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Learning to be a wine lover

19 Apr Posted by in Ramble | 3 comments
Learning to be a wine lover
2008 South African Chardonnay

2008 South African Chardonnay

I have decided now is as good a time as any to start learning more about wines, and to stop feeling so lost when choosing a wine. I would love to be able to sip a wine, and comment on the soft My plan is to start paying attention to the wines I’m drinking, and work my way through there. There have been many wines I’ve had which I enjoyed, but I forget which they were. I know I like Riesling. I know white wine is served cold, red is served at room temperature.

A friend of mine just gave me the book ‘Understanding Wine – A guide to wine tasting and wine appreciation’ by Michael Schuster. So I’ll use this, along with the internet and my own opinions and go from there.

So, where will I start today? I purchased a 2008 South African Chardonnay to drink with dinner. Why this wine? Well… I like white wine… Sainsbury’s gave it a rating of 2/7 in their dry/sweetness and I like dry white wines. It was also listed as on a half price sale, so it was 4 pounds instead of 8 pounds. But I also tend not to believe those signs – it was likely only ever sold for 5 pounds. However, why not start with a wine that’s supposed to be 8 pounds, but fits into my cheap budget.
My budget is slim, but luckily being in the UK right now rather than Canada wine is much affordable here. Dinner tonight consists of a butternut squash lasagne with a creamy ricotta sauce. It’s creamy and cheesy, but there’s no red meat nor other heavy ingredients. Red or white wine? My guess was white.

According to Wine Lovers Page I’m doing alright –

On pastas – “If it’s a cheese sauce like Fettuccine Alfredo, consider Chardonnay.”
On cheese – “Ripe, creamy cheeses like Camembert and Brie: Rich, buttery Chardonnay. Or for a change of pace, try them with Champagne. “

Though they also say this about vegetarians, “Frankly, it’s hard to be a serious wine lover and shun meat.” …hmm…and yet popcorn stands alone as a category for wine matching.

Onto the wine.

According to my new, handy, understanding wine book, Chardonnay is one of the least distinguishable wines. ‘full and round, with a moderate acidity’ and is only distinguishable through elimination. One with an established palate would know it’s Chardonnay because it’s not Mascadet, Sauvignon, Riesling, etc… Could I tell that? No.. (Or, not yet, I shall say). In order to keep track of which wines I like, and to deepen my understanding of tastes, I’ve started to take notes of each wine – as seen below.

Chardonnay Review

Chardonnay Review

My handy book also tells me sometimes the oak comes through in the flavour, though in this Chardonnay I’m not tasting the oak. Ultimately, on it’s own, I don’t care too much for this wine. It’s acidic, doesn’t have much depth, and … [insert more descriptive wine words here]. However it is nice with cheese – the cheese seems to cut the harsh acidit taste. Would I buy this particular bottle of Chardonnay again? No. Would I try another Chardonnay? Sure, but I’ll do some research first so that the next bottle I buy is a fair representative of what Chardonnay should taste like.

  1. Americanepali10-15-09

    Thanks for the comment on Americanepali… over time I’ll put more recipes up there, but I decided to come over and check your site out.

    I must say, I would really like to get better at wine tasting as well. I really enjoy a glass of wine every now and then, especially with dinner. I’m a bit partial to reds though. I used to work in Cape Town, South Africa, so I am also a bit partial to South African wines because I am familiar with some of the vineyards. Next time I find a bottle I like I’ll pass the name along… I’m a cheapo when it comes to wine as well so I guarantee it will be affordable.

    mmmm… butternut squash lasagna? That sounds delicious!

  2. Betty11-13-09

    I never got into the whole wine thing. I also think that wine is just the new drug for the middle aged and I always watch people buying cases of it at the grocery store.
    I buy one bottle for cooking and it’s last me a year.

  3. Cody02-23-10

    Thank you for the excellent article. Best thing I read all day. Look forward to reading more from you in the future

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