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Learning Wine | 1 Wine Dude - Page 7

Posts Filed Under learning wine

3 Ways to Increase Your Wine Appreciation Without Drinking

Vinted on March 6, 2008 under best of, learning wine, wine appreciation, wine tips

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Let’s face it. There are just some situations where our favorite pastime – drinking the vino – just isn’t appropriate.

Religious retreats, Amish barn-raisings, and Rehab all come to mind.

Think that because you can’t imbibe the vino, you’re missing out on opportunities to up your Wine IQ?

Wrong, Jack!

Here are three sure-fire ways to increase your wine appreciation – without having to pop a single cork…


1) Get out the map.
Wine connects you to a place. Sometimes (usually when it’s inexpensive) it’s a big swath of country; other times (when it’s so expensive that it’s on allocation to the billionaires among you who own your own islands), it’s a tiny plot of land in Burgundy.

Since wine connects you to a location on the planet, the more you know about that location the more your appreciation for that place’s wine can grow. When you’re traveling, spend some time to learn about the culture, history, and geography of that area. When you’re at home, crack open a decent atlas and soak in some knowledge about someplace far, far away.

Remember that the vino embodies a unique combination of a place’s soil, its climate, and the culture of winemaking that helped along the miracle of turing that grape juice into the stuff in your glass. When you’re back to your normal wine-tasting environment, try some wines from the places that you just learned about – you just might get an instant and intimate connection with that spot of the world through that wine.

2) Get cookin’.
Mrs. Dudette likes to cook – and she’s pretty darn great at it, too – which has exposed Dude here to cuisine he would never have had the pleasure of grubbing if he had stuck to his bachelor life. And you know what? Exposure to varied ingredients and cooking styles had made Dude a better wine taster.

Why? For one thing, regional cuisine is a function of regional culture, and in many parts of the wine world, a region’s wines and its food have evolved together to compliment one another (check out the book Vino Italiano for a good example of this). For another, exposure to different cooking styles and foods builds up your flavor and aroma chops – essential stuff for tasting and describing the myriad of tastes and smells that a good wine can serve up.

I’m not sure how many amazing cook books are out there, but I’m pretty sure Mrs. Dudette owns approximately 80% of them. In any case, some of my faves can be found at this link. Pick a recipe, fire up the grill, and get cookin’!

3) Hit the books.
Can’t taste? Then read.

Reading about wine, its amazing history, its incredible variety, and the charismatic & entertaining personalities that have forged its destiny… well, you can’t help but to be awed, people.

I’ve got a Top 10 list of wine appreciation books, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a plethora of books on the market that explore wine from angles besides just how to taste it – its impacts on philosophy, its affect on modern culture, its mysterious origins, and the human side of its story throughout world history, for starters.

You could, quite literally (ha-ha), read about wine every evening and deepen your appreciation for (and knowledge of) it for several years without ever getting bored.

But it’s more fun to do it with a glass of vino in hand.

Cheers!

Help, My Wife Only Drinks Bad Chardonnay! (How to Rescue Her From Wine Hell)

Vinted on February 20, 2008 under best of, learning wine, wine tips

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Warning: This post details – and advocates – actions that are sneaky, surreptitious, and downright manipulative. If you are of tender constitution, or high moral standing, I suggest that you turn away now.

Still with me? Great – that’s why I love my readers! You people ROCK!

Please note: In this post, you will encounter the use of Chardonnay and femine pronouns. I’m using ‘Chardonnay Oak-Butter bombs’ simply as an example in this post – you can feel free to replace that with any wine vareital / style that you don’t like. Similarly, I’m using the female pronoun because it matches my particular experience – feel free to substitute the male equivalent to suit your needs.

Anyway, this will all make sense in a minute or two (I use that phrase a lot… is that, like, a mulligan for bad writing?). Got it? Good – let’s get down to business!

The Problem: Wine Hell
Many of you will be familiar with this scenario: You’re on a date with your wife/girlfriend/partner/whatever. You’re about to order up a fantastic dinner. Then you remember it, like a nameless fear from the dark recesses of your consciousness:

  • My Wife only ever drinks super-oaky, buttery Chardonnay. I don’t like those – and it’s totally a BAD match for the food we’re gonna order!

Your blood runs cold – what do you do? Do you suck it up, and try to minimize the damage by ordering the least offensive option? Do you chance pissing her off by ordering some other (totally different) wine? Decisions, decisions…

Dude has been in this situation – and he is here to help you out. I will give you in this post some super-secret tactics to surreptitiously convert your loved-one away from the wine you don’t like, thereby giving you a modicum of a chance to enjoy some wine that you do like (at least once in awhile).

Before I get to the brass tactics, let me tell you Dude’s story…

Dude’s Tale of Wine Woe
My wife used to drink super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs. It was the only thing she’d want to order when we dined out. Now, Dude likes him some good Chardonnay, but when the wine tastes less like apricot & toasted brioche, and more like it came from a jug of rubbing alcohol that has had a stick of butter mixed into it using a two by four… well, let’s just say it doesn’t make him jump for joy.

Besides personal preference, I don’t like the super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs because they severely limit your choice of a really killer food & wine pairing. Why? Chardonnay is fuller-bodied (hefty), but doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor profile; think baked potatos, or lobster. Naturally, you’d assume that a buttery wine would pair well with a buttery dish, and you’d be right. But oak tends to pair well with smoked dishes (the oakier, the smokier). When is the last time you had buttery smoked lobster? Or cooked it at home? It’s just not that common.

Make Her a Convert!
I kicked my wife off the super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs habit, by following one of the super-secret, tried-and-true tactics described below. I converted her to a lover of other wine styles. If Dude can do it, you can do it. Having said that, no guarantees are explicitly stated or implied regarding your potential success (especially with the more, shall we say, difficult cases you might encounter – see below). Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

If you want to get out of Wine Hell, you gotta get her to break that habit! It’s important to remember that our mission here is not entirely selfish – that same dinner-ruining potential exists for any similar situation in which your partner is harboring an overly-narrow view of potential wine choices. (That’s what I tell myself, anyway, so I sleep OK at night).

Just as in matching wine & food, a good pairing is essential for these tactics to work. For this 1WineDude.com experiment, start by determining what type of Subject profile best describes your dining companion, and then try the Tactic best-paired to that profile.

Got it? Good – let’s boogie!

Subject #1: The Newbie – This is a person who is choosing to drink plonk simply because she doesn’t know any other wines, and therefore resorts to picking what she considers ‘safe’.
Conversion Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
Tactic: The Power of Suggestion – You pass yourself off as someone who knows a bit about wine, and subtly suggest a different wine with dinner, one that you “heard was really wonderful” from an equally-knowledgeable wine buddy.
Why it Works: The Newbie is not necessarily afraid to try a different wine, she just doesn’t know which ones to try next. Gentle suggestion, and the promise to buy her some of her same old wine as a safety net, will go a long way with The Newbie. Play your cards right, and you come off looking like a veritable knight in shining armor, rescuing her (and yourself!) from Wine Hell.
What Could Go Wrong: Don’t play your cards right, and you come off like a smarmy know-it-all jerk. Whoops! No wine for you!

Subject #2: The Victim (a.k.a., “Once Bitten, Twice Shy“) – This wine drinker tried another wine in the past, but she either had it with the wrong food, the wrong dude, got a bad bottle, or had some other semi-traumatic experience. Now, she plays it safe to avoid getting burned again.
Conversion Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (dependent on previous level of victimization).
Tactic: The Killer Combo – Unleash the Killer Combo on her, Bruce Lee style. It goes down like this: You make her dinner, and make the night as special as possible. You tailor the dinner to a food she likes – and you find the most killer wine combination you can to pair with it (assuming this is not her usual plonk, of course). For example, you could branch out with some Viognier and Coconut Halibut.
Why it Works: You’re providing a safe and inviting environment for the Victim, which is essential to getting her out of her timidity to a suggestive open-minded state. The Killer Combination of the great pairing and you’re good deed will leave an indelible positive mark on her wine psyche – viola, wine curse broken!
What Could Go Wrong: Picking your own favorite food and wine and ignoring her preference can result in disaster, exposing you for the selfish jerk that you really are – which is doubly disastrous if she gets turned off to one of your favorite wines and never lets you order it again.

Subject #3: The Immovable Object (IO) – This girl likes her buttery, oak-bomb Chardonnay just fine and has been drinking it for years now and doesn’t want to change and does NOT want to hear about it again THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!
Conversion Difficulty: Difficult to Impossible (proceed with extreme caution!)
Tactic: The Bait & Switch – The IO can only be countered by the most cunning trickery and deceit. Pretend to order her usual plonk, but instead order another (possibly similar) wine that is much better (to you, anyway).
Why it Works: If you time this correctly, The IO won’t discover the bait & switch until after she’s already acknowledged that she is enjoying the wine. In order to protect her pride, she may be forced to acquiesce. If discovered prematurely, you may be able to feign ignorance (“Oh, this is Pouilly-Fume?!?? Drat, I thought for sure I’d ordered Pouilly-Fuisse! You know, just to see if you’d like it, it is Chardonnay after all…”). With French wine labels as confusing as they are, you might just get away with it.
What Could Go Wrong: Just about everything. You are entering a veritable mine-field, and will need to execute each step flawlessly to win over The IO. Even then, you risk dire consequences should you falter on even the slightest misstep. Good luck… you are going to need it…

Assuming you have made a successful conversion, encourage your partner to expand her wine knowledge through wine books (ahem… might I humbly suggest purchasing her the 1WineDude tasting guide?) and tastings. You may just have a beautiful wine tasting future together.

And which Subject was Mrs. Wine Dudette? At the advice of counsel, I decline to answer…

Cheers!

The 1WineWine Dude Tasting Guide! How to Taste Like a Wine Geek – Now Available (Printed & eBook Versions)!

Discover how YOU can become a Wine Guru!


Want to know more about wine?
Want to get more enjoyment out of every glass of wine that you drink?
Want to feel more confident when you head out to buy your next bottle of wine?
Are you ready to Taste with the Big Boys?

The Dude is here to help!

I’m happy to announce that my Wine Tasting Guide, How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: The 1WineDude Wine Tasting Guide is
now available!

Preview a sample of the guide at LuLu.com.

My Wine Tasting Guide details the same practical tasting approach that I used to increase my own knowledge about – and enjoyment of – wine (the greatest beverage in the world). Some of the highlights:

  • A step-by-step guide to tasting wine like the pros (only without the spitting or the snobbishness!).
  • The story of how I overcame my own personal fear of wine, and was able to go from total WineDunce to the 1WineDude (and how that journey helped to form my tasting approach).
  • A practical example of the tasting approach in action.
  • Printable Forms for capturing your own wine tasting experiences.
  • Links to lots of helpful resources, wine accessories, & more (for further wine learning).

The Guide is an expansion of the wine tasting advice that I touched on in one of my previous blog posts. I received such strong positive reactions to the post that I decided it would be fun to create a reference that went into more detail about how my tasting approach developed, in the hopes that it would help others to get more enjoyment out of wine.

The Guide is targeted at those that are either new to wine, or who enjoy wine now but really want to get more out of it and are not sure where to start. If you’re one of those people – now you have a place to start!

The eBook is available for $7.95 USD. It’s in PDF format for maximum portability. If you need a PDF reader, you can get one for free for both PCs and PDAs from Adobe, and other software providers (my personal favorite is the light-on-the-resources FoxIt Reader).

Reviews:

  • This ebook, combined with a sample half case or case of wine, can start novice wine geeks on their way to becoming confident wine buyers.” – Kathleen Lisson, CSW & Wine Century Club member
  • Succinct information about how to taste wine, what to look for, and how to really determine which wines suit your palate best. Using his scale, I can confidently state ‘I Love It!’ when reviewing 1 Wine Dude’s e-book.” – Douglas Trapasso of Chicago Pinot

Purchase Options:
1) Buy the eBook version at Payloadz.com (PayPal & Google Checkout) – $7.95 USD. Go Get It!

2) Buy the eBook version at LuLu.com (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express) – $7.95 USD. Go Get It!
Support independent publishing: buy this e-book on Lulu.

3) The printed version of my tasting guide can be purchased at Cafepress.com for $10.95 USD. Go Get It!

4) As of July 2008, the Tasting Guide has gone Kindle! If you’re hip to Amazon’s ultra-cool techno reader, you can grab the Kindle Edition of the guide directly from Amazon.com for $7.95 USD! Go Get It!

Cheers – and Happy Reading!

Affiliate Program
If you’d like to sell my eBook on your blog or website, I’m offering a whopping 47% of the sales to affiliates! You can check out the details here.

How To Become a Wine Geek Part II: "Taste Like a Banshee"

Vinted on December 16, 2007 under best of, learning wine, wine how to, wine tasting, wine tips

This post is the second in a multi-part series where Dude will give you a ‘wine insider’s’ take on how to seriously up your ‘wine geek’ knowledge (and hone your overall wine-tasting skills along with your “impress your party goers” wine profile).

Some of you may recall my recent post on the first step to wine geekdom – reading about wine. If you’re new to this blog, it might be a good idea to review that post first. This post will explore the second (and most important) thing you need to do in order to up your wine IQ – Taste.

To know wine, you need to taste wine. There are no shortcuts, and it’s pretty much impossible to overstate the importance of building up your tasting vocabulary and knowledge via the simple act of tasting a glass of wine. Don’t just take my word for it – to underscore the importance of this, I asked Eric Miller, owner and winemaker of one of the largest and most successful PA wineries (Chaddsford), for his views on how wannabe wine geeks can best increase their wine knowledge. His response: “The important thing is to taste like a banshee.“…

Eric also added – “Go to the myriad of shops that do tastings and begin to get vocabulary in tune with taste. If that is not available, throw a series of parties and have a hell of a range of wines for friends and you to taste.” Throwing a wine tasting party is probably the most fun way to gain wine knowledge and is easier than you’d think – it’s actually tough to find people who *aren’t* interested in learning more about wine. There are great free resources on the web that can guide you through this (Jancis Robinson’s How to Taste offers some primers on hosting tastings, but you gotta pay for it). If you don’t taste, you won’t know what you like, and you won’t know how to describe it if you do like it!

Be consciously in the moment. Dude is not trying to get too Zen on you here – just make sure you taste and not gulp. If you want to get to know wine, you need to spend a little time with it. You do NOT need to become a snob, put on airs, or hold a wine glass up to a special light bulb for 15 minutes pretending to examine its contents. You only need to give it a sniff and really concentrate on tasting what’s in front of you. How to Taste also offers amazingly good, practical advice on this.

Experience before judging. Keep an open mind – you won’t learn much about wine if you enter into a tasting with preconceived notions of what you will and won’t like. Wine will surprise you and it will open up new worlds of delight to you – you just have to let it! Wine reviews are great for starters, but your own experience should always be the final determinant in setting your wine views. Eric Miller offered this advice urging wine newbies to taste and gain their own experience: “Avoid tight-assed views stuck on old world rules and regs. I teach a twice annual class on what wines taste like, the words to describe them with an international selection under the primary headings of: light fresh fruity dry (white and red), light fresh fruity sweet (I only show a white), med to full body dry white, med to full body red usually a Cabernet, Pinot, Syrah or Shiraz, and a fortified sweet red like LBV Porto. My suggestion would be to get the terms down in an environment like that.

Record what you taste. Admittedly this is usually a pain in the ass (try not looking like a geek when sipping a glass at a nice downtown bar and then whipping out your journal and scribbling notes furiously), but it’s essential for upping your Wine IQ. Find a nice journal and record your tasting experiences. Don’t worry if only you can understand them – the important thing is to build a vocabulary that helps you identify what you’re tasting in a way that works for you. Over time, you will go back to these notes, if only to dig up information on a bottle you had a few weeks back that you really enjoyed and can’t remember the name of (this is how wine geekdom begins!).

Don’t Be Shy. Good things come to those who ask. If you really want to get to know wine, it doesn’t hurt to be bold. Most of what I learned about enjoying wine, I learned while talking informally to winemakers – and none of them have been unapproachable. “Go as close to the source as you can,” offers Eric, “Wine lovers like me will talk eagerly to someone truly interested. (You get a dozen newbies together and i will speak).

Thanks, Eric! Anyone out there in the Philly region willing to take him up on that?

Cheers!

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