Archive for the ‘Wine Enjoyment’ Category

Young and old

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010


Young and old. Form:

Young and old

I recently wrote about a wine brand out of the Central Coast which is designed to be a line of non-vintage wines. In the conversation I had with winemaker Austin Hope, Austin was very enthusiastic about the idea of making all of his company’s wines as non-vintage wines.

This is not a novel idea. Not all that long ago, almost all California wines were made in this manner. It was a way to make good wines, optimally consistent with the house style. Historically (and probably all over the world), it seems, vintage designation was used to mark exceptional wines from a single year in which the wine needed no help or tweaking. Other years, wine was blended from various lots. (more…)

Guigal & El Pollo Loco

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010


Necessity is the mother of compromise.

Necessity is the mother of compromise.

Funny how necessity and desire can come to a convergence sometimes. It makes for unexpected pairings and some food for thought.

The other night, I cleared the towering stack of work, the kids were done with homework and dinner time was nearing and I did not have time to cook. I decided to run out for some EPL: low effort, and most harmless (and least expensive) of all the take out options in the vicinity.

I NEEDED to eat because I’d skipped lunch. I WANTED a drink because after a day of work craziness, the kids’ squabbling was pushing me over the edge. (more…)

Intrusive aromas

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010


BOD man body spray.

I recently wrote about how environmental variables can impact the way a wine expresses its character. That concept may seem esoteric to many, but it is based on the principles of physics and chemistry. Perhaps more easily observed (and understood) is the way aromas in the tasting environment (or originating from the taster themselves) can confound wine evaluation.

I’m very stringent about the environment in which I evaluate wines for review. I make sure that the room where I taste is regularly aired out. I do not taste when Irene is cooking or has cooked recently. Air fresheners and potpourri are not allowed in the house. (more…)

Don’t know what black currant is?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010


Black Currant.

Black Currant.

People new to wine find some aromas or flavors in tasting notes exotic or foreign. They may have trouble identifying those aromas. They may simply not be familiar with the fruit being referenced. Its understandable, then, that they would find wine intimidating.

To the question: “How can a wine, made from grapes, have all these aromas and flavors?”, I offer the following: Biological diversity on this planet appears broad if it is judged on form and appearance, but there is tremendous similarity in the biochemistry and physiology of all organisms. Subsequently, compounds commonly associated with the aromas and flavors of one plant (or its fruit) are rather ubiquitous throughout nature. (more…)

Giving away the store

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009


Trade secrets. From:

Trade secrets.

Recently, I had a conversation with Bruce Bryant, Ph.D. (Senior Research Associate at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, PA) as part of my research for a series called “What wine pairs with red herring” (published on During that conversation, Dr Bryant reaffirmed a fundamental idea I have repeated (but which has been rejected by internet wine “gurus”): tasting ability is a function of language. Naming something makes it stick out in your memory, makes you able to identify it repeatedly and consistently. This is not at all unlike learning music theory (very few musicians have perfect pitch while most have learned relative pitch and yet there are many excellent musicians in the world). (more…)

Little ditty, ’bout moldy corks

Monday, November 9th, 2009


Moldy cork.

Moldy cork.

The recent silence on this blog has been due to something of a perfect storm of difficulties – both in the family and with pulling together material fundamental to several posts I’d been developing. All storms clear with time, however, and I am starting to settle back into my groove.

Recently, I broached the subject of improving cork processing and production to reduce the incidence of T.C.A.-tainted wines. It is cork taint that hindered me from completing a piece on a rather rare variety. Two separate samples of the same wine provided by the same (very reputable) importer were corked. Bummer. (more…)

What’s the deal with wine and cigar pairing?…

Thursday, September 24th, 2009


…Hey! Wanna go ride bikes?!

"Ritalin", by thh70. From:

"Ritalin", by thh70.

Every so often, I come across a winery event or some class focused on pairing wine and cigars or wine and spirits. I’ve never understood this pairing. I’ve tried it, but didn’t “get” it. I’ve read a fair amount on the subject. The general rules seem to focus around matching aromatics or the textures of the smoke and beverage.

With these guidelines in mind, I’ve tried to experiment with wine or spirit and cigar pairings. Still, I don’t understand what the deal is. I can describe nuances of the smoke’s aromatics, but the smoke overpowers the beverage and the pairing does nothing for me – at least not in the way wine and food pairing does. (more…)