Archive | June, 2016

The test

29 Jun


At 9 am last Saturday I was pretending I was back in high school as I sat anxiously with my sharpened number 2 pencil. It was time for the WSET 2 test. Multiple choice. There is not a blind tasting until level 3. Phew. But this test was covering a lot. Beyond the wine stuff I will expound on there were also questions about spirits and stuff like eiswine, sherry and port.

I had studied like a crazy woman. I think I passed. I wonder how well.

My classmates I discussed it with agreed the exam was trickier than we surmised.

And not just because it required remembering that Barolo is from the Piedmont (extra fun facts I DID easily remember: it is made from the Nebbiolo grape, and high in tannins, alcohol and acidity). And I was SO happy I drilled the Aussie wines over and over. I almost never drink Australian sippers seeing as I reside here in sunny California which has some pretty plush stuff to offer. I just don’t see them around.

Even though I do have the guilty pleasure of sucking down those plush, berry and mocha-filled Shiraz’s straight outta Barossa. Or McLaren Valley. Or Hunter Valley.

But I was glad I drilled the Aussie wines because I needed to remember that Pinot Noir thrived both in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. A tricky question because good pinot noir, AKA the delicate flower of a dainty grape we do not associate with a land that creates those dense and spectacular Shiraz bombs, is in fact made there with skillzzzzzz. Like Shiraz. Australia makes damn fine wine.

ANYwho. There were also a lot of questions that would, say, ask what grape varieties are allowed in whatever region’s wines, list grapes 1 through 4 then ask you is it a) grapes 1 and 2, b)grapes 3 and 4, c) grapes 1 and 4, or c) grape 1 only. So you’d be sure of most of the grapes but fuck it number 4———is Viognier allowed in this blend or no?

Does ANY of this shit matter?

Probably not. Wine does not ACTUALLY matter.

Actually nothing in life ACTUALLY matters.

But in standardized tests only perfection matters.

To Virgos like me.

Study people, you’ll go far.

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Kiss your ‘lot in life

22 Jun


I will give my musings but ALSO! My WSET analysis because my level two test is this Saturday so…

Okay, so peeps turn their noses up at that innocent lamb, the Merlot grape. But they forget that part of the esteemed Bordeaux is made of Merlot. So here I present to you a French Merlot, not from Bordeaux sure, but zee Fraunch have damn good tastes.

Vintage 2014 Le Concierge Merlot

from Pays D’Oc IGP

This très lovely vino will make you realize not all Merlot is evil. Okay, truth: so far I’ve yet to find a California Merlot to my exacting taste. However, this French example is terrifically likable. Terrific as in inspires terror? Only in a good way my lambs.

Is it something to swirl in your hands, mouth, and mind? To contemplate?

Fuck no.

However!

It is something to sip. Something to think on for a moment………dot dot dot……..and then!

You can say oh, yes, a perfectly fine example. It is just enough but not enough to derail the conversation with my non-wine-nerd chums about just how dirty downtown LA is compared with Other Large Metropolitan Areas aka NYC. Conclusion on that:

Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges but both are dirty in their own special ways.

But if you are a wine asshole like me you can take a minute to think about this vin.

What did I, the resident sipper/thinker/muse-at-large(sothisactresslikestoimagine) wino think? In WSET 2 terms?

the Color: Medium-deep ruby with a whiff of purple

zee Nose: Medium strength strawberries, red plums and raspberries

thar (not a typo) Palate: relatively dry, somewhere between low and medium heavy body, LOW acid, LOWER tannins, low to medium low (somewhere between?) finish…like, this wine lasts a wee bit on the palate but not with nuance.

And the flavors: pretty dang similar to zee Nose: strawberries (roasted), raspberries (fresh) and just a hint of woodiness. But like A Wee hint. It takes someone thinking too hard to think that.

All in all: DAMN good please everyone summer wine.

Just DO NOT fucking mention that is Merlot.

Wine School Week Deux

14 Jun


Week two started off in a thank-God-I-ubered sort of way. We were supposed to have gotten to the Syrah/Grenache chapter last week but didn’t so we had yet even more things to taste and learn about. Friday night’s agenda:


I don’t think I had ever had a Châteauneuf-du-Pape and was very excited. I liked. It’s an elegant sip. 

I was perhaps even more excited to move into the Rieslings though. Even though it means learning the rather complicated German categorization of wines based on when they are picked. You’d think that it would be the way to know how sweet a wine is going to taste but really all the first three levels (Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese) tell you is how much sugar the grapes had before being fermented. If all that sugar gets converted to alcohol it could be a grape picked later in the season, with more sugars developed, yet it still would be dry on the palate. Also despite the fact that “trocken” means “dry”, a trockenbeerenauslese is not dry. Nor a beer. 

It is a wine made from grapes affected by noble rot and therefore extremely sweet. The “trocken” refers to the dried out appearance of the grape when picked. 

But still Riesling was fun.

As were the others but dang was that a night. And things were not getting too much lighter the next day:


The next day we sped through sparkling wines, sweet wines plus port and Sherry. Before lunch.

Oof.

After lunch was hard alcohol which fortunately did not involve too much tasting, as I don’t think we are going to get too many questions about cognac, whisky and such. But I do now understand the inner workings of both pot and column stills.

And now I am off to make more flash cards to study with. Cheers, dahhhhhling!

WINE SCHOOL! OMG Day Drinking now legitimized

7 Jun


I am in the WSETS! Level two!

I call it Somm-er School bwahahahhaah.

I cannot deny a pun.

A wee bit nervous as I skipped level one, but my somm friends advised that I should probably start with two. It is A LOT of information and yet still just scratching the surface. There are levels three and four and then tests to become a wine god. Wine Master. Master of Wine? Something like that. I am just going to live in the now of level two. It is 18 hours of class time then two weeks to study for the test.

Now that my first weekend is done my plan is to make study flashcards and such to review. And to read the next eight chapters we will be covering next week. And diligently taste and think about my wine. And seek out things to smell I am unfamiliar with.

Friday night was the first night. I was extremely curious about who would be in the class. At some point our teacher asked if there were any bloggers in the group and I was the only one to raise my hand which surprised both me and her. Speaking with some of my classmates (so far I’ve met a wine sales rep, a Whole Foods spirits department manager, a law school student and a couple of people who work for restaurant groups), I felt extra-respected as they all seemed curious about what I did. And then I felt extra not respected when in her lecture my teacher threw a wee bit of shade on how we blogger-folk love our metaphors. For the record I have never referred to a wine as smelling like my grandmother’s attic so…okay. Part of the reason I am in this course is in fact to learn how not to always talk about wine in silly metaphors so I should take her comments (they weren’t directed at me, just bloggers in general) with a grain of Himalayan sea salt.

Okay, so Friday night started with reviewing the WSET method of wine tasting. I was about to show a picture of the book page detailing it but I guess maybe I shouldn’t violate copy rite? At any rate they have a very specific way they go about it.

We also discussed wine service, wine and food pairing, plus “social responsibility”. We all giggled like jerks at that last one. Our livers did not.

Our teacher Monica is a lovely woman and very funny. After all that preliminary learning we dove into tasting practice using the WSET way. I now have a growing list of things I need to taste and smell so I can better describe wine. Not a single person in the class, Monica included, has a fucking clue what a gooseberry tastes like. Flavors to learn about!

Day two started bright and early. 9:30 am. Egads. We covered reading labels, factors influencing wine style and price, and the devilish process of wine production. Carbonic maceration? Malolactic fermentation? All discussed. Then we started covering grapes. Six hours and 17 wines later we had talked about Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Incidentally I think I only drank about a 1/2-3/4 ounce of each wine so spread out over the course of the day I did not get trashed. And there were spit buckets to utilize. But by the end of the day we all were getting a bit punchy, possibly just from sitting there so long.

It is a nice thing to be in a room of people who aren’t going to make fun of you and all your swirling and “mmmmm, yessssss, cooked strawberries, that is what I taste” thoughts.

So I am getting to meet some new chums too. Bonus. And I actually did hit it off with the woman sitting next to me who is a wine rep for Regal and we went out to do “homework” at the wine bar next door after class which was much fun. And–ooh ooh double bonus–she sent me home with several bottles of the lovely wines she reps which I will expound upon in a separate post. For now suffice to say I verily much have been enjoying a 2013 Famille Perrin La Mille Gigondas. So wine school thus far rocks.

Okay that’s all. Gonna go make some more flashcards because for the life of me I have a hard time keeping Pouilly-Fuisse and Pouilly-Fumé straight.