Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Quest For a Good Wine

What the heck is a good wine anyway? I’m always running into people who are looking for a “good wine”. After all, I am the wine guy, and I should know what a good wine is. The problem is a good wine to me is probably swill to someone else.

Believe it or not, there is a solution to this “good wine” selection process that makes it a lot easier than it looks.

The answer comes in profiling. I don’t care what they say, I’m from small-town western America where profiling is not only good, it’s a way of life. Believe me, when my daughter shows up at my house with a guy not quite like the others I know where the ammo is.

The same concept goes for wine. Most people prefer a fairly narrow profile that makes their tongue go “bing”. When a wine comes their way that doesn’t meet that profile they get out the mental ammo and shoot it down right away. Here is a simple four step process that will help you pick out a good wine every time:

Step one is the white or red test. White wines tend to be fruity. Even if they’re dry as a bone, 10 years old, or come in an oak cask, white wine tends to show more qualities of fruit. Red wines are tannic. Even if they have a high sugar content, such as a desert wine, you will find pronounced tannins in the juice. By the way, tannins are those cute little things that make your pucker pucker.

Now, the reason you might not like what I like is that I personally prefer those tannin things in my wine. Done right, those babies taste like rich velvet on my tongue. They also make my tongue taste like a nasty old shag carpet when I’ve had too much. White wine tends to raise my gag reflex after just a small glass.

Step two is cost. I’m not trying to sell you here, but honestly the wine business is one where the more you spend the better the quality is going to be. Don’t expect a bottle of Crane Lake Cabernet to taste like Opus. What is your price point? I’m a poor photographer who writes this weekly for giggles. I have friends in the business who spoil me, but my everyday price point is around $15. By the way, Charles Shaw is cheap for a reason. Anything that costs less than the glass it is bottled in is vinegar and not wine.

Step three is your sense for adventure. Are you one of those people who eats meatloaf every Tuesday, and have worked the same job since you can remember, and you still like it? Or, are you someone who likes to jump out of airplanes, ride your bike without a helmet, or eat stuff you can’t pronounce the names of?

If you like Merlot and that’s all you’ve drank since you were, ahem…21, then I’m gonna point you to the Merlot shelf. If you are open to trying new things then I strongly urge you to expand your horizons with the new varietals that are hitting the northwest market. Some of them are great…some of them are terrible. The nice thing is you didn’t listen to the ads telling you to drink the same old wine with a cute new label.

The fourth step is…enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I fully agree with you as to what you said about personal preferences. But not with respect to the price level for white wines. An excellent German white wine comes at 3.50 to 6.50 Euros ($5 to 8,50) when you order them from a wine grower. I would guess the same goes for the States when ordering home grown wines. I generally buy online, ordering only those wines that have already won prizes, then deciding which of those I like best.


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