Thursday, September 24, 2009
Like A Fine Wine
Since I've started my job, I've been fortunate enough to be reading up entirely on Wine Country, the many wine vineyards in Argentina, and how to taste and appreciate wine, among other things. There's a whole world and culture when it comes to wine, and as 2 weeks of 9 hours a day will prove to you, there's much more than you could possibly imagine.
So much goes into wine. Beyond the grapes. Beyond the soil. Beyond the oak barrels and bottling. There are the little things like elevation and humidity, temperature, latitude. All of these things play a part in the texture and eventual taste of a wine. When you walk down the wine aisle at the liquor store, there's really so much more that should be going through your head than "Red? White? Price?"
There are so many wineries specializing in so many different things. Everyone thinks they have found the best land and are using the latest methods. Others prefer to say they are using traditional methods. It wasn't until the 1970s that wine production in Argentina changed from mass quantity to a domestic market to better quality to an international market. They might make less wine to sort out the better grapes, but every year new wineries open up, and the competition rises with the numbers.
I've been reading, as part of my job, how to properly taste wine. And I've tried practicing it myself. Put your nose close to the glass, but wait. Then put your nose in and smell it. You should detect something. Put a little bit of wine in your mouth, but don't swallow. Swish it around, blow in some air, open your mouth, breath out of your nose. I guess if you're a sommelier, there's some taste party going on in your mouth. For most people, it's not as intense.
Watch for the legs as they drip down the glass. Hold the glass up to a white surface, or your hand if need be, and look for the color of the wine. Swivel it around and let it oxidize. Sip again. Detect the age, how it was bottled, what impurities it has, or if you're lucky, doesn't have. This is a delicious yet complex game. And you must really be skilled to see it all. Like some genius chess whiz-kid, some people got it, and some don't. It's not just grape in there, my friend. Strawberry, blueberry, gooseberry (which I didn't even know about), damp straw, dirt, oak--these are all the flavors you should notice.
Or, if you're like me, you taste one thing: Booze.
Above: Just living the dream