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Sonoma: Part Three of My California Wine Adventure

Wine room at Joseph Swan

After our morning of wine tasting at Iron Horse we went to Mary Edwards, Joseph Swan and Cline.

Mary Edwards was the first stop after Iron Horse. While it’s always fun to go tasting I was not a huge fan of Mary Edwards. It was by far the least attractive of all the wineries we went to. It felt very corporate. My other issue was that it just felt pretentious. I’m all for hearing why the wine maker did things the way they did and what you might get from this wine but I hate being told how I should feel about a wine. Give me the tasting notes and then let me determine if I agree or not. Read the rest of this entry

Iron Horse: Part Two of My California Wine Adventure

While on my trip to the bay area my family and I spent a day wine tasting in Sonoma. We went to 4 wineries and tasted a lot of wine! The first winery we went to was Iron Horse. Iron Horse does manly sparkling wines and has a gorgeous outdoor tasting room that overlooks the vineyards. We were actually doing a tour here so we got to hear about how they grow their grapes and actually got to see part of the sparkling wine making process.

On the tour they took us down into the production area and we actually got see how the sparkling process works. There are several different ways to get the fizz into sparkling wine. One way is simply injecting CO2 like they do in soda, this produces larger bubbles that fizz out pretty quickly. Iron Horse uses the traditional method in which the wine goes through a second fermentation process. Read the rest of this entry

Napa Valley: Part One of My California Wine Adventure

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

I finally made it out to the Bay Area to visit my sister. Now obviously the most important part of the trip was spending time with my sister but wine tasting was definitely an added bonus! It was a pretty great trip not only did I get to see my sister but my parents came out at the same time. We went to a couple wineries in Napa and a few more in Sonoma. We also spent a day at Alcatraz and a day drinking wine and eating fresh oysters on the beach. All and all a pretty fabulous trip!

So let get down to the important stuff, wine! I’m going to split this into multiple post since there is some much to cover. Let’s start with Napa. Read the rest of this entry

Wine With Me Tackles Wine Riot

Wine Riot- Chicago  2011

This past weekend, Lissette and I went to a wine tasting event called Wine Riot. There were over 250 wines to taste. This may seem like an outrageous number of wines and it is true that it would be very difficult to taste them all, but events like this are a great opportunity to try a lot of wine and really figure out what you like in a wine and what you don’t. You’ll probably leave with a pretty good list of wines you now know you like. Plus these events are really fun!

If you go in prepared to just have a small taste of a lot of different wines, you can work your way through a good portion of the wines. Lissette and I tried approximately 50 wines at Wine Riot and no, we were not drunk by the end! The way to get the most out of an event like this is to just have a sip of each wine you try and dump the rest. The goal is to taste the wine, see if the nuances and flavors are what you are looking for and then move on to the next wine. If there is one you really love, by all means drink it up. Just remember the more pours you finish, the less wines you will be able to taste. (For tips on tasting wine read our post How to Taste Wine)

Wine Riot had something for everyone; sweet, dry, red, white, rose, dessert, sparkling- you name it. With an event that has so much going on, it is important to have a game plan. Lissette and I decided we would start off tasting whites and then move on to reds. We had no illusions that we would make it through every wine at the event, so we decided to pick out regions in which we were interested and hit up those tables. We spent time at the Italian, French, German, Spanish, South African, Michigan, and Illinois booths.  We also tried a few California, South American and Australian wines. We even tried a Croatian wine and a Bosnian Wine.  Second Glass, the sponsors of Wine Riot, had a handy iPhone app that made checking off the wine you liked and taking notes on them very fast and easy. Nice work Second Glass! Read the rest of this entry

How to Taste Wines

I’ve been noticing that more and more wine shops and even big box stores are having wine tastings. Most of these places have an agenda to push. Wine Shops carry wines that you can’t find in stores like like  Binny’s, BevMo, Safeway, or Whole Foods. These smaller shops want you to buy what you can’t find anywhere else.  And bigger stores like Binny’s bring in a distributor who only wants you to buy from the selection they carry and are putting out for you to taste. I’m not against agenda pushing but remember you have to buy wine that you like and just because the wine rep says its the best thing you’ll taste doesn’t mean it is. But how will you know if something is good if you don’t know how to properly taste a wine. Here are a few steps to help you.

First things first. Hold you glass by the stem. Your hand can warm the liquid. It happens all the time with beer but with wine you have a choice.

Sight: Look at the wine. Slightly tilt your glass (by the stem) toward the light if possible and if possible against something white or pale. Is the wine clear or cloudy?

White wine: The older the wine the more golden in color it’ll be. The  younger the wine the pale yellow almost green.

Red Wine: These vary in color but a younger wine is usually a bright red color. You may even notice a reddish-brown around the edges. If its an older wine you’ll notice more brown color. Think of the color of a brick (has red in it).

Swirl: Its not just to make you look snotty. There is a purpose to this. I promise. Take your glass by its stem and gently swirl for a few seconds.

Doing this will allow oxygen into the wine. Swirling will release the aroma.

Notice how quickly the movement of the wine. If the wine is easy to swirl it means you have less alcohol and if it moves slowly it means it has more alcohol.

Notice the streaks also called legs of the wine has left on the glass. This will help you determine the body of the wine and alcohol as well. More legs left behind more alcohol.

This happens with red wine. If you notice that you have a red coating that means more alcohol is present as well.

Smell: The isn’t an exact science to this so my best advice is to tip your glass by the stem and inhale. What do you smell? Fruit, floral, woody, spicy?

Taste: My favorite part is the taste of course! Now some people make the mistake of sipping right away. What you should do let the wine sit in your mouth. I usually roll my tongue to ensure it coats my tongue to get range of flavor.

The tip of your tongue will pick up the sweetness, the inner side will pick up the acidity, the outer sides will pick up saltiness, and the back will pick up the bitterness and alcohol.

Some people will spit the wine out especially if you have several wines or wineries to go to. Some drink it but do yourself a favor after don’t drink all of it or you’ll get drunk too quickly and then wines will just blend together.

If you like the wine sip it again and then dump the rest in the bucket. You can buy a bottle if you love it. If you don’t’ like it just dump it. In both cases move on the other wines and repeat the process. Side note you don’t need a new glass for every wine. As long as you move from light to dark the one glass that is given to you is what should be used.

Remember: Don’t buy the wine unless you love it. It’ll be a waste of your time and money if you buy it to appease the rep or the wine shop.

Check our your local wine shop sites or big box stores for wine tastings.

Cheers!

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