Updated 2009-02-17 11:42:43 ID=313:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-02-17 09:52:55:123
©2009 The Romantic Table

Larry McGourty writes about wine and food

Wrapped up in Wine Tasting

People get way too wrapped up about wine tasting. For most of us a basic tasting knowledge is all that is required to select the kind of wine we enjoy drinking.

I am not a good traveling wine taster. I like wine with food. Wine tasting for me without a meal as a reference point is kind of like trying to survey the Paris landscape from the bottom of the Eiffel tower rather than the top. A nice experience for sure, but not the maximum impact the proper vantage point will give you.

Beside after a few "generous tastes" on an empty stomach I am either ready to fall asleep, or I get the urge to pontificate meaningless platitudes like "yes... thoughtful pause ... there is definitely a mineral flintiness there - do I detect a slight ambiance of 'gunpowder' ?" Whatever that's supposed to mean...? I read that in a review once. It confounded me... after all who wants their wine explosive? (Excepting a few bored Monks perhaps.) Besides aren't the people who really can detect the ambiance of "gunpowder" more the beer drinking types?

On a personal side note, one of my brother's first attempt at wine- making really did have "mineral flintiness" to it. But that was more a tribute to his lack of sanitary technique that his wine- making prowess. But I digress.

OK, maybe I am being a little flippant here, but for most of us isn't wine drinking more about enjoyment than trying to impress others with your knowledge? After all as I remind the same brother above (who, despite all expectations to the contrary is now an authority in the wine industry) wine is made by carefully "rotting" perfectly good grapes.

Aging fine beef is an art too. But how many steak lovers hang out at meat packing plants kibitzing with the butchers and meat packers? There are standards for fine steaks, but at least in this area most of us feel competent to rely upon our own senses of what we like.

Stretching the steak analogy a bit farther yet (and who hasn't had a rubber steak once in while?) you can take a prime fillet steak and make a steak tartar, or grill it to a well done lump of charcoal. I bet you will find a least two people in your acquaintance who will take opposite sides and claim one of the methods as the ultimate preparation method for a steak. But ask them which wine would you drink with their steak and you will most likely stump them. They probably do have a choice, but unlike steak which they all are familiar with, the problem is they lack the confidence to discuss the wine choice.

People get way too wrapped up about wine. And there is no better example of this than those incredibly complex aroma wheels seemingly packed with more aromas and scents than any normal human being is likely to encounter in a life time - let alone recall on command. Just looking at one of these things is enough to scare anyone... especially if you have no idea what some of the aromas are like. And I must point out that even if you think you know, you and I might not agree upon what we both perceive the aroma to be.

Now if you are a professional wine taster you really do need to know the aromas since a number are symptoms of defects in the wine- making processing. Hopefully the pros will remove the bad stuff before it reaches the marketplace, so for the rest of us a basic tasting knowledge is all that is required. Most wine shops periodically have short courses in basic wine tasting. In a couple hours you will learn all you need to know to set off on your own. If you know the aromas characteristic of a particular wine type as well as a basic understanding of the aromas of common defects in wine- making, you will have all the information you need to make intelligent wine selections to pair with foods you like.

And remember, in the end what really matters how the wine tastes to you!

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A tip from Sue!

Cut down on the splatters as you fry or saute

When you're frying meat or fish you can cut down on the splatters by either using a splatter guard or even easier, by simply using a cover for the frying pan. But adjust your heat down to compensate for the increased heat buildup.