Learning About Wine MC Hammer Style

November 29, 2011

I recently purchased six bottles of a well-known red wine from the Rhone region. As a learning experiment to expand my wine knowledge, I plan to drink one every two years while keeping meticulous notes on how it ages. I’ll drink one in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022. By doing this, I’ll learn how wine matures and improves throughout its life. I look forward to observing the tannins mellow with time, the fruit transform with age, as bigger, earthier flavors come to the fore. Years from now I’ll know more about when a wine peaks, and the subtle clues it expresses when its time has come. Below I will add my tasting notes next to the date the bottle was opened.

Monday: The first bottle of my twelve year test. What a delicious wine! It sports a deep ruby color with sweet tannins. One of the most notable traits is its powerful flavors of ripe, red cherries. For a wine meant to age in the cellar, it sure is drinking well now. I love this wine.

Tuesday: After yesterday’s tasting I just had to open a second bottle. With only four more I’ll have to forgo the last bottle scheduled for 2022. Still loving those ripe, red cherries! How can these tannins be so strong yet so sweet? What a wine!

Wednesday: The ripe, red cherries are still there. No discernable difference in the tannins after just three days. This leaves me with only three bottles to last twelve years. I’ll wait three years between them instead of two–that way I can still see how the last bottle will drink in 2021. I will open NO MORE of this wine until another three years passes!

Thursday: Ripe, red cherries!

Friday: I just opened one of the two remaining bottles. I’m starting to doubt the success of this experiment. When I finally open the last bottle in 2022 I’ll remember the ripe, red cherries and the sweet tannins.

Saturday: I just finished the last bottle. In six days I squandered my entire stash of wine as if I were channeling MC Hammer. If in 2022 I ever hear someone talking about this vintage, I’ll tell them about the ripe, red cherries and the strong yet sweet tannins.

This week’s recommendation:

Francois Chidaine “Clos Habert” Montlouis Sur Loire ($22.99): Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, this is a white that ages beautifully. Just when you think it tastes too sweet, the acidity slices through, ending the floral flavors and leaves you wanting another sip. I dare you to pick up a bottle. Better yet, pick up six and spread them out over a few years.

I Used to Like This Swill?

November 15, 2011

Sometimes appreciating wine is like spending time with a praying mantis: You find yourself getting ready for a quality evening with a bottle you just know you’re going to love, when suddenly it turns on you and eats your head.

This happened to me earlier this week when I tasted an old favorite of mine. This was a wine I’ve brought to parties, gave as gifts, and shared with friends many times over many dinners. Although it had been a few years, I had no doubt that it would deliver. It always did. The moment it touch my lips, however, I became immediately confused. And not in a “did I remember to take my vitamin this morning?” sort of way. No. I mean in more of a “get stoned on absinthe while watching Polish acrobats” sort of way (That’s kind of a long story–no, actually it’s not. I got stoned on absinth once while watching Polish acrobats and it freaked me out. Right out). Anyway, what was once one of my solid, go-to wine choices now had the same effect on me as my Grandmother’s creamed corn—the only recipe I am aware of which is inspired entirely by vomit.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about drinking wine, it’s that tastes change over time. Thinking back to some of my early wine favorites is much like thinking back to some of my old girlfriends: I’m left wondering just what the hell I was thinking. How was I ever so attracted to some of those over-processed, over-manipulated Cabernets?  How I was ever so attracted to that girl with the huge African lip disc? What the hell was I thinking? Yes, my tastes have changed.

I like to think that these changes in preferences are due to my becoming more wine-educated. I like to think I’m becoming more refined through the years, more discerning in my palate, but considering I’m the guy who still belches the entire alphabet at parties and runs away when his wife catches him eating frosting off the cake with a spoon, that logic may be a little optimistic.

This week’s recommendation:

Barone Ricasoli 2009, Chianti ($14.99): Although Chianti has faded in and out of favor through the years, BR has NEVER let me down. With an awesome spiciness and bold cherry flavors, this Chianti will always taste good–just like belching the entire alphabet will always be funny.    

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