I need to preface this tale of a (somewhat-failed) experiment by telling you (aside from the normal disclosure that I received all of the products as samples for possible review) that I have nothing against massive on-line tasting events like the recent #ChampagneDay (or its also recent big-brother #CabernetDay).
I’ve got a long history (since Day One, actually) with TasteLive.com, who kind of started the whole kumbaya-peace-love-and-Marsha-Brady-let’s-all-taste-together-on-line thang in the first place, after all. And I love the communal aspect, and the conviviality, that are at the heart of those tasting events.
It’s just that it doesn’t feel as though Champagne or Cabernet Sauvignon need their own tasting days. I mean, from a brand-recognition standpoint, these wines are like Pepsi or the Chicago Bulls. It’s not like no one’s ever heard of them, or never drinks the stuff, or that they have pricing issues on the high end.
So I’m kind of waiting for the underdog wine tasting day on twitter, myself (#BonardaDay, anyone?) before I get too excited about these grape-themed events.
But the twitter peeps were a persistent bunch, asking me (many times) about participating in #ChampagneDay last week, so eventually I caved into the pressure… of wanting Champagne to pair with take-out sushi for dinner that night (which is a f*cking EPIC food-and-wine pairing, by the way). Because I am a slave to the evil twin drives of surprise and novelty, and because I know my place in the Roberts household (lower on the totem pole than my daughter, but slightly higher than my dog… I think), I decided to to pop open the bubbly and pair it with… samples of cookies specifically designed (or, at least, specifically marketed!) to pair with Sparkling wine.
The results? Not-so-Epic…
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Fitting squarely into the “Well, Now This Is Interesting” Department (I just made that department up, because it’s my blog and I can do that sort of thing, after all), I recently received a PR-style email about a new wine search engine called VinoMatch.
VinoMatch is not an all-things-wine-related search engine (good thing, too, since it’s likely that nothing can compare to AbleGrape.com in that department – and no, that’s not a new official department here at 1WD, okay?).
No, what’s interesting is that VinoMatch is a search engine that’s meant to connect the average wine consumer with wines that they like based on flavor profile. I.e., you navigate flavors and styles that you’re looking for, and VinoMatch presents you with wines that fit your criteria – theoretically linking you up with a wine you’re more likely to enjoy than a recommendation based on points from a small number of critics.
I love this idea, because I love the idea of people educating themselves about their own wine preferences and getting to the point where they can make comfortable wine-buying decisions on their own (sh*t, I wrote a short book entirely about how to do that!). But I don’t hold out a ton of hope for VinoMatch – at least, not just yet.
Why not? Well, the details behind answer to that question are even more interesting, I think…
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Being wine country (and one of the fastest-growing in all of Cali. at that – they’ve well over 200 wineries now), Paso Robles can be visually stunning. You’d probably have guessed that already, since, well, it’s wine country and there’s a damn good reason why even people like me visit wine country when they go on vacation (even when, as in my case, they’re going on vacation from wine!) – it’s usually breath-takingly gorgeous.
What you might not have known about Paso is that it’s starting to (rightfully) fancy itself a gourmand’s small-town paradise. Restaurants like Artisan, Farmstand 46, and Villa Creek are testament to the culinary prowess being drawn to the area (those I got to witness first-hand on my recent Paso jaunt). But there’s also a bevvy of businesses that supply the high-end foodstuffs that go into those local culinary delights, including two spots I had the pleasure of visiting: The Abalone Farm (pricey seaward stuff is cultivated there by laid-back owner Brad Buckley, but it’s an amazing grilled match for Paso’s white Rhone blends), and organic produce producer Thomas Hill Farms (generous owner Joe Thomas will probably let you eat all the pears, figs and jujubes you can stomach, but I can assure you from personal experience that you will pay for it dearly the following day).
I managed a few pictures of all of the above, in-between all the eating a drinking in Paso – check ‘em out after the jump. Coming soon: more mini-reviews of Paso wines, and my take on what’s right (and not-so-right) in Paso Robles viniculture (you know, like, when I get around to it, man). Enjoy!…
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- 09 Cass Winery Grenache (Paso Robles): Fire-starting strawberry & meat that will pepper (in both senses of the word) your tongue. $28 B >>find this wine>>
- 09 Cass Winery Rockin One White (Paso Robles): Acidity, butterscotch & apples in an oak cloak. Will probably shed it for seafood stew. $32 B >>find this wine>>
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- 08 Adelaida Version (Paso Robles): Smoky, meaty, earthy red fruits dominate, & they really, really want some smoked sausage. $34 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 08 Adelaida HMR Estate Pinot Noir (Paso Robles): Rustic, authentic & juicy red berries ridin’ right outta the hills of ol’ Paso. $35 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Adelaida HMR Estate Chardonnay (Paso Robles): Peach & citrus that are hand-delivering minerals, & shooting star-like vivacity. $40 B+ >>find this wine>>