Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wine Party Insights

Clearly, this one had a little too much wine...

So my wife and I had a wine tasting party last night as a belated housewarming and birthday party that also turned into a job celebration party when we found out that morning that she got a job offer!!!

The idea of the party was that we would provide lots of food that would pair well with different kinds of wine, and the guests would bring a bottle of wine. Tempting as it was to fill my glass, I tried to stick to about half an inch of wine every time I refilled so that I could try several of the wines that came through the door. Here are some reflections:

1. Agiorgitiko Red Wine: Two of our good friends came over early to have dinner with us (mmm... venison from western Maryland) and help set up. They brought us a Greek red table wine to have with the dinner, and it was really tasty. It wasn't very sweet - quite dry, but still very fruity. It was heavier as well which helped it stand up to the red meat. I'm reading the label of the bottle now and it says that it's aged in oak which really came across to me as I drank it - the flavors are soft, not crisp like you would get in stainless steel.

2. Riesling: We also had a Riesling - a traditional German white wine that is crisp and refreshing. It usually has undertones of green apples, and tastes great chilled. The guests that brought the Riesling also brought food of their own to go with it - sliced green apples with a slice of parmesan cheese on top, and crackers with salmon. The apple - cheese combination was awesome! The tartness of the apples and the sharpness of the cheese really canceled each other out and blended well - and of course the apples went well with the Riesling.

3. Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc: A Virginia wine, this was brought by another Virginia winery aficionado friend. I probably kept going back to this bottle more than any other. The Cab Franc is a lot like the Cabernet Sauvingnon - it's a light bodied wine, but has a peppery taste to it almost. However, the fact that I'm still a little green in my wine knowledge came through last night over this wine. Another guest asked me if the Cab Franc was peppery, and honestly I didn't know. I knew I always liked Cab Franc, and I had just had some of this one maybe half an hour before, but I didn't know. So I told him - "no not really"... oh well. One day I'll be better about communicating these characteristics off the top of my head. A good wine nonetheless.

4. Some staples: We also had friends bring two staples that are regulars on the grocery store shelves - the Three Blind Moose Merlot, and The Red Bicyclette Syrah. I made sure I tried both of them - both soft and light - with a little bit of cherry. Nothing unexpected but very good. I actually found myself going back to the Syrah a couple times. I was musing about the Three Blind Moose Merlot with another guest, and we figured that being blind should heighten the other senses of the mooses, so they must know what they're talking about when it comes to wine.

5. The other good wine I had was an unpronounceable French wine - "Domaine Andre Brunel, Cotes du Rhone". It was a red - fairly gentle and light, like a merlot. I'm guessing it was a Bordeaux of some sort but I really just don't know!

A final tip from one of our guests (the one who brought the Rappahannock Cab Franc): If you didn't already know, 2007 was a good year for Virginia wine - perhaps one of the best since Prohibition. It was drier, which was bad for other crops but great for wine because the sugars in the grapes are more concentrated. We've already seen and grabbed one or two 2007 whites that have come out, but the reds typically come out later than the whites. Well, our friend told us that she heard that a lot of 2007 reds from Virginia will be going reserve immediately - so the wineries will hang on to them to age them in their own cellars. So if you see a 2007 Virginia red - go ahead and grab it. They may be hard to come by for awhile. And look forward to seeing some amazing reserves a little while down the road.


dkuehn said...

And don't get me wrong - there were lots more wines at the party than the ones I mentioned (one of the more popular being my favorite that I provided - Petit Verdot from White Hall Vineyards, in Charlottesville, VA). I appreciate the generosity of our guests very much - just have limited typing time!

Evan said...

Sounds like fun- we've been talking about doing a wine tasting night at some point, but we need to figure out how many of our friends would be interested... alas, the shortcomings of an evangelical school. At least we go to an Anglican church, so there are more drinkers in the ranks.

Is the Cab Franc that you're sending us the one that you speak of here?

dkuehn said...

no - it's from horton vineyards.

I need to get a norton for you too I guess... I'll run by the store tomorrow morning before work


Evan said...

No need to go out of your way... I appreciate what you've done already. Also- are you sending the beer you recently finished brewing?

dkuehn said...

Um - the pilsner, not the stuff I'm brewing now. The pilsner was done like a month ago and i'm sending a bottle of that.

actually... I probably could send you a bottle of what I'm doing now too. It's been fermenting for just a little over a week, which is less than I like to but it should be fine - you'd just have to leave it in the bottle three or four weeks before drinking it, but the pilsner will come to you ready to drink!

dkuehn said...

* a little over two weeks

Evan said...

The pilsner is what I meant.