Maybe “foray” is a bit too strong a word here… but since moving to Virginia, I am surrounded by wine and wineries. Apparently, Virginia is in the Top 10 wine producing states in the US. The Shenandoah Valley’s growing season is friendly to nearly every varietal of grape. I like grapes. Is it possible that I like wine, too? I suppose I live in a good region to find out!
I’ve never liked wine in the past, just as I’ve never liked beer. Those facts are inconvenient, as sitting around drinking vodka-based cocktails all evening has a much different effect than sipping something “lighter,” let’s say.
And I’ve always been jealous of the people that could pair up wine with food. It seems there’s such an interesting combination of art and science that goes into the process.
One thing that concerns me is that I don’t eat most of the foods that wines are notably paired up with – red meat, poultry, seafood… ummm, yeah. What wine goes well with tofu? Green beans? What about kale?
Still, I’m curious enough to take on the adventure. So, here it is – my first attempt at learning to enjoy wine.
Like most investigative journeys, I started on Google, which led me to a quiz on the Wall Street Journal’s site that offered insights to my potential wine preferences, based on my likes/dislikes of salty foods, beer, coffee, tea, and other things. Try Budometer – scroll down about half way to the link to the quiz.
My taste buds are hyper-sensitive. This doesn’t surprise me. When I re-take the quiz with other acceptable answers, it puts me in the Sweet category. So, it appears that I will be a picky wine drinker.
Yesterday was my birthday, so I set out to test the results of the Budometer. My plan: buy a bottle of Chardonnay from Dave Matthews’ Virginia winery, Blenheim Vineyards (not because I will enjoy it – I probably won’t like it, according to my Budometer results – but because it’s from a winery owned by Dave Matthews! Squeee!), and buy a bottle of a German riesling wine.
Wandering the wine section of the store (I was at) felt a bit like being 21 all over again. (Let’s not count how many years ago that was… ahem…). I felt generally lost and clueless. I was armed with a few key words to look for on the labels, but that was it. Thankfully, WF has a very well organized wine section. First up, I hit the “Local” shelves for my Dave wine. Then, I moved to the German section to seek out a riesling. (My back-up keyword was Moscato, also a sweet variety). I discovered that there is also an “Organic” section (w00t!) and an “Eco-Friendly” section – both of which I plan to explore!
Very few of the wines indicated on the label how sweet they would be. Bummer. I did find one that indicated it was medium-sweet, which according to Budometer is the low-end of my sweetness tolerance. In the absence of any other well-defined options, I listened to the bottle (pick me! pick me!) and took home a Schmitt Sohne blue bottle riesling. $13.
I chilled it in the fridge for a little while before I got around to opening it. I surely don’t have a wine cellar, so the whole wine temperature thing will be a challenge for me. After dinner, I busted out a wine glass from my hometown and got to pouring.
Keep in mind – I have no clue what I’m doing. I just bought Wine for Dummies. Literally.
I swirled it around the glass, nearly spilling it all over myself.
I sniffed it. (Whew! Smelled like wine!)
I took a sip.
And…. not bad! Tasted like wine (I have a feeling the whole “dry” thing is the part I don’t like about the flavor of wine), but it had a mild finish. So maybe it’s not too dry?
All that stuff about apple aromas, and a firm and fruity palate… yeah, whatever. I smelled the stuff repeatedly over the course of 2 glasses and couldn’t smell anything but wine. Couldn’t taste apples (though by the end of the second glass, my brain thought maybe I was starting to taste something? Could’ve just been the buzz).
From this wine newbie, I’ve got a long way to go in developing my palate!
But I am intrigued that all of the different wines come from different kinds of grapes. There have to be a few out there I will enjoy!
As is, this riesling was not bad. I might even call it “good” for wine (considering my tendency to dislike wine). My next purchase will likely be something sweeter – but probably another riesling.
Stay tuned for more adventures in wine! If you’ve got any sweet wine suggestions for me, feel free to share!