Sunday, February 21, 2010
Wine, Vino, Vin - Tasting 101
I was taken back to my childhood recently, by a friend who happens to be a winemaker on the side. He lives in New York and does not have a vinyard. Surprised? You shouldn't be. For many years people all over the US and elsewhere, made their drink of choice in their back yards and or basements. As a teenager, my Uncle Bubba used to let my brother and I crush the grapes. We had these huge barrels in the basement where the whole process took place. One day my curiosity got the better of me and I opened a very large bottle sitting on the buffet. You know the one that is so heavy it sits on a swing to allow the user to pour a drink without lifting it. Little did I know there was a pressure problem. As sneaky as I thought I was, it would be a memorable day. I opened the bottle and whoosh - wine went flying everywhere. My mother, in her usual "oh well you'll learn the hard way" just simply handed me a straw and told me to clean it up. I didn't drink it off the curtains but I never tried to sneak a drink ever again.
Anyway back to 101 and wine tasting. My friend gave me a bottle of his Beaujolais. I consider it a table wine, because while living in France, there always seemed to be a bottle of it open during dinner and lunch - but not breakfast - smile. I told him it would be my pleasure to sample his vino but three weeks passed and I could not get a moment's peace to sit and swish. Then the opportunity arose. I dashed off to grab my rabbit cork screw only to remember I gave it away last year. I dug around for an opener and found a lady shaped one sitting in a draw. I screwed it in, broke the cork into pieces and screamed in my head. Don't mess it up, don't mess it up. I push the arms down which should in turn pull the cork out, but of course not, the cork screw broke into three. Urgh, I thought, I am never going to sample this wine at the rate I am going.
I found a simple one, screw in pull out. The shaft was so big that it broke the cork up even more. Oh no, my mind is saying leave it lady. But I am relentless when I want to do something, so I carried on. I pulled and twisted oh so slowly, until - easy, easy - it released - and wouldn't you know, wine went flying everywhere. Flashback, but no straws available!
Finally I poured a glass and swirled, snifted, swished and swallowed. The color was a perfect, a vampish burgundy and cloudless. Fruity and woody at the same time, I unfortunately could not detect the underlying flavor. The finish lingered for a few seconds, it was really a nice bottle of wine, full bodied as they say and delicious. I thought wow he doesn't even have a vineyard, but maybe he should retire from his day job.
Merci mon ami!
New York has several wine regions. Check out the informative and helpful links below: