Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wine Tasting Class #2

Oh my god I’m so excited about my wine course! After some mild feelings of low self confidence experienced in class #1, I was immediately reassured that everything would be ok by class #2. My fear of not getting the aromas is one that is not mine alone – so I learned from some of the other students. And was also reminded by our teacher, “this is only class #2!” Who by the way, is very awesome. You may have heard him on the radio, Paul Carriere appears on Live 88.5’s morning show to talk about offerings at the LCBO. I don’t normally listen to Live, but I made the effort the other morning just to hear him. He’s the most enthusiastic teacher I’ve ever had. Backing up every fact with funny, relevant and interesting stories. I could only dream to have just a quarter of the knowledge he has for wine. And it’s his genuine interest that has got him there. I consider myself very lucky to be learning from the best.

Last Monday’s class was about aromas. I meant to take a photo of the lovely sketch he had on the board showing the process of how smell gets to your brain but I got sidetracked at the end. Or maybe I just had too much wine to drink! Haha.

Aromas help us appreciate the smell and taste of wine. Unlike most fruits and vegetables that are dominated by a simple character, grapes can contain hundreds of different aroma compounds. In addition to the grape itself, many other factors affect a wine's flavour, such as the climate, the vine, the soil and fermentation. Understanding and being able to pick out the aromas in wine is something that takes time, practice and a well practiced brain. The more scents you can store into your mind, the better you will be at picking out these characteristics in the wines that you drink.

Smelling anything and everything is quite possibly the best thing you can do. My husband and I now play guess this scent on a regular basis and I'm already seeing the benefits. In class we did the full monty, passing around vials of specific scents and then trying to guess what each one was. I'd love to own the Le Nez du Vin Aroma Kit so that I could practice daily with more than what I have in my house.

Here are some common wines and the aromas associated to them.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – berry, black currant, cassis, mint, soy.
  • Merlot – fruit (red cherry, plums), floral (violets), supple and lower in tannins.
  • Pinot Noir – fresh berry (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry), smoke, violets, truffles.
  • Zinfandel – berry, black pepper, raisin.
  • Chardonnay – fruity (apple, pear, peach, citrus, pineapple), cloves, vanilla, butter.
  • Sauvignon Blanc – floral, fruity (citrus, peach, apricot).
And of course, what would the class be without some delicious wine tasting.

1. Alta Vista 2008 Torrontes CSPC 37127 $13.95
Sight: Pale yellow
Aromas: Green apple, grapefruit, peach, apricot
Weight: Light to medium bodied
Acid: Medium to high acidity
Green apple, grapefruit, lime, peach, apricot, pear, butterscotch, toffee, spice
Finish: Short to medium
Suggested Food Pairing: Mazatlan Roasted Mussels with tequila, garlic and drizzled with a pasilla de oaxaca sauce.
Note: All the food pairings mentioned in this list come from a Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas called Taqueria Canonita.

2. Altenbourg Gewurztraminer 2008 CSPC 168906 $17.95
Sight: Pale to medium yellow
Aromas: Lychee, floral, pear, white peach, parafin wax, light smokiness
Weight: Medium bodied, has some residual sugar (#2)
Acid: Light to Medium
Lychee, sweet peach, honey, mandarin, pear, pinapple, mango
Finish: Short to medium
Suggested Food Pairing: Zacatecas Chile Relleno – poblano chile stuffed with Mexican cheeses, dried fruits, almonds, guajillo sauce, served with jicama orange salad and roasted vegetables.

3. Villa Girardi Ripasso 2007 CSPC 161844 $17.95
Sight: Medium red with brick and purple hues
Aromas: Leather, wood chips, tar, sour cherry, dried raisins, dark chocolate, black licorice, clove, butterscotch, lily
Weight: Medium to full body
Tannins: Medium
Taste: Cherry, plum, dark fruit, cranberry, dried fruit, sweet tobacco leaf
Finish: Medium
Suggested Food Pairing: Vaquero Beef Rib – short rib simmered in Negra Modelo beer, served with chorizo mashed potatoes, veal reduction and crispy onions.
Note: Ripasso is like a junior amarone.

4. Sebastiani 2008 Zinfandel CSPC 672667 $19.95
Sight: Dark red with brick and purple hues at the rim
Aromas: Tobacco, black cherry, pepper, cassis, blackberry, dark chocolate, licorice, plum, butterscotch, raspberries, jam, prune, strawberries
Weight: Full bodied
Acid: Medium to high
Tannins: Light to medium
Taste: Smoky, tobacco, licorice, black currant, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, leather
Finish: Short to medium
Suggested Food Pairing:
Beef Flautas – shredded beef rolled in corn tortillas, topped with avocado tomatillo sauce, lettuce and pico de gallo.

5. Cline Cashmire 2007 CSPC 161539
Sight: Medium red with brick hue
Aromas: Tobacco, smoky, cigar, espresso, mushrooms, pepper, cloves, bitter chocolate, ripe red fruits
Weight: Medium bodied
Tannins: Light to Medium
Taste: Bitter chocolate, berries, jamy, spice, peppery, leafiness, cedar, smoky, cranberry, cherry
Finish: Medium to long
Suggested Food Pairing: Sonora Filet Mignon with Canonita spice, served with a huitlacoche tamal, roasted vegetables and a pasilla de Oaxaca reduction.

6. Rosewood Estate 2007 Harvest Gold CSPC 116004 $17.95
Sight: Light to medium yellow
Aromas: Pineapple, melon, banana, peach, orange blossom, lavender, lilacs, bubblegum
Weight: Light to medium bodied, with some residual sugar
Acid: n/a
Taste: Buttery, floral, fig, pear, diesel, white concord grapes, over ripe bananas, honey
Finish: Short
Suggested Food Pairing: Peach Marmalade Empanada with pepita brittle ice cream and ponche syrup.

7. Osbourne Iorf Oloroso Sherry CSPC 87536 $15.95
Sight: Light to medium copper
Aromas: Ripe bananas, honey, dried apricots, honey coated pecans, peanut brittle, burnt dried raisins, dates, nutty, caramel
Weight: Medium bodied
Acid: Light to Medium
Taste: Hazelnuts, butter, caramel, peanuts, toffee, pecans
Finish: Long
Suggested Food Pairing: Corn and Green Chile Soup – fresh sweet corn sautéed with roasted green chile, potatoes and applewood smoked bacon.
Note: A medium sweet sherry is fabulous served as a starter with mixed nuts or with a butternut squash soup, or for dessert with pets de soeurs or pumpkin pie.


Hery_(F4-Programmer) said...

i like it

Holly Bruns said...

It takes a while. I found I had to just be patient and really trust myself, and I'm sure it was weeks before I actually recognized an aroma (green pepper). Even then I still have good days and bad days. And I think you are going to do really well since you already think about stuff that goes in your mouth.

Rachelle said...

Thanks Holly! I really needed to hear that. Class number 3 which was last night had me questioning my ability to do this again. I so badly want to be good! ahhh patience, one of the things i have the hardest time with.