Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wireless Wino

"Have laptop and wireless connection, will help the wine challenged!" No, it is not the cry of the next superhero or villain. Yesterday was my birthday and it was full of surprises.

Our central MN weather was sunny and warm and I had a lazy day hunting down new wine finds in my favorite, but far away wine shop. Then it was on to the Barnes and Noble to do some chest presses with the new edition of the Oxford Guide to Wine. It must have weighed at least 10# so I know I worked off those calories from the two chocolate truffles I had with my coffee. :) They had a limited wine reference selection so I soon found myself back home.

After meeting my husband for dinner, we left for dessert with his folks and aunt. There were small gifts to open and just as we were about to leave, Glenn heads to the car and brings in my new Gateway laptop. I nearly fainted!

The reasoning was that if I should take this wine education further, I would need to be mobile. We have talked about the idea of doing wine presentations locally for the adult education program and it will also be handy for traveling.

I think men just love to buy electronics and now he get the fun of shopping for the wireless accessories.

Be on the lookout for the wireless wino in your community! Laptop under one arm, corkscrew securing the purple stained cape and glass in hand.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wine Aroma Wheel & Aroma Kits

Aromas and memories are linked deep inside all of us. Some of these experiences were and are pleasant while others are unforgettable in quite a different way. Early morning country walks in the spring with your dog can lead to two distinct aromas... skunk and wet (tomato juice lathered) dog smell. I hope I never encounter either of these in any wine!

Some aromas found in wine are more difficult to recognize and name, therefore, aroma kits were marketed to give the consumer a base reference to red or white wine aromas. These kits are quite costly and with the help of the wine aroma wheel from UC Davis, small amber vials and some neutral wine, you can recreate these kits for a fraction of the cost. The aroma wheel comes with some basic aromas and their preparations and sources like Marian Baldy's University Wine Course, have more complex aroma formulas.

This is the new project for our local wine club and I hope that with the aroma kit, the wine aroma wheel and some practice, we all develop a more universal wine "language" in our tastings.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wine Balance and Harmony

Just like a pleasing piece of music or a captivating work of art, wine evokes an emotional response when it is well balanced and harmonious. The great thing about wine is that it is a living entity and therefore is constantly evolving. It has a birth at bottling and then ages and unless consumed, dies. Somewhere during it's peak is when all the elements of the grape's varietal characteristics and the winemakers skill provide us with that "WOW" moment.

That is why the gustatory aspects of wine, all it's organoleptic properties of color, aroma, flavor, acidity, tannins and even alcohol content need to have balance and harmony. No one individual component should overshadow another.

But everyone has a unique palate and sense of what they perceive as balanced when drinking wine. Take for instance, my husband. He has always liked wines with higher tannins, spicy aromas and a fuller bodied wine. Can you say, "That sounds like a young Australian Shiraz"?

Over a year ago, we started a wine club to learn, train our palates, and be open to new experiences. We are just plain folks of various ages and tastes. Some had certain preferences at the beginning as to what they enjoyed drinking. Many of us have, including my husband, have seen a change in these preferences. Although much of the wine that is produced is meant to be consumed "young", age does have it's allure. (It better, both the wine and our members are getting older!)

Unfortunately, none of us have deep cellars or pockets so our "aged" wine is a bottle of Fleur du Cap 2003 Pinotage from the coastal region of South Africa. We all enjoyed it at a tasting and agreed that the member with the best cellar conditions would hold it like a time capsule until we determine it has reached it's peak. It will be fun to see how our notes differ and if we can determine the changes that age brings to wine.

Harmony and balance are important in wine and in our lives. Keep your conditions stable, reduce vibrations and remember that life is too short to drink "bad" wine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Portuguese x 3

Last weekend was the third time we have enjoyed the Duas Quintas 2003 red wine from Portugal. It is bottled by Ramos Pinto from the Douro region. The wine is a blend of Tina Roriz, Touriga Nacional (also known as Mortagua), and Touriga Franca grapes. All these varieties are used in making Port. The two vineyards they source the juice from vary in climate. Quinta de Ervamoira is in a rocky, low altitude area on the banks of the River Coa. The grapes grow to full maturity in this hot and dry vineyard. The second, Quinta dos Bons Ares, is at a higher altitude and has cooler growing conditions. The grapes lose less malic acid under cooler temperatures so the juice would be more acidic.

We had opened the wine a few days before, had vacu-sealed it and stored it in the fridge... don't gasp!... I had read that the wine would last longer there than on the counter. As I was cooking, my glass had a chance to warm and open. That one glass was sipped on for over a hour. It was a complicated recipe. :) The aromas and flavors just kept evolving with every "nose" and sip. My suggestion is to decant this wine and enjoy with a grilled swordfish, a classic food pairing.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Online Wine Courses- Part 1

I had mentioned in a previous blog that the Mediterranean Wine Campus had a free food and wine pairing course. After e-mailing them to express my interest in taking the course, I waited for them to send me a login and password via e-mail.
Once you are in the site, you find that they offer two free courses and you are able to navigate around the site and view some forums and videos. (Or in my case, with my old computer, go to my husband's office and view the videos.) You do need an updated operating system and Windows ME is not it! :)
Here is the link to their courses.

First Wine Gig

Well, I did it! The little local upscale market and bistro called the Butler's Pantry, had a beer and wine happy hour posted outside. Fearing that I would miss out on the opportunity to present them with my "dream", I went in to visit with the owner. I had heard that they were planning to open a small wine distribution, but found out in our conversation that our city owns all three of our liquor stores and she is unable to stock wine, only serve it from a wholesaler.
We did explore coming in this summer to run some wine and food pairings for them as she has done one or two already and feels that the prep work is more than she can handle. Her primary interest is in selling her products. The wine is just one flat rate per glass, so it will be interesting to find out what she is serving.We also thought that one of my trial presentations could be made in front our my wine club and they could critique my presentation. (Actually, that was my husband Glenn's idea!)
So, here I go. My goal and deadline are set for two months from now when our weather warms up.
Any advice on how to run a presentation?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Wine Blog Community

Yesterday I searched for "wine" and really spent some time looking at a few blogs. Some seemed more commercial but I latched onto one that looked and sounded more like myself. After reading many of her posts I decided to send an e-mail. Thanks again Michelle for your response. :)

I have read Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Wine Course 2007 and the University Wine Course by Marian Baldy, as well as read every free course that google has found. Our local librarian must think I need an intervention as I have read every wine book in the library system. I used to subscribe to all the wine magazines but found that much of that information could be found online for free or I could search for my specific interest rather than reading the editor's choice for that month.
By the way, I blame and thank my older sister for starting this passion. Rita, if you only knew what you have gotten me into you might come and shake me.

YIPPEE! My free online food and wine pairing from the European Wine Academy arrived via e-mail this morning. Their classes run from $400- $600 U.S. and after some digging through their site, I stumbled upon this free course. I have also contacted Ann Noble (great name for a wine educator) at UC Davis in California. I had ordered wine aroma wheels for both still and sparkling wine. Their distance courses run over $600 and seem more tailored for those working in the industry in actual winemaking.

The closest thing to that in rural MN is our own AVA right outside Alexandria, MN. (10-15 miles from my home) The local winery, Carlos Creek, applied and was granted the AVA. Yes, I have tried to work for them but found out that what they were looking for was an every weekend and on call tasting room employee. (a.k.a. "slave") That would be fine if I was single. And if I like their wines. They are mostly fruit juice with a kick, IMHO.

My husband is a local private land surveyor and works long hours during the week but not weekends. If I want to have a marriage, working every weekend would not be the best idea. Hence, whence and spence.... my wine dream.... maybe after taking some courses and working on my business proposal, I can convince a local business that hiring me part-time can improve their bottom line. Good dream, huh?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Online Wine Classes

After taking some free online wine classes, I have decided to bite the bullet and sign up for some through Wine Spectator. Has anyone else taken their professional courses? I am hoping that the extra $35 for the ABC's for the professional are worth it as opposed to the enthusiast level.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Understanding French Wine

Why are there so many classifications in French wines? AARGH !! Does any website explain French wines more simply? And how are us poor folk supposed to afford to taste a premier grand cru bordeaux? I had hoped that blogging would open a new avenue of interplay with wine enthusiasts but a week has passed an no replies to my posts. Anyone...