The Grape Count

In Vino Veritas- "In Wine there is Truth"
Grapes to try to date: 200

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wine #3- Riesling

"It takes like juice." That's how my brother described the Riesling. And then he followed it up with "best one so far". My mom, quickly stealing a taste from his wine glass, quickly agreed. This one was heck of a wine. And I'd have to agree.

The Riesling is a fabulous white wine. It's typically sweeter wine and this one, on the scale of 1-5 for sweetness (with 5 being the sweetest), this bottle of wine was a 4 (so yes, it was almost like drinking juice).

I did try this wine last week though I'm late writing about it. I will play catch up. Last weekend was a little wild and crazy as I was busy babysitting my nephew Owen. He hasn't stayed over in a while so our weekend was full of lots of activity and pizza! So pizza and wine it was...not what I planned to drink with the Riesling but it worked I have to say.

For those of you who are not looking for a wine that leaves an aftertaste, this is a good wine. It's a great wine to serve to people who aren't wine drinkers or even anti-wine. It's a very easy wine to drink and pairs well with seafood, chicken and...well, it's great by itself as well. I found it to be very crisp and full of flavour.

I'll be honest. I wasn't sure which Riesling to try but while I was a the liquor store (Liquor on McLeod in Spruce Grove), I overheard a man say you couldn't go wrong with a Deinhard. So that narrowed my pick. I eventually picked out the Deinhard Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling (2007).

A riesling wine is pretty acidic in nature, floral or fruity and taste and is considered a flyweight wine (hence why it's so easy to drink and recommended as a great beginner wine). And boy did this wine have legs on it (a good sign and usually and indication that i's a good quality wine!)

So, go out and get yourself a good riesling and enjoy. Next week, I try out a Gamay (and it's Canadian too...)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wine #2- Grenache

I was so looking forward to this week as the grenache grape is one of my favourites. And this wine did not let me down!

This week I tried Las Rocas from the San Alejandro vineyard in Spain. The vintage year is 2007 and was purchased for $19.95 from Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants. This wine was given 91 points by Robert Parker.

The grenache grape produces a wine that is very low in acidity and is considered a super heavyweight. In my opinion, the wine is just plain super.

I opened the bottle of wine and let it breathe while I cooked my meal. Tonight's meal was Montreal peppered steak with broccoli florets and jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce. I had a long week and wasn't really into cooking a big dinner. So simple surf n' turf it was.

Let's put it this way. I had two glasses of wine with the meal and had a third even when dinner was log gone. I can't say enough how much I loved this wine. Often wines can leave an aftertaste in your mouth (such as the Chardonnay) but this one leaves nothing behind making it a very easy wine to drink. It is a dry wine. Its flavours are soft and subtle and this bottle had just enough hints of fruits, such as strawberry to make it a very pleasant drink.

As my brother put it (I kept a glass for him and brought it to him on Saturday), the wine is subtle and creates "the right type of spit" (I have no idea what that means but he assures me it's a good thing!). Not a red wine drinker, he had no problems sipping this wine before heading out to the hot tub.

The red wine paired nicely with the steak and even though seafood is typically a white wine food, I didn't mind at all drinking the wine while chomping down on my shrimp.

The grenache wine is a very enjoyable wine and I would recommend it to anyone who isn't a fan of red wines to try it and see why red wines can be so pleasant to the palette.

I also have another recommendation for a grenache wine. I do put a warning on this wine-- I drank a bottle of it in less than 40 minutes it's that good! Try the Fire Block Dry Grenache Rose (2006). Just make sure you don't have to drive anywhere after!

Next week I'm going to tackle the Riesling.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wine #1- Chardonnay

Well, I didn't hate it. But Chardonnay is still not a favourite of wine nor will I run out anytime soon to buy a bottle. I am still confused as to how Chardonnay is one of the most popular grapes and wines in the world. If you happen to like Chardonnay, please enlighten me as to why when there are so many other good wines to choose from.

The wine we chose to try was a 2008 Chardonnay from the Catena Winery in Argentina. Robert Parker reviewed this wine and gave it 91 points. I purchased this bottle of wine at Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants for $21.95.

My brother came over for dinner and I tried my best to match the food to the wine. I tried a new recipe-- Sicilian Pasta with cauliflower florets. The hope was to serve this dish with seasoned chicken but I managed to screw up the timing on the chicken so we actually ate dinner in two parts.

It didn't really matter. Both Craig and I had similar opinions on the wine. We tolerated it and finished the bottle, but overall, disappointed with the wine. Craig initially found the Chardonnay to have a bold taste and he could really pick out the spices used in the vintage. I didn't so much pick out the spices but the fruitiness of the wine. The oak taste was there but certainly not overpowering like some Chardonnays are.

When we first opened the bottle and began to drink, we both noticed the lingering taste in our mouths, a quite unpleasant feeling. To me, it almost left a burning sensation in my throat.

As the wine warmed up however, the lingering lessened so perhaps I had the wine chilled a little too much. It certainly became easier to drink as the night wore on. The wine complimented both dishes well I thought and Craig, ever the picky eater, finished his meal and actually gave me props for a good meal.

By the way, I am choosing recipes from Lucy Waverman's newest cookbook- A Year in Lucy's Kitchen. Throughout the book, Lucy's husband Bruce offers wine pairing recommendations which has helped me plan my first few weeks tremendously.

Overall, my opinion of Chardonnay hasn't changed much and am still not a fan. I have had worse though and if I absolutely had to drink a Chardonnay again, I'd definitely consider purchasing this bottle again. I appreciated that the wine didn't overpower me with oakiness and I found I could taste just enough of the fruits within the wine to make me want to continue to drink it. Craig changed his opinion on the wine being bold as the temperature of the wine changed and it became a lot more mellow in taste.

I am happy to have this wine tasting out of the way. I'm looking forward to next week already as I get to drink one of my favourite grapes of all time, the grenache grape.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Grape Tasting Process

For the amount of time I've thought about doing this little project, one would think I have a process in place to analyze the wine.

I don't.

The point of all of this is to try new wines I would normally never consider. I imagine that I will discover wines that I love and there will be some I'm sure I'll never try again.

Tonight, I start with wine #1- the Chardonnay. I've never really met a Chardonnay that I like yet. I guess I'm starting with this very popular grape for two reasons:

a) If I still hate it, it's over and done with
b) If I like it, then this has been a very good start to this little project

I have just over an hour before my brother gets here so I should be getting dinner ready.

In each post, I'll tell you the grape, the name of the wine (sometimes different from the grape), the name of the winery, vintage year, country, the cost of the bottle of wine and where I bought it.

I'll also try to describe the wine and what I'm taking from it. I'm not a wine expert by any stretch of the imagination but I am able to pick out flavours and some of the subtleties that come with each wine.

Plus, I'll cover my butt here and provide information or links to other websites that describe the grape in detail.

I'll also let you know how the food pairing goes. I have a couple of cookbooks that are acting as initial pairing guides. My goal is to better my cooking abilities and if I happen to get a little drunk along the way, well so be it!

Finally, I'll give you my overall opinion of the wine, thumbs up or thumbs down. Anyone who joins me tasting the grape is also welcome to share their opinion as well.

And pictures will be included as well.

If you have suggestions for upcoming grapes to try, please shoot me a comment (and if you have a food suggestion as well, I'm all ears).

Now, off to roast some cauliflower...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

And so begins my education...

I haven't always been a fan of wine. In fact, I hated the stuff and would only touch a rose if I absolutely needed to. It wasn't until a friend of mine invited me to the Niagara Wine Festival in 2001 that I really began to appreciate wine.

A couple of years ago I began to do more research on wine. I stumbled across a website that caught my attention and I immediately began to explore the world of wine. The website Wine Century Club opened my eyes to just how large the world of wine is. Wine knows no country boundaries, nor does it limit itself to just the upper class of society. No, wine is much more complicated than that. And I wanted to know more.

I ordered the giant poster that lists 184 different grape varieties from all over the world. The point of the poster (and the Wine Century Club) is to encourage wine lovers to expand their pallette. To try grape varietals they wouldn't normally try. To obtain membership into the Club, one must prove that they have tried different types of wine made from 100 grape varietals.

So that's my goal and then I'm going to go beyond that. My first goal is to gain membership into the Wine Century Club. My second goal is to try all 184 grape varietals listed on the poster.

So, the plan is to try one new wine each week until I've tried all 184. I've already run into some wines whose grape does not appear on the Wine Century Club poster so I'm guessing by the time I've finished, I will be close to trying nearly 200 different grapes. That basically means that I'm going to be drinking wine on a weekly basis for at least the next four years.

I've had harder tasks.

But by no means is this going to be easy. It's not as easy as one would think- just go into a store and purchase some wine. But here in Alberta, not every type of wine and grape varietal is available, or at the very least, easy to obtain. I've already looked into getting a wine made from the pignolo grape and I've come up empty. So, I may have to carefully plan my travels or rely on friends who travel to far away places to bring some wine back for me that I just can't get here in Alberta.

In any case, I've planned the next 13 weeks out so I'm good at least until April 2010. Only 3.75 years to go after that!

I'm also hoping to expand my cooking abilities while I'm at it so I'm planning a weekly meal that works well with each wine I try. I figure I may actually learn how to pair wine and food together! I'm relying on two new cookbooks I purchased to keep me on track. If anything, it gives me an excuse to throw a dinner party each week and hope that someone shows up and keeps me company. And I'll even let them throw in their opinion on the wine!

So tomorrow the wine quest begins. I've invited my brother Craig over for wine, dinner and to play some Wii. Luckily for me, my brother appreciates wine as much as I do and he too hopes to gain membership into the Wine Century Club so this is a great start for both of us.

The wine we are going to try is my least favourite wine to date and that is the Chardonnay. I'm hoping that the pick I've chosen will change my mind about chardonnays. We'll see how it goes.

I'm open to comments and suggestions as well and I hope to have a lot of fun on this wine journey of mine and I'm glad you're here to read about it with me. And if you're near me, here in Edmonton, feel free to join me for a glass of wine. I guarantee you the answer is yes!