1st wines to try

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1st wines to try

Postby RonicaJM » Wed Sep 06, 2006 1:25 am

I am compiling a list of all the varietals and blends I would like to try. The wine merchant recommended that I start w/ a burgandy, a bordeaux and a chianti b/c their place of importance in the wine world.

So, I bought a Chateau Grand-Jean Bordeaux (at his recommendation and in my price range) to start.

What do you think of his advice?

BTW, I have always been a Cab. Sauv. lover. Also, I've bought a lot of red zin in the past as well as boxed red wine. :oops:
In vino veritas...
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Otto » Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:04 am

Oh my. Where to start? Try everything you can.

Burgundy, Bordeaux and Chianti are good, but don't forget the other classic regions: Piemonte, Rhone, Rioja, etc. ad inf....

And don't forget the whites. Take a white Burgundy, all the Loire you can get, try Rieslings from here and there.

I think it's important to try as large a range as possible to get some sort of idea on the variety out there. I think the diversity of wine is the most intriguing part of it.
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Andrew Shults » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:42 am

I would try to get a feel for the range of wines available. You might want to approach it from a stylistic angle. I think the classification Mary Ewing-Mulligan and Ed McCarthy present in their book Wine Style has some merits. Some recommendations based on their system:

Fresh, unoaked (light) whites: Soave from Italy or Muscadet from France's Loire Valley. Also, some less expensive Pinot Grigio.
Earthy whites: Côtes du Rhône blanc or other Rhône whites (excluding Condrieu).
Aromatic whites: Gewürztraminer from Alsace or USA, Viognier from USA or Australia (or Condrieu if you have the money), Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. You may want two in this category, a Gewürz or a Viognier (both emphasize perfume and spice) plus the New Zealand SB (which emphasizes fruit).
Rich, oaky whites: American Chardonnay.

Mild-mannered reds: inexpensive Bordeaux, or inexpensive Chianti (more expensive wines fall in other categories).
Soft, fruity reds: Beaujolais, Valpolicella (Italy), most inexpensive Pinot Noir or red Burgundy (again, the expensive stuff is more powerful and/or more complex).
Fresh, spicy reds: Chinon (Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley), most Rhône reds (but some can be mild, check with someone at your store), Barbera or Dolcetto from Italy.
Poerful reds: California Cabernet or Cabernet blends, Barolo or Barbaresco (Italy), Bordeaux (for all of these, if they're inexpensive they are probably not in this category).

Rosé: Compare White Zinfandel with a dry rosé such as those from France.

For all of these, I've tried to pick the most obvious representations of the style to represent anchor points for you. Many good (even classic) wines fall between styles or are less obvious examples of a style. For example, the classic Riesling is an aromatic white, but it is certainly not aromatic to the degree of Gewürz or Viognier (and some could argue it partially belongs in the fresh/light category).

In a sense, these styles are like primary colors. Trying them allows you to taste other things and then think, in effect, "green...that's a little like yellow and a little like blue." Later, you can argue about the best shade of blue or admire complex patterns of multiple colors/shades. Indeed, I'm sure many wldg posters would criticize some of the wines on this list as being to "simple."

Beyond the specifics, I would just suggest that you be endlessly curious. If you see something on the shelf that you never heard of, consider buying it. The importer, distributor, and store purchasing manager all had to believe in the wine to put it on the shelf despite the lack of a ready-made market such as for Chardonnay or Cabernet (unless of course, it's there to target the market for cheap junk...just ask, most will say if you really shouldn't buy it).
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Bill Buitenhuys » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:08 am

Other forumites have already given you some good advice, Ronica. Like Otto said, try all that you can. Go to wine shop tastings (usually these are free) every chance you get. I'm sure in a city like Dallas there are tastings every weekend at the least. I've heard some Texans mention Sigels as a really nice shop in Dallas and I'm sure there are lots more. Travel around to any with tastings and keep talking with the merchants to find ones you really click with. If you like something, bring a bottle home and try it in a more relaxed setting, and with food.
The mistake that I made early in my wine-geekery was becoming overly enamored on some of the first "good" wines that we tried and buying some (lots) of these for cellaring. As I tried more and my palate evolved I've realized I like these early wines far less (yet have far too manyof them in my cellar).
Even within the three wines that were recommended to you there are so many stylistic differences from one producer to the next, that trying just 1 or 2 of a type of wine may not tell you whether you like that region or not. Some producers make a more international style of wine (blending with "new world" grapes...or grapes that arent native, using more new oak, using more modern techniques to tailor the wine, etc) while others make more traditional styles. You might prefer one over the other.
And a region like Chianti is subdivided into a few regions. There is alot of lousy wine coming out of Chianti, but, IMO, alot of very good wine as well, particularly from Chianti Classico.

And vintage is key as well. You may hate a jammy chianti from a hot vintage like 2003 or a thinner wine from the rainy 2002 but love the same wine from the same producer from 2001.
So it all comes down to trying all that you can, taking good notes so you remember what you try and like (or dislike), and then trying even more.
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Howie Hart » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:26 am

Here's a few more suggestions. Find tastings you can attend, either at a retailer who may be promoting a producer or with a local wine tasting group. The American Wine Society (AWS) has chapters all over the country and many have monthly tastings. I don't know if there area any wineries in your area, but visiting wineries can be very educational and fun. If there are none in your area, make a point of seeking them out when you travel to wine producing areas. Finally, seek out others to arrange an "Offline", either in your area or if you travel to another area. Or make a point of attending an Offline, such as MOCOOL. (See the Offlines Forum and browse)
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Sam Platt » Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:10 am

Ronica wrote:I am compiling a list of all the varietals and blends I would like to try. The wine merchant recommended that I start w/ a burgundy, a bordeaux and a chianti b/c their place of importance in the wine world.


Ronica, I suggest not making the effort too formal. Trying varietals by order of importance seems somewhat contrived to me. Just try lots of different stuff and see what you like. The rest will take care of itself.
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Kevin Glowacki » Wed Sep 06, 2006 10:04 am

Sam Platt wrote:Ronica, I suggest not making the effort too formal. Trying varietals by order of importance seems somewhat contrived to me. Just try lots of different stuff and see what you like. The rest will take care of itself.


I agree. I've only been 'into' wine for about two years and the class that introduced me was on New World wines exclusively. Since then, I've tried lots of different things and have a wine department buyer friend who is always encouraging and recommending different things to me, especially funky off the beaten path blends.

I've since completed my WSET Intermediate and am working on the Advanced Certificate (test is this Sunday), which though very Old World-centric, has opened my eyes to even more new and tasty delights.

I used to love big heavy in your face reds...and I still do. But, my top three categories are all whites...sparklers...Rieslings (especially from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) and botrytised wines (especially Tokaji Aszu). I'm usually drinking whatever I think will pair well with what is on the dinner menu.

Enjoy the journey, for it never ends.
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby RonicaJM » Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:16 pm

Wow! You guys are so thorough and have given me much food for thought.
In vino veritas...
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Howie Hart » Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:26 pm

RonicaJM wrote:Wow! You guys are so thorough and have given me much food for thought.

Hey! Isn't that what you pay us for? BTW - Robin, I haven't received my check in quite a while. :lol:
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby Carl K » Wed Sep 06, 2006 10:04 pm

One other suggstion in addition to all the excellent advice you've already recieved is to try "flights" whenever possible. These entail 2 oz or so of three or more wines with something in common (same veriatal, same producer, same wine region, etc) instead of one 6 to 8 oz. glass of a single wine. Flights can be found at most wine bars and many up-scale, wine friendly restaurants, and offer a great way to compare different wines that have some one thing in common.
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Re: 1st wines to try

Postby James Roscoe » Wed Sep 06, 2006 10:17 pm

Howie Hart wrote:
RonicaJM wrote:Wow! You guys are so thorough and have given me much food for thought.

Hey! Isn't that what you pay us for? BTW - Robin, I haven't received my check in quite a while. :lol:


I just want my darn decoder ring!

I think you have received excellent advice. Taste as much as possible. If you want to keep a varietal list I know there are people who do that. It would be a fun way to keep track of what you have had. Also read as much as you can. Most of all relax and have fun. Stick with this place too. It's a great place to learn.
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