Archive for the ‘wine tasting’ Category

Spring Wine Tasting Season is upon us

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Though the weather in NYC might be indicating otherwise, Spring is here and the Spring wine tasting events are in full swing.  I had the opportunity (& good fortune) to attend two such tastings the past few days.  The first was a Chianti event down in the Meatpacking area.  It was a partially outdoor venue and was well attended with a good crowd tasting the wines and speaking with winemakers.

What has been of most interest in the world of wine to ME lately are really unique wines; those wines that stand out as different in one way or another from others.  In general that “different” comes from aromas detected as soon as I put my nose in the glass.  And not all different is good.  Sometimes different is medicinal, oxidized or otherwise unpleasant.  But picking up on aromas that are not familiar to me is always fun.  And while the diversity of styles at the Chianti tasting was limited by the fact that all the wines came from the same region, there was a pleasantly surprising assortment of wine styles present.

The wines that stood out that afternoon were the simply made DOCG Chianti wines; those made mostly from Sangiovese and aged in either concrete or stainless steel tanks – not seeing any barrel aging.  The wines were fresh & lively, fruity, well made and easily drinkable.  These are wines I think a large percentage of people can appreciate as wines that don’t need a big steak to pair it with, instead great for sipping on their own or pairing with a more diverse range of foods.

What was pretty amazing to me is how many of these quality producers don’t currently have US importers and were at the tasting seeking representation.  I hope I’ll be able to help them out in one capacity or another as I embark on my next project.

The second tasting was a very different type of tasting.  It was Wine Spectator’s “Grand Tour”.  I’ve attended the WS tasting once before but was not prepared.  WS attracts some world renown wineries and I discovered them once they were all out of wine.  I was not going to make the same mistake twice.

First Growth Bordeaux…not the easiest first wine for a palate, but I was not going to miss out this time.  2004 Chaueau Margaux.  2007 Chateau Haut-Brion.  OH MY.  Both wines are babies and were in my (very inexperienced when it comes to top Bordeaux) opinion not showing too much about what makes them special, but they were beautifully aromatic, velvety soft and had long yummy finishes.  What a TREAT!

I got to taste some great Premier Cru Burgundy, some Barolo, Super Tuscans, WS’s #1 wine for the year the CVNE 2004 Gran Reserva Rioja and enough Champagne to plaster a big smile on my face for several days!  But there were also some very “fancy” (expensive) wines that didn’t do it for me.  They were in most cases good, but they didn’t really stand out to me as special and were certainly not wines I would spend my coin on (if I had that kind of coin).  In the end though, I marked about 30 wines I hoped to taste and figured I’d be in & out within an hour.  I ended up being there for just shy of the full 3 hours and tasted over 60 wines.  It was really a special night and I am super appreciative of my industry friend who helped me procure my ticket.

Spring Tastings

Spring Tastings

Takeaway for you…forget the score, forget the rating…trust your palate and when given the opportunity buy a wine YOU TASTED first rather than one someone else insists you will love.

Happy Spring Wine Tasting!


“Uncorked” & Oregon Pinot at City Winery

Friday, March 30th, 2012

I’m a big believer in the importance of tasting wine.  It is the best way to learn about your wine “likes & dislikes” and whenever possible you should taste a wine before committing to the bottle.

Given the significance I place on tasting I was psyched to learn about and visit a GREAT new wine shop in the West Village called “Uncorked”, serving 40 wines (small but FREE tastes) from wine dispensing machines.  The space is real intimate with about 250 offerings (all you really need) and the founder/owner runs it himself.  A former finance guy, Paul invested his savings into building this store to pursue what had become a passion – wine.  In my opinion he did and is doing a great job.  Real Enthusiastic, official policy says he’ll give you up to 3 tastings gratis, but having met him I’d bet if you show him that you are serious about buying he’ll give ya more than that.  So if you are looking to pick up a bottle and have a few minutes to try some wine head on down to Christopher street and check him out.

Speaking of tasting wine, friends at City Winery are hosting Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wine Association who are pouring their wines on April 16th.   The “Sideways” effect brought Pinot Noir more notoriety, but what style Pinot do you like? As a Burgundy lover I tend to enjoy the somewhat earthy characteristic in some Oregon’s Pinots rather than California’s brighter & fruitier Pinot Noirs.  Check out the tasting to see which you prefer.  In addition to Pinot Noir, they are sure to be serving some great Pinot Gris as well as other varietals.  $75 isn’t cheap, but it’s a great deal for the opportunity to taste wine from 50 Oregon wineries.

’nuff said…Happy Wine Tasting!



Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

It has been forever since I’ve posted but I saw this and LOVED IT!

I guess I liked it because I still think too many people don’t trust their own palates, instead preferring to rely on “experts”.  Hogwash I say…check out this cool article about how much the experts really know…


In a nutshell….”An experiment using a range of Champagnes served in black glasses showed that experienced tasters and wine commentators can’t distinguish different styles of Champagne, or indeed, red grapes from white.

So there you have it folks…these are the experts whose opinions you are relying on.

Trust your palate & ENJOY WINE!


Final post…(for now) – JUST TASTE DAMMIT!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Hey Wine Tasting Guy fans…

What can I say, I have neglected you over the past few months.  I guess that is what happens when you are running the marketing (and PR) department(s) for a multi-million dollar food & wine importer/distributor (yes, gratuitously patting myself on the back).

But I digress…I want to leave you all with a final message.

As evidenced in the title, I am writing today to encourage you to JUST TASTE DAMMIT!

What do I mean…well, I believe people need to taste more wines.  Shortly after getting into the wine industry a well known winemaker shared the secret to a good palate with me.  She advised that I TASTE TASTE TASTE.  Like anything, to get good requires lots of practice – or just doing.

Whenever possible taste wine.  Go to wine bars, attend tastings, get together with friends and open several bottles, or just get together with a loved one and pop the cork on something special.

And most importantly…form your own opinions about wine.  Stop looking at scores, reading tasting notes, asking wine store clerks or choosing a bottle based on the label.

Sure wine critics are useful.  I learned a TON participating on a wine forum with a wine mentor (and good friend who recently passed away).

But all these critics know is what appeals to THEM…what wines THEY like…they have no idea if you will like the wine or not.

Try to find stores offering tastings or with Enomatic/Wine Station machines and taste the wine before you buy it…it is the best way to ensure you will love your wine!

Ohhh…one more thing – wine should be fun…remember not to take it TOO seriously! 😉

Happy Wine Tasting!


Toast of the Town & am I becoming a wine snob?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Once again I had the good fortune of attending the Wine Enthusiast Toast of the town.  This was my 4th year, but this was the first time I attended as a vendor as opposed to as a journalist (OK, blogger).

In a new location (Avery Fisher Hall instead of Koch Theater) within NYC’s glorious Lincoln Theater, Wine Enthusiast put on its annual Toast of the Town event this past Thursday May 5th.

It was bigger than its ever been before with a ton of wine and lots of great restaurants.  This year there were also spirits and beers being poured.

I attended this year on behalf of Israel’s Barkan Winery.  The Barkan lineup this year was a pretty cool one.

The 2007 Barkan Superieur Pinotage is a very cool & interesting wine.  Rich chocolate, toffee & ripe fruit… A great wine that really makes you go “hmmmm”.

Speaking of going hmmmm, we also poured the 3 wines in the “Altitude” series.  The altitude represents vineyards at different heights above sea level, representing different terroirs.  The wines also come from different regions, so the altitude isn’t the only difference.  But the 3 wines (a 412, 624 & 720) are basically all made the same way – so like an experiment with the winemaking as the control.  It was lots of fun to hear the people, most of whom had different favorites amongst the 3.

I did try to hit up a few other tables while I was there and I managed to taste about 30 wines.

In no particular order, I liked the following:

Perry Moore: A 2008 Napa Cab & 2008 Beckstoffers vineyard Oakville Cab that reminded me a lot of the wines I got to work with when I lived in Napa and worked in the lab.

Don Sebastiani & Sons 2007 Aquinas “Philosepher’s Blend”  had great acidity balancing out its ripe fruit.

A Greek wine, the 2004 Oenoforos Lanos Cabernet Sauvignon had dusty fruit & a good earthiness that reminded me of an aged Israeli wine (which makes some sense as they are both Eastern Mediterranean).

The 2004 Batasiolo Vigneto Cerequio Barolo was a WOW wine with great liveliness, subtle burgundian fruit and cola flavors.

Of the whites the one standout for me was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (which when done well I find to be so refreshing…I can drink LOTS of NZ Sauv Blanc) the Matua Valley 2009 which had fresh pink grapefruit.

Sooooo….what do I mean by “Wine Snob”?  Sure I prefer good wine to mediocre wine, but the reality is that most wine these days (and surely almost all being poured at events such as this) is pretty good.  I guess I felt like a bit of a snob at this event more because I’m tough to impress.   I’ve come to expect most wine to be good these days.  But good isn’t good enough anymore, it needs to be interesting.  And in the end, very little of the wine that I had the opportunity to try was truly interesting.

Happy Interesting Wine Tasting


Expensive wine & upcoming TOTT & Riesling tastings

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

I had a story forwarded by a reader I thought I’d share.  Also want to give a heads up about two of my favorite tastings of the year; first the annual TOTT (Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town) & next week’s Riesling (Wines of Germany) tasting.  I expect to attend both and hope to write about each shortly thereafter…

In the meantime, enjoy!

“Expensive Wine Indistinguishable from the Cheap Stuff”

The case for boxed wine just got stronger. In a blind taste test at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, 578 volunteers tasted wines ranging from 3.49 British pounds (or about $5.78 in American dollars) per bottle to £29.99 (just shy of $50). They were told that they were drinking one cheap wine, classified as being under £5 per bottle, and one expensive wine that cost £10 or more, and asked to identify which was which. Read on to see how they fared.

As reported in The Guardian, the volunteers managed to identify the more expensive wine only 53% of the time, and even less than that (47%) when the wines in question were red. Essentially, you’d have an equal chance of guessing an unborn baby’s gender or calling a flipped coin mid-air as you would of determining which wine is of higher value by taste alone. The wine with the highest accuracy rate was a pinot grigio, and that with the lowest was a claret, for which 61% of tasters thought the £3.49 bottle cost more than its £15.99 counterpart.

The moral here seems clear: If you want to drink free wine, sign up for more European science festivals. Also, if there is a costly wine you legitimately love, by all means, go ahead and splurge. But don’t venture down the wine aisle hoping to stumble on something tasty using price alone as your guideline, particularly with reds. Time to stock back up on that Two Buck Chuck.

Best Wine Club EVER

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

A quick holiday weekend post.

I enjoy drinking wine with friends & colleagues, but my favorite wine tasting are BYOB “wine club” style tastings.

Simply put, gather anywhere from 4 to 12 (or however many you have room for) people and have everyone bring in comparable wines (same varietal, vintage, country of origin, etc).  I’m a fan of the blind tasting, but this can be done blind or not.  The wines are opened and moving through a wine at a time, the group gets to taste multiple wines for the cost of a bottle, and discuss said wines with the group.

In general these discussion are compelling & educational.  When done blind, they are also generally pretty funny…and humbling!

About 10 of us gathered last week for a kosher BYOB tasting – our only theme being cost – that the wine should retail for >$40.  There were 6 wines from Israel including a Castel Grand Vin, Yatir Forest, Single Vineyard Kayoumi Shiraz from Carmel, Bustan Merlot (that seemed to be corked) and two single vineyard Merlot’s from Yarden.  We also had a French Wine (’99 Giscours) and a Cali Cab (City Winery Obsidian Ridge).

The tasting seemed to be enjoyed by all.  Though we tasted blind, we knew ahead of time what the 8 wines to be tasted were.  And by process of elimination, some of us successfully guessed which wine we were tasting.  A feat not typically easily achieved – we decided that there are too few kosher wines if we were able to successfully guess the wines.

Overall it was an enjoyable experience and I’m already looking forward to the next club meeting.

Happy Wine Club blind wine tasting.


Drinking mature wine…

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I had one of my most enjoyable tastings a few days ago.  I got to taste about 20 wines ranging in age from 7-11 years old, all stored in optimal conditions.  I knew which wines I would be tasting ahead of time and was concerned that many would be past their prime and possibly even dead.  Lo & behold, the wines were all alive and quite spectacular.

It is said that 95% (or thereabout) of wine in consumed within 24 hours of its being purchased.  Which leads me to believe that most people have not had the extreme pleasure of drinking a wine that has had time to mature in the bottle, a bottle aged wine.

From “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”: “Crudely, the molecular changes known to unfold in a sealed wine bottle that has been laid down for years involve the gradual interaction of oxygen and wine.  Simple chemical compounds break down and recombine into more and more complex forms called polymeric phenols.  Acidity and alcohol soften.  The largest compounds – the harsh, astringent tannins – drift down into a carpet of sediment, taking with them the saturated, inky pigments.  They leave behind a mellowed, unfathomably subtle flavor and a brick-red hue.  Everything knits together, resolving into an ever finer complexity expressed fragrantly in the wine’s bouquet.”

The chapter gets into more detail about mature wine (while discussing Bordeaux purported to be from Thomas Jefferson’s cache dating back to the late 1700’s, and declares that “a wine is considered mature when it has maximized its flavor possibilities but has not yet begun to deteriorate”.

I still believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Some people prefer the primary aromas and flavors of a young wine, while others prefer the tertiary characteristics.  Of the wines I tried at the tasting I was shocked to discover that not only were most of the wines alive, but they were still displaying youthful fruit.  Their color was almost across the board still ruby, not showing very much (if any) of the brick color that is indicative of an aged wine (as it goes from purple to ruby to brick and ultimately towards brown as it reaches the end of its life).

I tried 5 Bordeaux, 3 Spanish wines, 2 wines from California and 9 wines from Israel.

The Bordeaux was all quite nice and I wish I had time with each bottle to enjoy it as it evolved.  Sadly this was a bit of a speed tasting for me as my job on this evening was simply to verify that the wines were still alive.  They were alive yet I couldn’t help but think they all seemed a bit lite.  They were definitely light in body.  I wonder what types of characteristics would have been revealed had I had more time with these wines.

Next were the Spanish wines from Capcanes; A 2000, 2001 & 2003.  These were probably my (more…)

Sweet Red wine is GREAT!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Yes, I said it, sweet red wine is GREAT!

I was at a food/wine trade show today and had a great conversation with a young lady.  She came by to taste some wine and said that she would like to be more into wine but doesn’t like the bitter & tannic (not her exact words) taste of most red wines she has tried.  So she reluctantly said she would take a Chardonnay.

Lucky for her, among the wines we were sampling was a semi-dry red wine.

I know, these semi-dry wines supposedly aren’t meant for serious wine drinkers.  They are not known as classy wines.  They are said to be used for sacramental purposes.  They are seemingly terrible.  WELL, actually, when made well (with the care given to table wines) they can be great.

But most important, they are a GREAT TOOL.

Most people did not grow up drinking wine, or other dry beverages.  We grew up on soft drinks…soda, fruit drinks, juice, etc.  Our palates are not used to dry drinks.

Sweet (or semi-sweet) red wines are great.  It is a gateway wine (her words) to getting into the more typical dry table wines.

Happy sweet red wine tasting!


Wine Aerators

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Until about 2 weeks ago I did not have strong feelings about wine aerators, or even decanting wine for that matter.  Sure, young wines seemed to me to benefit a bit from “breathing” (exposure to oxygen).  But were these “gadgets” or decanters really worth the trouble?  I felt it wasn’t, and was content to vigorously swirl the wine in the glass, figuring this exposure to oxygen would be enough.

But I’ve recently been a little disappointed.  I was supposed to be selling a wine, and the way most wines are sold is by providing tastes to the wine shop buyer.  Upon opening the wine for the buyer I would taste as well – a practice to ensure that the wine is sound and “showing” properly.  It wasn’t fun forcing a smile when the truth was that I felt the wine in question was tight, one dimensional and rather simple tasting.  This wine had to have more going on I thought, but while tasting the wine we weren’t experiencing the possible depth.

I brought an open bottle of the aforementioned wine home and without much thought opened the wine up a few days later.  I had transfered the wine to a half bottle, removing most of the oxygen, but it wasn’t completely free of oxygen & had enough exposure to effect the wine.  And effect the wine it did!  This closed, tight, one dimensional wine was gone…in its place a bright, fruit driven and delicious wine.

A few weeks later I was visiting friends (and doing business) up at the Wine Enthusiast headquarters.  While there I decided to invest in a “Vinturi” wine aerator.

I used my new aerator with friends a few days later and I fell in love.  What can I say…I’ve used it a bunch of times since and I truly believe that this device does what it claims.  It helps the aromas to come through, the otherwise hidden fruit flavors are clearly apparent and both the tannins and acid seem softer, providing for a smoother mouthfeel and finish.

I have no business affiliation with Vinturi.  I gain nothing by promoting this item.  But I gotta tell you, if you have ever experienced a wine that was young and seemed tight, boring, one dimensional or otherwise not what you expected, maybe all you need is a Vinturi to experience the wine’s true potential.

Happy Vinturi Wine Tasting!