Monday, 1. June 2009
Blogging about wineries is part of the whole “wine experience.” Do you remember the first time you walked into a winery tasting room? If you were with someone who had already been to a winery tasting room perhaps you walked in with a lot of confidence. But I well remember my thoughts before I first stepped inside a tasting room. What was I suppose to do? Would there be a lot of drunks here? Just as important would there be a lot of wine snobs? How do I do a wine tasting? Swirl wine – really without spilling it? Use a spit bucket? – You’ve got to be kidding. Then I became one of the initiated into the wonders of the wine world and since that first adventure into a tasting room have visited about 400 wineries in the United States, England, Italy and Canada. As I visited a doctor, he asked what kind of things we like to do for fun. After hearing about our visits to wineries, he said, “I’d like to do that but I wouldn’t have any idea what to do in a winery tasting room.” He added, “I don’t know how to order a wine for dinner.” For us this was a “tipping point” and so we began our adventures into creating a website and blog about wineries, wine and so much more.
Wine writers and bloggers should empower people by demonstrating the tools to discuss what is in that beautiful bottle of wine. Using words such as “this wine is bad” and “this wine is good” is opinion based and does not help people learn about wine. Everyone’s taste buds are like people’s fingerprints; everyone’s taste buds are different. I don’t expect others to tell me that I should like broccoli if I don’t like it; so don’t tell me that I should like Chambourcin if I don’t like the Chambourcin grape. However, I will write about a Chambourcin or any other wine I taste. What are the aromas, bouquet, nuances and how long is the finish. Every vintage of a Chambourcin will have some similarities because of the Chambourcin grape but after that the winemaker determines it all. At what Brix levels are the grapes to be harvested? Or is there more concern about rain, hail or hurricanes? Is it better to harvest at 23 Brix and have good quality grapes or suffer devastating losses to Mother Nature by waiting for 25 Brix? This is a judgment call made by the winemaker and trying to second-guess a winemaker is more like Monday morning quarterbacking. In the winery, the winemaker continues to make decisions regarding what type of oak barrels to use, how long to age the wine, what yeast to use and many more. I have been told that winemakers make 2,000 decisions between the vineyard and the finished bottle of wine. Who should criticize any one of those steps?
I enjoy many types of wines. With a hearty Italian meal, I prefer a bold, fruit laden red wine with tannins on the finish. For wine with appetizers or on a hot, summer day my preference would be a white wine either an unoaked Chardonnay or a fruity Riesling.
Riesling is an interesting grape. It easily takes on the characteristics of its terroir. After tasting delicious, refreshing Rieslings in the Finger Lakes along Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, we traveled to Keuka Lake just a few miles farther west where we anticipated similar types of Riesling wines. I was shocked to notice a minerality to the Riesling which was attributed to the type of soil. The minerality did not make the wine “bad.” It was just different. Many wine drinkers would prefer the minerality of the wine. When one visits the Old Mission Peninsula in Michigan, one discovers five or so different styles of Reisling wines to choose between. My husband prefers the Michigan Rieslings while I continue to remember the Rieslings along the New York Finger Lakes. (Maybe because he is originally from Michigan and I am from New York! )
When we visited Niagara-on-the-Lake, we had a Vineland Estates Winery 1989 Riesling Icewine. It was phenomenal. There was a strawberry-rhubarb taste and the acid balanced the sweetness of the wine. When paired with bleu cheese it was an awesome dessert.