With summer fast approaching and knowing that those summer evenings sitting out on the deck with a glass of wine being some of the best, I thought I would see if anyone is interested in wine. I personally love to have a glass of red wine in the evening. I prefer the big, bold flavors of cabs, shiraz, petite syrah, zins, but will try most any wine. It is interesting to me that I began to drink wine by tasting white sweeter wines and now try to find the drier reds rather than those whites I was sure I liked. With so many varietals to choose from, and so many different places that produce wine, it really can be very confusing to many people. When you walk into a wine store, or even the aisle at the grocery store, you are surrounded by all sorts of choices. For many, it is almost too much. They will choose based on a label. For example, they may have a wine from Ravenswood in the past and they see the label and when they taste it, absolutely not like it. So the next time they see the label, they completely avoid it. The trouble with that is they may have had two completely different types of wine. Many of the vintners make wines that not only differ in varietals (type of grapes), but also where the grapes come from, how they are processed, what blends might be included, and as with all crops, growing conditions and harvest times. So how do you find the wine you will like? Well, you can narrow your odds by taking notes as to wines you like and dislike. You may soon find that certain wineries produce wines you enjoy. Take note when you find these wines of the details from the bottle. For instance, note the varietals (cabernet, Merlot, etc.), where the grapes come from (Sonoma, Napa, etc.), the winemaker, and obviously the year. Most of these are easily found on the bottle but where the grapes come from is sometimes a little challenging. You may see a wine that says California on the label. All that means is that the grapes come from different parts of California. A label like this will usually indicate a lesser wine as the grapes can come from anywhere and it is usually cheaper to find grapes that are not specific to an area. Now, if the label narrows the area to let’s say Napa or Sonoma, then the grapes can be from anywhere in those areas. More likely the flavors will be more consistent. If the wine label is even more detailed such as Spring Mountain or St. Helena, the grapes can only come from those specific areas. And finally, you may even be able to find certain vineyards that are named as the source of the grapes. How important is it to know where the grapes are from? For me, I have found that I really prefer a couple of areas. Grapes from the mountain terraces seem to be my favorites so I always look for labels that indicate such. Wines such as Neal, Spring Mountain, Viader, Terra Valentine, are some of my favorites and are usually consistent. I also have found certain labels that consistently produce absolutely tremendous wines. Labels such as Quintessa, Erna Schein-Behrens, and Diamond Creek seems to always produce what I feel are the best wines. Unfortunately, they also are very proud of their wines and price them a little high. Like any hobby, learning about wine takes time. Unlike a lot of other hobbies, learning about wine is truly a personal quest based on your own likes and dislikes and is quite enjoyable along the way. Just remember, moderation is the key and don’t try to learn too much in one evening. I have tried to cram a lot of learning in one sitting and the next day can produce one heck of a headache. Last note, if you really enjoy good wine, send me a note. I would love to meet and maybe share a bottle.
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