If you read my last post, you know that I am ready to taste varietal against varietal and see what characteristics I can identify in each of the big 6 grape types: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz.
Sure, I know what I typically like to drink, but I’d like to do a varietal-by-varietal taste test and try to identify the different characteristics of each. To do this, I’ve enlisted the help of Andrea Immer Robinson’s book, Great Wine Made Simple. She suggests wines to buy and try in each category and gives a tasting exercise with questions to ask yourself as you taste.
She lists wines for this exercise by three price ranges: Everyday, Moderate and Splurge. For this exercise, I decided to go with the Moderate list.
I intended to do the big shopping trip on my own, but, as life often does, plans changed, and instead I wandered into Spec’s, a local wine merchant, flanked by my three children, ages 5 to 9 years.
Not the ideal shopping experience, but there I was with three children, a big book and a shopping cart.
Usually my husband does the wine shopping, so I already felt a bit lost and out of place, but I was on a mission so I opened my book, smiled at a clerk and went forth.
And then I was promptly overwhelmed by all of those bottles.
I couldn’t even find the first wine on my list!
I asked for help and, moments later, Drew, whose name tag listed him as “Wine Guy” was there for my rescue.
I explained to him what I was up to and he breezed me through my list, from this aisle to that, dispensing a running commentary of wine knowledge throughout.
I was impressed as to how genuinely helpful he was and never felt like he was trying to up-sell me.
I decided to go ahead and buy several more wines for another tasting exercise in the book while I was there, however. (More on that later.)
We filled my cart, finished the list and I allowed the kids to pick out some cheese and sausages for snacking later as a reward for their awesome behavior in the store and cart-pushing duties.
The wines I bought for the “Big 6 Tasting” were:
Sparr Riesling Reserve Alsace for $15.67 *This one was not on Robinson’s list but was substitution recommended by Drew.
Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc at $13.25
Kunde Estate Chardonnay at $13.46
King Estate Pinot Noir at $25.41
Simi Cabernet Sauvignon at $19.67
D’Arenberg Footbolt Old Vine Shiraz at $17.64
When I got home I asked my husband not to serve any of the wines from my purchase until my big tasting. I marked them so they wouldn’t be opened and served, put them away in the wine cooler and waited for my summer cold to go away so I could dive in and begin tasting. (Tasting with a stuffy nose is no fun!)
Hopefully, I’ll be cleared up and tasting soon!
PS: A big shout-out goes to my seven- and nine-year-old boys. They switched off the duty of photographer with my phone while I talked to the Wine Guy, resulting in many of the photos used here.