Thursday, October 28, 2010

The only two worth trying

Decent wine was in great supply this week, great wine was a lot more difficult to find.  Truth be told the only great wine, the only wine I would implore you to buy (or steal if thats your thing) should you happen across it is the flying winemaker zinfandel.  The Mouton Cadet was nice but not exceptional, for it's price it's worth a go.

Producer: Baron Philippe De Rothschild (very famous)
Wine: Mouton Cadet (also famous but as an entry level brand)
Region: Bordeaux, France
Vintage: 2009
Price: $14
Notes: A nice clear golden appearance will entice you.  The aroma and flavour are mainly composed of peach, slight melon, and a hint of grass.  Nice acidity, with a medium body. This wine is easy drinking and would go nicely with seafood pasta or maybe some sharp cheese.  Best enjoyed on the first nice day of spring sitting a backyard patio.

Just in case you were curious there are only a handful of grapes allowed in a white Bordeaux: sauvignon blanc, semillon and potentially small quantities of muscadelle, ugni blanc, and colombard.  There are black grapes as well but I'll save that for future posts.

Producer: The flying winemaker a.k.a Cameron Hughes, who, I have been assured has a reputation for making great wine.  however his chardonnay under the flying winemaker brand was so so.
Wine: Zinfandel
Region: Lodi, California
Vintage: 2007
Price: $23
Notes:  Very deep ruby colour with aromas of pepper, smoke, leather, blackberry, cherry.  On the palate: cherry, blackberry, vanilla,  leather and hints of liquorish, presented with a medium body and a long and luscious finish.  This wine is among the best I have tried in this price range, a beautiful mix of fruit and earthy flavours.  Best enjoyed while sitting in an arm chair in a dimly lit room discussing life with a philosophy professor.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wine Tasting (drunk in the afternoon)

E-mail has always seemed to me an inefficient method of communication.  I imagine this belief is at least partially a result of batting about a 50% return average with the e-mails I send out.  Thankfully some people do respond to my requests; on consideration 50% might be generous.  My boss is one of the generous few who will oblige me with a response.  Unfortunately her response came on a day where I woke up at 1 pm.  Even more unfortunately the response was to my request for information about wine tastings going on around the city and it just so happened the tasting she was informing me about was taking place that same day at 2 pm. 

I woke up, I read the e-mail, I debated while sitting naked on my bed and decided I have to get my naked ass to this wine tasting: pronto.  It was the quickest I’ve gone from waking to drunk since last St. Patties day.  It’s generally frowned upon to be drunk at a wine tasting;  this has been hammered into my head by my wine course prof. time and time again.  Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that will cause you to get drunk.  Specifically feeling sheepish and awkward in a large group of people of whom you know none, spittoons placed in terrible difficult to get to locations due to the high volume of people, and the guilt that is accompanied when one spits out what would normally be a $30 glass of wine.

My first wine tasting taught me a few things.  The first and most obvious lesson of the event was that in generally whoever is responsible for the hiring of the people who pour the wine has a clear bias towards young attractive women.  While they may be attractive only about half of them are actually friendly and engaging the others are, well… not so much. 

Lesson number two: there isn’t a starting time per say.  Yes the tasting does start but it’s not anything as I imagined.  I expected seats and wine being poured as we sat at our tables and the presenter discussed the wine; not as such.  I can’t speak for all wine tastings, as I have only been to one (I have been to a few others but this was my first official business wine tasting, I actually had to sign in and everything). This tasting was just a bunch of wine set out on a bunch of tables guarded by a bunch of women, and the occasional dude, pouring wine for a bunch of people as they happened by.  It doesn’t really matter what time you show up at since there is no presenter and no seats.

Lesson three:  Don’t smoke or wear perfume.  This lesson is actually fairly obvious if you think about it.  A good part of wine tasting is wine smelling.  Normally when you are in a crowed of a bunch of people drinking you expect a significant proportion of people to be wearing cologne or perfume and smoking on a regular basis.  Remember a wine tasting is not a place to get drunk (oops) as such you should not be looking to hook up (and can afford to be neutral smelling) and should be less inclined to smoke since you shouldn’t be drunk.  It’s hard to accurately smell wine when the guy next to you is a chain smoking, cologne reeking fellow off of Jersey Shore; don’t smell nice, and don’t smoke.

Lesson four: push your way to the spittoons.  As much fun as it is to get drunk in the afternoon these occasions should be saved for holidays and special events.  At a wine tasting you should spit out the wine in designated spitting areas.  That being said maybe get a little drunk if you are intimidated and know no one there: it helps you socialize.  The only two people I managed to actually exchange a few sentences with were my prof. who I happened to run into, and a cute Asian girl serving champagne.  Both encounters took place towards the end of the tasting.  If however you are comfortable hob-knobbing with people you don’t know, or you have a friend with you, you will find it takes a little bit of shoving and pushing to get to the appropriate spitting area.

The event was fun, informatory, and a intimidating.  It was much like being at a crowded club in that everyone was pushing their way to the front and drinking a lot of booze.  It was not like a crowded club in that no one was drunk (save one), no one was smoking and no one wore perfume.  There were some mad beats being played though… not really.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I sift through the bad ones and present the good ones...

Producer: Louis Felipe Edwards
Wine: Signature Series Syrah
Region: Chile
Vintage: 2008
Price: $15
Notes:  This is a full bodied red with mushroom, pepper and hints of cherry and plum on the nose.  The flavours are a nice blend of cherry, butterscotch, oak, pepper and smoke.  It's a very nice wine perfect for a relaxing evening debating global politics.  I highly recommend it.

Producer: Gray Monk
Wine: Pinot Auxerrois
Region: Okanagan Valley, BC
Vintage: 2009
Price: $17
Notes: A very enchanting and delicious wine.  The nose gives aromas of Melon, Peach, Floral notes, and Clove.  The flavour is Peach, Pineapple, slight Minerality, and Honey Dew Melon.  I highly recommend this fruit forward white for an evening spent lazily flipping through coffee table books that focus on obscure butterfly breeds.

Producer: Mirassou
Wine: Pinot Noir
Region: California
Vintage: 2009
Price: $18
Notes: Medium intensity aroma with Pepper, Cherry, and Blackberry.  The flavour is similar with Cherry, Raspberry, hints of Vanilla and Pepper.  It has a silky smooth texture and medium body.  Perfect for a night of gazing up at the stars pondering the absurdities of life.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Corks vs. Screw Caps

I work at a liquor store.  Before I worked at a liquor store I worked at a store that sold the stuff to make various liquors and alcoholic beverages.  I have, over the years, been privy to many misconceptions and false beliefs about alcohol.  One of the most common is the belief that the longer a wine sits in the bottle the more alcohol will be produced.  This is not true and if it were true it would suggest that really really old wine, say from the 1940's, would be guaranteed to knock you on your ass.  But thats not really the misconception I wanted to talk about today.

Screw caps, yes they are less romantic than a cork; but as far as sealing a bottle of wine goes that is just about their only draw back.  Cork is not the best way to seal a wine and in no way does a corked bottle suggest better quality than a screw caped bottle.  A lot of people seem to think that a screw cap is a sign of a cheap or inferior wine.  You cannot deduce as much simply by looking at the sealing method.  In fact a screw caped wine has a higher likelihood of being better than a wine that has a cork.  The problem with cork is it is organic and as such it is a friendly environment for fungi.  It's not often that fungi will harm the wine.  Estimates range from 5-10% of wine sealed with a cork will develop cork taint due to fungus which will completely ruin the wine (if you should ever have this happen to you just bring the wine back to the store and they should replace it).

Screw caps don't mess up your wine.  While the old world (Europe) is totally against the new seal hunt, the rest of the world has been searching for new seals that won't taint your wine.  Mostly the seal of choice is the screw cap but there are some other types.  What it all boils down to is that a screw cap does not reflect the quality of a wine.  The new world tends to embrace the screw cap, with Australia and New Zealand leading the way.  The old world tends to shun the screw cap.  Next time you are browsing the liquor store just take a moment to check out which wines are sealed with which method and don't be afraid of the less romantic sealing method!