We freaking made it. 2018. We all have our resolutions, some of mine rolled back from last year (drink more water than wine) but we will see if this actually sticks.
One resolution that is sure to be an easy one to follow, is to be more adventurous with wine. The best part about wine is experiencing new wines with friends. Some of my favorite wines are paired with hilarious to sentimental memories with my loved ones!
Thankfully, many of my friends have caught the wine bug with me and we have been throwing some awesome wine related dinner parties. A recent one was a horizontal tasting. What the heck is that?! Your new favorite thing! Hopefully you will stay in a vertical position after these tastings (but no judgement here!)
A horizontal tasting is a great way to taste the offerings of a specific region from each vintage (think Malibu, Santa Barbara, Bordeaux, etc.). Have each of your friends bring a bottle of the same varietal from the same year (2012 Pinot Noir, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, you get it) and region and then the fun starts! Make sure everyone picks a different winery or producer so we don't try the same thing twice.
A vertical tasting is tasting one varietal from one producer throughout the course of a few (or more) years. For example, say you try 2010-2015 Semler Cabernet Sauvignon. This is super fun since you can taste the differences in winemaking, and weather. Whether you are a novice or experienced taster, this is the perfect setting to train your brain to pick out the subtle nuances of each wine. Soon, you will be commenting on how 2012 was an exceptional year for Pinot Noir!
Not to be a wine geek, but I recommend everyone have a notepad and pen to jot down their interpretations of each wine. Does Mark smell or taste something completely different than Susan? Does Susan even have the right wine in her glass?! By going around the room and voicing the different profiles of each wine, you can become a better taster over time. Your palate is your own, Susan's is hers, and so on. By hearing what other people pick up in wine, expands your Rolodex for tasting notes. Women tend to pick up floral notes better than men and men tend to pick up earthy and leather tones more. Learn by drinking? Count me in every night!
Text your friends, grab a few cheeses, and line those glasses up because this is about to be a party to remember!
How many Pinot's are there? If you have ever ventured into the best aisle in the grocery store (wine aisle), you have probably caught on that there are a few different colors that Pinot showcases. Let's talk about one of my favorite varietals of all time, shall we?
There are many mutations that Pinot has evolved to, the most popular are: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris (Grigio), Pinot Blanc, Pinot Munier. They aren't just related to one another, they all share the exact same DNA showing that they are all the same grape!
Pinot is one of the only grape varietals that can make a sparkling, white, rosé, and a red wine.
There are 6 mutations of Pinot to note:
Pinot Noir: A hard-to-grow black wine grape with green flesh that originated around Burgundy.
Pinot Gris: A pink-skinned wine grape that produces white wines to rosé-colored wines.
Pinot Blanc: A white grape that often has been confused with Chardonnay.
Pinot Meunier: A black-skinned grape that ripens a bit earlier than Pinot Noir and is mostly used in Champagne.
Pinot Teinturier: A black-skinned grape with red flesh that was observed in vineyards periodically over the last 100 years.
Pinot Noir Précoce: A mutation of Pinot Noir that ripens 2 weeks earlier than regular Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is one of the most sought after grape varietals in the world, being known for being a perfect example of the terroir of the region. Because of it's delicate skins and vibrant aromas, the flavors and aromas compliment the region in which it's grown.
If you try a Pinot from every country, after a while, you will be able to identify where the grape was grown. Don't believe me? Try it!
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are also the same grape, just named differently due to the country! Pinot Grigio is from Italy whereas Pinot Gris is from France.
It truely is one of the most facinating grape varieties there is, with so many variations and different flavor profiles in each country. So, drink up and cheers to evolution!
It is finally February; I have never been so excited to be done with the first month of the year! Last month I tried and failed to stick to the Whole30 diet that basically every woman on Instagram was doing. I can take out sugar, carbs, dairy, even food from my diet, but wine? You must be taking crazy pills. The wine guy at WholeFoods would send out a search party if he didn’t see me for a month, or even a week for that matter.
You can still drink a glass of wine a night and be your healthiest, fittest self. You just have to be smart about the type of wines you are drinking. There are plenty of studies that show wine is in fact good for your body. It has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, it’s basically like taking a multivitamin! But the sugar content is the real kicker here for absolute heath and weight management. Full transparency, I would rather choose wine over food any day but you may not be as dedicated to wine then I am.
TIPS TO DRINKING SMART:
1. Choose wine with a lower alcohol content: Wine with less alcohol tends to have less sugar. Dry white wines (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, German Riesling, Chenin Blanc) have the least amount of calories with 110-150 calories per 5 ounces with 9-12% alcohol. Red Fans? Dry red wines with less than 13.5% alcohol will be your best friend (Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah)
2. Choose European wines: Whaaaaat? Yes. Europe has incredibly strict wine laws that restrict alcohol content to a certain parameter. Remember, alcohol content is key, so go on a world tour and try something new!
3. Stay away from “New World” wines: America to Argentina to Australia, new world wines boast high alcohol and high sugar wines that will undo all that hard work at the gym.
4. Eat Protein!: If you are like me, I am always thinking of French fries after downing the third glass of Pinot. This isn’t because you are weak, the wine is just really good at peer pressuring you. Alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat so your brain tells you to reach for the bad stuff. To prevent the little voice telling you to make midnight bacon, eat a handful of almonds or cheese to calm your cravings before pouring the first glass.
5. Earn that glass: The greatest glass of wine is one after you kick your own butt at the gym. During my demise with Whole30, I allowed a glass of wine after a great workout and never regretted a thing. Maybe it’s just me, but thinking about getting a “bikini body” doesn’t motivate me at the gym, knowing wine is at home does.
6. Everything in moderation: This is one of those tips that I have to say but don’t follow.. Obviously one glass is better than three but my best writing is after at least two glasses so we give and take here.
So, I passed the Sommelier Exam and officially have enough knowledge to order off of a restaurant menu without breaking out in a sweat. You can call me “baby somm”.
What is great about the world of wine is you are never finished learning. I was taught by 4 Master Sommeliers (all of which were in the documentary SOMM, if you haven’t seen it, get on it) and they made it very clear that you will never know everything about wine. Even the Masters are still students.
I love educating people on wine, and a tasting room is the perfect classroom. Where else in the world can you go and learn about something then get rewarded by getting to drink? Tasting rooms my friend. Tasting rooms are incredibly intimidating but we all want to teach you. You can learn immense amounts over a glass of wine, so ask away! I haven’t heard it all but here are some that I’ve been asked quite frequently.
Frequently Asked Wine Questions (as heard in a tasting room)
1. Q: Is wine vegan?
A: In LA, this questions pops up more than in other areas but it is not a silly question by any means. Most wine is NOT vegan. To filter the wine (make it clear by taking the particles out), many winemakers use elements that are not considered vegan. Thankfully, the internet is making it easier to locate vegan wines due to dietary restrictions, so google away!
2. Q: Do the vines die in the winter?
A: The vines do not die (see Lillie’s article). They are merely hibernating and gearing up for the cold. Their nutrients are pulled down to their roots to protect themselves from frost damage. In the spring, they soak up a little sun and get ready for a new harvest!
3. Q: Do you add the fruits, spices, herbs, etc. to the wine to give it the flavor on the tasting notes?
A: This question is my favorite because we don’t add a single thing. The grapes give these characteristics all by themselves. The winemaker can manipulate the fermentation process or add a yeast that brings out the wines characteristics more but those little babies do it all on their own.
4. Q: How many grapes are in a bottle of wine?
A:Typically 500-700 depending on the grape variety. Some grapes are smaller than others. If you really think about it, depending on the price of the bottle, some grapes can be $0.25 each! The oldest winery in France broke down their grape cost and it came to $10 a grape! That’s a $5,000 bottle!
5. Q: How do I hold the glass?
A: Many people forget that wine is a living and breathing being! The more air you give it, the more aromas and tannin breakdown. If you warm it up, it can lose some key characteristics and even fall off and go bad. Always hold the glass by the stem, the lower the better. Your body heat can warm up the glass and ruin your experience with the wine. Also, you look classy doing it.
Have a grape day!