Sunday, June 26, 2011
Wow. I had not realized it has been a full two months (plus) since my last post. I do have a perfectly good reason, though. During that time, I passed my Intermediate Wine course and the Level 1 Sommelier exam. The Level 1 Sommelier exam was brutal and I don't think I could have done it without my fabulous instructors at Midwest Wine School. I am looking forward to the Advanced class in the fall. One of my instructors for the Sommelier course was local celebrity, Alpana Singh, MS. I must confess, however, that my favorite was Matt Citriglia, MS from Ohio. He really makes learning fun and, in addition to rekindling my passion for wine, I learned a lot from him.
By the way, I aced my blind tasting. Was only off on the vintage by one year. 2010 Napa Valley Viognier. I will never forget that wine.
In addition to studying for these exams, I have also been working on a book, trying to get that published, and learning how to design apps (or trying to anyway). I'm not sure what you call what I've got - OCD, ADD, ADHD??? I have also begun the recommended reading for the Level 2 Sommelier. I did get sidetracked at the library, however, by a book called "The Wine Trials 2010". What a great book! On a practical level, the book contains a list of 150 great wines from around the world for under $15. On a deeper level it has some great information on experiments that put inexpensive wines up against much more expensive ones - with both average consumers and wine experts as judges.
The roots of these wine experiments go all the way back to a beer experiment conducted in 1964. The experiment was in judging a beer that contained vinegar against a beer that did not. 388 judges were divided into three separate groups - one that was not told what they were tasting, one that was told at the beginning what they would be tasting and one that was told after tasting, but before rating the beers. Interestingly, the first group preferred the beer with vinegar 59%. The last group was very close to the first group. The second group, however, who had been told what they would be tasting before the tasted, only preferred the vinegar beer 30%. What this tells us is that the knowledge that there was vinegar in the beer changed their taste experience, but did not change their taste judgment. In other words, expectations have more influence over a person's taste experience than does their actual judgment.
What the authors are trying to explain - at least indirectly - is the discrepancy between what the expert tasters and wine writer for Wine Spectactor, etc are liking versus what the masses enjoy - those of us who don't have a lot of expectations built up based on the history of the winemaker or the quality of the grapes in 2010 Bordeaux.
Probably the most shocking result of the wine trials (they were conducted twice) is that Chateau Ste Michelle Brut (sparkling wine) beat out Dom Perignon both years. This is a $12 bottle of wine. Another shocker is that Black Box wines, who are marketing wines - yes - in boxes, showed on the list of winners with their Cabernet Sauvignon. Two buck chuck from Trader Joes also made the cut with their Chardonnay and Cab.
Favorites of mine on the list include: Gascon Malbec, Segura Viudas Cava, Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Alamos Malbec, Red Truck Petite Sirah, Ironstone "Obsession" Symphony, Francis Ford Coppolo Bianco, Fat Bastard Chardonnay, Cycles Gladiator (Merlot and Syrah), Conquista Torrontes, and Quinta de Cabriz Dao Sul.
What am I drinking today? Today I am taking a break from wine and am exploring the spirit world. I am drinking Firefly sweet tea vodka with lemonade, while sitting on the deck smelling the smokey goodness of the pork picnic my husband is making for dinner tonight. Cheers!