Nine Wines

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#12daysofwinefacts

Yes. You heard me… not Chardonnay (which is a not-so-shabby number deux). It’s a grape you think you haven’t met. Well, I won’t throw stones. I had to do some research.  Here’s what I found out from the folks over at Wine Geeks:

“The most widely planted white grape in the world, Airén owes its popularity more to its high productivity and resistence to drought than to any distinguishing flavors or aromas. An extremely vigorous grape, Airén grows in almost every wine producing region in the world. It is quite resistant to heat and lack of water, and will adapt to almost any soil type. Airén grows very well as a bush vine, never reaching higher than a foot off of the ground. It also works well on the trellis, with farmers using its leafy canopy to protect other crops from the scorching sun. It has very neutral aromas and flavors, with hints of citrus, green apples and nuts. Airén is best consumed as fresh as possible. 

Airén is widely planted in the La Mancha region of Spain. New wine-making techniques of stainless steel and cold-soak fermentation have made it a little more palatable, but most is still used as either a blending grape to lighten heavy reds or in the production of Brandy de Jerez. Airén is also refermented for industrial purposes.”

Another admission: I myself am ready for a glass of wine. I’m going Rhône red tonight. What are you drinking?

Eight vines a’vining….

Wait. That’s not how it goes….

#12daysofwinefacts

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Cab is queen, followed by her king Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon is a well-known grape & she is synonymous (from a consumer perspractice) with quality & drinkability. 

That’s certainly not saying that she’s the only best, but the consumer knows her & loves her so she’s in the ground season after season. Also helpful is that she’s tough, so she can grow in many regions. But her well-regarded home in Bordeaux hasn’t hurt her reputation one schosh.

Eight vines a’vining….

Wait. That’s not how it goes….

#12daysofwinefacts

image

Cab is queen, followed by her king Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon is a well-known grape & she is synonymous (from a consumer perspractice) with quality & drinkability. 

That’s certainly not saying that she’s the only best, but the consumer knows her & loves her so she’s in the ground season after season. Also helpful is that she’s tough, so she can grow in many regions. But her well-regarded home in Bordeaux hasn’t hurt her reputation one schosh.

On the seventh day of wine…

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#12daysofwinefacts

Among my fondest wine tasting memories is a evening at Robert Mondavi where I had a vertical tasting of a certain Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a simple suggestion, to sample the same wine as produced over several years, but it’s complicated. Complicated in a good way as the taster examines the wine based on the mix of conditions from one year to the next… it’s like looking at your yearbook photo year-over-year. A certain year will likely stand out (for better or for the unstylish worst).

There is also a horizontal tasting in which a taster can experience several wines with something in common, say the same AOC or the same varietal. This is like looking at your scrapbook from 10th grade. 10th grade you is what’s in common but you’ll see not only your yearbook photo but also the family Christmas card & your swim team photo.

Have you tried a vertical tasting?  Do share… you’re still the same gossip you were in 10th grade, right?

Half-Way Day 6…

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#12daysofwinefacts

French Oak barrels are the gold standard for winemakers. They generally come from government-regulated forests in Aller, Limousin,  Nevers, Troncais & Vosages.  The trees used to make French barrels are at least twice as old when harvested as American Oaks. American Oaks used for wine barrels mainly come from Missouri, Minnesota & Wisconsin. There are other wine barrels crafted from trees grown in Eastern Europe.

Five Golden Rings (or a divine bottle of bubbly)…

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#12daysofwinefacts

{Day 5}

Paring wine with food…

How a food is seasoned & prepared can influence it’s harmony with wine. While it’s always a splendid idea to drink what you like, if you feel inclined to intentionally pair your wine with your meal take note:

– Dry wine doesn’t play well with sweet foods.

– Choose a wine with a similar flavor footprint as the meal, delicate with delicate or intense with intense.

– Browned foods (grilled or roasted) have a toasty resemblance to oaked wines.

– Big fat colors go well with big fat flavors. Wispy colors go well with wispy flavors.

– Be willing to be surprised. Don’t take it so seriously that the thrill is gone. It’s a beautiful world of variants… enjoy it.

On the fourth day of wine….

day 4

#12daysofwinefacts

Age might be relative, but for wine vintage year is a relatively important indicator of what’s in the bottle. Every harvest is different, and that’s the beautiful glory of a life spent loving wine. Occurrences & conditions of a certain year, from the weather to the soil environment to the winemaker’s inspiration makes each vintage different from the one before. And we can’t get a year back (don’t we know it)… this makes me think that even if a year wasn’t critically stellar, it’s still pretty darn precious in terms of learning about the plot of time and space from which your wine was born & raised.

For more on the indication of vintage year:

The Anti-Wine Snob on Vintage Year

Robert Parker’s Vintage Chart – Includes free download.

Does Vintage Always Matter? from Food & Wine

What You Need to Know about Vintage Variation from Wine Folly

On the third day of wine…

Day 3

#12daysofwinefacts

 

We can’t just drink, drink, drink before the grapes can grow, grow, grow!  Different grapes thrive in different areas because the earth’s conditions are favorable for certain little baby grapes. Winegrowers know this. Grapes can be grown in a variety of places and the slightest of changes will alter the wine that you eventually enjoy.

Who loves to visit the vineyards and see the growing phase?

On the second day of wine…

Day 2

#12daysofwinefacts

According to Moët & Chandon you should place the bottle in a Champagne bucket, fill bucket with one-third water and add ice cubes to top. Leave for at least 15 minutes before serving to bring champagne to the proper temperature (8˚-9˚C/46˚-48˚F).

Your friends will be asking you so, when do we drink

If you don’t know how to open a bottle of Champagne, take instruction here:

Opening Champagne, à la Française

(excerpt from my article in The Good Life France)

It’s a common cultural expectation to pop that bubbly with a bang, but there is a graceful way to open the bottle that won’t cause eye injury, slippery messes or embarrassment. The popping sound might be fun, but a loss of bubbles and flavor is not desirable. Easy steps:

  • Have the bubbly ice-cold, the bottle towel-dried and the foil properly removed.
  • Tilt the bottle away from you, at about 45 degrees. Don’t aim it at anyone or anything, just get the angle right.
  • Hold the cork down with one hand and remove the wire cage with your other hand.
  • After the cage is off, continue to hold the cork and use your free hand to gently twist the bottle. You’ll do this until you hear the delicate sound of air escaping as the cork frees from the bottle. There might be a little wisp of vapor.

As a reminder, a bottle should only be referred to as Champagne if it is the real deal. Other bubbly wines are called sparkling wines.

On the first day of wine…

day 1

 

#12daysofwinefacts

On the first day of wine, my true love gave me to me… a Champagne vineyard. (Yes, I know…. I’m not even sure I’m on the good list.)

 

For more on Champagne, you’ll either have to drink some or read about the stuff. If you can’t drink some, here’s some info:

Jancis Robinson on Champagne

Champagne, the French Elixr

Picking Grapes in Champagne

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter for the remaining days, including a bonus Day 13 with some special wine-for-the-holidays tips! @jillbarth