Turkey Day Preview: How to Taste Wine

Hopefully you will be able to read this in time for the big meal Thursday. We are going to reveal the secrets of tasting wine so you can be the brain bully and sound like a real snob. You know casual like but intelligent. It’s easy if you stick to these few pointers. Don’t get too excited.

please exercise moderation

You won’t be like a “somm” but you will take on the trappings of a pretty dope snob. Like tBow and Dotoré. Even IGTY practices these techniques and now he’s a snob too.

We understand most folks who like wine are in-ti-mi-da-ted by the idea of talking about why they like this or that wine. If you are going to play the tasting game effectively you MUST be able to talk about wine. Opting out with “I know I what I like” will only make the snobs who have mastered the secrets we are about to reveal sneer and giggle. Roll their eyes too. Read on.

The first comment you make is the most important. It should focus on flaws. You DO NOT NEED TO SNIFF. Sticking your schnozz deep into the glass is a turn off for many. But you must always swirl the glass first to “release the esthers.” Using the word “esthers” is strictly optional. The correct swirl might be unfamiliar to some people who are not good mimics. Hold the glass by the foot at the bottom – not the bowl – and gently rotate your wrist. The one holding the glass. DO NOT comment on the LEGS. Ever.

After the swirl TAKE YOUR FIRST GULP – a small but not teeny one. Your FIRST COMMENT should address whether the wine is well made. You are “looking for flaws” which are generally obvious…like sharp acidic flavors without any fruit or the smell/taste of sweaty socks or new leather boots. If you smell and/or taste anything like this that is obviously off-putting declare the wine MAY BE flawed. What if some wise guy plonkheimer asks “Whazzat mean the wine is flawed?” You say “you can smell/taste it. Throws everything OFF.” DO NOT give an opinion whether you like the wine as part of the first comment. Unless there are obvious flaws you can say “this wine seems to be decently made.”

Your SECOND COMMENT can turn to the qualities you find attractive or unattractive. Now you can say whether you like the wine however you need to back it up. Take your SECOND GULP. Wait! Before you take your second gulp give the glass another swirl and let it sit a few minutes to “blow off the esthers.” If someone should ask what you mean you can say “the wine needs to settle a bit.” Parental tone. Benevolent but firm. A good tactic for making your SECOND COMMENT is to compare the wine to something, anything. You can fall back to new world old world but a solid “left field” line drive is better. The kookier the better. “My Auntie (go with Ohn-tee) Flo would always bring a plate of her famous deviled eggs to every family event. Everybody loved them. What I loved was being right there when she pulled the plastic wrap off the plate. That’s what I am getting here.” Maybe a wise guy wannabe snob (probably an MD) responds with “are you saying this wine is flawed?” your reply will be “Not if you’ve ever had Aunt Flo’s deviled eggs!” You got some laughs now. You can relax and enjoy the wines and be included when the old snobs start yakking it up.

Isn’t tasting fun? Follow these simple steps and you will no longer feel like you are outside the snob club. To summarize…swirl the glass, sniffing is optional although recommended, and never talk about the legs on the glass. Instead of legs try to talk about viscosity. Look it up.

Here are some wines we have tasted recently as a warm up for the Big Day.

2009 Sandrone Dolcetto D’Alba $20: Sandrone is a recognized master of Piemonte. His Barolos are among the most costly and deserving of the price if you think like that. We buy the less costly Baroli but never turn away when somebody offers to fill our glass with Sandrone Cannubi Boschis. Back to the Dolcetto. Good complement to the Barbera below. Traditionally, the grape is less formidable and great wine is never expected from Dolcetto. But satisfying wine? That’s another story. For a quarter less than the Barbera this is a great choice. Same qualities of flavor, fruit and satisfaction. A delicious drink that enhances any evening meal. PT8Y and Mrs. tBoW liked it just fine. However, if you have $5 in your wallet you could pick up a bottle without regret. 13%

2008 Sandrone Barbera $28: Big point getter for what was once wine of da pipples. Luciano Sandrone would turn out a high toned version (as would Jim Moore domestically speaking). This is richly flavored without being dense. Broad and generous and still with muscle. Beat up the Pinot Noirs on the bar that evening. Picked this up at Palate Wine Merchant in Glendale. You should be able to find it. Would have been a great wine for the bird. 13.8%

2008 Belle Pente Oregon Pinot Noir $25: The entry level Pinot Noir from one of our favorite Yamhill-Carlton producers. They make pricier wines but the low end of the spectrum is a routine pleasure. These are the younger vines, all estate. Dark Pinot color, brooding smokey nose, deep and still light to medium weight. If strawberries were toasted on the grill like figs this is what they would taste like. 13.4%

2010 Immich-Batterieberg Riesling Kabinett C.A.I. $23: This wine is something of an upstart in Deutschland. Tastes more like Austrian than Mösel. Got this in a mixed case from Chambers Street Wines, a mail order house somewhere in the USA. Picked the label image [ed. and the one at top] from a German “wein blog” named DrunkenMonday that looks pretty kool. tBoW team taster Kris-B picked the mix and if this is any indication we are very happy. This is super acidic and super fruity and with all the super stuff it is still balanced. Lou Ferrigno in Swan Lake. We do not usually comment on labels but this one is exceptional. Rauschenberg in a 3 by 5 inch canvas. For tBoW this is the perfect wine. Makes me want to join a rowing crew and pump you up. Screw top! 10%

Everyone eat heartily, drink many interesting wines in moderation and enjoy your families. Pacing. Take many hours.

Over the next few weeks we will be featuring photos from the Krisses’ 2011 summer trip to the Mösel Kris-A is the photog.

driving above the Mosel Summer 2011

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