be done with Bordeaux. I thought that my studies on Burgundy would be a breath of fresh air. Until I started studying, I never really took into consideration how terroir -- the land where grapes are grown -- influences the wine.
|Burgundy map by LinkParis.com|
What has made this area of study so exciting to me is that my taste buds traveled over a large portion of Burgundy, and I developed a true understanding of the connection between the soils, the regions and the growing of the grapes.
There are four main grape varietals that are responsible for the complex wines grown throughout Burgundy. Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes are used for red wine; Chardonnay and Aligote are used for white and sparkling wines, with many of the wines being produced from one varietal. In the north, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay/Aligote are grown for reds and whites respectively. In the south, Gamay and Chardonnay are the main grape varietals for reds and whites.
Much like Bordeaux, Burgundy has many appellations, divided into Regional ACs, which will always have the word Burgundy (Bourgogne in French) in the title; District ACs, which do not have the word Bourgogne on the label; and last but not least, Communal ACs, where the name of the Commune will be the only information on the label.
In the Sept. 30 issue of Wine Spectator, Bruce Sanderson writes about the 2007 and 2008 vintages of the white Burgundies, noting that both the Chablis and Macon wines are some of the brightest stars. My first taste of Burgundy was a 2007 Macon Villages white, which is a Commune AC wine made from Chardonnay grapes. Peach, apple and lemon notes make up a beautiful bouquet. This is a creamy, lightly acidic wine that is easy on the palate. In conclusion, this was a delightful welcome to Burgundy.
Next I tasted a 2008 Chablis, which had a similar nose as the Macon Villages wine plus a slight mineral smell on the end. The Chablis was more vegetal, with flinty flavors, but very creamy and smooth to drink. While the noses of the wines are similar, the tastes are completely different, which is making me more interested in terroir as my studies continue.
As my taste buds longed for the more familiar, I was finally finished with my whites and on to a 2006 Beaujolais. Beaujolais is red wine country, and I was ready to visit. I became an instant fan. I have read that Beaujolais is a easy red wine to drink if you are usually a white wine drinker, and now I know why. This is a very light-bodied, low-tannic red with wonderful fruit notes.
Although Pinot Noir is the dominant grape varietal in Burgundy, Beaujolais is made exclusively from Gamay grapes, which carry very fruity bouquets of cherries and other red berry fruits. Beaujolais are grown for drinking young, so if you cannot wait for your Bordeaux to mature, you should try the Beaujolais.
Yesterday (and every third Thursday in November) was a particularly exciting day in Burgundy, commonly known as Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine created for almost immediate consumption through carbonic maceration. This means the whole grape is fermented before crushing, rather than after, resulting in deeper red colors with fruitier flavors.
Hopefully, I will get the chance to taste this rare varietal before it's all gone. Keep your fingers crossed!
I live in New York City, one of the greatest cities in the world. Any tourist who has tried to navigate the NYC subway system will relate to the challenge that I faced with learning about French Bordeaux and its various appellations -- the geographical areas where a wine's grapes are grown.
New York City is composed of 5 boroughs: Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Within each borough, there are dozens of neighborhoods.
Similarly, there are four major wine-producing areas within the Bordeaux region: the Left Bank, Between the Garonne and the Dordogne Rivers, the Right Bank and South West France.
|Map of Bordeaux - Click to enlarge.|
And within those areas, there are 60 appellations and thousands of chateaux (wine-producing estates). Appellation D'Origine Controlee, which translates to "controlled designation of origin" (or AC, as it's commonly known), is France's legal designation for the area where a wine is made.
On the left bank of the Garonne River, you'll find prestigious AC's such as Medoc, Graves, Margaux and Pauillac. All of these areas make beautifully complex red Bordeaux wines, while Graves in the south produces both reds and whites. East of Graves, Sauternes and Barsac are renowned for their sweet white wines.
|Sauternes - Photo by keskyle70.|
Within the area between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, Entre-Deux-Mers is the largest appellation, which makes white Bordeaux wines and some red Bordeaux as well. Ste. Croix -Du-Mont AC is known for its sweet wines, made in the Sauternes style but more affordable. Premier Cotes-de-Bordeaux is known for their dry red wines and some Bordeaux AC-style wines.
On the Right Bank, the Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru AC's share the same prestigious soil. But to be labeled a Grand Cru, winemakers are required to limit the yield of their grapes to produce a higher quality wine. These wines are very expensive to care for and age due to all of the complex characteristics that need to develop in these special wines.
All red Bordeaux wines are made primarily from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grape blends. Depending on the Chateau, the winemaker will add more of one and less of another to make their patented wines. All white Bordeaux are a mix of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grape blends.
I recently had the pleasure of tasting my first Bordeaux, the 2004 Château Du Piras. This crimson beauty has a complex palate, with what I thought to be sour cherries, red fruits and some blackcurrant flavors on the endnotes.
I did not pair this wine with meat, as suggested. I decided that I wanted to be totally selfish with my first Bordeaux experience, and I did not regret the decision. This is a great wine, with a great price and a nice finish.
The 1995 film A Walk In the Clouds is essentially two love stories meshed into one. First, there is the love story between the vineyard owner's daughter and a stranger coming home from the war. The second is a love story that evolves between the stranger and the vineyard itself. To quote the movie: "Our blood, sweat, tears and soul live in this vineyard."
Little did I know, that movie would be my introduction to viticulture: the science of growing grapes. The cultivation of the vineyard is much like taking care of your children, and this is the analogy that will help me express my studies to you in way that everyone can relate to.
The vineyard calendar is 11 months, compared against our nine-month pregnancy calendar, with both bringing forth life for babies and grapes alike.
Photo by Mark Smith
When a vine is planted, it needs the proper nutrients, soil, climate and weather conditions. Young vines, much like newborns, need protection from elements such as weeds, pests and animals, much like making sure babies have on sunblock and hats to protect their fragile heads.
If children are not groomed properly, their hair will become tangled and hard to manage. And those nails ... if you don't cut their nails, they will scratch themselves up. When you prune the vines, you are making sure that they are presentable and able to grow properly.
When babies grow up a little more, they are ready for the next steps to train them for life. That means potty training, teaching them how to use utensils and introducing them to reading. Vines also need to be trained and arranged to grow straight and make wonderful fruit. A popular training method is called Vertical Shoot Positioning (pictured), which allows more air and sunlight to circulate around the grapes.
As a young child, you probably only played in your own backyard so your parents could keep an eye on you. That is the human equivalent of Yield Management. Although you get to play in the yard, there are still backyard insects that can hurt you ... bee stings, ringworms, spider bites, etc. Grape vines are exposed to various troublesome pests as well, including grape moths, spider mites and nematodes (roundworms) -- nasty little worms that attack the roots of the vine. Not good.
Like parenting, there are many different viticulture techniques use around the world. But we all age like fine wine ... with a few sour grapes along the way.
Sometimes, there are signs pointing you in the direction of your dreams. Case in point:
About an hour before I began my first reading assignment for class, I read an article in the Sept. 30 issue of Wine Spectator titled "The Art and Science of Matching Food and Wine". Just as I finished the article, one of my favorite shows, Top Chef, aired an episode with a food and wine pairing challenge.
Then it was time to hit the books. According to the syllabus, I was to read chapter 8 on "Tasting and Evaluating", followed by Appendix 3, which was ... surprise ... "Food and Wine Pairing". How odd is that?
I have visited Winetasting.com many times before, so I know that we have an article on how to taste wine. We also have an article on food and wine pairing, as well as a pairing chart. So where does that leave my first diary entry and tasting notes?
Ah! It leads us to Flushing, NY, where I prepared for my first tasting of the 2007 Landmark Overlook Chardonnay. I tried to mimic the most stringent tasting atmosphere to make the most of my tasting notes and share the experience with you fine people. An atmosphere that is light, with a white background and no lingering aromas of any kind.
Granted, I do not have the official ISO tasting glass, but I do have a suitable wine glass nonetheless. Just me, my glass and the elephant.
If you know me, you know that Chardonnay is the pink elephant in the room that I try to avoid. Figuring that this tasting would be my greatest hurdle, I strapped my boots up and went in for the first round. True to my studies, I followed the Wine & Spirit Education Trust's systematic approach to tasting wine.
Appearance: This wine has a clear, golden-colored and slightly green hue, which makes it appear like a younger wine.
Nose: Aromas of apple, peach, citrus fruits, and last but not least, oak.
Palate: Medium alcohol. High tannins (my gums were humming) and high acidity. A semi-light sweetness, and a medium body with some spice to it.
Conclusion: For the Chardonnay lovers of the world, this wine should meet all of your expectations. It is a fairly young wine, but not too young to drink.
Now for round two. Inspired by my "Food and Wine" themed evening and well past dinner time, I attempted to pair this wine with some Vermont cheddar (compliments of my cheese fairy, Ms. Kimmie). I thought to myself, "Self, what better way to learn than indulge?"
Well, note to self: Do not try this at home. This wine is perhaps much better off with some of the softer cheeses, like feta. Sometimes cheddar is not better.
In parting, I would like to quote Wolfgang Puck from the Wine Spectator article that started it all, "The Art and Science of Matching Food and Wine":
"Follow your instincts, and learn from experience. And most of all, have fun."
How does someone like me get interested in wine? How does anyone? It can be started by a taste for adventure, or maybe a yearning to travel the world. It can be the result of wanting to learn, to grow, to be amazed by life.
Or, it could just happen because you want to impress a man, which is how I started ... but not why I continued.
I was dating this guy, and all he would drink is Merlot. At the time, I didn't know anything about wine, so whenever we went out, I would drink rum and Coke. When things became a little more serious, and we started going to his business events together, I would notice that everyone was drinking wine, while I would stand by my rum and Coke.
One evening we were out with his colleagues when he turned to me and said, "You cannot drink rum and Coke here. Everyone drinks wine, and it makes a bad impression."
Instead of being appalled, I drank the juice. I thought that it was the most disgusting thing I have ever had to drink. Looking back now, Grape Manischewitz is the most disgusting thing that I had ever drank, but who knew?
I was being introduced to Merlot, and I did not really care for it. I had no idea that that very introduction would be the prelude to my next place of employment. For the sake of this story, let's call the restaurant Steak and Circumstance.
During my first week of employment, and enlightenment, I had the privilege of reviewing the wine list, which was 40 pages long. While reviewing this mammoth list, dizziness set in. It was almost like learning a new language. One of the sous chefs suggested that I talk to the head sommelier. Huh? What or who is a sommelier? I am laughing at that memory now
As I developed my taste for "critter wines" (a recent trend where wineries put pictures of animals on their labels), I became more intrigued with the history and wine making process. But due to our rigorous holiday work schedules at 1-800-Flowers, I was unable to find a course schedule that worked for me until I learned about the International Wine Center's home study course.
Earlier this year, I registered for their Intermediate Certificate program, and I passed my exam on June 17. I also started my fledging blog journey at Wine, Mishaps and More. Now that the summer is over, I am ready to begin the second leg of my journey with my Advanced Certificate courses. I plan to pursue my Certified Wine Educator Certification next.
So where do I go from here? Check the Winetasting.com blog this fall to find out!