Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Winetasting Primer

Having just done a wine tasting festival weekend, I was impressed by this Boston Globe piece on what not to expect at a winefest, and how to get the most out of your wine tasting experiences in general. He's definitely on the money -- don't go to a winetasting festival thinking you're going to discover the subtle nuances of hundreds of wines.

Definitely a good idea to limit your tasting in some way, perhaps wineries you're unfamiliar with or varietals about which you want to learn more. For me the real value is in the seminars. In addition to last weekend's pinot noir seminar, we indulged in a little workshop about blending wines. Most people probably have no idea that the cabernet or merlot they drink likely has other varietals blended in, probably grapes from other regions and even a little bit of juice from other vintages. Other blended varietals, for example, often add strength to the varietal on the label.

An exercise in wine geek minutia? Not really. As we juggled three different liters of wine (petite verdot, syrah and petite sirah) trying to decide what percentage of each to use in creating our own wines, our winemaking guide helped us see the hidden flaws in our final products. It drove home the lesson of balance. Blending for immediate oppulence often won't get you ageability, an important consideration if you're looking for wines for the cellar.

Best advice the author has to offer -- get to know a wine shop proprietor and indulge in frequent, more manageable tasting opportunities. It's not exactly hard work, and you'll learn loads.


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