Wine Tasting

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Anthony_J, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Is anybody here an experienced wine taster? I'm just starting to really get into it and think I've reached my first milestone (I can now tell good wine from bad wine).

    With regards to tasting, how does one learn to identify what they're tasting in a wine? How can you pick apart the taste into separate components? For example, I read these notes on a wine message board:


    I can tell fruit from wood, but how can you tell if you're tasting strawberries, wild strawberries, raspberries, etc.

    I can't figure it out. Maybe my taste buds just aren't sensitive enough? Maybe most people are looking for (and finding) things they're "supposed" to be finding as opposed to what they actually think?

    Any recommendations on how to develop my wine tasting skills?
     
  2. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    First, get a chart. It's circular, and breaks things out based upon color, scent, and taste.

    Second, spend more time developing your smell before you tackle taste. Really inhale and linger on it. Work out those senses! To assist, find out what the wine you're trying is SUPPOSED to smell like and get a sample of each thing (like pepper, mint, blackberry, whatever). Bottle or bag your aid to "trap" the scent. Then, smell the wine...linger...and smell your example. See if you can distinguish the same characteristics.

    This will go a loooooong way toward developing tasting skills.

    Terms like "palate", "tannin", and "length" refer to the finish. Learn to really enjoy the finish and recognize the differences. This is (IMO) a true mark of a great wine.
     
  3. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks. I never knew that wine tasting charts existed, but found one in less than a minute on google. Looks like it'll help a lot. I'll also concentrate on my developing my smell going forward.

    Anybody have any widely available and affordable favorites to try? (I haven't found a really good wine shop yet and would like to keep away from mail order) I'm currently digging on Australian Shirazs and Cabs. Marquis Phillips seems to suit my not so sensitive tastes in general (about $15 USD per bottle) and the Two Hands Bull and Bear is outstanding (about $40, but worth every cent).
     
  4. Philip_T

    Philip_T Supporting Actor

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    Im no professional wine connoisseur, but I enjoy a glass here and there.
    One of my favorites is Sterling Merlot. Around $20-$22/bottle. Should be widely available and excellent with steaks.
    Im a fan of the Australian wines as well. Especially the Shiraz. Black Opal, Jacobs Creek and Rosemount Estates are some of my preferred Ausi labels.
    Another affordable brand I like is Clois de Bois (sp), particularly the Merlot and the Red Zin.
     
  5. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    If you're looking for quality AND affordability, try some of the new wines coming out of Spain. The Finca Sobreno Toro is an outstanding wine that can be had for $10. On the upper end of Spain, Finca Allende Rioja is something special - but, that'll cost you about $65.

    I drink the occassional Clarendon or Penfolds from Australia, but the Aussie wines are no longer a "hidden gem" and they are becoming over priced.

    Just watch out...this is a hobby that quickly escalates into some expensive territory! [​IMG]
     
  6. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    2002 Falesco Vitiano... it's $10 a bottle and IMO tastes better than most $40 wines. It's highly rated by the wine gurus... read more about it here.
     
  7. shaniceMW

    shaniceMW Stunt Coordinator

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    phillip i LOVE australian wines. my favorite. to distinguish between the fruits or finishes or whatever, your palate becomes more sensitive and like someone said before, you have to develop your sense of smell. go to area wine tastings if you can find them. also, check some resources online and check the reviews to see what people say about the wine. then try the wine and try to distinguish. make sure you get a food pairing wheel. another thing to do is to go to a wine superstore and get several years of the same label and make note of the characteristics of each.
     
  8. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Am I the only one who's a sucker for tasting notes? Whenever I see something alongs the lines of "blackberries, currents, and creme de cassis, chewy, long, lingering finish" or "melons and pears with a touch of vanilla and a lasting slate finish" I feel the biggest urge to crack open a bottle on the spot.

    Agree about the expense. Between this and the home theater habit, my refrigerator box home will be the funnest on the block.

    Another Aussie: Give the 2003 Paringa (sp?) a shot. The 2002's were really good, and the 2003 are supposed to be better (about $15 bottle)

    I've yet to really venture into the European side of things (aside from Rieslings of the Alsatian or German varieties), but I was recently introduced to dessert wines and Eisweins at a dinner. Amazing. How someone can make grapes taste exactly like apricots is way beyond me.
     
  9. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    John Cleese (from Monty Python) takes a close-up look at the world of wine in "John Cleese's Wine for the Confused" at 10 pm Sunday, Oct. 17 on Food Network.

    Should be interesting. [​IMG]
     
  10. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Heh, I just returned from a two-week holiday in New Zealand with the missus -- we must have brought back 20+ bottles in our luggage...

    I must say the standard of Kiwi wines is pretty amazing; some of their "Bordeaux-style" reds really taste like French wines, but without the "mustyness" or "dustyness" that some associate with actual Bordeauxs. And of course their whites are really world-class.
     
  11. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Are the New Zealand reds young drinkers or do they require some aging?

    A friend of mine wanted to experiment and see what it was like to commit infanticide on a bottle of bordeaux. He said the tannins were ridiculous. Just thinking about it makes me picture that "bitter beer" face commercial.

    I had a couple of whites this weekend. One Alsatian (I'll edit when I remember the vineyard, etc, but the vintage was 2001) and one Pinot Grigio (Aldois Ladeger - 2001)

    The Alsace wine was nice. A nice sharp nose (pineapple and flowers) and slate (it literally smelled like rocks), with a hint of plastic (think of the smell when you open a shower curtain, I've heard that this is common in Rieslings).

    The taste was fairly representative of the smell. Nice fruitiness, cut and balanced with a decently long acidic finish. It was outstanding with General Tso's chicken. Something about the way the fruitiness of the wine complimented the sweetness of the chicken and helped to cut the heat, while the clean finish got your mouth ready for more.

    The Pinot was a decent drinker for the price. Nice nose and fruit up front, and an amazing minerally finish. It went very well with a makeshift dish of linguine with shrimp and sea bass in a quick sauce of diced tomatoes, garlic, onions, fresh thyme, and lots of fresh basil. It also went very well with the strawberry sorbet for dessert.
     
  12. shaniceMW

    shaniceMW Stunt Coordinator

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    anthony, you sound like andrea immer. lol
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    While I think that the Sauvignon Blancs from the Marlborough (a district on the north end of the South island are world class, I am not a big fan of New Zealand reds. The only exception is some decent Pinot Noirs from outside Wellington (Voss Estates comes to mind).
     
  14. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    Pairing food with wine takes tasting to a higher level. I attended a class taught by Anrea Immer, one of 13 female Master Sommelier in the entire world.

    In that class, I was surprised to find how great wine & food can complement each other, accentuating and emphasizing accents for both when paired well.
     
  15. shaniceMW

    shaniceMW Stunt Coordinator

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    i would LOVE to take a class from her. reading that post i can just picture her saying "wow! i love wine. that is (her famous hand gestures) fantastic! wow!"
     
  16. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Andrea Immer is the best. I've been catching her show on FLN lately and have developed quite a crush. She's so energetic about the wine world and her enthusiasm really comes through.

    I've got a couple of South African whites (sauvingon blanc) up on deck. Looking forward to trying those.

    Other than that, I'm falling back on the Australians. Plan to do a small scale vertical tasting with friends this weekend on the 2002 and 2003 Marquis Phillips Shiraz and Paringa Cabernets. Should be fun, but might not remember a whole lot by the end of it all. We're also debating getting two top flight bottles, one from France and one from Australia, to see if our palates can tell "really" good wines and to compare and contrast the two styles.

    Lew - any recommended labels from New Zealand? I'll add them to my list.
     
  17. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    I gotta admit, I'm not a "wine guy", but I need to expand my horizons. Plus my wife wants to go to Napa Valley for her Birthday and I'll be damned if I'm going to go that far and taste that much wine and not get 100% out of it !

    So... where do I start ? Not sure I'm at the level of a consultation with a Master Sommelier.... I'll try and catch the John Cleese show since I'm a big fan, but there's got to be other ways.

    Thanks for any comments !
     
  18. shaniceMW

    shaniceMW Stunt Coordinator

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    kirk, if there are no wine tastings in your area go to a nice restaurant and ask for the sommelier there. ask for different samples and ask for recommendations. they will be more than happy to help you.

    anthony, after seeing andrea's show the other day, i want to pick up some south african wines. i will go to the wine superstore some time this weekend and get some.

    kirk, i almost forgot, we have wine superstores that have free tastings every weekend. if there is a store near you, you may want to check it out. hey! i just noticed you are in annapolis. you are about ten minutes away from me. there is a wine superstore in laurel that is very close to you. http://www.wineaccess.com/store/corridorwine they are on laurel-ft meade road. when you taste the different samples they have, you can ask the staff there what they recommend for your particular tastes.
     
  19. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Kirk - I also recommend that you talk with the store staff if they appear somewhat knowledgeable on the subject. If you're lucky enough to have a great wine shop nearby, they'll almost never steer you wrong and you'll find something that you'll like to drink even if you don't understand why you like it.

    It's fun to buy a couple of reasonably priced bottles at the same time. Drink them side by side and see if you can tell why you like one more than the other, and then try and learn the wine "lingo" for the tastes you prefer. This will really help you to find the style to which your partial. It's all about experimentation.

    One tip - let any wine breathe for a bit before drinking (I generally let the first glass sit for 10-15 minutes before taking a sip). For some of the heavier reds, this will smooth out the tannins, deemphasize the alcohol, and let it "open" and release it's full complexity. It's amazing to see the difference between a just opened bottle and one that's been allowed to breathe for a bit.

    I'll reiterate Quentin's advice from above - learn to smell and taste will follow. I'm still getting there, but it's extremely fun to learn.

    Check out the Wine Specator website. They have some really good tasting information in their "Wine Basics" section.
     
  20. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Always happy to make wine, beer, food, and movie recommendations Anthony.

    In the Marlborough region the region famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, the winery that brought the region and wine to world fame is Cloudy Bay. If you happen to find a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc, buy it without hesitation. This is unlikely in most areas as this wine is in very high demand. They also make a Chardonnay, that for me is not nearly so fine. They make a very limited special Sauvignon Blanc, called ‘Te Koko’, which is fermented with wild yeasts. This is not to everyone’s taste and even the local wine critics have been divided in opinion as to its merits.

    There are plenty of other Marlborough labels that don’t cost so much as Cloudy Bay, but still make very fine wines. Even though I have drunk many New Zealand wines and have stayed in the Marlborough, don’t consider this list exhaustive. There are more wines I have not tried than I have:--try any of Sauvignon Blancs:
    Allan Scott—should be between $10-$15. My wife and I had lunch at this winery, so my judgment could be faulty, but I like this wine.

    Highfield Estate

    Villa Maria

    Huia


    As I mentioned in my post, there is some pretty good Pinot Noir made outside of Wellington in the Martinborough district.

    Voss Estate—but to be honest, a good friend and colleague is the brother of the owner/winemaker.

    The Sauvignon Blanc does well in this district also. Basically I’d give either grape a try. This district is not so well known in the States, but is very hot in Australia and New Zealand. The good Pinot Noirs are not cheap, but at least they will not cost so much as similar ones from Oregon—and far less than Burgundy from France.
     

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