Wine tasting basics:
When tasting wine it is commonly known that you should cleanse the palate between different wines that you taste. Many suggest crackers or cheese and or some nuts, or some go as far as to serve some other foods such as pretzels, peanuts, or other small bite size appetizers.
The mistake being many wines need a complimentary food and while most plain crackers may do the trick to bring you back to a common ground the other examples, can be a detriment to your tasting experience. For example we recently went to a wine tasting and the winery provided strawberries and cheap sharp cheddar cheese (actually it tasted like a processed, non-dairy, facsimile of cheese), the wine provided for tasting on this occasion were all earthy reds with high tannins, and lots of oak. To put it lightly the strawberries completely changed the taste of the wine, the acidity and tartness of the strawberry simply did not match well with any of the reds we tried. Meanwhile the cheese provided was a slightly better choice however the cheese was too strong, salty and the texture was almost like solid gelatin. Simply stated it overpowered the wine; what I mean by overpowered is that when you tasted the wine then had cheese then went back and tasted the next wine really all you could taste was the last item you tasted, that being the horrible imitation cheese. Okay so now you are completely confused and don’t know what to buy. Even a pure ingredient when poorly matched can change the experience and create tension and displeasing results. An example of this would be pairing a buttery, oaky chardonnay from
with a big fat juicy (free range, organically fed) steak with sautéed organic onions & local harvested mushrooms. The chardonnay although not light is just not heavy enough to stand up to the rich, powerful taste of the red meat. Additionally the citrus and acid of the wine will clash with the flavors of the steak and mushrooms. California
In actuality the best way to cleanse the palate is cool fresh water!
Back to basics:
While there are many different theories and opinions when it comes to wine tasting and best practices (add to that all of the conflicting information online) there are some important points of emphasis that may help better your experience.
“Drink what you like” seems to be the new mantra and while I partially agree with this theory I will add. “How do you know what you like if you have only tasted a nondescript cabernet”?I mean have you ever ordered Cabernet and hated it? This may be because it could be a blend, or from an area you have never tried, or it may be made by a large producer in mass quantities with little taste a big price and many additives. That brings me to my first tip:
- Try different wines
- Cleanse the palate with a completely neutral food or even better a complimentary food.
- Always cleanse the palate with a rinse and drink of water.
So where do you begin? You begin by tasting different wines, with complimentary foods, and cleansing in between with water? Why we should pair Italian wine for example with everything from rustic to gourmet Italian food.
Our philosophy, which by the way is the preferred choice for many nationally known chefs, sommeliers and food professionals, is pairing authentic regional foods with regional wines.
Here is why this makes sense: These wines are grown on the same land with the same soil, air, water, temperatures, and essence as the plants, fruits spices, animals, fish (if you are near the coast) as the grapes grown there. In addition there are hundreds, if not thousands of years of practice, experiment, preparation, experience and love that has gone into creating special recipes and wines that compliment each other.
It is not by accident for example that a perfectly chilled bottle of Italian white wine (Vermentino from Liguria, which is a light, refreshing Italian wine with citrus, herbs and fruits) goes perfectly with Calamari Fritti prepared fresh from the ocean with Ligurian extra virgin olive oil, local herbs, light flour and cornmeal for breading, and Ligurian sea salt. Simple, complimentary, delicious light and refreshing, the perfect food and wine match while hanging your feet in the cool ocean water on a hot sunny day on the coast; this is heaven.
Wine basics provided by Wine Italiano, a wine community for Italian wine lovers; where you can research, compare, create and share as well as buy Italian wine online. All rights reserved. April 2012