Archive | December, 2013

Barton and Guestier The Pairing Collection

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Great news! Wine pairing just got a whole lot easier… At least by one very witty winery.

From the first French brand name known to consumers worldwide, Barton and Guestier has teamed up with their Chef de Cuisine Frederic Prouvoyeur to create the Pairing Collection. Come on, I’m sure you have seen these screwcap, modern label wines and thought to yourself, “surely these can’t be good wines”… Well, I did it! A breakdown of B&G’s Bourdeaux and Beaujolais-Villages.

– Cheese and Crackers Beaujolais-Village 2011 –

Just to clarify, for those who don’t know, Beaujolais is a province located between the Northern Rhone and Southern Burgundy (sometimes thought of as Burgundy). The main grape of Beaujolais is the Gamay Grape which is very fruity and floral. So, you guessed it! This wine is made from Gamay…

On first appearance, this Beaujolais-Village is a clear wine with no sediment. The color is a radiant garnet fading into a ruby rim. The viscosity or legs of the wine is of a medium showing signs of a lower alcohol content wine.

On the nose, the condition of this Beaujolais is sound and clean with no musty aromas or signs of cork taint, and is a wine of a medium intensity. This wine has a very youthful aroma (giving hints of a more recent vintage) with notes of cherries and Strawberries. For the earth/minerality component, I sensed dark soil and gravel stones with slight oak, black pepper, violet flowers and bay leaf.

On the palate, the Cheese and Crackers Beaujolais-Village 2011 is an off-dry wine with a medium body. For the fruit component I sensed fresh red cherry, raspberries and strawberries. The minerality is of clay and gravel stones… A slight hint of wood is definitely present but not too overpowering with notes of black peppercorns and ground bay leaf spice. Alcohol and tannins are medium and acidity a medium plus. For the complexity of this wine on the palate I would say medium with a lovely medium finish…

– Chops and Burgers Bourdeaux 2011 –

There are a few varietals planted in Bourdeaux, the main ones being Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the Chops and Burgers Bourdeaux 2011 is made with just those varietals. I broke-down this wine, after the Beaujolais, because of it’s bolder, more robust nature… Remember, when drinking wine, always move up from lighter wines to darker or more robust wines.

On appearance, the Chops and Burgers Bourdeaux 2011 is a clear wine showing no sediment. This wine has a dark garnet color with ruby rim and medium legs.

On the nose, this wine is of sound and clean condition with a medium plus intensity. The aroma is youthful with notes of plum, slight hint of blueberry and dark cherries. For the minerality I found hints of wet clay dry soil and dry gravel stone. There was also some signs of old world oak with nutmeg, vanilla bean and black pepper notes.

On the palate, this is a dry wine with a medium bodied mouthfeel… For the fruit component, I sensed blueberry, unripe plum and red cherry. The minerality is of clay and gravel stones. Lovely notes of vanilla bean and fragrant roses permeate the palate with a more obvious sign of oak than the Beaujolais. Tannins are at a medium high and alcohol is a medium. Acidity is a medium-minus. On the palate, I found this wine to have a medium complexity with medium length.

I found nothing wrong with these B&G wines and for an average retail price of $7.99-$9.99, I really enjoyed these wines for what they are… Good quality wine from a solid producer at a very accessible price.

The beaujolais, which is a lighter bodied wine and only 12% alc., is to be mainly paired with creamy French cheeses that are not too overpowering. The Bourdeaux, which is a more bold, robust wine is meant to be paired with meats and burgers. This wine has a 13.5% alcohol content.

Definitely makes for some great everyday drinking or weekend lunch wines. There are 5 wines total in the collection so go on… Why not try them all! And for a small hint, try wines again the second day after opening them. Different notes appear on the nose. On the second day of smelling the Beaujolais, I got notes of banana (a flavor profile of Beaujolais). Cin Cin!

Wine Tasting 101

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People that I often encounter say they can’t tell the difference between one wine or another. They comment on how it “just tastes like wine or simply, grapes”… Well the key to becoming a “conscious” taster and having fun with wine tasting itself is to pay attention to a wine when tasting it, learn a few key terms and follow some simple techniques. The only real way to get comfortable with the differences is to taste a lot of wine (which is not too bad)… And remember, don’t just drink wine to chug it down and get drunk! Wine is poetry in a bottle, enjoy and savor it.

First off, I will guide you through what acids are. You must have heard mention of them, right? Acids are considered desirable in a wine, and are present in virtually all wines. Malic (green apple), tartaric (cream of tartar), and citric acids are the three most common acids found in wine. Acidity in wine is detected by the feel the wine makes in your mouth. Much like the sensation you get biting into an apple, drinking a glass of lemonade or grapefruit juice. Acidity in wine stimulates the salivary glands in your cheeks to produce saliva.

Tannins, much like acidity in a wine are most easily recognized by their mouth feel. Common in red wine and rare in white wine, tannins are a group of polyphenolic compounds found mainly in grape skins that exhibit the common characteristic of being highly reactive. The reactive nature of tannins produce a puckering astringency on the walls of the mouth, best described as “cotton mouth”. Think of tannins as dry mouth, the opposite of salivation with acidity. Similar to acids, tannins help balance a wine. Tannins provide a contrast to sugars and acids, affecting how sweet or dry a wine tastes. Wines with lots of tannins and fruit aromas are described as being “big”, “bold”, “powerful” or even “massive” wines. Some people prefer wines with more tannins some don’t. Wine is a very personal choice…

The technique is rather simple and refered to as the 5 s’s of wine tasting…

See
Hold the glass up in the light, in front of your eyes, and tilt it slightly towards you. The color of the wine can tell you something about its age, where it comes from, and its concentration. Wines from cooler climates tend to be lighter in color (color not as intense) as wines from hotter climates.

Swirl
Swirling the wine in your glass aerates it, bringing oxygen into the wine and allowing it to release its aroma. Remember the wine has been bottled up hermetically for quite some time…

Smell
Smell is the most important component of wine tasting. It is often referred to as the “bouquet” or “nose” of a wine. By smelling before sipping, your brain sends a signal to your mouth and communicates senses…

Sip
Sip in order to bring the full flavor of the wine to the palate. Be sure to move the wine around in your mouth to cover all of your taste buds. You’ll be able to taste the fruit and varietal characteristics, the acidity, the tannins, and the aftertaste. A long, pleasing aftertaste, or finish, is a sign of a quality wine.

Savor
The flavor of wine is associated with the combination of experiences from the senses of sight, smell, and taste. Taste is the way in which the flavor is experienced in the mouth. This may match or differ from the aroma experienced in the nose. The human tongue can detect variances in acidity, bitterness, and sweetness levels in wines. Sit back for a few minutes and savor the taste.

Well, I hope this has been helpful and demystifying… Good luck and remember that practice makes a pro!