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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 338

Bargain Wines from Wine Peeps

Vinted on September 6, 2008 binned in Uncategorized
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!


Just wanted to drop you all a quick jimmy-jahn to highlight a way-cool article from my buds over at WinePeeps.com. They’ve put together their list of favorite budget wines (and in the current economy, who isn’t lookin’ for a bargain right now) – these are selections that cost about $10 a pop, and scored high (in their opinions) in QPR.

I’ve only tried three of these wines myself (the Hogue, Yalumba, and Penfolds – though they were likely different vintages, you’ll these producers will probably be very consistent year to year especially in this price range).

Worth a look if you’re scoping for everyday drinking.

http://winepeeps.com/2008/09/05/super-bargain-wines-for-tough-times/

Thanks, Wine Peeps!

Cheers!

BinEndsWine.com Twitter Tasting #3 – Sept. 18 Live with Michel-Schlumberger

Vinted on September 5, 2008 binned in 1WD LIVE, twitter, twitter taste live, wine 2.0, wine tasting


What’s it like to “taste” wine live, online?

The concept sounds totally geeky, but it turns out that it kicks all kinds of ass.

For a few months running (since its inaugural run), I’ve been taking part in the Twitter Tasting Live event hosted by BinEndsWine.com. In summary:

  1. You buy a sample pack from BinEndsWine.com, they ship said wine to you
  2. You sign up at twittertastelive.com
  3. On the 3rd Thursday of that month, you log into twitter.com and taste live along with participating wine bloggers & wine lovers from all over the world, and the BinEndsWine.com staff, usually joined by a winemaker associated with that month’s sample pack of wines.

The kick-ass portion of this is not just live access to the winemaker (you can easily imagine the amount of cool info. you can get out of them by asking them questions live about the wine you are drinking at that moment).

The real kick-ass portion is that it takes the social connection that wine gives us when we drink it together, and extends it instantly across cultural and geographical boundaries.

For a wine geek like me, it’s a blast to see the jokes, comments, tasting notes, and questions coming from different personalities (some on different continents) tasting the same wine that I am having at the exact same time. We don’t always agree, but the wine does help us connect – amicably. Couple that with what I’m doing locally (hosting a wine tasting dinner party centering around the same wines), and I’m in 7th wine heaven.

Now, here’s what’s up for the next Live twitter tasting happening on Sept. 18…


I will be joining the BinEndsWine.com staff LIVE at Wine 2.0 in NYC at 7PM ET.
I’ll be at the BEW booth, drinking their wine, blogging about the event via twitter, stealing BEW’s water, and maybe making them bring me wine crackers! Or something like that. BEW will also have staff from CA wine producer Michel-Schlumberger on tap LIVE, to answer questions about his wines (which are this month’s focus for the tasting).

The event is being co-hosted by Wannabe Wino; you can also check out BinEndsWine.com for more details.

After the dust settles on the twitter live tasting events, I usually also provide more focused reviews of some of the wines from the event on my twitter wine “mini” reviews feed (please note this is NOT the twitter feed I use during the live tastings!). Below are a my “mini” reviews for a few of the wines included in the last twitter live tasting of Hugel’s Alsace wines:


1WineDudeReview 06 Hugel Gentil (Alsace): A kitchen sink blend of Alsatian grapes. Citrus, flowers & stone; good, but it’s got a bit of an identity crisis.

1WineDudeReview 06 Hugel Gewurztraminer (Alsace): Lychee & limes, a hint of orange rind, and just really well put-together. Pair it with Indian take-out.

1WineDudeReview 04 Hugel Riesling Jubilee “Grand Cru” (Alsace): Peeps like me love petrol & vinyl with our rose water & citrus. Buy this if you’re like us!

1WineDudeReview 01 Hugel Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive (Alsace): Viscous, loads of citrus, lychee, & autumn leaves. Holy Hannah it’s good! But not cheap.

Hope to “see” you on-line and LIVE at the next tasting – friend me up beforehand and let me know if you’re joining in.

Cheers!

89 Bottles of Wine on the Wall… (An Update on the "89 Project")

Vinted on September 3, 2008 binned in wine blogging, wine review

It’s been one month since I posted about the 89 Project, the brainchild of 2 Days Per Bottle‘s David Honig. I figured it was time for a check in to see how the little guy was faring!

You might recall from my previous post (the one that Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff, bless his soul, interpreted so darn incorrectly as a disparagement of the 100 Point wine rating system, which isn’t quite what I was goin’ for…) that the 89 Project is a collaborative effort involving several bloggers that pokes a bit of good-natured fun at the current state of wine ratings. When you rate wines using a 100 point scale (like the big boy wine reviews in the big boy wine mags), giving a wine a 90 or above is ticket to 30% plus price hikes. Conversely, an 89 or below might get you into the discount bin – and could get overlooked by the general wine buying public, since many retailers don’t publicize those wines. A viscous cycle of non-showcasing, non-buying, non-showcasing, non-buying ensues.

Anyway, the 89 Project has wine bloggers from all over wine blog-o-land giving their take on 89-point wines. If you’re interested in learning more of the goals and genesis behind the project, check out David’s explanation via podcast from his guest appearance on WineBizRadio.com.

I’m pleased to report that the 89 Project is not only still alive, it’s alive & kicking. Not only was it featured on WineBizRadio.com, it’s also got its own discussion group over at the Open Wine Consortium (I love me some OWC!), and it’s now up to 30 contributors….


Personally, I’ve been having me a good time with my 89 Project contributions (you can check out my 89 Project reviews here). First, it’s an absolute hoot to go through a wine store looking for points, which I usually avoid like the plague (because, let’s face it, nobody talks in points, unless they work for Wine Spectator…). It’s even more fun to run through the wine store pushing a cart, taking pictures of the point ratings and getting positively giddy when you are finding wines clearly labeled as being given ratings less than 90 points.

The wine shop employees (especially in my local PLCB stores) think I’m totally insane now. It’s great…

So – stayed tuned to the 89 Project. You might find some interesting recommendations that you might otherwise have missed. And if you go looking for some of these wines, you just might, if you’re lucky, get yourself one hell of an “interesting” reputation among the wine shop employees in your neck of the woods…

Cheers!
(images: ggpht.com, wikimedia.org)

Bitterness in White Wines (No… Really!)

Vinted on August 30, 2008 binned in wine tips
I run into this situation at a lot of wine tasting events:

We’re trying white wines, and one of the tasters gets a look on their face as if they just sucked down one of those Altoids lemon sours. The kind that are so bitter, they make you feel as though you will suck out your brains through the insides of your cheeks, and spit them out shorty after you jettison the candy from your mouth at upwards of 200 mph.

“This wine tastes bitter. Why is that?”

This is usually followed by a statement from me that starts with “Astringency…” and ends quickly with “…soooooo, let’s move onto our next wine…” in order to prevent me from looking like I’ve got no idea what I’m talking about.

Explaining bitterness in red wines is fairly simple: red wines contain tannins, and almost every wine drinker knows that tannins (especially in young wines) impart a sometimes bitter, often gum-drying quality. Tannins come primarily from the skin contact that makes red wines, well, red. White wines typically don’t undergo too much (if any) contact with grape skins when they’re made. Sure, sometimes oak aging can impart tannins in white wines, but usually not enough to make them bitter.

So, what gives?

At a recent wine geek tasting party, my geeky friends and I discussed the very topic. And one of those geeks knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows some people.

Important people. Dangerous people.

Well, not really dangerous, but people who have dangerous levels of wine guru knowledge. Like, for example, Jancis Robinson, one of the premier wine authorities in the known universe.

Now, before I get into Jancis’ (and others’) answer on the question of what makes some white wines bitter, we need to take a little side trip to the “She Blinded Me With Science” Department. Because when it comes to wines, you can’t talk about the nitty-gritty of flavors and bitterness without talking phenols. And you can’t talk phenols without talking science….

She Blinded Me With SCIENCE!!!

Just like you and me, wine is made mostly of water. It also has a good portion of alcohol floating around in there (just like me.. but maybe not just like you). The 5% or so left over are the chemicals (well over 900 in some cases) that make wine, well, wine. Because wine is made from grapes, it picks up chemicals from the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes called phenols. Phenols interact with other molecules in the wine, and those interactions help to define the taste, color, and body of a wine. When you taste bitterness and astringency in red wine, it’s likely you’re tasting phenols. Since the chemical reactions in wine can change over time (for example, when phenols interact with the small amount of oxygen present in the wine bottle), so can a wine’s tastes. This, in part, explains why a wine is often said to “mellow out” and become less bitter and softer in mouthfeel over time – thanks, in part to phenols.

Still with me? OK, so how does this tie into bitterness in white wines? What makes some white wines bitter for Pete’s sake??…


I’ve got three answers to that question, from three separate Masters of Wine, all of which are different but technically correct! Let’s decode each one:

1) According to Julia Harding, MW: “Aromatic compounds called terpenes, particularly important in aromatic varieties such as Gew├╝rztraminer, Muscat and Riesling (but also in the aromas of flowers), are said to contribute to bitterness. Their concentration is greater in very ripe grapes and the effect is likely to be more marked when grapes have been pressed less gently or after ill-judged skin contact.”

Translation: If the wine gets a bit too much poorly-timed skin contact (from squishing the juice out too roughly, or from deliberately giving the juice contact with the grapes skins but at the wrong time), you might end up with some bitter white wine – especially if the grapes were very ripe at harvest. Terpenes can also be imparted from oak contact, so too much oak contact could also be the culprit.

2) Pancho Campo, MW‘s answer:

“IBMP (isobutylmethoxypyrazines) are frequently regarded by numerous authors as responsible for the herbaceous character and bitterness of certain wines. IBMP are compounds found in grapes that have not achieved a correct level of phenolic ripeness.”

Translation: The grapes weren’t ripe enough when the wine was made. This allowed the introduction of those IBMPs, without the right amount of flavor, etc. to counterbalance the ‘greeness’.

3) And from the irrepressible Jancis Robinson herself:

“Excessive phenolic extraction is the usual explanation for bitterness.”

Translation: Too much phenol action, baby. Either from mistake or from the winemaker gettin’ a little too greedy, someone was trying to extract the maximum amount of flavor from their grapes – but they went overboard. Whoops – hello Mr. Bitter!

There you go – now, off to impress the guests at your next wine party with your wine chemistry smarties…

For more wine chemistry geek knowledge, I recommend the Oxford Companion to Wine.

Cheers!
(images: time-inc.net, wikimedia.org)

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