"Your Love Affair with Wine: How to Meet and Fall in Love with a Bottle of Wine," is now available in print and digital formats on Amazon.
Time spent with a good bottle of wine can, in fact, be the start of a lifetime romance. This is the first of a three book series on how to meet and fall in love with a bottle of wine. Each individual’s love affair with wine is unique. Each bottle is a date with intrigue, a conversation waiting to be had. Our relationship with wine, like many a good story, involves a journey. When we start the trip, we are not sure about the who, what, where, when, why and how, but we know we want an experience. A great one. Another thing is for sure: We, as the protagonist in our own story, will evolve and grow as we experience the pleasures that wine has to offer.
Like finding the right coach for your favorite sport or the right person to cut your hair, this book involves getting started or, if you are an experienced wine taster, getting another point of view. This book addresses how to approach wine, how to find and buy wine, how to pair wine with food, how to taste wine and how to party with wine. You will also learn how much wine to buy for any given event and how to buy inexpensive wines that taste fabulous. If you decide to buy an expensive bottle of wine, you can use the knowledge you pick up from this book to help make educated choices at the bottle shop. We will explore wine faults, why they occur, and what to do about them.
You will also understand what goes into making fine wine and why the price you pay may be a fair one. You will gain comfort in speaking with sommeliers, wine retailers and others looking to sell you the perfect bottle for any occasion. And you will know what it takes to find a bottle that takes you to the moon with pleasure. You will receive practical advice on how to build a mental library of aromas and flavors so you can identify them in your wine, which is at the heart of wine tasting. Here’s what’s going to happen on our journey together through the world of wine:
1) You will experience a philosophy that gives you comfort in exploring, choosing, drinking and enjoying wine.
2) You will be able to size up any wine. Then you can discuss your impressions of the wine with others. If you want to.
3) You will have a game plan for connecting with other wine lovers to fabricate a life that is rich in enjoyment and punctuated by insights, surprises and delights. When it comes to wine, nobody knows it all and we’ve got a lot of exploring to do. Let’s get started.
Find this book on Amazon in print and digital formats.
The first time I bought the wine it was suggested by the knowledgeable staff at The Wine House. When I start a new region of study, I lean heavily on recommendations then grow bolder with each shopping trip. Today, I picked the wine myself, mostly because I recognized the winery, Château Pégau, from the podcasts I follow. Full disclosure: My choice was also influenced by the buyer-friendly price in a region that makes me want to cry when I pay my AmEx bill.
After rating the wine today, I was disappointed to realize I had already rated it, only one month prior! At first I cursed my horrible memory for the mistake. What a dummy! Then it dawned on me that this was an opportunity to assess the consistency of my tasting skills and consider the possible differences between bottles. Think about it: These wines were made by the same producer with the same grapes in the same year. The two bottles were cared for by the same shop. Could it be true that every bottle of wine is an individual, no different than ourselves?
Though my ratings and tasting notes were not wildly different, my emotional response to the wines were night and day. Let's compare the facts, as listed on the Vivino tastings:
The score for the wines are .25 apart, if you read down to the final conclusions. Here's where the scenario gets tricky: the emotional response. The bottle in September: It's a nice quaff to go along with your sandwich. October: My God this is a good wine with a luscious mouthfeel and a backbone of acidity that tells me this vintner is on the mark. I'd like to give this wine a four! When I sat down today to give it an objective review, I dialed the score down to a 3.5, but doing so in no way diminished my euphoria.
How about you? Have you tasted two different bottles of the same wine and experienced both ho-hum and joyful moments? What do you think accounts for different emotional responses to a wine? Belly up to the bar and share your experiences.
What's going on when you open a bottle of wine and smell . . . Band-Aid? Welcome to the world of brettanomyces (aka Brett). This character in our script is a wild yeast that sometimes makes it into your wine -- usually your reds, but sometimes your whites. Brett plays a leading role in the nightmares of most winemakers because it's like a feisty two-year-old child: uncontrollable yet full of potential.
Brett is not necessarily an off-flavor (in palatable amounts). If you were to make a list of Brett's positives, you could include beguiling earthy aromas such as rustic barnyard, spice and horse saddle. When I find Brett to be in a good mood, I am mentally transported to a dark, dusty stable filled with horses, hay and barnyard animals. I hear the horses snorting and pawing at the earth and hens clucking nearby. Perhaps a pig runs through the scene of my imagination. And I am in my happy place -- much like the five-year-old I was when hanging out with horses in my rustic neighborhood of Vista, California. Sidebar: The salt-licks were exotic but not off- menu.
However, Brett has a dark, evil side. Off-flavors that make it impossible to enjoy your wine might include the aforementioned Band-Aid, which I recently encountered in a 2014 Equis from the Saint-Joseph appellation in the Northern Rhone region. The Band-Aid aroma was mild but distracting in what otherwise was a delicious wine. See my review at Vivino. An unruly Brett wouldn't think twice about offering up medicinal, metallic, rancid cheese and other off-putting aromas.
Brett can make itself at home at any stage in the winemaking process, from the grapes to the winery and the barrels. Improvements in cleaning technologies have made it possible to avoid Brett, but these Yeasty Beasties sometimes find a way in.
As a brewer of beer, I find Brett an intriguing dancing partner -- racy, but don't turn your back on him. Brewers are increasingly seduced by the potential of Brett, but it takes a racy type of vintner to embrace the potential of Brett. Many aromatic compounds are shared in the fermented products of wine and beer, so when I study one, it usually helps me with the other. However, in beer, a band-aid aroma is typically associated with Chlorophenols, which is the result of chlorine-based sanitizers like bleach. This differs from wine, where we look to naughty Brett as the villain. Or the hero.