This is the second class I’ve been able to attend at Sip Wine Bar to further my wine knowledge. Read all about Wine Class 101 here!
We tried six new wines, three whites and three reds, and learned a plethora of knowledge.
One of the first things I heard at this class was that you aren’t supposed to brush your teeth before a wine tasting. Oops. I totally had just brushed mine, but I ate a cracker before I started sipping, so hopefully that helped with my tastes.
Wine One: Vinha Das Margaridas Vinho Verde (Portugal)
Food Pairing: Shellfish, oysters, scallops.
This white wine was so different and delicious. It had citrus and floral aromas with tastes of lemon, lime and grapefruit. It also has a sort of effervescence to it, which makes it a good springtime wine. In Portugal, grape vines are often grown up telephone poles, because the ground is so soft and wet. This helps keep the plants dry and away from excess moisture, which will cause mold. “Vinho Verde” means “green wine,” in the sense that the grapes are very fresh and young. Typically this type of wine is bottled very quickly and is supposed to be consumed within a year.
Wine Two: Mercer Estate Viognier (Washington)
Food Pairing: Chocolate dipped apricots, nutty cheeses.
This wine is one of my favorites from the tasting and the one I ended up purchasing after the event. I had never had a viognier wine before, and because I typically go for reds, I was surprised at how much I loved this one. A good winter white wine, this selection has notes of cantaloupe (which I typically hate), lychee and banana. I know that sounds weird, but it really works. Viognier wines produce a soft fruitiness, almost an almond quality to them. Also, I learned that Washington is the second highest producer of wine behind California. This makes sense, as they are on the same coast, but I was still sort of surprised by that, because I haven’t seen many Washington-made wines around here.
Wine Three: Laguna Ranch Chardonnay (Sonoma, California)
Food Pairing: Pork, salmon, poultry.
This wine is from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, which is the best place in the world for Chardonnay. This particular wine has a delicate note of apple, pear and tangerine, as well as hints of Asian spices and cream. This creamy fruit scent is caused by malolactic fermentation. This process is like adding cream to coffee. It softens the wine, cuts the bitterness and adds a “buttery” flavor to the drink. This process is typically added as a secondary fermentation in the wine-making process, and creates lactic acid, which is the same thing that is present in dairy products.
Wine Four: Castelgreve Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany, Italy)
Food Pairing: Pizza, pasta, salami.
This one was another that I fell in love with at this event, and later in the evening, I returned to Sip with my husband and a friend and we consumed two more bottles of this. I learned so much about Old World wine production, and I feel better equipped to pick out wines I know will be delicious. This particular wine has juicy flavors of black cherry, blackberry and plum. Chianti Riserva is a classification of how the wine is aged, which by law is required to be at least 2 years in oak and then 3 months in the bottle before it can be put out onto the shelves for purchase. In the 1930’s, Chianti wines became so popular that they couldn’t keep up with the production, and therefore began to cheat. The wine makers began adding more and more white grapes to it until it was almost a rose. Now, there are laws that prevent this from happening and high standards must be met for wine in all Old World countries. Every bottle of Classico will have either an angel or black rooster, or Gallo Nero, on the label. This guarantees the quality of a bottle of chianti, which is approved through a strict taste test, and indicates that a group of farmers can guarantee the quality of the grapes used to produce the wine. There is also a label that will say DOCG, which stands for Denomination of Control Guarantee, which is pretty much the government seal of approval that guarantees the wine quality.
These wine laws bring up an interesting point about Old World wines versus New World wines. All European countries, i.e. Old World, have laws on wine production. This sort of creates this “Gold Standard” for wines, because they are held at such high standards. However, California and Washington don’t have any laws for wine making, which means that they can make some real crap, but also experiment and come up with some really unique, delicious wines as well.
Wine Five: Queens Peak Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma, California)
Food Pairing: Beef, lamb, venison.
I love this wine for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it’s called Queens Peak. And I love cabs. This wine has aromas of black fruit, toasted walnut and caramel, and ends with tastes of cherry, cranberry and expresso. It was so incredibly smooth and delicious. Sonoma Valley is not as hot as Napa Valley, so the wines are very different, but still very Californian. The grapes for this wine are grown at Two Dog Ranch in Sanoma, and produces low yields, which leads to the concentration of flavor in the wine.
Wine Six: Michael David Inkblot Cabernet Franc (Lodi, California)
Food Pairing: Spicy foods, soft cheeses.
This wine was probably my favorite of the bunch, and of course, the most expensive. In the movie Sideways, one of the main characters criticizes Cabernet Franc, but ironically, his dream wine is actually made from those same grapes. This wine is a fruity in the front, but dry in the back. It has a perfume of raspberries, black currant, violets, and as the description from class says, graphite. It’s almost literally “inky,” as the name suggests. The Mokelumne River that flows through Lodi, California, is lined with vineyards, and men will pick grapes as they float down the river. This wine is a perfect example of a great wine that comes from California, where there are no rules.
I learned so much at this tasting, and it gave me more information to build up my repertoire of wine knowledge. Also, I feel very elite knowing that I was able to get in on the first tasting of these wines. I’ve got a bottle of the Viognier chilling in my fridge, and I’m certain it won’t last in there very long, nor will it be long before I head back to Sip for some more of these beauties. Sip Wine Bar is the only place in Huntington you can get these right now, so you should take advantage and try something new.