Tuesday, February 16, 2010


People who know me know that I'm pretty well versed in beer. I know a few things about a lot of styles, and I'd definitely say that I know more than the layman. Sure, there are folks who know much more than me, but I can hold a conversation down at the homebrew shop, and I didn't feel that it was necessary for the waitress at BJ's to tell me about the different styles that they had on tap (especially considering that I've made about 90% of those styles).

Wine though? That's another matter. Push comes to shove, I prefer a good beer over a good wine. Still, I find myself getting more interested in wine, and I've come to learn a few things - which puts me several steps ahead of many of the people who drink wine, oddly enough. You don't seem to need to know much to know more than the average person, it seems. Not only that, but I've found myself at the point that when it comes to some meals, I actually prefer a glass of wine to a beer.

I really don't buy all that much. I think that I buy one bottle of Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck" ever other week. Still, that's a lot more than I bought just a year ago. Before then, I'd only drink beer if that's what somebody was offering at their house. When asked if I preferred red or white, I'd always go with red, not realizing that there's quite a bit of variety within that one category. However, there have been a few things that have changed some of my attitudes on wine.

The first was a wine-tasting that I did the last time Kirsti and I were on a cruise. With that, I got to try a Riesling, a Chardonnay, a White Zinfandel, a Merlot, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The two that impressed me the most? The Riesling and the Cab, even though they tasted completely different from one another. I didn't care for either the Chardonnay or the Merlot, and I thought that the White Zinfandel was fine, but it wasn't nearly as interesting.

The second thing was when I was at a Barmitzvah. I got to eat this really awesome stew/chili, and they were serving a white wine with it. I didn't feel too thrilled about this, but I'll be honest when I'll say that I was pretty much drinking anything that was put in front of me. I might have even had a Bud Light with Lime if I was given that. Why? It was frikken' hot. Also, I didn't know a whole lot of people there, and I was feeling extra-introverted that day.

Anyway, the white wine was excellent and the perfect compliment to that spicy stew. I checked the bottle, and it was something called a Sauvignon Blanc. Absolutely brilliant. I liked it so much that I bought a bottle at Trader Joe's the very next time that I went there. I went and had it with some spicy food, and it really did the trick.

I'm starting to realize that when people say that they don't like white wine (or they say the opposite) that means about as much as when people say they don't like "dark" beer. Just as "dark" is not a descriptor of taste, neither is red or white. Let's face it, a Sauvignon Blanc doesn't taste a thing like a Riesling, and a Merlot doesn't taste like a Cabernet Sauvignon. I've also come to learn that even within those different styles, you can get a lot of variety. I assumed that Rieslings were all sweet, but I've recently come to learn that they make some dry varieties. (I find that I tend to prefer the dry stuff.) I'd like to try one of those one of these days. Maybe there might even be a Chardonnay out there that I'd like.

I just watched a special with John Cleese where he basically did a primer on wine for beginners. The major point of the show was to give people the proper vocabulary so they can get the experts to recommend to them the kinds of wines that they might like. Also, it dispelled some myths - like how a more expensive wine is supposedly "better" than a less expensive one. Overall, the main point of the program was to let people know that they shouldn't let others tell them what to drink; they should drink what they like.

The most interesting part was when they did some blind taste tests. Sure enough, some people preferred the $5 bottle of wine over the $200 bottle. Even more surprising was when the wine was put into plastic cups where people couldn't see its color. When asked if they were drinking red or white wine, half of them got it wrong.

I guess my attitude for wine is the same as my attitude for beer. You should drink what you like. However, you should keep an open mind and not rule out a type due to something as arbitrary as what color it is - there just might be something out there that surprises you.

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