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Wine Discussion

Arathald

Registered Member
So, inspired by the wine storage and serving temperature thread, I though I'd start a general wine discussion here instead of hijacking the other thread.

General questions:
White or Red?
What grape and regional varieties do you most or least prefer and why?
Do you have any preference to specific vineyards and vintages?

I'm generally a white wine guy myself, though I've been trying to develop my appreciation for reds. I've started easy at Pinot Noir and am now branching into fuller reds, like Merlot and Cab, many of which still rub me the wrong way. In whites, my favorites are Gewürztraminers and tarter Reislings, as well as Sauv Blanc.

I tend to like wines from the Northwest US better, as they tend to be fruitier, and play with my palate better. I'm also rather partial to German Reislings and Gewürztraminers. I've found that I don't do as well with California wines, especially reds. They often take on a metallic profile for me. I don't know if that's a characteristic of the wine itself, or something in it that I'm oversensitive to, but I've noticed it quite often.

My favorite winery has got to be Chateau St. Michelle, which I enjoyed even before moving to the Northwest. After coming out here, I discovered that I had moved just down the road from them. Not many of their wines stand out in a big way, but they are consistently good, and the price is right. If I'm going to serve any wine with a dinner party, Chateau St. Michelle is my default choice.

The only vintage I've specifically noticed is 2007-2008 for German Reislings. Dr. L made a fantastic wine from those grapes, and I understand that across the board, that was a great year for German Reislings.
 

HalfEatenSurprise

Registered Member
Talking fruit and palates about wines seems nonsensical to me. You either have to have extremely sensitive taste buds or are pretending to be sophisticated.

White wine tastes like white wine.
Red like red.

I mean, do grapes taste that different to you?

Unless it is properly poor quality stuff, I reckon a Pinot Grigio is no more impressive or different than a Colombard, or a Cab Sauv from a Shiraz. It's frigging booze at the end of the day, and the sole aim is generally to get pissed up. Hence I don't see the point of the branding and the finicky way that wine is presented. I mean, I sell the shit, and customers are fickle. They don't give a shit about the taste of the crap, they only care about the price. -- I mean, customers will buy low quality ( I have tried it) Echo Falls, which might as well be water, or shit-juice. They purchase it with an air of sophistication about themselves. They're pretending... It's mental.

Some may disagree with this remark. But I stick by the idea. -- Now beer on the other hand, the quality of that IS debatable.
 

Jeanie

still nobody's bitch
V.I.P.
I like table reds. Bonny Doon has a really good one, I've mentioned it in another thread, Big House Red. Despite the fact that it has a screw-top, it's quite good. Coppola Rosso is also really good.

Georges DeBoeuf's Beaujolais Nouveau is quite good this year. I've only had one bottle so far but I'll definitely buy more. It's been shite the past couple of years so I'm glad it's good this year because it's a real treat.
 

EllyDicious

made of AMBIGUITY
V.I.P.
I like only red wine. Given that I'm not fond of it, I don't drink it that much and obviously I'm not expert enough to make/feel the differences between different types of wine.
 

Arathald

Registered Member
There is a huge difference between different wines. It doesn't take overly sensitive taste buds to tell them apart, only trained taste buds (yes, there's a difference). Claiming that beer can have different flavors but that wine can't is keeping a rather narrow view of things. The reason beers have different flavors has to do with how it's made, and what chemicals the yeast produces. Have you ever had a beer that tastes like bananas? They generally don't stick bananas in the mash to get that effect.

The same goes for a wine. Different grapes have different flavors. A Chardonnay tastes nothing like a Gewürztraminer, for example. Different varieties and regions of grape have different level of tannins, making a Cab have a much drier taste and mouthfeel than a Pinor Noir. Aging a wine in oak will give it, strangely enough, an oaky flavor, and yeast can do some pretty impressive things with what it's given. A grape is a fruit, and like any fruit, can have all kinds of different tastes, especially when you let microorganisms loose on it.

I'll agree with the point that a lot of people buy wine with no idea what they're getting, but some of us can tell and appreciate the difference between different wines. I can legitimately tell the difference between the general profile of Napa Valley reds vs Columbia Valley reds. Does this mean I'm being pretentious? No, it means I've taken the time to learn about different kinds of wines. Just because *you* can't tell the difference between a Cab and a Shiraz doesn't mean no one can. I know people that can't tell the difference between a belgian ale and a pilsner, but I'm sure you will agree that doesn't mean that there is none.

Concerning palates -- people legitimately taste things very differently. I know people who use RealLemon religiously and can't tell the difference from the real thing. The stuff tastes like skunk to me (no, really), and I can't stand it. A small percentage of people are sensitive to the preservative they use, which contains sulfur. I happen to be one of those people. Why can't the same be true of flavors in wines?

Believe it or not, the are people who drink for reasons other than just to get drunk. I drink because I enjoy the taste; if I drank just to get drunk, I'd just take the vodka I have in my freezer and pour it in some OJ, and save myself a lot of money and trouble.

Addressing Jeanie's comment, it's a myth that whether a wine has a screw-top or not is an indicator of it's quality. You'll find that most wines from Australia and New Zealand have screw-tops, even expensive ones. The reason for this is purely one of logistics: a bottle with a cork has a much greater chance of getting damaged on the long overseas journey to the places where it's most often drunk. Some of my favorite wines use screw-tops. I say that if you find an Australian wine with a cork in it, you should be a bit wary of it.
 
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HalfEatenSurprise

Registered Member
To Arathald:

You have a point. Although, is sampling wine that enjoyable? That uplifting? I suppose it may be if you can distinguish between wines, however I find that hard to do. How exactly do you notice the different tastes. I mean, I've heard of particulars tastes being referred to as 'nuances' and such terms, but that's as vague as hell. A nuance is. How do you tell? --

For instance, I've tried a wine that suggests that there are 'undertones' of blackberry. Now I've eaten many blackberries, but in this wine I tasted none of it. It tasted like red wine. I even savoured the stuff, but nothing, it tasted like wine. Either the labels are deceiving, or you have to be adapted to the art of tasting wine to appreciate it, which unfortunately I'd assume the grand majority are not.
 

Arathald

Registered Member
To Arathald:

You have a point. Although, is sampling wine that enjoyable? That uplifting? I suppose it may be if you can distinguish between wines, however I find that hard to do. How exactly do you notice the different tastes. I mean, I've heard of particulars tastes being referred to as 'nuances' and such terms, but that's as vague as hell. A nuance is. How do you tell? --

For instance, I've tried a wine that suggests that there are 'undertones' of blackberry. Now I've eaten many blackberries, but in this wine I tasted none of it. It tasted like red wine. I even savoured the stuff, but nothing, it tasted like wine. Either the labels are deceiving, or you have to be adapted to the art of tasting wine to appreciate it, which unfortunately I'd assume the grand majority are not.
I usually ignore the labels and the descriptions made by the winemakers entirely, besides pairings and very general flavors (dryness, tartness). If I see a third party review (often on the shelf with the wine), I'll pay slightly closer attention. As I said, it does take some traiing to be able to tell some of the nuances apart, and a lot of it is actually in the nose.

Ever see someone swirling a glass of wine and think they were a pretentious asshole? That may be the case, but they got that part right. Swirling the glass helps get a lot of the aroma out of it (by getting air into the wine and wine into the air). You might never get a strong sense of blackberry from a wine (I often do), but bolder flavors like apple may be easier to taste. One of the reasons I love Gewürztraminers is that they often taste like crisp, ripe apples.

I actually started my wine exploration with a more sensitive palate than the average joe, since I do a lot of cooking and have already worked hard to develop it, but, even so, when I started out, many wines tasted the same to me. A lot of them still do. I've tasted and retasted dozens of wines to be able to taste some of the more subtle differences, and it's payed off. Just like with beer, it's about the experience and the passion behind it. I got into beer before I got into wine, and the technique is very similar: try a bunch of them you think you might like. If you don't like it, or if you like it a lot, try to put that into words -- describe what you did and didn't like (tasting with friends makes this easy and natural). Over time, immersing yourself in it will make you very good at detecting the subtleties of the drink. And just like with beer tasting, when you first start out, you might not know the difference between an IPA and a dark ale, but if you enjoy both, you can still have a good time drinking them, and recognizing the differences will come in time.

Can you taste the difference between a Blue Moon and a Shock Top? If so, think of what it took for you to be able to do that, then apply the same principles to wine.
 
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HalfEatenSurprise

Registered Member
I don't get Blue Moon or Shock Top here, but I get where you're coming from. It's probably just the presentation of wine where I live. No one seems to pay it any attention other than for the aforementioned drunkenness.

Wouldn't a wine that has a distinct taste of apples be more or less non-carbonated cider? Stupid question probably, although I'd like to know if you think a certain cider could hold a similar taste to this type of wine you're referring to?

--

I've got to say. The principle of transferring tasting of ale to wine seems plausible. Since I can definitely distinguish a good one from a bad one. I can remember having a draught poured Ruddles once, and I think the pipes-system in the pub must have been dirty or something, because the taste was bloody horrible. No freshness or bitterness or smoothness to it, just a tinny metallic taste all through it. I could've gagged. Also, I find that the weaker the lager the more mellow the taste, or 'sweeter' perhaps. Regular Carlsberg for instance tastes nothing like its Export counterpart.
 

Arathald

Registered Member
I don't get Blue Moon or Shock Top here, but I get where you're coming from. It's probably just the presentation of wine where I live. No one seems to pay it any attention other than for the aforementioned drunkenness.

Wouldn't a wine that has a distinct taste of apples be more or less non-carbonated cider? Stupid question probably, although I'd like to know if you think a certain cider could hold a similar taste to this type of wine you're referring to?

--

I've got to say. The principle of transferring tasting of ale to wine seems plausible. Since I can definitely distinguish a good one from a bad one. I can remember having a draught poured Ruddles once, and I think the pipes-system in the pub must have been dirty or something, because the taste was bloody horrible. No freshness or bitterness or smoothness to it, just a tinny metallic taste all through it. I could've gagged. Also, I find that the weaker the lager the more mellow the taste, or 'sweeter' perhaps. Regular Carlsberg for instance tastes nothing like its Export counterpart.
Well, since ciders are made of apples, and are often closer to apple beer than apple wine, they are a world of difference. Also, when I say a wine tastes like apples, it's still definitely 100% wine, it just has a flavor profile that tastes rather like apples (crisp, maybe sweet). It is true that I enjoy a good cider though :D

The weaker-sweeter relationship also exists in wines, and that's generally because the sugars are what ferment into alcohol, so the less alcohol you have, the more sugar is left over. That's why sweet reislings tend to be around 8.5% alcohol or less (yes, that's beer territory... at least the goo stuff), and a dry Chardonnary might be 12% or higher.
 

Saffy

Registered Member
If I have a white or a rose, the lighter in colour the better for me, i like a dry crisp wine. With red the darker in colour the better and usually go for Shiraz, merlot or rioja:D
 
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