The 30 Second Wine Advisor

Vol. 1, No. 4, Feb. 8, 1999
© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

30 Second Wine Tasting Tip: Putting it all together
During the first three editions of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, we've briefly reviewed the wine-tasting basics, recalling how wine tasters first look, then sniff, and only then, finally, taste what's in our glass.

I think of this process as "taking the wine apart" to analyze it piece by piece. But before you're through, you'll want to put it back together again. You've gotten close to the wine, comparing its colors to jewels and precious metals ... sticking your nose in the glass to inhale its essense ... swished, swirled and gargled it to reach every part of your palate and touch every taste bud.

Now, swallow (or spit, if you're tasting a lot, or driving), and sit back and think. Note the aftertaste (or "finish"), the taste left in your mouth after the wine is gone. The finish may be similar to or different from the first taste ("attack") and in-between ("middle of the palate"). Think about the wine. Take another taste. Put the pieces together and try to reach an overall conclusion about what you think of the wine. Can you place it in your mental filing cabinet alongside similar wines you've tried, wines from the same general region or made from the same grape? Finally, there's no better way to finish up than to enjoy the rest of your glass with dinner. Wine, after all, was made to go with food.

I highly recommend this process as a way to build your palate's memory; and the more wines you learn, the easier -- and more enjoyable -- it will be for you to evaluate the next wine you try. Better still, when you go through this tasting process, write it down. We have a number of tasting forms available in the Wine Tasting Toolbox, but all you really need is a notebook -- divide a page in quarters, and in each section note your observations about the wine's appearance, aroma, flavor and overall impression, taking special note of how well the wine went with your dinner. Hang onto this "tasting log" for future reference. While you can certainly keep it as private as a diary, we'd be delighted to have you share your reports in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group.

30 Second Tasting Notes
Two for pizza and more
Regarding pizza as one of nature's most nearly perfect foods, I've never thought of the term "pizza wine" as a pejorative. Pizza's luscious mix of molten, creamy cheese, sweet-tart tomato sauce and crisp, breadlike crust are enough to make a meal in itself; and if you keep the cheese and heavier toppings under control, it's arguably not just nutritious but healthful. The wine should be Italian, of course, and a dry red, crisp enough to cleanse, soft enough to quaff. Chianti and Valpolicella, two good names somewhat devalued by modern mass-market labels, regain their historic stature when you choose good examples ... and you don't have to drink them with pizza.

Melini 1996 Borghi d'Elsa Chianti ($9.49)
Clear ruby with a distinct orange hue. Spicy aromas, cinnamon and allspice, over fresh red fruit. Crisp and tart flavor, consistent with the nose, simple and quaffable. Not a contemplative wine, but fine for washing down ... well, you know. U.S. importer: Frederick Wildman and Sons Ltd., NYC. (Feb. 5, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Sausage pizza.

Boscaini 1997 San Ciriaco Valpolicella Classico ($14.99)
Dark garnet, with an appetizing sour-cherry and strawberry aroma that leads into a juicy, tart red-fruit flavor that's clean, zippy and lasting. A very appealing wine. U.S. importer: Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., NYC. (Feb. 7, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Anchovy and black-olive pizza.

30 Second Wine Link
Admirably idiosyncratic and lovable in its approach, The Alchemist's Wine Perspective is Dr. Alexander (Al) J. Pandell's personal offering to the world of wine on the Web. A Professor of Chemistry at California State University, Stanislaus and a past Visiting Professor at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Pandell promises "reliable wine information and reviews from the perspective of a scientist through discussion of timely topics, fresh opinions and a unique system of wine reviews."

30 Second Advertising Partner
The Wine Lovers' Page is proud to count K&L Wine Merchants of San Francisco among its advertising partners. Boasting an excellent reputation for selection, service and price, K&L will ship wine online to any destination where the law allows, by specific order or through its monthly wine club.

K&L Wine Merchants

30 Second Administrivia
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials often.

And if you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, we'd be delighted to have you visit the interactive forums in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. If you're from another part of the world and don't feel entirely comfortable chatting in English, try our new International Forum and introduce yourself in the language of your choice.

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