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Wine tips and Napa

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by crow01, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. crow01


    Sep 1, 2008
    I would like to share my own experiences with you TB people about wine.

    I also searched for that wine thread but couldn't find it either. There are way too many threads. Or ask the OP to bump it up.

    (I worked in the wine industry for a little bit. I had drank lots of wine, but I am not a sommelier. So this is just my own opinion)

    1. Watch the movie Sideways
    2. Buy the book Wine Bible
    3. Go to a couple of wine tasting and do the same they do in Sideways, and do it with confidence like if you were an expert.
    4. Go to Napa
    5. Go to France

    1. So basically, as they show in that movie:
    - Have white wine with fish and chicken
    - Have red wine with beef and lamb
    - Raise the wine so you can see it against the light, and tilt it to see, its maturity.
    - Swirl the wine to "open it".
    - Dive your nose into the glass and smell
    - Then take a sip, and play with it in your mouth
    - Then smell it again. Can you guess the region and temperature where they picked the grapes? Can you smell that edamame cheese?

    2. Maybe you need to watch the movie and also read a lot. The "wine bible" is a good start. Then start drinking a lot of wine until you gain like 50 pounds. Oh yeah, wine makes you fat.

    - Do the same every time you open a bottle of wine. Raise,swirl,dive,smell, etc.
    - Read the label of the bottle, it should say "it smells like.., or tastes like..." And see if you can get the same.
    - Then you can learn about the different types of grapes, regions, how they make wine, etc. Then watch sideways again, and you will start getting it.

    3. Go to some wine tastings:
    - Lookup a wine bar
    - In some places they have like a little learning session. Where you pay about $10 or $20 for a flight of wines. They pour you the wine and maybe you can get some appetizers.
    - They give you a bucket to dump the wine. What happens is this. If you don't like, just dump it. If you think you are getting too drunk, dump it.
    - They use wine tastings to sell a lot of wine, so if you get drunk you end buying anything. Later at home, you will open that bottle you bought and you are going to say. This thing sucks. At the bar it tasted better, cause you were drunk.
    - Go to a wine tasting and do the whole process Raise,swirl,dive,smell, etc. And do it like an expert.

    4. Take a trip to Napa
    - Fly to San Francisco and drive.
    - There are 2 regions, Sonoma and Napa Valley.

    Napa Valley:
    - Bad: Tourist traps, regular to so so/bad wine, charge for tastings. You can barely find a place where to seat to taste. The people serving don't care who you are, they just work there and wanna go home. (at least the ones I met)
    - Good: Huge wineries, this is like they show in the movies. Endless fields of grapes.

    - Good: Most of them don't charge for tastings. Most of them have excellent wine. Usually the person pouring is the owner or the one who made it. You feel like you are in your grandma's farm. They are famous for their Pinot Noir.
    - Bad: The scenery is not the best. There are no endless fields of grapes. Many are just around houses or small farms. Most of them don't distribute the wine. So if you like something buy it there.

    Other things:
    - When you go to a place, ask if they distribute the wine. You don't want to buy a bunch of bottles, and then find out you can buy it at the local supermarket.
    - Go to Sonoma and buy a bunch of wine. Then ask your hotel or the winery about a company that ships wine. Take all your bottles there. They will ship them in a special box and charge you like $50 per box of 12.
    - Don't take bike tours. When I went there I realized 1 winery was really far from the other. When I was driving and I saw a couple sweating like crazy.
    - Start early, like at 11am and learn to dump the wine. Otherwise you will be drunk by 1pm. Take sips and dump it. If you like, buy it.
    - Ask your concierge about places to go, he will have free passes for tastings or things like that.
    - Most tasting rooms at wineries, close like at 3 or 4. Why cause they don't want a bunch of people to drive around drunk when it's dark.
    - The Coppola winery is cool, expensive to tour it, wine is mediocre and yet I saw some people buying $500 worth of their wine (They were drunk)
    - Don't joke about the movie Sideways and Merlot. For some reason they don't find it funny.
    - My rule of thumb was if they have a store where to buy t-shirts, glasses, and all kinds of souvenirs. Then the wine is not so good. Don't bother and move on. If the tasting is free, then why the heck not.

    5. France?
    Maybe next year.

    A sommelier I met, told me wine can get so difficult to taste, smell and describe. If you like it, you like it, end of story.

    It's not when you drink a bunch of more wine and read a bunch of books and visit a bunch of wineries, until you really can guess blind, the type of grapes they use, or the concentration, or the region, etc.

    But even if you get to know little by little, you will know when a wine is bad wine.

    I just remember yesterday, a friend called me from the store, and asked what to buy, there are so many bottles. I would say...

    What to buy:
    - Pick a red or a white, depending on what you are eating. If you are not sure, then go for the red.
    - Pinot Noirs are red and should be "easy" to drink. By this I mean, most are fruity and soft. If you go with a Shiraz, that's going to be strong for sure and you need decant it, etc. I would say start with Pinots and then try something else.
    - Try a Pinot from Sonoma. You cannot get it wrong.
    - Reds from Chile are good too
    - If you get a white, get a Sauvignon Blanc. Chill it in the refrigerator. But not too cold, is not a beer.
    - Try something different every time. That way you learn to taste the differences.
    - Don't buy that wine that comes in those huge bottles, those are bad.

    How much $$:
    - If you go to the supermarket, the people working there won't know if you ask them. Unless it's a specialty organic supermarket. For example I asked at a Whole Foods, and the guy recommended me something. But this just happened once. I tried to do it again, and they were like "i just work here". In some other specialty stores it can really get overwhelming, there's just too much stuff. But if it's a specialty wine store, there is no wrong in asking.
    - I don't pay more than $15 USD (in supermarket) to something new that I will try and I never heard of. If you research something in advance but I am sure you won't, search for the market price of that wine.
    - Cheap wine doesn't really mean is bad. I buy a white wine for like $6, and is really good.
    - In a restaurant, wine can be very expensive. If you don't know just order a glass. Don't get a very expensive wine if you don't know anything about it. Maybe they have a sommelier that recommends, but these as well are sales people, so be careful.

    I am sure this topic can get very advanced. There are so much stuff out there from so many regions and so many opinions.

    But maybe as a starting point...
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    great movie!

    [edit]I grew up with parents that went to Wine tasting classes & parties often. They threw their own Wine tasting parties as well. I don't have much of a pallet for it myself, but I've just recently started buying wines again[/edit]
  3. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    Chug the spit bucket!
  4. erix


    Sep 24, 2005
    Washington DC
    I'm French and recently moved into the US.

    Wine in the US is not limited to Napa valleys. There are other good areas in California (Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara...), but there are also excellent wines in Oregon, Washington State and even in Virginia (where first wines have been made in the US, much earlier than in CA). They are also good white wines in the German / Austrian style in the Northern regions.

    Now my provocative statements about wines in the US: most of them are far too expensive for what they are. There is absolutely no reason for that but the fact wine is an industry here, not an art. Wine makers are just looking for big money not for quality.
    Many US wines are too heavy, too oaky, too much on the sugar side, not balanced.

    Something I cannot understand in the US in the fact each estate is trying to produce all the noble grapes (well, what they think are the noble grapes), without trying to identify which ones are the best suited for their soil and wheather. For instance, it is so stupid to produce Chardonnay and Pinot noir in Southern areas, while Grenache, Mourverdre, Carignan, Roussanne and Marsanne are probably a better fit, just to mention a few of them.

    That said, the situation is not much better in France. Only 1 winemaker out of 100 is producing a decent wine over there. Bordeaux and Champagne are dead areas, they just look for profits and try to sell their ****. Bourgogne is a little bit better but wines are far too expensive, like in CA.

    The good news is that there is a new generation of young wine makers doing natural wines, with no chemistry and industrial processes. You can find these wines in NY, at Chambers Street Wines or Astor Wines find instance.

    Try them and see the difference. There are not more expensive than the other ones, but they are done in respect of natural laws, and you're not sick the day after, because they have very low sulfites added.

    Look for wines coming from Loire and Rhone valleys. This is where you can make good bargains today.
  5. I always start the day with Napa and then move to my favorite - Sonoma. The relaxed atmosphere is much needed after dealing with so many tools in Napa.
  6. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Napa makes up 4 percent of California wine production. Where's mention of othr places like Livermore, Russian River? :eyebrow:

    As for white with chicken is an old piece of bad advice. Light reds light pinot noir, gamay, gameret, garanoir go beautifully with poultry. A nice red burgundy pairs beautifully with turkey.

    Spitting buckets are for evaluating wine, not for wine you don;t like. You do not need to swallow wine to evaluate it. All of the information you need happens in your mouth. Spit it out and don't swallow it. Swallowing gets you drunk and doesn't give you any more information when evaluating. You can easily sample 50-75 wines in a day and not get drunk. Spit it out. It has nothing to do with the quality of wine. Why would a wine producer serve bad wine in a wine tasting? They don't. Wine is bad when it's corked. Cork can sometimes release a chemical that reacts woith the wine. You can smell it and definitely taste it when you open the bottle. That's why a restaurant pours a bit if wine at at a table so that you can verify that it isn't corked. It's not for you to tell them if its a good wine or not.

    As for go to France, what about Spain, Portugal or the largest wine producing country in the world, Italy? Chile, Argentina, Canada, Austria, Germany, Israel, Lebanon, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Switzerland?
  7. erix


    Sep 24, 2005
    Washington DC
    By the way, as you mentioned movies, you should try to see Mondovino by Jonathan Nossiter, it is a good documentary about wines. His books are also excellent.
  8. JacoLesFlea


    Jun 16, 2006
    I want to try Dan akroyds wine.

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