Monday, June 7, 2010

“what is your favorite wine?”

I am asked all of the time, “what is your favorite wine?” And I quip, “The one I am drinking right now”! I really do enjoy the experience of trying different wines from around the world. I really believe that tasting wine is a skill, and like most skills it must be practiced in order to make the skill better. To fine tune your palate it is important to try wines from around the world as well as different vintages of your “favorites”. Over the years I have found myself gravitating back to the Italians. Can you blame me? I have grown to really love the Malbecs of Argentina as well as the Tempranillos of Spain. Certainly there is great variety in each of these categories and over time I have gained a respect for the variety in each. The Tempranillos of Rioja tend to be a bit more fruit forward while the same grape from the Del Duero region of Spain reflects more of an earthy, older world character. I recognize these are broader generalities but for someone wanting to learn about wines from the world it serves as a good guideline. The same certainly holds true for wines from any given region. Another layer of complexity is the variability from one year to the next. What may have been an outstanding wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina last year may not turn out as great as this year. The message here is to keep your mind and palate open. Just when you think you have found your “most favorite” wine, it may not be next year. Keep tasting and trying and remember that “your favorite wine” needs to be relative.

I also find myself being very seasonal about my “favorite wines”. There is no question that summer is here. We officially broke 100 this past weekend and during these early dog days of summer I find it less enjoyable to be drinking a big cab or a super Tuscan. Eating a bit lighter really dictates a wine a bit on the lighter side. You certainly wouldn’t want a big, juicy red with a light salad when it is 100 outside. My personal tastes move more toward a Pinot Noir and yes there I have some areas that I am quite fond of. In the US, the Willamette Valley Pinots are outstanding. The latitude of the valley is nearly identical to that of Burgundy which means similar climates. Many of these Oregon wines drink very much like some of the great Burgundys of France at a fraction of the cost. I am very partial to these and they are great wines for this climate! They pair so nicely with a simple cheese plate or simply sitting by the pool or on your patio enjoying the early evening with a glass. I also have a special place in my heart for the Pinots of Chile. Chile’s wine industry has been hit extremely hard with the recent hurricane that devastated that country. So much great wine was lost there and Chile has a very strong track record of producing some really great Pinots that hold up to any from around the world. There are some great values for these wines from Chile and Willamette. Many of these drink like much more expensive wines. I would highly encourage you to come in and try some of these and experiment on your own. If you find yourself continuing to go back to the same wine time and time again, and believe me I still do, ask one of our servers, Craig or Vincent to recommend something you haven’t had before. You don’t have venture very far from your flavor profile to find some great new experiences in wine! Keep an open mind and palate!