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Posts Tagged ‘Tastings’

Tasting Notes for Feb. 3 – Feb. 9, 2013

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Here are some notes for various wines that I’ve tasted recently, including two I think you should definitely try.

Here’s an explanation of my Tasting Notes Ranking System.

Cashmere-GSM5/5* Cline Cashmere 2010 California
Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache blend; full of cherry, soft plum & pleasing finish.  Pinot Noir-like. The care that goes into this wine is evident. This is a well-made wine with new French oak, 30-year-old Mourvèdre vines and uses a gentle crush. It’s a steal at $13

1/5 Matua Valley 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, NZ
Maybe the worst SB I’ve ever tasted.  Green, unripened grapefruit.  Harsh, bitter enamel-removing finish $9

4/5 Paso Creek 2008 Zinfandel Paso Robles

Classic CA Zin flavor. Big & jammy, concentrated plum fruit. Not overpowered by 15% alcohol level either. Great with or without food $18

3/5 Alder Brook 2004 Old Vine Zinfandel Dry Creek

Black plum, bit of raspberry and chocolate.  Finish gave off high alcohol $14

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6 Great tips for hosting a wine tasting party

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How to Host a Great Wine Tasting Party

Great Wine Tasting PartySo you want to host a wine tasting party. Okay but now what? Here are some great tips to make your tasting party a success.

1. Guest List –This is a critical step since you want to ensure your guests have a great time. So start with friends who of course enjoy drinking wine, but also, want to leave with a bit more wine knowledge. Are some of your friends wine connoisseurs while others could not tell the difference between a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc?

• For the wine novices, include a brief tip sheet on grape varieties used in specific wines and provide the URL address for a wine glossary with basic terms for them to check out once they get back home.

• For experienced wine drinkers, have a few bottles available that showcase varietals from a lesser-known wine region.

2. Mix it Up – Drop by a wine shop and let the merchant know that you are anxious to explore a wine or grape variety that is off-the-beaten path. Or if that is too much work for you, then just go to the store where you normally purchase your wine and pick out a wine that you have never tried before. This could be good or bad of course. You can tell your guests that you found a wine you thought would be interesting but you have no idea how it will taste. You may be pleasantly surprised by your find or it turns out to be a disappointment, at least, you’ll have a story to laugh about for years to come.

3. Supplies – Have score cards available with ample room for tasting notes. Write down your initial impression and don’t be swayed by someone with more or less knowledge. It’s your palette so if you taste a certain flavor, you can’t be wrong. No one else has your taste buds so don’t be afraid to speak up even if no one else tastes the same flavors as you. Here are a few starting points:

• Color/appearance – straw pale, candy apple red, Prince purple, you get the idea

• Smell – grapefruit, chocolate, baked bread. Don’t worry about sounding like a wine pro. If you don’t know what leechee tastes like then don’t feel pressure to write it down.

• Taste – sweet, tart/bitter, fruity- Smuckers strawberry jam, cherry popsicle, mango, beef jerky

• The finish – smooth/creamy, stringent-makes you pucker up or chalky

4. Wine – What is your goal?

• You could host a vertical, horizontal or blind tasting

• How many wines, aka flights? Too many and the taste buds get overwhelmed. To few and people are left wanting more. Usually most people tire around five tastings, and many start to lose interest, as well as their better judgment.

• Styles – Will your guests drink reds only, whites only or a combination?

If some of your guests never venture from drinking a white Zinfandel, then you can use your wine tasting party as an opportunity to educate and elevate the palates of these wine novices. In this case, select a wine that will allow them to broaden their horizons by taking baby steps. For example, introduce them to a Pinot Gris from Washington. This is a dry wine, meaning not sweet, but it has a mild flavor that won’t overpower their taste buds with too much oak or bitterness.

5. Budget – When establishing your budget, keep your guest list in mind.

• Novices – You’d hate to serve a great vintage Bordeaux to friends who couldn’t appreciate the sensory pleasures and nuisances. A person who doesn’t drink wine on a regular basis (Do these people actually exist?) needs to understand that good wines can be purchased without having to take out a line of credit. Besides, do you really want to fork over more than $25 for a bottle, not knowing if it the untrained palette will appreciate it?

• Connoisseurs – Of course, you could splurge and throw a wine tasting gala for oenophiles that will be talked about for years. But you don’t have to pull out all the stops. Simply, buy a few worthy bottles and then splurge on one wine that you hope will be especially memorable. Ideas? Try a vintage wine from an exceptional year or uncork a wine from an unusual wine region such as Crotia or Tasmania.

Wine Tasting Party6. Food – Since you don’t want your friends getting hammered, you should serve some light appetizers/finger foods. Have bread and crackers, include some gluten-free options. Serve some proteins to help absorb some of the alcohol such as slices of ham, Spanish sausage and hard, semi-soft and soft cheeses.

A wine tasting party is a great way to stay in touch with friends during the cold winter months and it gives you an excuse to drink more wine. And what’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing!


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Wine School Fundamentals – Week 9

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When I was growing up, whenever my brother, sister and I would do something that angered our father, he would say to us, “I do believe you are getting stupider and stupider.”

Well those words were ringing in my ears last Monday night.  During our first “round” of blind tastings, I turned to my classmate Heidi and said that I can’t smell anything nor can I taste anything. And she mumbled back, “Yeah me either.”  And although misery loves company, I didn’t feel any better knowing at that moment she was as wine confused as I.  Now that it is Week 9, we have tasted wines from Europe, South and North America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Let me tell you that it is confusing as hell. Read More >

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Champagnes to enjoy on a Special Occasion

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These French Champagnes say “Je t’aime” (I Love You)

Nicolas Feuillatte champagne

Nicolas Feuillatte champagne

I attended a champagne tasting at The Wine Encounter and the guest winery was Nicolas Feuillatte, a champagne house from Epernay, France that I was not familiar with prior to the event.  But now, I’m a fan.  And if you’re into the point ratings, don’t fret because the various point-granting folks have awarded this house’s bubbly 90 or better on the points scale.

Any of Feuillatte’s champagnes would make an excellent dinner companion for your special night with your special someone.  They have a bottle for all tastes, ranging brut to rosé to demi-sec.  And they offer price points for those on a budget or for someone looking to splurge.

Here’s what I tasted, in order: Read More >

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Temecula Valley Wine Tasting Tour

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Fine Living Enthusiast guests head to off-the-beaten-path wineries in Temecula

The Temecula Wine Tasting trip on Nov 21st was very successful.  Around 26 of us headed up for a day of wine tasting, education, music, food and fun.   Temecula, located about an hour north of San Diego, has some up and coming wineries that should be on the winery visit list of any lover of wine. The majority of wine tasting visitors stop at the higher-production wineries dotted along Rancho California Road.  However, this trip focused on lesser-known, smaller-production wineries. Read More >

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Temecula Valley Wine Tasting

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Join us on Sunday, November 21, 2010 for an escorted tour of the Temecula Valley Wine Region.

wine tasting at Wien Family Cellars in Temecula

Wine tasting at Wien Family Cellars

Our professional driver will lead us on a comfortable motor coach to some of Temecula Valley’s smaller-production wineries.  Instead of fighting traffic up the I-15, you’ll be able to sit back, relax and talk with friends or meet new wine enthusiasts as we head out for a fun, wine-filled afternoon.

The cost for the trip is $60 per person. Here’s what is included:

  • Driver to and from Temecula with pick up at a designated area
  • Winery tour followed by six wine tastings at Wiens Family Cellars
  • Winery grounds Picnic – Appetizer plate of deli meats, crackers, cheeses, and fruits
  • Winery tasting room visit with six wine tastings at Oak Mountain Winery

Our Featured Temecula Wineries

Wiens Family Cellars is a winery known for their “Big Reds” such as Zinfandel, Barbera and Pinot Noir; but they also produce lovely white and dessert wines.  Oak Mountain Winery specializes in Rhone Valley style wines, as well as, Italian wines including Primitivo and Sangiovese.

In addition, we will visit sister wineries Maurice Car’rie and Van Roekel Winery.  At our last stops of the afternoon, you can enjoy some of the Temecula Valley’s finest selections with wine tastings of an award-winning Gewurztraminer and a Garnacha.   At this point on the wine tour, you may wish to partner with another wine drinker for the combination 12 tastings for only $15.  However, if you are feeling adventurous, you can keep all 12 for yourself and perhaps experiment with a pineapple-flavored sparkling wine or play it safe with a delicious Merlot.

We will be leaving San Diego at 9:45 a.m. and returning at 3:45 p.m.

Give us a call at 619-977-1792 or Contact Us and provide your name and email address for payment options.  We look forward to you joining us on this fun-filled day.

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Wine School Fundamentals – Week 12

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I’ve got good news and bad news.  First the good.  I’m finished with my certification class and I have my life back. The bad news. I’m finished with my certification class and I’m really going to miss it.   Unfortunately, my next level, The Sommelier Diploma Program is not going to be offered in southern California but only in San Francisco, so I will not be able to earn this esteemed title, at least not this term.

Examination grading was done on an anonymous basis using only your student ID on the testing sheets.  The instructor grades the exams and then he Fed Ex’s them off to the main campus in Florida where they receive a final round of grading.  On the first  round, the average score was a 75%.  So unless Florida finds some discrepancies, I earned a score of 87%. This old girl did all right. Read More >

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Wine School Fundamentals – Week 8

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When I enrolled in wine school it never occurred to me that I’d need to brush up on foreign language skills.  Okay. I’ll confess. Like most Americans I really don’t have any foreign language skills.   But now, going through life as a monolingual has finally bitten me squarely on my ass.

After two months, I can say “table wine” in four languages.  Vino da Tavola, Vin de Table, Vino de Mesa and Tafelwein.  Impressive, isn’t it?  Well, maybe for a 5th grader.  OMG I have lots of work to do.

Now I have to work on all those appellations in France that look and sound the same.  On our essay exam, points will be deducted for misspelling.  Right now, it’s hard for me to remember to spell correctly the Burgundy region Côte d’Or then add a “s” and an extra “e” minus the apostrophe for the commune of Côtes de Nuits but for Côte de Beaune, drop the “s” while keeping the “e” on the de.   I’m sure Madam Chittum from high school French Class taught the rule to us but I have so forgotten it.   Too bad my bilingual friends can’t sit on my shoulder during the examination correcting my mistakes along the way.  You know who you are. Read More >

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Wine School Fundamentals-Week 7

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As we enter Week 7 of wine school, I have started to believe that I have a much more refined palate than when I began and back then, I thought it was fairly decent.  Well, after a tasting session last week, I experienced a moment of doubt.

Brandon, our instructor asked me to read my tasting notes for the first of 11 wines we would be tasting that evening.  I rattled off comments regarding the appearance and then went on to the nose, which I noted had white florals and minerality.  I then described the palate or taste.  It was dry, with medium plus acidity, a bit of stone, no wood ageing.  Brandon offered encouragement and I continued.  I felt the flavor profile provided hints of Asian pear and apricot, and finally ended by explaining that the body as well as alcohol level were medium minus with a finish short in length.  I began my deductive conclusion by stating it was definitely Old World, from a cool climate.  Brandon told me I was “spot on”, one of his favorite phrases and then asked if I knew what it was. Read More >

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Wine School Fundamentals – Week 5

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Well, I survived the Level 1 Exam, which is a requirement of the certification program for the International Sommelier Guild.  It was rough going at first.  I read question 1 and didn’t know the answer.   Read question 2 and didn’t know the answer.  I went on to question 3 and guess what?  Not only did I not know the answer, I didn’t even have a clue as to what the question was asking.  I looked up at Brandon, our instructor wondering if somehow he had handed me the wrong exam.

I scanned the room trying to spot for signs of panic on the faces of my fellow classmates.  As I glanced around, I thought Oh my god. I am the oldest student in class and probably by at least eight years.  But surely, I thought I am not the dumbest person in this room.  But still, I was terrified.  I decided to skip to page 2, praying for a miracle.  Well, thank God it arrived.  I actually knew the answer to question 9.  With this minor victory, I gave myself a bit of encouragement that I can do this.  Just relax and think. Read More >

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