(Third in a 3 part series)
Most people realize that I am asking them what their favorite alcoholic beverage is. Only once someone gave me a true answer. He said their oldest scotch! The reason I ask is that the question tells me what flavors you like in your alcohol. When people come in and they say they like a good scotch or whiskey; I go and pull out the El Anejo. I tell them not to think of this as a wine or as a scotch, but to use both thinking caps when they try the wine. 99% of the time the client loves this wine because it shares a little bit of the peat flavors and the smokiness. Yet it still has some dry fruitiness from a wine. When people tell me they like beer, I ask them which beer they have in mind. People who love sour beers love wines like the Peterson Barbera, where there is a lot of fruit and acid, but no sweetness in the wine. Stout lovers like the big bold and slightly earthy wines. People who love Bud and Coors and Natural Ice…. I refer them to questions one and two.
Out of all three questions this is the hardest one for me to explain. I have had a lot of experience tasting different types of alcohol and tasting many different flavors; but a lot of how I find the best wine is just making little connections. I watch your face, listen to what you say to the rest of the group, see how much is left in your glass, what you are nibbling on when you are drinking the wine, and how people are looking at other people tasting. The most important thing is to be able to make that mental connection between flavors and what your own palette remembers about them. I have the opportunity to test out my theories on many people every day. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. But the most important thing when it comes to tasting wines is to open up your mind to whatever memories their taste and smell bring to you and be able to connect them to other memories.
(Second in a 3 part series)
When the new Praxis Gewurztraminer came into the room I was amazed by the bottle shape and the dark color of the glass bottle. I had seen this shape before in the Peterson Bradford Mountain Rose, but that was a clear bottle not a dark olive color. I asked Bill Arbios “Why is the bottle so dark?” He told me that Gewurztraminers were known for coming in the darker bottles. I knew from personal knowledge that other alcohol like beer is put into the darker glass to help bounce off the ultra violet rays. But do ultra violet rays affect wine?
Wines that are exposed to natural light can be affected. It is a condition called lightstruck. This means the wine has either a “wet cardboard” or “wet wool” smell and taste. Red wines normally are not as affected by ultra violet light because the phenols in the wines protect it from turning. The wines most affected are white wines or sparkling wines. This is why most sparkling wines are in green or olive glass colored bottles. Most of the time the average consumer does not have to worry about wines becoming lightstruck; just be aware of this issue if any of your white or sparkling bottles are being exposed to direct sunlight.
Locals Tasting Room
When I first started working at locals I didn’t think I would have to change my personal habits too much. I get to sleep in, have a later dinner, and not have to worry about getting the frost off of my window. One thing I did not think of was how I would have to change brushing my teeth. I would come in and taste the wines and make sure they were not oxidized. Sounds pretty simple right?
Not 20 minutes before I had brushed my teeth as I was going out the door after breakfast. The wine I tasted was horrible! It wasn’t oxidized, but the flavor was very off. I figured it might have been because I had super spicy Thai food the night before and maybe my palette was still off. When this happened many days in a row I knew something was up.
I started brushing my teeth sooner, or tasting the wine later, it helped but not much. Then I switched out my peppermint toothpaste with a “citrus burst” toothpaste. I never had the problem again. There must be something about minty toothpaste that just kills the sweet and fruit receptors on your tongue. I find it can take up to 2 hours for the mintyness to come off of your palette. So if you know you will be tasting wine early in the day, be sure to use a non minty toothpaste so you can enjoy the wines the way they are supposed to be tasting.