As an avid Food & Wine reader, it recently dawned upon me that I tend to disregard the Wine part. I never understood all the hype surrounding food and wine pairing but I decided that if I truly was a "Foodie" then it was about time I educated myself. Clearly, I am in no way a wine expert, nor are my fellow contributors, which is why I have taken it upon myself to study wine and apply what I have learned so I can share with my friends and fellow readers.
For practical reasons, I decided that the wines I choose should be accessible to everyone at a reasonable price. Thanks to Carolyn E. Hammond's new book Good, Better, Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines, I now have a list of wines to choose from and know what to expect. I decided that every other week I would try a new wine from Hammond's book and see if my experiences coincide with what is stated. Also, I will be doing research on the grapes to discover trade secrets, ideal food pairings, and special techniques in order to get the best experience possible. Hopefully, we will start to appreciate wine and all the subtle unique characteristics that we tend to overlook. Let's uncork this journey and see what happens.
I originally wanted to try a White Blend Best ($$) Riunite Bianco, Italy but I couldn't find it so I decided on a Red Blend Best ($$) [yellow tail] Shiraz-Grenache, South Eastern Australia. I purchased the wine on 4/5/11 at Safeway for $7.99 -$2.00 + .55 Tax = $6.54
Hammond's review: Smoky, concentrated, and ripe with a generous kick of spice, it's an easy crowd-pleaser. Full-bodied with 13.5% alcohol. It's really not surprising this is one of America's favorite wines.
"Warning: [yellow tail] is not for those who prefer a bone dry, less fruit-forward style of wine. But those who like this round, fleshy, sweet-fruited style like [yellow tail] a lot!"
My review: For my first attempt at actually tasting wine, it won't come as a surprise that it didn't go quite so well. First off, I didn't have the book handy so I had nothing to reference. Second, I was uncertain of what temperature the wine should be or was at which can drastically alter the entire experience if not served properly. Lastly, I didn't know if decanting or aerating it would make a difference. From what I have studied, only about 5-10% of wines actually benefit from "breathing", the rest can be drank out of the bottle more or less. I decided to play around with various options just to see if it made a huge difference.
Despite what I did, I was unable to discern the difference it made on the overall experience. As far as what I did experience, there was a sweet aroma of maple syrup mixed with fresh berries. I also noticed a distinct kick to the wine but had a light sweet finish. My friends agreed but admitted that due to their years of cigarette abuse, their palate was unreliable.
Overall, I enjoyed the wine and thought that it was a solid value. After this experience, I realized that this journey will be harder than I had imagined but with a little luck it will all make sense in the end.