Monday, February 1, 2010


Last night, a local gathering brought together a wine shop owner, pie baker, trained chef, cake designer, two food bloggers, one wine blogger, one aspiring oenophile . . . and me. Which one of these things doesn't belong?

We came together in a cozy apartment for the first of our monthly women's wine tastings. Our mission? To taste old world and new world reds and whites to start to understand how flavor profiles are products of their geography, climate, and terrain.

Please don't ask me how flavor profiles are products of their geography, climate, and terrain.

At least not yet.

I'm clearly the fledgling taster in this group. I know little of wine production methods, and I'm probably more likely to pick a wine by its label than by what its label may be telling me. Varietals? Vintages? Fuggedaboutit. It's no surprise that my bottle was the dud of the group. (Remember the old Mystery Date game? Door #4 was my bottle: Bow tie, crooked glasses, severely parted hair. Truth be told, I always had a soft spot for Door #4).

But I'm determined to hang on with this group. It was because of Tracy, the wine-shop owner who put this plan together, that I bypassed touristy Napa and Sonoma for quieter, cozier Mendocino in May. And it's because of that trip that John and I were able to recognize an Anderson Valley wine a couple of months later, just by the nose and the very first sip. I can't help but feel like swirling and tasting and spitting with this particular group -- funny and forgiving, expert but unintimidating -- will help me to raise my personal bar.

I think I can, I think I can . . . tell the difference between a pinot noir and a grenache, decipher what people mean by 'minerally,' astringent,' or 'medium-bodied,' come to recognize the specific grape by its cryptic regional reference on the front (damn you, French bottles!), but most importantly, know what I like and why I like it, and stop wasting money on wine-shop roulette.

One woman at the table, who also considers herself a novice, said a sommelier once said to her, "Forget the fancy vocabularies. If the wine smells to you like the inside of your grandmother's purse, then it smells like the inside of your grandmother's purse." She fell in love immediately.


1 comment:

leslie said...

I would be so in over my head! It's like going to college all over again.

We once took a bottle of wine to a dinner party that I had purchased because of the cute red truck on the label. The host exclaimed, "Oh, I love the Cline vineyards!" There it is: everything I know about wine. If I can't find the red truck, we take Miller High Life instead.