Tips for an enjoyable wine tasting experience for everyone

Whether you’re going to a wine festival, wine touring visiting one tasting room to the next or meeting up with fellow wine lovers, it’s important to keep your senses sharp in order to take in as much of each wine as possible. I’ve been tasting a lot of wine at a set amount of time lately, and I’ve discovered that your senses can get overwhelmed faster than you think. Here are some tips to help you combat sensory fatigue.

Ditch the perfume.

no-perfume

Image source: Blue Grouse Wines Instagram. Click here to visit their IG page.

My number one piece of advice. This includes anything scented: cologne, body sprays, scented lotion and even hair products. These scents interfere with not only your wine tasting experience, but others around you too, overpowering the subtleties of the tasty liquid in the glass. Do yourself and others a favour and do not wear or apply anything on that gives off a scent.

Spit.

wine spit bucket

Not your typical looking spit bucket.

It’s okay to spit the wine. Staying sober will allow you to appreciate even more wines appropriately. That is, while your senses are still sharp. After all, that’s why you’re attending the wine tasting right? To discover more tasty wines. It would be a shame to only properly discover 3 or 4 when it could’ve easily been 10 or 15!

Drink water.

drink-water

Whether or not you spit, stay hydrated. Water acts as a palate cleanser, too. We all know it’s particularly important to drink water when consuming alcohol, so please always have water when wine tasting.

Taste with a full stomach.

wine and food

Meatballs, olives, grapes, cheese and crackers. Just some food to try with a ‘big red’ tasting I did with friends.

Just like not drinking water, we all know what happens when you have alcohol without food in your system. You get drunk, fast. Being hungry is never pleasant, so even if you decide to taste and spit, you want the experience to be a good one. Don’t taste wine on an empty stomach.

If you’re at a wine festival or visiting tasting rooms and they offer food, eat. If you’re getting together with other winos, make sure there’s food.

Ask questions. 

Dunham Cellars

This lovely young lady at Dunham Cellars could spit out facts about the winery and Walla Walla like she owns it.

Wherever you’re tasting wines, ask questions. Whether it’s pertaining to the wine region, terroir, wine maker, characteristics of the wine, good food pairings, or thoughts on the wine, ask questions. When wine lovers unite, you learn so much simply by asking.

Got any tips or suggestions for a great wine tasting experience? I’d love to hear some – leave a comment below.

Petit Chablis

Since spring of this year, every two to three months, a few friends and I gather and enjoy wine. It’s sort of formal in that we taste wines, sometimes blind taste, discuss, and then each person gives three to four facts about the wine they brought. So far, I’ve been finding it fun and educational – a great way to learn.

wine-tasting-club

Winos.

As I write this, it’s a couple days before our next gathering. The theme is French wines, and my bottle is a Petit Chablis. I wanted a white since I’v been drinking more whites lately. Aside from it being a French Chardonnay, I didn’t know much else about Petit Chablis. After some quick research, here are three facts I’ll be sharing with the crew.

Fact 1 – Petit Chablis is from the surrounding area around the town of Chablis, in the northern Burgundy region in France, closer to Champagne and the Loire’s Sancerre. Burgundy is located in east central France, as shown in the map below. When you see a Chablis appellation, this indicates that the wine is made with 100% Chardonnay.

French wine map

Map from Wine Folly

Fact 2 – There are four Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in Chablis.

  1. Petit Chablis
  2. Chablis (village level Chablis)
  3. Chablis Premier Cru
  4. Chablis Grand Cru.

In 1944, the Petit Chablis appellation was created for wines that don’t fall in the other AOCs.

Fact 3 – The main difference between Petit Chablis and the more prestigious appellations is the soil. Petit Chablis wines come from vineyards on Portlandian soil and the others are planted in Kimmeridgian soil. Both are a mixture of limestone and clay; the main difference is the amount of oyster fossils. Kimmeridgian is packed with it. This influences the minerality of the wine. Indeed, a common pairing for shellfish is Chablis.

Having to present some facts about your wine is not a bad way for everyone to learn, eh?

Can’t get enough of me here? Like my Facebook page 🙂

 

Vermentino, a Tasty Italian White

Until last month, I didn’t know anything about Vermentino. Now because at work, we have these limited releases wine kits that include a Vermentino in the lineup, I had to try one. So I tried a commercial equivalent.

vermetino-notes

This goes for $25 before tax at the BC Liquor Store.

It was really tasty and a good balance between a Sauv Blanc and Pinot Grigio. I sometimes find the former too tart and with citrus and green apple dominating, while the latter I sometimes find it too… easy to drink. Anyway, I’m so glad I’ve been exposed to this because it offers something in between. With flavours of white peach, lime, almond, and green apple, it’s delicate and refreshing enough to enjoy on its own, however, offers enough robustness to complement dishes.

Have you tried Vermentino? What are your thoughts?

 

Hey I’m back + Chenin Blanc

Over 1 year ago.

That was the last time I made an update here on my journey. My last job (yeah, I got a new job a couple of months ago, more on that below) was so demanding. You can read m last couple posts if you want to learn more. Although I loved it and the challenge (and the wins!), I couldn’t find the balance between being able to perform the way I wanted to in a job, which is to kick ass obviously, and to pursue this passion of mine. I needed to combine the two. It had to be wine-centric and I had to have enough spare time to update my blog. I wasn’t using what I learned. As the saying goes, when you don’t use it, you lose it.

more wine

I’m selling wine kits now. I’m talking about wine again, now not only personally but professionally, too! Last week, someone asked me to recommend a kit of ours that would be similar to this Chenin Blanc kit we used to sell. OMG, I was using my wine knowledge!

Ok, so I think I’ve shared a decent update on myself. Since you’re here, you may as well learn something, too. Maybe that’s the reason you’re here in the first place… Chenin Blanc is:

A French Varietal – It’s originally from France, made famous in the Loire Valley.

wine regions in France

Vouvray – Further to the above, it’s famous because it’s the varietal that makes Vouvray, a wine that ranges in style from still to semi-sparkling to sparkling, and from dry to succulent sweet. You won’t find Vouvray on the map above, it’s a sub region in Touraine.

Steen – That’s what Chenin Blanc is called in South Africa. It’s the most widely planted there.

p.s. I created a Facebook page. Like it and get a daily dose of me! I post every day there. Although not as in depth as here, I share what I learn there, too. I sometimes even post live videos! — that’s a big deal for me!

Thank you for following. Feel free to leave me a comment below. I love getting comments!

Food Pairing Tip: Blanco Tequila

To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. Seriously, my life has been go, go, go these past several months.

First, my personal life. I got married! I couldn’t have just one wedding either. I had two, and they were two weeks apart!

Second, my professional life. I got a new job back in late February. If you looked at my last post, it coincides with around the time I got it.

I’m now in sales. To be exact, I work in the alcohol beverage industry representing the world’s most well-known brands. I miss writing regularly, so decided I’ll put my writing to use in my current role. Every Friday, starting last week, I send out a Food Pairing Friday Tip email to my accounts, obviously highlighting some of our products.

I know selling is poison to a blog (a good blog, anyways). My intent with these emails are not to sell, but rather to educate and offer my accounts even more value. And that’s why I think it’ll work here. I thought readers would enjoy these weekly tips, too, and hey, my blog will be updated regularly.

If you’ve been following my blog or have scanned my other posts, you’ll know that I don’t do product reviews. I don’t plan on taking that route. This blog is about sharing what I know and what I’m learning. These weekly tips offer that, with the caveat that there will be a product highlighted. I will always disclose whether I represent a product shown here.

Thank you for reading this far. Without further ado, here’s the first tip sent out last week!

Food Pairing Tip

As blanco tequilas are bottled right after distillation, there’s no influence from ageing in barrels; that’s why the colour is clear and you get the true flavours of the agave plant from which it’s made. Try sipping Don Julio Blanco with your next serving of ceviche, chips and salsa, or a salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. The hints of citrus and the light, sweet agave flavour pair very well with food high in acidity or spicy seafood. You’ll find that it’s a great introduction and isn’t overwhelming.

Always good in a mixed drink, but best on the rocks or neat.

Tequila Blanco

What do you guys think? Is this something you’d like to read? Let me know your thoughts below.

An Intro to Italian Wine Labels

From what you smell and taste to the rules of each wine region, you’re relying on your memory to help you appreciate and understand what it is you’re enjoying. You use what you remember and what you know to describe what you’re seeing, smelling and tasting, and even how the wine makes you feel. Simply, when it comes to understanding the world of wine, it’s memorization.

studying wine

The appreciation and understanding of wine is highly reliant on your memory.

I’ve mentioned that Italy is hard. Even though I can say I haven’t visited the whole country, I have no excuse when it comes to knowing what to expect because it’s all memorization. The problem is, there’s a lot to remember! If you’re trying to understand Italian wine labels, learn the wine laws first before trying to remember the regions because some parts are actually confusing (case in point).

Intro to Italian Wine Laws

DOC Italian wine

Two different bottles. Sometimes the relevant info is found on the back label such as on the bottle on the right.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica – Grapes can be sourced from a larger area rather than a restricted one like the DOC or DOCG wines below. You’ll find a lot of wines from the south with this on the labels since there aren’t many DOC or DOCGs there.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) – When you see this on the label, you’ll know that it comes from the specified area that allow only certain varietals and a minimum alcohol level. Depending on the area, there could also be regulations regarding wine making methods and minimum aging.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantia (DOCG) – Has all the requirements of Denominazione di Origine Controllata, but also must be bottled in the production region. These wines may also undergo tasting by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Simple right? Think you got it? There’s just a bit more to Italian wine laws (Classico, Riserva, Passito), but I’ll save that for next week’s post.

Let’s Talk Chianti

Italy was one of the hardest countries for me when studying WSET 3. The regions, the grapes. Ack! The only way to get better or recall what I learned is to keep referring to my book (boring), but what’s more effective (and quite enjoyable) is actually drinking wine.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a Chianti in bed. Have you heard of Sangiovese? That’s the main varietal you’ll find in this wine. In Italy, unlike say here in Canada or the States, and like in France, the wines are referenced by the region it’s from, not the grapes they’re made with. Chianti’s don’t have to be 100% Sangiovese, though. Wines here can have up to 20% other varietals in the blend.

Chianti Classico
Take me to Tuscany!

Where is Chianti?

You must’ve heard Tuscany… in central Italy.

Tuscany wine region

Tuscany in red. Image from Wikipedia

This famous beautiful region is where you’ll find Chianti. The major nearby city is Florence. Speaking of Tuscany, you must have heard of Super Tuscan wines! But do you know what they are.

What’s a Super Tuscan?

By now, I’m sure you figured out that it’s wine from Tuscany. But what makes it “super?” If a wine contains other grapes like the Bordeaux ones Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, then it’s considered a Super Tuscan. The maritime climate in Tuscany is ideal for these Bordeaux varietals.

How did French grapes make their way to Italy?

In response to the low quality wine that was being produced in Tuscany in the 70s, producers started making wine that wasn’t within the Italian wine laws. That is they didn’t follow the rules that dictated what varieties can go in the wine and therefore couldn’t label them as Chianti DOC or DOCG (more about these acronyms next week). Indeed, the wines were great, and still are I’m told. I can’t say for myself since I don’t think I’ve ever had a Super Tuscan. Have you had one? What did you think? And if you’ve had both Chianti and Super Tuscan, which do you prefer? 

Looks like I need to go buy myself a bottle of Super Tuscan.