Sunday, March 29, 2015

In Honor of RIT Men's Hockey - A Wine Tasting!

I mention in my description that I am a Philly girl. I was born and raised outside the beautiful City of Brotherly Love, which means I love all things Philly: cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell, the Franklin Institute of Science, and Philadelphia sport teams. There are two things that define a Philly sports fan: loyalty and superstition. If there was a way to measure how utterly ridiculous we can be with our superstitions - we would be on top of every list for the rest of eternity. Want an example? My family has kicked our mother out of the room during Eagles games because we were winning when she was not watching. I am not kidding.

Yesterday my Alma mater, RIT Men's Hockey was battling the #1 team in the country AND WE WON. I was celebrating the win and another blog post when that same mother mentioned that I needed to do a post each day that RIT had a game. So here I am, carrying on the great tradition that is Philadelphia superstition.

For my post today I figured we would get away from the lessons and into a wine tasting. Remember that journal I talked about in my first post? I'll be pulling from my tastings both to introduce you to the wine and what is important in a tasting. The journal asks for a lot of information that either I could not get at the time or do not always care to remember. However, I will note them here. When I have a moment, I will upload some pictures of blank tastings pages. Until then, I'll include the scales where applicable.

Wine Name: I Made You Blush
Maker: The Winery at Olney -
Grape Variety/Blend: White Merlot
Alcohol %: Don't know exact but I'd say average
Color: Pinkish - Light Red
  *Scale: Greenish - Yellowish - Pinkish - Light Red - Medium Red - Dark Red - Nearly Midnight
Aroma First Impression: Semi Sweet
Aroma Second Impression: Strawberries
Sweetness: Sweet
   *Scale: Bone Dry - Dry - Not so dry - Sweet - Like candy
Acidity: Soft
   *Scale: Tart - Crisp - Fresh - Soft - Flabby
Flavor Intensity: Subtle
   *Scale: DOA - Subtle - Bold - Ferocious
Body: Silky
   *Scale: Watery - Silky - Velvety - Sryupy
Finish: Pleasantly Lingering
   *Scale: Flash in the pan - Pleasantly Lingering - Won't go away
Pair With: Fish, Cheese
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Drink It Again: Yes, please
   *Scale: Not even if you paid me - Maybe, if very drunk - Sure, why not? - Yes, please - And again, and again - If only I could afford it!
Notes: Not overly sweet for a blush, as a dry lover I enjoyed. Nice summer wine but would be concerned about putting it with strong flavors.

It may seem like an immense amount of information for a wine but after a few sips, these categories are very easy to fill out. It is important to include all this information in a tasting journal because you won't remember everything about a wine. I've tried and I promise, just write it down. It is also very important to include any food you tried with the wine because, as I have said before, foods will change the wine.

That is all I have for today. I hope you've enjoyed your first view into a tasting! I'll be throwing in tastings in the hopes of you finding a wine you'd like to try! If you do end up trying a wine I've reviewed, please let me know your experience! I love seeing how the same wine varies from person to person!

And for those looking for something other than basketball to watch tonight, RIT vs Omaha in the Elite 8 will be on ESPNU at 7:30pm. Let's go Tigers!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Read Responsibly - Wine Terminology

Today we're going to play a game. We're going to see how many times my computer restarts while I'm trying to write this post. What do we win? Wine of course! I'll report at the end the number of times I had to stop myself from throwing my computer out the window and we all get to have that many glasses of wine with dinner tonight. You get a post - we all get wine. I don't see how this isn't win-win for everyone.

Based on some discussions with friends I decided it would be smart to follow up my overview of wine with an overview of wine terminology. Upon entering the wine world I found out that it had its own language, which just like the wine itself, can be confusing and overwhelming. In order to not overwhelm you, I'm going to keep this post simple and address (what I consider to be) the vocabulary you need most and some extras thrown in to make you sound smart.

Editor's Note - While I'd love to be full of this knowledge naturally, I'm not, and to make sure no one sues me I will provide references at the end of this post which I consulted. In case anyone wants to sue me, I'm going to point back to the beginning of this post where I reference my ownership of a malfunctioning computer and leave that as evidence to my overall wealth.

Acid: This is not the acid of high school science class kids! Acid has many purposes in relation to wines but the one to remember is that acid plays an important part in the fermentation of wine.

Acidity: Term used to describe a wine; can be applied to red and white wines. Typically describes a wine that comes across as sharp or biting on the tongue.

Aeration (Breathing): The process of introducing oxygen into the wine. Most often applied to red wines through opening the bottle, swirling the wine in the glass, or pouring into a decanter. Aerating a wine is said to open up or release the flavor of a wine.

Balance: Pretty much means what you would think; refers to a wine that is not overpowering in any aspect.

Barrel Aged: Do I have any whiskey or scotch (or even craft beer) lovers in the room?! Y'all will be familiar with this term. Barrel Aged Wine defines wine that has spent time in a barrel before bottling. This can be used in a multitude of ways to change the flavor of the wine because the end result depends on the barrel.

Body: There is the complicated definition and the simple definition for this term. And what is this blog about my dear and faithful readers? Simple. Body refers to the fullness of the wine. It can also be used to classify a wine; light-bodied, medium-bodied, and full-bodied.

Botrytis Cinerea (Noble Rot): This is one of those I'm throwing in here to make you sound smart. It is not a term you're going to hear every day, even when talking about wine, but it is important. While it sounds scary, I assure you it is not. Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot is a type of fungus that attacks grapes in cool, humid conditions. It causes that grapes to shrivel and rot but when picked at the correct time during the infestation, can lead to wonderful and concentrated sweet wine.

Cork Taint: Bringing us to our first negative term of the day, we get corked. Cork Taint is used when describing wines that smell musty or moldy because the cork either is the cause of or allowed improper components into the wine.

Decanting: Pouring a wine into a decanter for breathing and presentation purposes; it can also be used to keep the sediments in wine out of the glass.

Early-Harvest: Sounds like what it is; wine that is made from grapes harvested early in the season. These wines tend to have lower alcohol and sugar content.

Estate Bottled: Wine makers use this to describe grapes that are harvested and bottled on the same estate. Indicates that a winery has the equipment on site to make wine instead of them sending the grapes elsewhere for fermenting and bottling.

Harvest: Another easy one; act of gathering grapes.

Late-Harvest: Wine made from grapes harvested late in the season. These grapes and subsequent wines contain more sugar and concentrated flavors so are usually sweeter.

Legs: Ever swirled your wine and then seen veins running down your glass? Those my friends are the legs of the wine. Yes there is a term for that. It is an indicator of two things: the alcohol content and the amount of sugar in the wine; more legs means higher alcohol content and slow flowing legs means a sweeter wine.

Malolactic Fermentation: This is another term that you will not be using every day but if you use it correctly (and with the right people), you will look smart. Malolactic Fermentation is the process of taking naturally present tart malic acid and converting it to a softer lactic acid. It can happen on its own but is usually started by the wine maker dependent on the type of wine.

New World: "Every wine-producing country other than Europe, basically." I quote this from Wine Made Simple by Fiona Sims because it is simple and to the point. It also can refer to producers who introduce new technology to wine making.

Nose: What do you use your nose for? Smelling. As such, the nose of the wine is the aroma of the wine.

Old World: Traditional wine-producing countries in Europe and those who use traditional techniques in wine making.

Oxidized: Wine that has been exposed to oxygen too long and has become vinegary.

Sediment: Particulates in wine that settle during aging; these can occur in the barrel or the bottle.

Tannins: Most often used to describe a dry red wine, tannins actually come from the stems and skins of the grapes. Tannins also cause that puckering or 'sucker punch' feeling you get in your mouth after a sip of dry wine.

Varietal: Used to describe the type of wine. Can also reference a wine that is made from and named after a single type of grape.

Vintage: The year the grapes were harvested.

We're going to stop there for today! This is a very basic introduction to words used in the wine world but should give you a solid place to start. I'll introduce you to more terms as we go!

If there is a topic you'd like me to blog about, feel free to leave a comment or message me privately! While I'm by no means an expert, I'm a few years removed from my own first dip into wine and could use a gentle reminder about what was most foreign to me at the start.

And of course, the moment we've all been waiting many glasses of wine have you all earned for reading through this entire post (to those who skipped to the not pass go and do not collect wine!)? Drum roll please! You have earned 3 glasses of wine!

Thank you for reading my blog! Now go have a fantastic evening and enjoy your wine!

Editor's Second Note - The making of this post was assisted by, Wine Made Simple by Fiona Sims and Basic Wine Terms and Vocabulary by

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Types of Wine - Empire State View

Going along with the theme of I don't know what I'm doing...I'm obviously bad at posting. I've been trying to figure out how I want to approach this but instead of continuing to overanalyze as I'm prone to do - let's do this.

For my second post but first official wine related post I'd like to review types of wine from a very high level. I'm talking Empire State building high level and then we'll work our way down to the individual varietals (ya know the part that's so overwhelming).


That's it. Yep, I promise. No I'm not messing with you. Yes, I know that is not how it's sorted at the store. In order to appreciate the varietals, one must start with a general knowledge base so that when you are at the store and faced with hundreds of options - you can always come back to the start.

One important piece of information that applies to each type of wine is that all types of wines can range from sweet to dry. As we dive down into the varietals, we'll discuss further.

And now it's on to the good stuff!

Sparkling wines are fun. Even this sucker-punch-me-dry red lovin' wino can admit to that. There is just something that makes you smile when you drink a sparkling wine. It's like the bubbles make your cares float away. Sparkling wines are most often a white or Rosé. These wines can range from a dry Champagne to a sweet Moscato. *FUN FACT ALERT* Only Champagne produced in Champagne, France can be officially labeled Champagne. This is where one must be careful because that region is not the only purveyor of Champagne. True Story - there is nothing worse than opening a bottle marked "Sparkling Wine" expecting sweet bubbly bliss and being socked with a dry Champagne. You have been warned.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

White wines get their name and color due to the skin of the grape being removed from the grape prior to the fermenting process. Don't let this wine fool you! Just because it has a light color, does not mean that it will be a light wine! Rieslings most commonly represent a sweet and light white wine (although a good dry Riesling can be very enjoyable - let's give Germany a round of applause for blessing us with Riesling) while an oak-y Chardonnay rounds out white wine with a full bottom.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

Rosé gets a bad rap for two reasons which I'm going to address quickly and simply. First, Rosé wines are not blush wines. I repeat Rosé wines are not blush wines. Second, Rosé wines are not the leftovers of white and red wines mixed together. Say it with me now, Rosé wines are not the leftovers of white and red wines mixed together. The Rosé wine was first perfected in France (the French at it again...they gotta be good for something). It's a versatile wine that is good for a mix of people and meant to be served with food.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

Red red wine. My favorite type of wine. While assumed to be dry, one cannot label this glorious grape so narrowly. Red wines are bold and complex. Red wines are soft and sweet. Red wines are somewhere in the middle. Pinot Noir is a common type for my sweet-loving friend and I to share at dinner. A sucker-punch-me-dry Cabernet Sauvignon can warm you up on a cold winter's night.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

Dessert wines brings us to our final type of wine this evening. This is the only category that I will say falls outside the number one rule of having wines that range from dry to sweet. Dessert wines taste like the name. That is not to say there is not a wide selection of dessert wines! A heavy Port can be enjoyed on its own. A light and cotton candy Ice Wine can be a topping for ice cream and cheesecake. Just remember to keep the wine sweeter than the dessert or else you'll take away from the wine.

       Pair With: Whatever you want (usually dessert or a salty snack).
       Serve: Whenever you want.

My last note tonight will address my pair with and serve with comments. Even before I started drinking wine I knew the "white wines with chicken and fish - red wines with pasta and meat" line. To that I say the following: Hogwash. Balderdash. Rubbish. Horsefeathers. (yes that's a legitimate synonym for hogwash. You're welcome.) While there are guidelines with how to pair wines with your meal, it generally has nothing to do with JUST the color. So from here on out, I want you to forget you ever heard that. Erase it from your memory. Wipe it from your vocabulary. Drain it from your tongue with a glass of whatever you want, whenever you want. We will talk about how to pair food and wine as we delve into the varietals but you've just learned Rule #1 of My Guide To Wine. I'll even recap it for you in a nice easy to understand format.

Rule 1: Drink whatever you want. Whenever you want.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

So, what is it you do here?

Welcome to my blog! This is my first crack at it so helpful hints, tips, and tricks are appreciated! Just go easy on me; I'm an engineer by day so my writing skills are not as artful as the wine we'll be tasting.

My main goal is for each post to cover the tasting of at least one wine. On the way I'll discuss the how-to behind wine tasting. In my experience, wine experts attempt to make wine tasting into this complex scientific process that makes you feel like a raccoon on groundhog day (or like you showed up to the ball wearing Converse)! While wine tasting can be a complex scientific process, since most of us won't become experts one day (and if you are/do and you're reading this blog, I want to meet you!), I will attempt to break the tasting process down for the rest of us.
*Side note - I wanted to call this blog Wine For The Rest Of Us but somebody already has that taken. Not that they've posted in oh about 6 years or anything (and I'm not bitter of course) but here we are so here we go!

I will be using the very clever and insanely simple Wine Journal by Knock Knock to track my tastings. I discovered this journal at one of those kitschy book stores in a small town in Delaware and immediately felt a kindred spirit in how they approach wine. I would highly recommend purchasing one if you want a place to track your wine. Each entry asks the important questions plus a few more in an easy to understand format.

The best way to taste wines is with friends and food. The first not only gives you a partner to laugh with if you just opened the worst wine possible; but also expands your horizons in how the same wine can taste completely different to different people. A good friend of mine has basically the total opposite taste in wine as I do and that makes her the perfect companion. We can almost always swap wines we don't like and it's great for my blog to get a different perspective! The second is best covered in a separate post but rest assured, I won't leave you hanging!

I think that about covers it for now. I hope I've piqued your interest (and your taste buds) and you're ready to dive into this fascinating, complex, and--after a few rounds--not so scary world of wine!