Let’s be honest – I wanted to call this “Wino Wednesday,” but that just seemed unprofessional.
While I drink my fair share of the stuff, I’m not particularly well-schooled when it comes to knowing about different brands and varietals of wine. I know the standard bits and pieces – Chardonnay is drier (which means “less sweet”) than Riesling, white wines are lighter and generally paired with fish, poultry and pasta (depending on the sauce) and reds are generally heartier and paired with red meats as well as delicious treats like chocolate. Oh and I know that varietals are about the kind of grape used or the region the grapes are grown in, as well as knowing that varietals are generally a blend (with the majority of the blend being wine from one type of grape).
But that’s about the extent of my wine knowledge.
I’ve always wanted this blog to be about learning, but have mostly focused on sharing the things that I already know about cooking. To expand this a bit, I’m going to give myself the gift of knowledge and try some some wines and share my bumpy road to wine enlightenment here (I know, it sounds like a terrible chore, doesn’t it?). I’m not going to lie – the beginning might be a bit rough, because for me, words like “jammy” and “nose” still equate to “thing I wear to bed” and “body part that holds up my reading glasses,” but I’ll do my best to develop both my palette and knowledge. I am hoping that the few readers I might have will share their thoughts as well – goodness knows I can use all the help I can get!
So I’m going to just dive in and let this be messy and as incomplete as it needs to be – onward!
We tasted about eight wines in the last few weeks, and already I’ve learned an important lesson; make notes while you’re drinking! I’ve forgotten almost everything about the new wines and will probably need to start over with most of them (again, waah, poor me). But of those eight, the one that has stood out most for me in terms of drinkability is the Stonehedge Zinfandel 2009. At a nice retail price of somewhere between $10 and $13, this is a wine that I will definitely be bringing along to future dinner parties/group events.
I’ve always been more of a Cabernet drinker, thinking that Zins are on the boring side. I realize that “boring” is not a term generally associated with serious wine evaluation, but I think the relatively low acidity and the relatively high sugar in this particular varietal usually mixes up to be sort of blah to my taste. That is very likely to have more to do with my inexperience than being any inherent fault of Zinfandel, but hey, you like what you like.
The Stonehedge that we tried, however, makes me want to reevaluate my (mostly subconscious) ban on Zinfandel. It wasn’t overly sweet or cloying, and its smoothness was a pleasant change from our more economical standby wine’s characteristic bite (which I generally like, but everyone needs a change now and then). The review sites I’ve looked at recommend pairing this wine with steak or ribs, both of which would be nice, but I think it could go well with a hearty cheese (I’m thinking more gouda than bleu) or a really nice dark chocolate*. Of course, if you just want to crack the bottle and drink it while you’re cooking, I have the first-hand experience necessary to recommend you do just that!
So that’s it for Wine Wednesday #1. Oh! One last tip before we close – I’ve never really understood the whole idea of “breathing” a wine or decanting it, until very recently. While we did not do that for this wine, the next time I buy it, I will definitely be opening it 30 minutes before drinking it, if not putting it in a decanter. All the wines we’ve tasted in the past few weeks got remarkably better after sitting open for at least 30 minutes. If you’re not the type who can stand to just open a bottle without pouring it immediately, try opening it and then going for a walk – there’s nothing quite like a bit of exercise to make everything taste extra yummy!