Friday, October 16, 2009

I Love Pumpkins

They're easy to arrange. Decorating with them brings up zero color scheme challenges. They don't need watering. Pumpkins just chill on your front porch all day looking really cute. And mini pumpkins...cmon... :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

World Buckets (Old & New)

Rule of Thumb:

Old World wines come from the "classic wine making regions" aka Europe. New World wines come from "not Europe" aka anywhere else in the world wine is made.

Break It Down:

Old World: 
France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Spain

New World: 
Latin America, Australia, America, South Africa, and New Zealand

I love using maps when I'm studying wine. It helps me remember things. I also tend to write all over them. When I read about a wine growing region like the Mosel in Germany, I can write a bunch of things on the map next to "Mosel" like Old World, cool climate, riesling, and some top wine makers/producers (names I could recognize in the future on wine lists or at tastings). Or if I was working on a California map, for Paso Robles I'd note that it's considered part of the Central Coast and is recognized for its rhone blends and zinfandels.

Here is an example of a world wine map for this high level New/Old World exercise. When you start learning about specific regions, just work with regional maps!

Wine Math

One simple equation:


What can we learn from this?

"Riper" grapes have juice with higher sugar levels. If the juice is fully fermented (all sugar converts to alcohol) to make a dry wine, the wine will have a higher percentage of alcohol.

Sometimes the wine is not fully fermented (riesling for example) and will have a lower alcohol level and, what's called, residual sugar. These wines will taste a bit sweet.

Book/Wine Club

This could be a really fun thing to start with a group of friends who want to learn about wine or just plain like it. You could pick a chapter from a wine book to read and then meet to talk about it. Coordinate to bring different wines discussed in the text and then try them together.

Here are the books that won't put you to sleep and teach you a great deal about wine:

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil

Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine by Mark Oldman

Wine Education

I taught a wine class at the Wine Lab earlier this year. I'm going to start posting some educational nuggets on the blog. I'll try to keep the posts short and sweet and hopefully you can learn something you never knew about wine! There's still a ton I'm learning :)

Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2005

I had the treat of drinking this young rhone with a friend over three hours. It's taken me some time to write about it, but now I'm ready so here's my review:

The wine started very tight. The alcohol and tart notes pushed everyone else out of the way. The wine carried its density elegantly. After a half hour or hour decanted the wine began to catch its breath. The nose evolved to show off more fruits (dried and ripe) and a hint of smoke and bacon. Very satisfying palate journey and finish. I recommend buying this wine and decanting two hours before serving. The wine will also age well, so you may choose to cellar. Whenever you decide to open this wine, it will be a quite a different experience for those used to drinking New World rhone blends.

Here is Wine Spectator's review and rating:

(Wine Spectator 96 & TOP 100 2008)
"One of the largest estates in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, this property is owned and run by the Perrin family. In 2005, they produced their best regular cuvée since 1989 (Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 1991). The Beaucastel vineyard produces dense and explosive wines from a collage of 13 different grapes, most notably Grenache and Mourvèdre. Each is fermented separately in concrete or wooden vats. The third year of drought, 2005 only intensified the concentration and structure of this ageworthy red."