Food, Wine & Just Good Living With SaucyJoe

It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All I want for Christmas is a great wine tasting!

I love to read and write about wine, but not as much as just tasting it. Over many years of wine tasting and wine appreciation with friends and families I have learned a lot. It’s a great learning process. But there are “so many wines, and so little time” as they say. With thousands of wines from all over the world, more availability now than ever, you can keep quite busy this season. Tasting wines from all over the world with friends and family? Santa, bring that for me this holiday season!

The basic elements of wine appreciation seem pretty easy on one level – pour, tilt glass and taste. Repeat as needed. And that is certainly fine if that’s all you require to enjoy wine. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, and you don’t need the sometimes perplexing language of many wine tasters. But if you want to look at wine more discriminately, to explore the nuances and underlying qualities of wine…well, then there are several tools of the trade to look at.

The “tools of the trade” are actually pretty easy to acquire; we come equipped with them if at different levels and abilities. Can’t tell Coke from Pepsi? Well, just remember that improving your taste is just like preparing for that big presentation at work, or working-out hard get ready for that 10-K. You need to do the work. Again: there’s no requirement to “dig deeper” when you enjoy a good glass of wine but if you want to take a step closer, some groundwork first, give yourself a good start. Get a wine that is different, maybe a varietal you haven’t tasted. Then provide the proper environment for your tasting, invite friends over, have some snacks and make it casual. With a comfortable setting, your crew of tasters will feel relaxed and the sharing of wine and friendship flows.

A good hint: if you have friends at different experience levels and abilities in wine: do a blind taste testing. It can show that wine tasting is not a competition, and that you don’t need to challenge other people’s levels of ability and experience. There is no better way to create a level field and bring people together than a blind wine tasting. You will be surprised at the range of taster’s impressions of wines when they can’t see the label or bottle shape. So you end up concentrating on challenging your taste, not your knowledge of the wine.

The great thing about tasting wine is: the more you taste, the more experience you gain; and the more experience that you gain, the more you bring to your next tasting. Then you may want to move on to a horizontal tasting comparing certain varietals from the same vintage, or a vertical tasting, with different years of a wine from the same producer. It’s just like learning to read and write. You start with the alphabet and then you advance as you learn more. Maybe you had a favorite book, one you found full of drama and nuanced relationships. You shared it is with a friend, who reads it and returns it, “Sure, that was a great story”. They liked it, but didn’t see, or were not impressed, with those elements of style that you appreciated. It’s OK - wine also has levels of appreciation and understanding. Sometimes you dig a little deeper, sometimes you don’t.

You have some work to do this Holiday season. Check out some new wines; enjoy time with friends and family, and TASTE. ‘Tiss the season, and hopefully Santa will be good to you this year! I’ve already sent in my letter.


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