Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No More Whining about Wine!

For years I’ve bought wine mostly based on the interesting and colorful artist-rendered labels, rather than on any understanding of the grape inside the bottle. I've always felt it was too complicated to learn about.

I started out enjoying a screw top Lambrusco because of its sweetness, but over the years I’ve come to enjoy a dryer red and on occasion, more acidic white wine.

I’ve been fortunate that friends have come through with the intermittent wines I have found appealing and I try to remember the labels as I shop and have been known to travel from one wine shop to another in search of the favored vino.

In the past year, I’ve taken to having a glass or two of wine when I come home from work most evenings if I’ve nothing else to do, but take care of dinner, the animals and relaxing.

This past January, Joanne and I took a foray to the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg. It has been decades since I attended while in vo-tech during my high school years and the first Joanne ever attended.

As we made our way through the building to the main exhibition hall, we entered to see the PA Winery booths to our left. Of course, I was headed over, but Joanne crinkled up her nose in obvious dismay saying how she really doesn’t like wine.

Over the years, I’m the wine drinker and she’s the beer drinker, but at some events she’s tried a sweet dessert wine such as a Moscato or a port and enjoyed, so I told her to ask the wine makers for a taste of their sweetest wines and try them.

Well, there we were at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning, pretty lit from tasting about a dozen teeny-tiny plastic tasting cups of wine each. Walking away, Joanne tells me she really enjoyed the ones she tasted. Inside I jumped for joy thinking I may have converted her!

The next week on my raid on the local Wine & Spirits Shop, I purchased a few sweet wines for Joanne to imbibe in with me in the evening.

Then I found out a local community college was giving courses on wine appreciation and asked a friend to go with me. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to, so Joanne said she’d step in and go with me to see what it was about. Now the jumping for joy was no longer inside, but coming out as I was glad to share this enjoyment and experience this learning opportunity with her.

So, off we went to Wine Appreciation: Wine 101 – The Basics, last Sunday and we were fully impressed.

The course taught by someone who has been enjoying, traveling, learning and educating about wine for quite some time and was extremely knowledgable on the topic. The class wasn’t too technical to not understand and yet not so simple as to bore.

The teacher had a Powerpoint presentation that showed information regarding fermentation, grape varieties, maps of the wine regions throughout the world, with an explanation of why they are the best places for grapes to grow. He spoke of old world wines and new world wines and their marked differences, yet complimented each on their uniqueness. A diagram of how to decipher labels was awesome and now I don’t feel like such a dummy reading a French or Italian label.

This man wasn’t a wine snob by any means and suggested that those bottles under $10 were just right for a party in the summer and if it’s a young wine, it’s meant to be consumed now, not in 10 years. He also commented that a higher priced wine isn’t necessarily a better wine, although with some, you get more complexity and the flavor is much more varied and appealing.

We tasted nine different wines: four reds and four whites and one white, sweet wine. Some were from California and others were varied, from New Zealand to France to Germany. All but one, I enjoyed. I’m not a fan of Chardonnay, but even the teacher didn’t like one of the two he had brought saying it was a wine put out before it’s time.

The tasting is so interesting. Swirling, viewing, sniffing, chewing, sniffing, viewing, swirling and really thinking about what your tasting in the wine from using all your senses is really unbelievable.

Some folks were saying they’ve had red wines taste different in the glass as you drink. The teacher agreed it was possible due to the oxygen in the wine. He explained the whole breathing concept, saying if you were stuck in a bottle for months, years, even, you too would want to get out and breathe and that’s what the wine needs.

Joanne has moved from the ‘I don’t like wine because it tastes like wine,’ to understanding what she’s tasting and smelling and that it’s not just an alcoholic beverage to be drunk just for the fun of it.

We have both watched the movie Sideways, which was fun, but then recently we’ve had the chance to see Bottle Shock. It was great for it’s story that is true and somewhat comical, but nonetheless, an important part of the California wine history. For us both, we can better understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into growing the grapes, working those barrels and putting out a superior product.

Well, for Joanne and I, we are really into this new experience and are planning some weekend excursions to some local wineries. We want to learn more and more about this living, breathing liquid we’ve come to know as wine.


1 comment:

  1. Yay, Rose! Yay, Joanne! Now you have something new to explore together - how fun! I was never big on wine, either, till Shel dragged me along into not just wine, but drier wines! Still can't say I dig Cabernet, which is just dry as shoe leather. But once in a while now, even my never-developed-into-an-adult palate actually enjoys a Merlot. Have fun, you two!