Bubbly New Year

It has been a while, hasn’t it? Apologies for going AWOL, but 2014 was a busier year than expected. Job changes, a move, a few trips, you name it. Perhaps the biggest change in my life that relates to this blog is that I now work in the wine industry (insert cheer here)! I also took an unforgettable trip to Sicily, specifically the Etna region, where I had some of the greatest tastings of my life. I owe an entire post to this trip, and hope to update you more on that soon.

But 2015 is upon us, and that means wine resolutions. I’m attempting to keep things fun and simple this year. And let’s be honest, obtainable. I set my sights on Burgundy last year, and it was fun. But expensive. Reading about Burgundy proved to be far cheaper, and I’ve found some great tomes on the subject (perhaps another post?). So this year, let’s keep it fun. Here are my resolutions:

1. Blog more. Hey, it’s the elephant in this electronic room, right? I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been slacking.

2. Bubbles! That’s right. This will be the main focus for 2015. Not just Champagne. Sparkling wine from all over the world. What better was to keep 2015 fun than to be drinking bubbly all year long? I encourage you all to join me. Let’s make bubbly an everyday thing, not just for special occasions.

3. Hipster wines. I touched on this in the past, and it’s one I want to keep hammering away at. There are too many dark corners of the wine world that deserve more light. Let’s find some really great stuff and let the world know about it.

4. Wine and Coke. I’ve been meaning to attempt this for years. Rumor has it that the Chinese sometimes mix red wine with Coca Cola. Not true? Maybe, but where is the fun in that? Let’s try it. It’ll make for a good story.

So here’s to a new year, a fresh start, and lots of fun ahead. I hope you all will join me. Cheers.

I am a Supertaster: paying taxes in Bittertown, USA

Indeed, I am a supertaster. Don’t be confused though, I am not a super taster – I’m not the Michael Jordan of tasting or something. No, I’m a supertaster. It’s a bad thing, mostly. To put it simply, a supertaster is one who has greater than average fungiform papillae on their tongue, and therefore a much lower tolerance to bitter tastes. Supertasters often find things like black coffee, green leafy vegetables, and hoppy beers unbearable. Women, Asians, Africans, and South Americans are more likely to be supertasters (so I’m big time in the minority here). Read all about it on Google, or check out Wikipedia’s info on it right here.

Yours truly finds all of these things bitter. I load up my coffee with cream and sugar. I wince when I drink a really strong IPA. This now explains why people have looked at me funny when I say I don’t like the taste of most vegetables.

So how does one find out for sure that they’re a super taster? I had read all sorts of home tests, like dropping blue food coloring on your tongue, and then counting the number of taste buds you see in a hole punch-sized area. Not very scientific. Finally I heard about a chemically treated paper test strip that proves it. It’s safe, it’s easy, it’s cheap…it’s available on Amazon. Clearly, I snapped these up (if anyone wants to try it, I might have 99 strips left). The “For use in medical genetics” was particularly enjoyable to read right before sticking a chemical in my mouth.

PTC test strips
PTC test strips

The day they were delivered, I dove right in. The test is incredibly easy. Take one strip, pop it in your mouth, get it wet with saliva, and wait to see if you taste anything. If you taste nothing at all, you’re a “nontaster” – one who tastes less than average. If you only notice a slight amount, I’m told, you’re normal. If it’s disgustingly bitter, well, guess what you are?

At first, I thought it just tasted like paper. Then the paper got wet and the chemical spread throughout my mouth. And onto my gums. And onto the inside of my cheeks. Welcome to Bittertown, USA. Ding ding ding! Supertaster. The good news is, for those of your worried about the taste, it took a few swishes of water to get rid of the taste.

For your blog reading entertainment, I was sure to have my phone ready for a mid-tasting experience reaction shot. I think you’ll enjoy the photo below. No need to thank me. Just go have a strong IPA for me, please. Now who needs 99 PTC test strips? Cheers.

Paying taxes in Bittertown, USA.
Paying taxes in Bittertown, USA.

$145 million swirly

Talk about pouring some out for your homies. Treasury Wine Estates, an Australian-based company, is now the all time champ. One of the largest wine companies in the world, Treasury recently announced they’re writing off $145 million in wine. Seems America got over the Australian wine fad a few years ago. Think about it – when was the last time you bought some Australian wine with a kangaroo on the bottle? You’ve moved on, right?

Flushing some? Yes. Probably writing it off their books more than anything? Oh yeah. I can’t imagine what sort of environmental impacts pouring that much wine down the drain would have. Although, that would be a pretty interesting little side story. Can they do that? Must it be filtered first? Interesting.

Anyway, let’s not cry too big of a river here. I’m 100% sure Treasury didn’t actually dump any decent wines. Good wines keep for years, and I’m sure they have some cellars they can line with cases for now. What we’re probably talking about here is the cheap stuff – non-age worthy white wines sold in jugs. And in terms of how Treasury stores it, probably in giant vats. I’m imagining this stuff being shipped around in giant railroad tanker cars. There’s another story I’d like to read. I bet it’s true.

Cheap or not though, holy cow what a river of wine.

SOMM documentary

A new wine documentary was released this week, called SOMM. Available on iTunes, the film follows four aspiring Master Sommeliers, the highest possible certification for that position. As the documentary shows, the study process for the nearly-impossible exam (pass rate: around 5%) is unbelievably grueling. But no doubt everyone will enjoy the wine descriptors they use (e.g. granny purse, cut garden hose). Whether you like wine or not, the documentary is really well done, and you find yourself really feeling for each of them by the end. Anyone who has ever taken a really serious exam or certification test will feel the tension all over again when it’s on the line at the end of the film. Check out the trailer below. Cheers!

I keep my heart at 55 degrees.

vinealoveI saw this story today and couldn’t pass it up. A new dating website for wine lovers is on the way. That’s right. The site, called VineaLove, will apparently be launched June 16, 2013. Their site doesn’t seem to be public just yet. A username/password is required at the moment. I have so many wine/love/innuendo puns popping into my head right now, I can’t keep track. Use your imagination.

55

In recent months, I’ve had a few friends ask me questions about wine storage conditions. Where to I keep my wine? How long can I keep it? What temperature is okay? Things of this nature. I’m here to tell you that in general, we make this issue far too complicated. To break it down, let’s split it into two categories: 1) I have a wine fridge or 2) I do not have a wine fridge.

I have a wine fridgeYou’re in luck. This is easy: 55 degrees. Done. Whether you have red wines, white wines, or a mix, just go with 55 degrees. It’s the generally accepted temperature that allows a wine to age at an appropriate pace (warm ages too quickly, cold ages too slowly). Just remember when you are ready to drink a bottle, pull the reds out for a few minutes to let them warm up. Being too cold shuts down many of the flavors (too warm, and you taste the alcohol). You want the wine on the cool side, or around 65 degrees. And of course with whites, pop them in the regular refrigerator for a few minutes to chill them slightly more. Personally, I like my whites on the warmer side though, so I don’t bother. But really, just drink it and enjoy!

***Curveball: If you have a dual zone wine fridge (one that has different compartments, or zones, that can be set at different temps), feel free to set one for whites at 45, and one for reds at 55.

I do not have a wine fridgeAgain, easy. Don’t fret over the temperature too much. Honestly, most of your wines aren’t going to be around that long anyway, right? For those that you do want to save a bottle for a number of months or years, what you need is a cool (as possible), dark place. Closet, under the stairs, you get the idea. The real key is a consistent temperature. You don’t want your wine fluctuating from warm to cold, to warm again during the day, or even a week here and there. Wines like consistency. Some of the best caves in France are Champagne caves that are actually colder than 55 degrees, but remain ideal because the temperature never varies, no matter the season.

To reiterate, for either of these situations, the real keys are:

  • Consistent temperature, away from heat (55 degrees is ideal)
  • Away from light
  • Away from vibration/jostling

Got it? Great. Told you it was easy. Stay cool.