Posts Filed Under wine tasting
I recently had the pleasure of attending a wine/plate pairing at the fabulous Teikoku restaurant in PA. The food, as always, was stellar (I suppose that’s par for the course for anything prepared by Iron Chef Takao Iinuma).
The wines (selected and poured by wine educator, Matthew Esser from Shiffrin Selections and wine educator and consultant, Heather Wright from Cellar Door Imports, both personal friends) were fine examples of vino that matches up perfectly with summer fare. My ‘mini-reviews‘ of the wines are below – I recommend any of these if you’re looking for great summer wines that won’t break the bank:
Next up, I’ve got two more tasting events that I should probably be plugging so here goes…:
1) There’s a Sake Tasting taking event tomorrow (July 15) on the deck at Azie’s in Media, PA. I don’t know much about sake so this is going to be one of my inaugural (a.k.a trial-by-fire) journeys into the heart of all things sake. 6:30-8:30PM, $30 per person. The menu:
Kumamoto Oysters & Harushika Tokimeki Sparkling
Gobuo Quick Fry & Bishonen “Beautiful Boy” Ginjo
Sushi “Big Eye” tuna, hamachi and bass & Ohyama “Big Mountain” Junmai
Pork belly “Kakuni” stew &Taiheizan Tenko Daiginjo
2) BinEndsWine.com will be holding their monthly “twitter taste live” on July 17 at 7PM ET. This month’s installment will feature Spanish wines selected by European Cellars’ Solomon. Eric will join Ryan & Gabriella Opaz of Catavino.net live via twitter.com to taste and discuss the wines. Also taking part via twitter.com will be yours truly. Here’s the skinny on how to follow the action on twitter.com:
And as for the wine lineup (which is lookin’ mighty tasty!):
Hope to see you on twitter!
You can all stop picking on Robert Parker now.
The oft-followed and just as oft-maligned wine critic extraordinaire is doing you a favor.
A favor if you, like him, have a wine palate that tends towards the bombastic, that is.
A great post on the science of wine tasting over at Catavino.net (and how that science can be manipulated) got me thinking about the subjectivity of wine critiquing in general, and more specifically on the philosophical question: Can wine tasting can ever be totally objective?
So for this topic, you can view this article as the yin to Catavino.net’s yang. The conclusion of all of my philosophical pondering? All y’all need to cut Robert Parker some slack!
To bolster my exclamatory claim, let’s turn to the (not too difficult) task of finding someone smarter than me to explain it…
According to Tim Crane’s essay in Questions of Taste: The Philospohy of Wine:
“A wine cannot be appreciated for its intrinsic value unless it is drunk; the value of the wine is intimately related to the kinds of experience to which it gives rise.”
In other words: the trouble with appreciation is that you need to taste wine to appreciate it (well, I suppose for some of us it’s not really too much trouble). And because tasting itself is such a subjective act, it suggests that wine tasting is also at least somewhat subjective.
Does our tasting subjectivity preclude us from coming to some general consensus of how a wine tastes, or its relative quality? Probably not. Throughout history, what was generally considered “good” wine has changed substanitally. In another essay from Questions of Taste, Barry C. Smith puts it like this:
“Saying that the experience of tasting is a personal one need not prevent us from saying that it acquaints us with how a particular wine tastes, or from supposing that other people can be acquainted with that taste too.”
Man, I am really digging smart philosophers right now! What does all of this have to do with wine critics like Parker? It suggests 2 things:
- Critics don’t have to be thinking “universally” about wine because
- Our collective palates will decide what is and isn’t a “quality” wine.
There are studies that back this up. Vinography.com recently reported on two such efforts that compare wine reviews by major wine critics (including Parker, of course) – with different taste preferences. These critics have been in very close agreement on which Bordeaux wines have been the best, and they’ve been agreeing for decades. So there’s gotta be something to the “collective” wine palate as well as to our individual, subjective ones.
Back to Questions of Taste – also from Smith’s essay:
“Having the ability to asses and describe wines in one thing; having certain personal tastes is another. That we, and the wine critics, have personal tastes does not imply that all taste is subjective... Wine critics understand that they cannot overrule an individual’s personal tastes… The moral is that we must find the right critic to advise us, the one whose personal tastes or preferences are more nearly aligned with ours.“
So – we’re all Right, and we’re All right. Dig it.
Now give Parker a break. He’s just trying to help out the people who like the fruit bombs. Including himself.
(images: palmspringslife.com, tuscany-cooking-class.com, winechocolate.org)
Another (sort of) rare event plug here on 1WineDude.com – I don’t do these plugs too often, so when I do, it’s because I think that the event is really going to be cool. And in this case, I think the cool potential is very high: I personally know the two people selecting and pouring wine at the event, and they definitely know their wine (not to mention that they’re also really splendid people).
The fabulous Teikoku restaurant (where I recently covered an event featuring the wines of Penns Woods Winery) is hosting a wine tasting event this coming Thursday, July 3 2008.
I will be there – so if you’re attending, drop me a line and stop by to say hello.
5492 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073
Join us for an evening of Wine On The Deck with former sommelier and wine educator, Matthew Esser from Shiffrin Selections and wine educator and consultant, Heather Wright from Cellar Door Imports.
We will be featuring some new, off the beaten path pours, along with small bites from Executive Chef Takao Iinuma to compliment them.
$30 per person all inclusive
Space is limited, reserve now
I’m a dog guy.
While I don’t hate cats, I don’t love cats, either. Mostly, I get along best with the cats that think they’re dogs anyway. Since this post is going to be about my schooling of wine appreciation literally going to the dogs, my apologies in advance to those who are cat lovers. I’ve never been taught anything about wine appreciation from a cat (more on learning wine stuff from domesticated house pets in a minute) – though they have taught me the art of totally ignoring people.
Dude here has been given primary Dog Duty at the House of Dude. I’m the one who now has to feed and walk our Weimaraner, Samson (see pic above).
Sammy has been a great sport throughout the whole adjusting-to-the-baby thing, and he is very, very sweet with the baby. Having to walk the dog more often than I used to has made me take more notice of Sam’s behaviors – such as licking the baby, sniffing around, licking himself, sniffing the baby, licking himself, and licking himself (did I mention licking himself?).
By observing Sam, I’ve actually learned a bit about wine appreciation. And no, it doesn’t involve drinking so much that you want to sniff someone’s butt, unless that’s your thing (licking yourself is also optional). Though it does apparently involve startling segues from dog licking to wine tasting… maybe I should have thought about that one a bit more…
Anyway, straight from the home office in suburban eastern-PA, here are 3 Things that Your Dog Can Teach You About Wine Appreciation…
- Short, concentrated sniffs work best. Dogs have some of the best senses of smell around – and Weimaraners have one of the best noses in the doggie business. When my dog smells something, he doesn’t take a long, drawn-out, overly-dramatic sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiffffff. He takes a burst of short, concentrated sniffs. Sniff… sniff-sniff… sniff-sniff-sniff-sniiiiiifff.
Turns out there is a lot of merit in that approach if you really want to smell something thoroughly – and in the case of wine, smelling is where you will get about 80% of your enjoyment and appreciation. Shorter sniffs help to focus your olfactory senses, and may also help to keep your sense of smell from fatiguing too quickly. The sharper your sense of smell, the more you can pinpoint what aspects you like (or don’t like) about the wine that your tasting.
In the case of wine, smelling is where you will get about 80% of your enjoyment and appreciation for your glass of vino.
- Focus, focus, focus. Ever try to move a dog from a spot when he is smelling it during a walk? If not, I encourage you to do this as a test of your own upper limits of frustration. My dog will frequently stop in his tracks, plant his nose into a smell, and lock all four powerful legs so tightly that it would take a tow truck, steel cables, and an act of Congress to move him from whatever he is sniffing at that moment.When a dog is really smelling something, nothing can break his concentration. At that point, there is no walk, there is no leash, there is no master – there is only the smell. If you want to experience everything that a wine has to offer, you’d do well to imitate the concentration that the average dog gives to any random oder in which s/he gets interested. With that kind of focus, you’d be on your way to wine-tasting pro status in no time.
- Don’t rush it. Once my dog stops smelling something and decides to start eating it, he is an shining example of what not to do when enjoying a wine (or any food or drink, for that matter). My dog will inhale food that he really likes. He will eat it so quickly, you would think there was a pack of angry, hungry velociraptors waiting 7 inches away from him ready to steal his morsels should he take more than 14 nanoseconds to eat them. The tastier the treat, the less he chews (or breathes) before swallowing.Which is exactly what you don’t want to do when enjoying a wine. Take your time. Savor it. That glass isn’t going anywhere, man. Relaaaax. See, isn’t that nice? Sniff. Swirl. Focus. And enjoy.Now, go walk that dog!
(images: 1WineDude.com, nytimes.com, galacticpudding, javelinaleapwinery.com)