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Wine Appreciation | 1 Wine Dude - Page 13

Posts Filed Under wine appreciation

3 Ways to Increase Your Wine Appreciation Without Drinking

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

(images: allposters.com, paddlinginstructor.com, 4hisglory.wordpress.com, dogchannel.com)

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!

20 Things About Life I’ve Learned From Drinking Wine

Vinted on February 22, 2008 binned in best of, commentary, wine appreciation, wine tips, zen wine

(images: davidzinger.wordpress.com, elsnoozo.blogspot.com, history.com, aceface.com)

It’s been said in some Eastern traditions that to be born a human is a rare event. To be a human and to question the source of life (to become a Seeker) is rarer still. And rarest of all is to seek and find your guru, the way to enlightenment.

Well, I’ve had many gurus in my life. My dog, for example, has taught me a lot (including how to better smell my wine). Wine itself can be one of your life gurus, if you only take the time to pay attention to what it has to tell you.

“Reality is an illusion that occurs due to a lack of wine.”
- Anonymous

Inspired in part by a recent post in Zen Habits, below are 20 things about life that I’ve learned – from drinking wine. I fully expect that the list will grow, as my life journey of wine appreciation continues – but who knows, sometimes I’m stubborn, and I’m also prone to forget stuff, so I’d better share these now!

Roll up with me, if you will, and let’s enjoy together a glass of ‘Zen Wine‘…

20 Things About Life I’ve Learned From Drinking Wine

1) Old is Beautiful
Anyone caught up in our youth-worshiping culture need only to crack open a well-kept aged classified Bordeaux, taking in all of its complex aromas & flavors, to realize that not only do good things come to those who wait, but time offers the gift of real beauty to those who age with grace and humility.

2) Young is Beautiful
Fruit bombs can be fun – there’s something refreshing about the forward brashness of youth. If you want to stay young at heart, you need to keep a bit of youthful bravado, through thick & thin.

3) Nature matters
Start with a crappy vine, and you could end up with crappy wine. Start with a great old vine, and you’ve got a better chance of making some killer vino. We need to remember our roots – if you don’t really know where you’re starting from, you might not be able to get where you want to go!

4) Nurture matters, too
Just as good wine needs a caring hand in its development, we need to seek out strong role models and a positive environment to reach our best in life.

5) Real change comes from within
A great wine starts with a decent pedigree, loving hands during its formative time (fermentation, etc.), and a good environment in which to mature. After that, all the magic happens within the bottle with virtually no exposure to the ‘outside’ world. Like a great wine, once we’re given what we need to succeed in life, the rest is up to us!

6) The greatest pleasure is being in the moment
Pour, swirl, sniff, sip. If you want to get the most out of tasting a wine, you need to let yourself BE, clearing your mind and just accepting everything that the wine has to offer. In other words, you need to be in the moment. Tasting wine is a sacred act – just like walking the dog, getting married, making love, or reading the newspaper. All of our actions become minor miracles in the universe when we give ourselves up to them completely.

7) People & relationships matter more than stuff
We get just as much pleasure from sharing a good wine with good friends as we do tasting that good wine. Wine is a lubricant for life – not a substitute for it. The objects in your life should be used for your life (and not the other way around).

8) Sharing is caring
A friend of mine called me recently, telling me how excited he was that he would be pouring magnums of `60s Ch. Petrus at a dinner, and that he would probably get a chance to taste some of this amazing stuff. Why did he call? “I needed to tell someone who would appreciate it!” he said. The better things in life, like wine, are best when they’re shared.

9) One size does not fit all
I don’t like Retsina. In fact, I hate Retsina. But there are people out there who love it. And both are totally OK. There are over 7,000 brands of wine available to consumers in the U.S. – and that’s AWESOME. Because variety (especially of varietals!) really is the spice of life.

10) We have a duty to ‘Go Green
Wine is arguably the best and most artistic interpretation of the bounty that the earth has to offer us (the French terrior concept shows that they figured this out a long time ago!). We owe a debt to mother nature to be sustainable and nurture her as she has done for us (and hopefully will do for our children).

11) Looks can be deceiving
My wife used to buy bottles of wine because they had pretty labels. And a lot of them sucked. Don’t judge based on appearances – eventually, it will burn you.

12) Not everyone ages gracefully
I’ve tasted decades-old Barolos that were still tannic. I’ve tasted aged Rieslings that smelled more like vinegar than flowers & petrol. Some people just get crotchety and negative, and they’re best avoided.

13) All things in moderation
I’ve tasted a lot of wine. Sometimes a lot of wine in one night. And sometimes, I’ve hugged some toilets. Trust me, things are best when they’re not overdone!

14) A place for everything, & everything in its place
You can’t age wine just anywhere, and having the right storage system makes keeping wine a hell of a lot easier. Life is smoother and more tranquil when you remove clutter from your surroundings (and your mind).

15) The best views come from the toughest climbs
The most beautiful views usually come from the highest peaks, and you’re going to need to do some difficult climbing to see them. Most of the best wine on earth is picked, sorted, and managed by hand – made even more difficult when done from steep hillsides at high altitudes. A labour of love & passion may not be easy, but it usually gets you the best of what life has to offer.

16) Sometimes we need to be challenged to show our best
Better wines come from better fruit, and better fruit comes from vines that are stressed (for water, nutrients, etc.). When we are challenged, we grow. And when we step up to the challenges of life, we really know what we’re made of.

17) You are what you eat (& drink)
If a wine is fed bad water, on bad soil, and doused with pesticides, it’s probably going to turn out bad. Which is why you should never drink plonk if you can avoid it. Also – never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink! Our bodies are not that different and they don’t take well to being fed lousy eats. Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much. Give your body the best chance it can have, by giving it the best food you can get.

18) “The secret to being a bore is to tell everything”
Wines that don’t have much complexity can get really boring, really quickly. Wines that evolve over time in the glass, revealing layer upon layer of aromas and flavors, are among the world’s most exciting. Leave a bit of mystery to life, and to yourself - not everything can be explained, and not everything is worth explaining.

19) Never stop learning
If you want to appreciate wine, you will need to learn a bit of science, geography, history, biology, chemistry… I’m sure you get the point. As Ghandi said, “live as if you will die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.”

20) Your greatest asset is Patience
If you want to taste a wine aged to perfection, then you need to wait and let it age to perfection, undisturbed, without your meddling. Lao Tzu asked if you have the patience to wait until the ‘muddy water’ of your mind is clear.

And as Pete Townshend asked “Well… do ya?!?

Cheers!

Why Fruit Bombs Are OK (I am Here to Whet Some Palates!)

Vinted on February 18, 2008 binned in commentary, wine appreciation, wine tips, winemaking

(images: jacop.net, pocketpcmag.net)

Warning: If you consider yourself a wine snob, or are easily offended (or both), then I am about to lose you as a friend with this post.

Because I am here to tell you that “Fruit Bombs” (those wines made in a style that deliberately dials up the varietal fruit and shoves it right into your face) are OK.

No, really, I’m serious. They’re OK.

Yes, they really are. YES, they ARE.

Now, before I explain why Fruit Bombs are OK, I need to tell you a little about Jaco Pastorius (stick with me – this will all makes sense in a minute or two)…

Jaco Pastorius is widely considered to be the father of modern jazz bass playing. Often he is cited as the best jazz bassist to have ever lived (if not the best electric bassist ever, period). If, like me, you’re a bass player, then you have to be inspired at least a little bit by Jaco’s amazing playing and harmonious blend of musicality, technique, humor, and inventiveness – if not, you’d better have your pulse checked, ’cause you might be dead.

In the music biz, Jaco was just as famous for his quips as he was for his bass licks. Among his best: “women, children, and rhythm section first,” “it ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up!” and my personal favorite, “I am not here to raise hippy consciousness, I am here to wet some panties.”

Artistic Harmony is Important (Especially in Wine)
The key to Jaco’s success was how well he blended all of the different elements of his musical abilities together into a coherent whole. You may not like jazz, but if you’re really listening, you can’t help but admire the genuineness and balance.

When I’m drinking wine, I’m looking for the same things: genuineness and balance. I may not like the style, but I will admire those elements, if they exist in the wine. Because a winemaker who is really trying will give you the most of those things that are possible given the winemaking conditions, raw materials/grapes, and other resources s/he has on command for that vintage.

Don’t Dis Based on Style – Dis Based on Lack of Harmony
Fruit Bombs are nothing more than a style of winemaking. Do I think many of them suck? Sure I do. Do I prefer them to more subtle-flavored wine choices? Usually not. But I don’t write them off on the whole any more than I would tell you that all country music sucks just because I’m not a fan of the genre in general.

Making a wine is a bit like fiddling with the EQ on your stereo. Crank up the bass and extreme treble all the way, and most of your music will sound like shit. And the bad, disingenuous music? That will sound even worse. In winemaking, if you crank up the fruit, you’d better make sure that you’re also cranking up the structure (acidity, tannin, oak, etc.) to some degree, so that you’re providing a balance and giving the disparate elements in the wine the best chance to come together as a cohesive whole. Or most likely your wine will taste like shit.

Wine is Music to Your Mouth
A wine, even an inexpensive one, should be like music to your palate – and the Brittany Spears of wine is inherently no better than Joni Mitchell of wine, depending on which one you’re most into.

So let’s not write off the fruit bombs, people. Let’s write off the disingenuous wines that don’t have internal harmony.

I am not here to raise wine consciousness, I am here to whet some palates!

Cheers!

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

Vinted on January 4, 2008 binned in learning wine, wine appreciation, wine eBook, wine tasting, wine tips
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!

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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.

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