Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan. 17, 1999
© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
When I eyeball a red wine, I place it first into either the RUBY (reddish) or GARNET (purplish) category, then qualify that with "dark," "medium" or "light" and perhaps "hazy," "clear," or "brilliant." Every now and then a Zinfandel, Petite Sirah or Rhone simply doesn't look jewel-like, so I'll fall back on "purple," "reddish-purple" or even "blackish-purple."
My color categories for white are usually GOLD (yellowish), BRASS (greenish) or STRAW (beige), although an occasional white is so colorless that WATERY is the best call.
Even rosé wines show a range of colors, from SALMON to COPPER to startling PINK to light CHERRY RED.
What's the point of all this? There's no more effective way to sharpen your palate than to take the time to think about what you're tasting ... and, to reinforce it, to jot down a few quick impressions on a notepad (or computer) for your personal use as you enjoy a glass of wine. So with the indulgence of the more experienced tasters among us, I'll be devoting the first few issues of The 30 Second Wine Advisor to a quick review of viewing, smelling, tasting and forming an overall impression of our wine.
In between these two extremes, however, a limited amount of quality Valpolicella can be found, much of it grown in the older, traditional zone ("Valpolicella Classico") and often made to stricter requirements of alcoholic strength and bottle age ("Classico Superiore"). These wines are well worth seeking out, and as the retail prices below indicate, they can offer excellent value.
Tomassi 1995 Valpolicella Vigneto del Campo Rafael ($9.99) Best Buy!
FOOD MATCH: Fine match with fettuccine with ragú Bolognese.
Mazzi 1996 Valpolicella Classico Superiore ($8.99)
FOOD MATCH: Showing Valpolicella's affinity with picnic fare, a happy match with mortadella and provolone sandwiches on fresh flatbread.
Under the heading, "The best of viticultural websites," wine correspondent Richard Erlich said, "Now, as ever, my favourite site ... His on-line wine course, based on one he teaches in the evenings, is useful and enjoyable. So are his links to other sites and UK wine merchant listings. If all sites were this good we'd spend more time surfing than drinking. Which is probably more expensive, but almost as much fun."
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