Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tasting Notes - Frappato Vittoria

Region: Sicily, Italy
Grape Varieties: Frappato
Vintage2013
Overall Rating:  

Pairing: This was an unfamiliar grape that was recommended by the waiter at Mozzarella & Vino.  It was a fresh, well-balanced red, with cherry flavors and some herbal/spicy notes.  It was easy to drink while waiting for our entrees and then complemented both the ravioli and the sausage that we ordered.

Sight
Color: Ruby Red


Brightness: Dull

Aroma
Intensity: Low-Moderate
Scent: Cherry

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry/
Body: Light-Medium
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Low
Flavors: Cherry and Herbs/Pepper

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tasting Notes - Grooner Grüner Veltliner


Name: Grooner
Producer: Weingut Meinhard Forstreiter
Region: Austria
Grape Varieties: Grüner Veltliner
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  






Pairing: Refreshing and crisp this paired nicely with our Catfish Ramen dish from Blue Apron.  The citrus flavors and acidity complimented the Asian spices, and the aroma of apple and hint of bell pepper gave it a nice balance.


Sight
Color: Straw Yellow


Brightness: Day Bright

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Scent: Green Apple and Bell Pepper

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Light
Acidity: Fresh
Flavors:  Citrus and Green Apple




Sunday, November 29, 2015

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé


The third Thursday of November is a wonderful day in the world of wine, because it is Beaujolais Nouveau release day!  Beaujolais Nouveau is a vin de primeur (wine sold in the same year that it was harvested) made from the Gamay grape, which is a signature grape of the Beaujolais wine region in France.   Harvest season in France is usually between late August and early October, so the Beaujolais Nouveau is only fermented for a few weeks before it's release.  As such, it is light-bodied and not complex, but it is easy-drinking and often has a strawberry flavor.  Judging by this year's Nouveau, 2015 seems to have been a strong year for the Beaujolais region.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Tasting Notes - Rosso di Romagna

Name: Rosso di Romagna
Producer: Maestro di Pomidoro
Region: Emilia Romagna, Italy
Grape Varieties: Sangiovese
Vintage2013
Overall Rating:  
Pairing: This wine was alright; kind of a strong alcohol burn to it.  However, I loved the tomato man on the label, and we drank the whole bottle with a NY thin-crust pizza.

Sight
Color: Purple


Brightness: Dull

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Scent: Plum and Cherry

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium
Acidity: Smooth
Tannin: Low
Flavors: Fruit:Apricot/apple/plum, very juicy
Finish: Long(5-7 sec)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tasting Notes - Nero Scuro

Name: Nero Scuro
Producer: Fattoria Laila
Region: Rosso Piceno DOC
Grape Varieties: 80% Montepulciano/20% Sangiovese
Vintage2013
Overall Rating:  

Pairing:  CHEESE!  I've really been enjoying Montepulciano wines lately.  They're easy drinking and seem to go with everything, and as I like to say... wine goes with everything! :-p



Sight
Color: Purple


Brightness: Dull/Opaque

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Age: Some age
Scent: Plum, berry, earthy

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Light-Medium
Acidity: Tart/Crisp
Tannin: Low/Medium
Flavors: Jammy plum and berries

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tasting Notes - Riverstone Chardonnay

Name: Riverstone Chardonnay
Producer: J. Lohr Estates
Region: Arroyo Seco, CA
Grape Varieties: Chardonnay
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  

Pairing:  I'm not usually a fan of California Chardonnays, but this was very drinkable.  The oaky-ness was relatively moderate, so it complimented (and didn't overpower) our tortellini with roasted mushrooms and romanesco.

Sight
Color: Yellow


Brightness: Day Bright

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Age: Youthful
Scent: Citrus and Pear

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium-Full
Acidity: Fresh
Flavors: More citrus and pear, and some buttery, vanilla flavor from the oak.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tasting Notes - Lobo

Name: LOBO Tinto Multicastas
Producer: LOBO
Region: Peninsula of Setubal, Portungal
Grape Varieties: Castelao, Touriga National and Trincadeira Grapes (These are all Portuguese Grapes and were a delicious, new find for me.)
Vintage2012
Overall Rating:  

Pairing:  De-stressing after a long day at work.

Sight
Color: Purple


Brightness: Dull/Opaque

Aroma
Intensity: Low
Age: Some age
Scent: Cherry and berries

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Light
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Low


Flavors: Juicy berries, but slightly earthy/smokey on the finish

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Winery Visit - TugHill Vineyard







I had the pleasure to visit the Tug Hill Vineyard on a beautiful fall day. We enjoyed their packed Sunday brunch, with beautiful views of fall foliage and farmland. Then, we headed down to the tasting room to sample their wines.  The Tug Hill Vineyard is located outside of Lowville, NY on the Tug Hill Plateau, which is an area known for its heavy snowfall, not as a wine region.  They do give a nod to this winter notoriety with some of their wine names such as White Out, Lake Effect, and Black Ice.










To combat their extreme winters, this vineyard has planted 10 varieties of French-American hybrid vines that were developed at the University of Minnesota, which has done extensive research to develop cold-hardy grapes. I was particularly taken with the Marquette, which made a very easy-drinking, medium bodied red. We picked up a bottle to take home, and it paired wonderfully with a pizza.


Here are my notes...





Name: Marquette
Producer: Tug Hill Vineyard
Region: New York State
Grape Varieties: Marquette
Vintage2013
Overall Rating:  
Pairing: New York Style Pizza from Nick's Pizza.

Sight
Color: Purplish/Ruby


Brightness: Dull

Aroma
Intensity: Low
Age: Youthful
Scent: Cherry and Spice

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry/Off-dry
Body: Light/Medium
Acidity: Smooth
Tannin: Low
Flavors: Cherry and Spice, plus some black pepper and berry
Finish: Medium (4-5 sec)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Wine Riot NYC






Last weekend, I attended the Wine Riot NYC, where I was able to get my drink on AND get my learn on.  Wine Riots are wine tasting events put on by Second Glass, a relatively new company that brings "wineries and wine drinkers together through technology and in-person events."    The in-person part of the event was great, but unfortunately the technology part was a big fail for me.  I downloaded the app, but it refused to let me log in.  ☹  So, I was unable to record all of the wines that I tasted, but I did manage to jot down my two favorites of the night:




Confessions of a White Glove Chaser a South African Cab Sav from Blank Bottle,  imported by Blue Crane Imports.



Reisling Trocken, a lovely, German dry reisling from Fritz Haag, imported by Loosen Brothers.


The Wine Riots also include a bunch of "crash courses" to help everyone and anyone start to learn about wine.  I participated in two courses:
  • Learn to Order Italian Wine Like a Boss
  • Learn to Love Garnacha

The first class was taught by Second Glass founder, Travis Balliet.  He made the class fun and approachable.  He discussed the DOC rules for the labels and led us through a tasting of Chianti, Montepulciano, Nebbiola, and Lambrusco.  Lately, I've been on a bit of a Montepulciano kick myself, so I was happy to see it included, and I'd never had the Lambrusco before, which was a dry, slightly sparkling red.

Next was "Learn to Love Garnacha", which was taught by a sommelier from Wines of Garnacha. First thing I learned  was that September 19th (the day of the event) was Garnacha day - woohoo!  Garnacha (also known as Grenache) originates from the Ebro River in Northeastern Spain.  It is a very old grape and has long been used in blends, but Wines of Garnacha are working to popularize Garnacha as a varietal (a wine made from all one grape).  We tasted four different wines made with the Garnacha grape, but at that point in the evening, I had kind of lost track of which wine was which - oops! 

Anyway... plenty of good wine and an overall good time at Wine Riot NYC!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tasting Breakdown - The Palate



In past posts, I have discussed the Visual Inspection and Aroma parts of wine tasting, but now its time to actually taste the wine. . .




The Palate is a fancy word used to describe how a wine tastes, and can be broken down into several different characteristics:
  • flavor
  • body
  • sweetness
  • acidity
  • tannins
  • finish
To start take a small sip, as though you are drinking it through a straw.  You don't have to slurp or gargle it, but do hold it in your mouth for a few seconds.  The key is to allow the wine to circulate around your mouth, exposing as many taste buds as possible to the flavors.  You will want to try to confirm the flavors that you identified in the aroma, but also look for new flavors. You will also want to consider how full the wine makes your mouth feel or the weight of the wine.  This characteristic is called the body and is sort of like comparing skim milk to whole milk.  

Beyond flavors and body, you want to determine if the wine is dry or sweet.  This is a statement about the amount of residual sugar in the wine, so you don't want to confuse fruity with sweet.  A dry wine can have fruit flavors (as can a sweet wine).  The difference is dry wine will actually dry out your mouth and not have any of the syrupy-ness of sweet wines.


After determining sweetness, the next two characteristics to consider are acidity and tannins.  The acidity of a wine gives it a crispness and creates a mouth-watering sensation.  The tannins are bitter and produce a drying sensation in your mouth (the opposite of effect from the acidity). Tannins are usually only found in red wine, because they come from the grape skins (and white wine is white because the grape skins are removed for fermentation).

And finally, the finish (sometimes also called the length).  This is used to describe how long the taste/sensations lasts in your mouth after you've swallowed the wine.  The finish is usually described as Short (<3 seconds), Medium (4-5 seconds), Long (5-7 seconds), or Very Long (>8 seconds).


Monday, September 21, 2015

Lioco Indica - Tasting Notes

Name: Indica
Producer: Lioco
Region: Mendocino County, CA
Grape Varieties: Carignan
Vintage2012
Overall Rating:  

Photo bombed by the cat - I think he wanted some wine, too!
Pairing:  My husband grilled up some burgers and zucchini to enjoy one of the last warm evenings of summer.  The Indica was a great match for the burgers.  It had enough acid and body to stand up to the burger, but was very easy drinking and would have also been delicious without food. We finished off the meal with some Ghirardelli dark chocolate, which was a lovely pairing as well.

Sight
Color: Purplish/Ruby


Brightness: Dull

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Age: Youthful
Scent: Dark fruit and leather

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Medium
Flavors: Blackberries (a bit jammy) and more earthy, than leather on the taste
Finish: Medium (4-5 sec)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Collefrisio Morrecine Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - Tasting Notes


Name: Morrecine
Producer: Collefrisio
Region: Italy
Grape Varieties: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Vintage2011
Overall Rating:  
Pairing:  A delicious Italian sandwich from Il Salumaio called Valtellina (dry cured filet mignon, parmigiano, reggiano, and arugula on foccacia).  The sandwich was delicious, the wine was delicious, and together they were wonderful.








Sight
Color:  Dark Purple
Brightness: Dull




Aroma
Intensity: Aromatic
Age: Some Age
Scent: Dried Fruit, Bell Pepper

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium
Acidity: Fresh/Smooth
Tannin: Low
Flavors:  Prune, Cherry, Bell Pepper      
Finish: Medium (4-5 sec)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tasting breakdown - Wine Aroma

In an older post (Tasting breakdown - Visual Inspection) I described how to look at the wine to look for identifying features, and now we are moving on to smell...



The aroma of food or drink greatly affects how you perceive the taste, even before you taste it.  For example, have you ever noticed that when you have a stuffy nose, everything tastes blander?  That's because smell is an important part of taste!  So let's start smelling...

First off, swirl the wine in your glass, because this gives the impression that you know what you are doing.  ;)  Secondly, swirling helps to oxygenate the wine and release the aromas.  This is sometimes referred to as "opening up the wine".   Now that the aromas are churning, you want to stick your nose into the glass for a good whiff.   

Some wines have very strong and distinct smells, while others are faint and indiscernible.  The intensity of the aroma is usually judged on the following scale: 
  • Low
  • Moderate
  • Aromatic
  • Powerful  
Whether the aroma is powerful or not, we want to try to identify the different scents.   These scents can range from fruity and floral to earthy or spicy.   Some of these aromas come from the grapes themselves, but many more come from the fermentation and aging of the wine, and that's how wine can have so many different scents.

I usually find that the fruit scents are the easiest to identify.  The fruit aromas can be divided into five categories:
  • Black Fruit: blackberries, plum, black cherry, currants, blueberry, fig, prune, raisin
  • Red Fruit: cherry, strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, cranberry
  • Citrus: lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit
  • Tree Fruit: apple, pear, peach, nectarine, apricot, persimmon, quince
  • Other Fruits: melon, pineapple, mango, guava, passion-fruit, kiwi, lychee
Beyond determining the types of fruit, it is also important to consider the other characteristics of the fruit aroma.   Does the fruit taste ripe or dried or maybe baked or jammy?  In younger wines, the fruit often tastes ripe and fresh.  While the flavors of dried fruit are more common in older vintages.  These characteristics can also be indicative of the climate where the grapes were grown.  Grapes grown in warmer climates are able to more fully ripen, so they will give off aromas of ripe or baked fruits, while wines from cooler climates may have tart or under-ripe flavors.

This all sounds easy enough, but putting a name to an aroma can be difficult. Building up your odor-identification skills takes time and effort.   When you are at the grocery store, take some time to smell the different fruits, herbs, and flowers; especially those that are less familiar to you.  The other trick is to smell (and drink) lots of different wines, and keep track of what you smell.  Compare notes with others, but don't worry about being wrong.  Each person will experience a wine differently, but they might pick something out that you wouldn't have otherwise noticed.  For my own tasting notes, I usually write down the following:

       Aroma       Intensity: Low/Moderate/Aromatic/Powerful       Age: Youthful/Some age/ Aged       Scent: Fruit, Earth, Wood, Other (flowers, spices, leather, etc)

So take a swirl, a good sniff, and enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Di Calla Sauvignon Blanc - Tasting Notes


Producer: Di Calla
Region: Venezia, Italy
Grape Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  

Pairing: Pizza and a hot summer night!  This wine hit the spot on a hot summer evening, but didn't really have much of a flavor profile.  The acidity gave it a refreshing crispness, but the aromas and flavors were all quite light. 





Sight
Color: Straw-Yellow


Brightness: Day Bright

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Age: Youthful
Scent: Floral and Apricot

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry/Off-dry
Body: Light
Acidity: Crisp
Flavors:  Melon, Apricot, hint of something floral
Finish: Medium (4-5 sec)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cascada Peak Malbec - Tasting Notes

Producer: Cascada Peak
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
Grape Varieties: Malbec
Vintage2012
Pairing: Cheesey Tuesday at Cavatappo Grill.  I love this special!  Your choice of 5 cheeses and a bottle of wine for $35. This was a nice, standard Malbec whose earthiness and tannins worked well with the cheese, especially the smokey Scamoraza Affumicata.
Overall Rating:  




Sight
Color: Ruby
Brightness: Bright
Legs: slow moving

Aroma
Intensity: Low-Moderate
Age: Youthful
Scent: Cherry and apricot

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Light
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Low-Medium
Flavors: Earth and dark fruit

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tenuta Rapitala Grillo - tasting notes

Name: Tenuta Rapitala Grillo
Producer: Tenuta Rapitala
Region: Sicily, Italy
Grape Varieties: Grillo
Vintage2013

Pairing:  Fritto Misto (fried calamari, eggplant, zucchini, and carrots) at Felice 
I'm not as familiar with the Italian grape varieties, so I went with the eeny-meeny-mino-moe wine selection methodology to choose this 2013 Grillo.  The flavor was very light, slightly sweet, and not overly remarkable.  However, it was hot night, so it was crisp and refreshing, and the slight sweetness complemented the saltiness of the calamari.
Overall Rating:  


Sight
Color: 
      White: Pale Yellow-green

Brightness: Day Bright - it was almost clear

Aroma
Intensity: Aromatic
Age: Youthful
Scent: Grass and Citrus

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Off-dry
Body: Very Light
Acidity: Crisp
Flavors: The aroma was much stronger than the flavor, but still some citrus and herbal qualities.  The label mentioned hints of almond, but I didn't notice that until after reading the label. ;)
Finish: Short(<3 sec)


Saturday, July 18, 2015

L'O de Joncier Grenache- Tasting Notes

Name: L'O de Joncier
Producer: Domaine du Joncier
Region: Côtes du Rhône
Grape Varieties: Grenache
Vintage2013

Sight
Color: Red/Garnet
Brightness: Dull

Aroma
Intensity: Aromatic
Age: Youthful
Scent: Lots of berry

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium
Acidity: Smooth
Tannin: Low/Medium
Flavors: Dark fruit (blackberries and cherries), with a hint of pepper and wood
Finish: Medium (4-5)



Pairing: Cheese Plate at Lucy's Whey.  I really enjoyed this wine.  It was fruity and easy to drink, but with enough body and tannin to really complement the cheese.  Also, our waiter informed us that this is an organic/biodynamic wine, which basically means that the grapes are grown without chemical pesticides, and the vineyard uses herbal alternatives and composting techniques to ensure healthy soil .

Overall Rating:  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tasting break down - Visual Inspection

I've been posting these tasting notes, with all these weird descriptions (like legs, brightness, body, etc), but what am I really talking about???  

Basically, I'm trying to observe all the different aspects of a wine using sight, smell, and taste, and I'm trying to do this in a systematic manner, so that I can better compare one wine to another.  So, let's break down my "tasting system", and we'll start with the visual inspection...

You can learn fair amount about a wine just by looking at it.  The two most important visual characteristics are: Color and Brightness.  The third characteristic is the "legs", but I don't put much stock in them.

First we need to identify the color of the wine.  These are some common colors used to describe wine:
(... and then these colors can be further described as light,  medium, or dark).   The color of the wine can provide a hint toward the grape varietal, but even more importantly, the color is an indicator of the age of the wine, because the color is a result of the oxidation process.  Often the wine is a deeper color at the center of the glass and fades to a lighter hue towards the edge of the glass.  This is called rim variation.  The amount of rim variation tends to increase as a wine ages.  Also, as a white wine ages, it becomes darker and browner; while a red wine becomes lighter and browner as it ages.  This "darker/lighter" also refers to the brightness.    

Brightness is the amount of light reflected by the wine.   The brightness scale is as follows:
  • Dull/Opaque
  • Hazy
  • Bright
  • Day Bright
  • Star Bright
  • Brilliant
To determine the brightness, tilt your glass over a white background (perhaps a napkin or table cloth) to see how much light is reflected onto the white surface below.  Could you read through the wine?  If yes, the wine would likely be considered bright or above.  The last three levels are mostly reserved for white wines, and brilliant is basically clear.  Usually, darker wines have more body, while brighter wines are lighter in body.  Hazy wine may indicate that the wine is unfiltered or possibly flawed. 

Lastly, we check out the "legs" (also sometimes called "tears") of the wine.  These are the streaks that form along the sides of the glass after swirling.  Generally, thick and slowly moving legs are a sign of either high alcohol or high residual sugar.  The videos below give a much better explanation than I can, but basically there are a number of factors that can affect the legs, so (imho) they aren't as important as the color or the brightness.

Videos about Wine Legs:





Friday, July 3, 2015

Fancy Schmancy Tasting Dinner at Le Cirque


I'm always a sucker for a bargain, and there was an Amazon Local deal for a 6-course tasting menu at Le Cirque.  Now I've heard of Le Cirque - its one of the top French restaurants in NYC, so I was intrigued.  Long story short, I bought the deal, made my husband put on a suit, and had a wonderfully decadent meal.

We started out with the complimentary amuse-bouche, which was a tiny dollop of strangely delicious pea puree.

Then it was time to begin our delectable journey.  We figured the sommelier's wine pairings were the way to go.  He obviously knows a whole lot more than us; plus we're fancy like that. ;)

First Course:
Choice of Foie Gras or Sashimi Halibut with Roasted Red Peppers; served with  IVY Blanc de Blancs, a lovely, dry sparking wine.


Second Course:
Lobster Risotto served with Vievite Cuvee Extraordinaire.  This was the palest rose that I have ever seen, and it was dry and refreshing and a wonderful pairing for the richness of the lobster.

Third Course:
White Asparagus, Scallop, Sweatbreads, and Quail Egg with an Anchovy Sauce; served with Fogdog Chardonnay.  I am not a huge fan of Chardonnay, and this was a seriously oaky chard.  I'm not really into anchovies either, and the maitre d' had just poured the sauce all over everything.  BUT this ended up being my favorite course.  The sauce was light and tangy and not anchovy-y, AND it totally worked with the chardonnay.

Fourth Course:
Scottish Salmon and Sage-Infused Potatoes with Barolo Le Ginestre. This wine was extremely aromatic with floral and baking scents, but then it was very light bodied and more earthy on the taste.  Also, the potatoes were amazing!



Fifth Course:
Choice of Chicken or Lamb; served with Hall Cabernet Sauvignon. Both the chicken and the lamb were succulent and were complimented by the Cabernet.  To finish off this course, we were given little push-pop things ( I guess it was palate cleanser or something?).  We didn't understand what they said about them, and the flavor was not impressive or identifiable, but they looked neat, even if somewhat phallic.

Sixth Course:
For dessert, I kept it simple with ice cream: salted caramel and raspberry.  My husband ordered the chocolate stove cake, which much to our surprise came inside of a miniature chocolate stove!  These were served with Braida Brachetto D'Acqui, which was very nice, but a little bit too sweet for me.



It was definitely a splurge, but it was a delicious way to spend our money and evening.





Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cardiff Cab Sav - Tasting Notes


Producer: Cardiff Vineyards
Region: California
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage2013
Pairing: S'mores
Overall Rating:  




Sight
(Restaurant too dark)

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Age: Youthful
Scent: Earthy and Musky

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium
Acidity: Tart
Tannin: Medium
Flavors: Dark Fruit and Earthiness

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Il Conte Pinot Grigio - Tasting Notes

Name: il Conte
Region: Veneto, Italy
Grape Varieties: Pinot Grigio
Vintage2014
Pairing:  Garlic Chicken Breast with Broccoli and Brown Rice
Overall Rating:  


Sight
Color: Pale Straw
Brightness: Bright
Legs: Thin, quickly moving legs or sheeting in the glass => lower alcohol and little/to no residual sugar

Aroma
Intensity: Low
Age: Youthful/Some age/ Aged
Scent:  Pear

Palate
Dry/Sweet:  Dry/Off-dry/Medium Sweet/Sweet/Very Sweet
Body: Very Light/Light/Medium/Medium-full/Full-bodied/Heavy
Acidity: Tart/Crisp/Fresh/Smooth/Flabby
Flavors: Pear and Lemon
Finish: Short (<3 sec), Medium (4-5), Long (5-7), Very Long (>8 sec)

Take time to stop and smell the wine

I have been enjoying wine for a long time, but I haven't always taken the time to appreciate it.  I want to start paying attention and really start to understand my tastes.   To do this, I've decided to start taking notes, and I've decided to share them with you.  I am going to take the time to smell my wine and determine what I actually like, and I hope that this might help others to learn their own tastes as well.