Over the last year I have taken on the exciting challenge of learning all about wine. Not to be confused with learning to whine or practicing my ability to whine. Although, I must confess; there were times that I did whine before, during and after consuming wine.
Wine. Oh yes, wine, wine, wine. One of the most glorious inventions dating back to the beginning of time! Wine is something that I have been working on in my spare time during 2018. Working very hard at it too, I might add. I am not just learning about how to taste wine or the various types of wine, but I am also learning what kinds of wine I enjoy. For some reason since I got sick my tastes for specific wines (and foods) has changed. This started out super annoying because all of my previous favorites became instant duds. However, I have made amends with my predicament and decided not to become upset about it, but instead use my situation as a reason – or an excuse – to taste many flavors and types of wine from all over the world.
The majority of my learning has occurred at a quaint little shop called Table Wine in Madison, Wisconsin. Not only do they have a variety of delicious bottles that are affordable, but the staff is knowledgeable and easy going. They have various tastings and classes throughout the year. Each one focuses on different topics or styles of wine. I ended up attending 16 classes and 3 wine tastings in 2018! I had a great time drinking and even learned a few things along the way!
After starting to dig into wine I purchased the book Wine Folly. This gave me an idea…why not try and taste a red and a white from the top 12 wine regions (countries)? Or better yet, why not try and taste a wine from the 54 main styles/varietals? Now I know what you are thinking right now.
Wow! She is so ambitious! I wish I had motivation like that! This girl is truly incredible, a real-life superhero!
Now let me tell you – it’s true! I am an ambitious, modern day, wine-drinking superhero! This superhero ended up tasting a red and a white wine from all 12 regions (countries)! I was not as successful at tasting all 56 common styles/varietals. I ended up not tasting 9 of the 54. Here is a list of what I missed: Soave, Mencia, Negrodmaro, Touriga Nacional, Madeira, Marsala, Sauternais, Sherry and Vin Santo. Five of these are dessert wines which tend to be more expensive and higher in alcohol – both of which I don’t tend to gravitate towards. Plus it is quite a bit harder to taste each dessert wine without purchasing a whole bottle or spending an arm and a leg for the glass at a restaurant.
I think the most enlightening aspect of this whole journey is that there is a spectrum for each individual wine style. For example: Riesling can be anywhere between dry to sweet. I used to think all Rieslings were sweet, now I know better. So, that being said, I learned that I enjoy more styles than originally thought. It became more clear after tasting a handful (5-6) of wines from the same varietal in an evening; to contrast and compare. I also found out that wines made from the same grape taste very different pending where the grapes are grown or how they are stored while they ferment. This concept specifically latched on to me the night I tasted a French Chardonnay. Up until this point, I have disliked every single Chard I encountered and was baffled by how many people (my friends included) enjoyed it! Then BAM – in waltzes French Chardonnay (Chablis). At that moment my whole world turned upside down and I fell down the rabbit hole. This delicate, delicious substance stole my taste buds right out from under me. Now I will need to sell my families kidneys on the black market to afford this habit.
All in all this has been a fun and fabulous journey. Where as an adult I was reminded not to automatically judge a book by it’s cover or rather a wine by its name, label or price. This last year has pushed me to smell, taste and process my wine before settling in and enjoying a glass.
After everything Old World Reds are my go to of choice, specifically French, Italian and Spanish Reds. I do enjoy many whites along with a handful of Roses; these also tend to be European. My favorite stateside wine is Cabernet from Washington state. A few flavors I avoid are: anise, grapefruit, guava, jalapeno, and very ripe cherry. These did not come as a surprise for me because I also steer away from them in other things I consume.