Back to school has never been more crazy than this year! Not only are my days filled with lessons, assessments and a classroom of new students, but it is back to school for me to learn about wine!
Amidst the chaos and grading I am squeezing in time to read Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack while sampling a delicious array of Banfi wines. And trust me, it is an interesting new hobby as well as a fun conversation maker as I argue with friends on Friday game nights about the scent of a particularly tasty wine!
While I am usually a creature of habit unwilling to deviate from my secret margarita recipe, I have had tons of fun the last few weeks sampling different kinds of wine and learning where the different flavors come from! I even learned a little about pairing different kinds of wines, and had an extra fun excuse to throw a dinner party! (Homemade Indian curry and Bolla Rose anyone?)
I’ve learned about the effect of tannins (natural compounds found in grape skins) on my tongue and consequently that I apparently have too many taste buds (bitter!), thus I favor the sweet deliciousness of a fruity red or white wine with fewer tannins. I learned about the acidity and sweetness of wine. The more acidic the more shriveled your mouth will feel. (Fun fact: Did you know that the higher the alcohol content in your wine is, the more watery your mouth will be?) I also learned how to look for clarity by tipping your glass and looking at the wine from an angle to judge color and depth. I also read something about finding the dominant scent of the wine. Funny thing is, I (drunkenly?) read that you should sniff the inside of your elbow and then smell the wine. And better yet? I made my whole family do it before I let them drink any. Clearly that day I could not handle my alcohol. Please DON’T do that. Instead, smell the wine once, to cleanse your palate before inhaling and looking for that first delicious aroma.
Lastly, I learned that the finish is that lingering taste that stays with you after a sip. I like a nice, long, sweet finish to my wines.
After all this learning and sampling, I have concluded that in this wide world of wines, there ARE perfect wines for me!
Of the six most delicious wines I tasted from Banfi, I naturally favored the sweeter, lighter wines, particularly the Lambrusco Emiliano and the marvelous, amazing Rosa Regale. If you want a wine that tastes like a cup of juice or sparkling soda, these are the darlings for you! I am in love with these babies. They paired well with pasta, my specialty asian sweet potato cheese tonkatsu rolls, and chocolate cake. They also made quite a fine dessert on their own!
I also received a couple of dryer wines that made excellent dinner companions. The Bolla Rose paired well with exotic spices and the Banfi Centine paired well with my garlic breaded tilapia fillets. These wines are good for a person who doesn’t have quite the sensational sweet tooth that I have.
Lastly I had a yummy Pacific Rim Dry Riesling and Natura Chardonnay. The chardonnay went well with a long day at work and a waffle shaped like a Death Star. This delicious wine can be paired with the meal of a tired spinster or make a delicious companion to a fancy steak dinner. It isn’t too sweet, and not too bitter. It has an excellent balance so even the amateur wine drinker like myself can handle it on its own or with a meal.
And with the Pacific Rim Dry Riesling? I won’t lie, I’m saving it for Thanksgiving. Partially because the bottle is beautiful and partially due to knowing its flavor will go well with my turkey next week and I would like to share it with my family.
As for me, the first 9 weeks of Back to School are up and I think I passed my Wine 101 course. But like with anything there is always more to learn. For now I have only a dream of going to the Castello Banfi Vineyard in Tuscany, Italy and sampling their beautiful wines and foods in a graduate level wine tasting course. So I will keep at this wine thing and maybe someday my dreams will come true. There are so many more flavors to try!
If you don’t know how to start wine tasting, first things first, you’re going to need a manual! I highly recommend Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine. It is a great beginners guide which explains different aspects of wine and gives you a nice chart and information regarding pairing wines and dinners. And don’t forget to pick up a wine tasting notebook! I have become silly in love with my wine tasting notebook and love to challenge myself to pick out those unseen details in a glass of wine.
And if you, like me have no idea what wine to start tasting? Check out http://www.banfiwines.com/ I highly recommend the Rosa Regale and the Lambrusco Emiliano, but there are so many delicious flavors to try. And the only way to find them is to sample, sample, sample!