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5

Plonk Euphoria

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SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2013 - Indian Food Pairing Tourney,  Round 1; Riesling 0: Lassi 1

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We joined a friend at India Bazaar Madras Curry in Mo'ili'ili, last night. This hole-in-the-wall buffet place doesn't sell alcohol, and I could find no mention of BYOB, but I took the "That which is not forbidden is allowed" philosophy, and brought along a bottle, a two-pronged cork puller (I chose this because it's the only one I could find that wouldn't poke through the bag), and three cute travel glasses.

All the suggestions I could find about pairing Indian food concluded with white wine, and most mentioned Riesling. I tasted a Riesling once and liked it, so I got one at Costco for the occassion.

Winery: Chateau Ste. Michelle
Wine Name: Columbia Valley Riesling
Variety: Riesling
Region: Columbia Valley, WA
Year: 2011
Price: US$8

The cork ended up in the bottle. Sigh. A little diagram on the label indicated that, on a 10-point continuum from dry to sweet, this was slightly sweet (6). And it was. Probably the first thing I noticed was the effervescence. Uh oh. That sensation, as much as I like it in a wine, has never gone well with hot spices on my tongue. The scent was subtle and fruity. The wine was just slightly sweet (true to the diagram helpfully printed on the back label). I tasted peach, and maybe apple. Yummy.

Then the food. Tomato lentils, tofu curry, potato and mushroom curry, paratha, brown rice and mango chutney. It didn't seem to matter which came before a sip - the wine had a nasty, acrid taste. And, as expected, that slight tingle became quite unpleasant with the spiciness of the food.

I don't know whether to continue trying to find a wine that goes well with this cuisine. I wonder if I should just stick with the tried and true beverage - the lassi.

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THURSDAY, MAY 02, 2013 - THE HATED FRUIT (NO... WAIT...)

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First, the Wine-Tast-O-Matic update:

We went to AMUSE the other night for their happy hour special, but discovered the $50-credit-for-$30-cash deal only applied to military folks on Tuesdays. Alas, as luck has it, we possess no military ID. So, cheap-asses that we are, we left. We will try again next week.

And now to the wine at hand. Actually, the empty bottle at hand.

Winery: Discoveries Vinyards
Wine Name: Chardonnay
Variety: 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Blanc
Region: California (somewhere from Mendocino to Santa Barbara)
Year: 2009
Price: US$8

My husband selected this on the basis that, "It was the first cheap chardonnay I spotted at COSTCO".

And why not!

Hm. Grapefruit.

I hate grapefruit.

And yet...

Really?

Yep. Grapefruit.

And a nice, slight effervescence (ooh, I like that!).

Astonishingly, I quite enjoyed this wine. Kind of a fresh, toned down Fresca vibe. Maybe a hint of mandarin made the grapefruit forgivable.

Discoveries's website describes this as having apple and pineapple flavors. I did not get that. They say it goes great with "roasted chicken, grilled quail, light pasta dishes, fish and Asian cuisine." Me, I tried it (ever so briefly) with smoked gouda (also from COSTCO). The wine made the cheese slightly tastier, but the reverse was not true. Obviously, I have not yet viewed the video on pairing. I look forward to getting a better handle on all that.

Skol.

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SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 2013 - WINE-TASTE-O-MATIC PREVIEW

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AMUSE Bar Wine Tasting Setup

The AMUSE Wine Bar (Kapiolani between Pensacola & Piikoi) has - get this - dispensing kiosks that spit out 1oz servings of 80 different wines. You buy a debit card, stick it in the kiosk and choose your poison. This is on my to-do list!

 

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SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2013 - SOUTH AMERICAN WINES

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Last night I dragged my husband to the HASR Wine Co. in Honolulu's Chinatown to taste some South American wines. We had never attended one, and didn't know quite what to expect.

The shop was tucked in at the back of a small courtyard full of sharply dressed people at little tables, nibbling at food (from the HASR Bistro) while a guitarist in the corner played Bach, then Bachman Turner Overdrive (ok, so it wasn't quite like that - but the classical was certainly a better fit for the venue).

HASR Wine Co.

The store was clean, cozy and welcoming.

Jodi Komine from Young's Market Company poured and shared her enthusiasm and knowledge.  She offered a taste of each, starting from the lightest and working through to the heavier. Note: I didn't get the pricing on these wines, but remember they were  between US$16 and $20. I didn't have food with any of them. And maybe that was a mistake...

First stop: the Mendoza, Argentina region. Beautiful.

Winery: Ricardo Santos
Wine Name & Variety: Semillon
Region: Maipú, Mendoza, Argentina
Year: 2011

Jodi says this is typically a blending grape. We found it had a kind of green taste. It felt hot on the tip of my tongue.
 

Colchagua Valley, Chile

Next, Colchagua (Central) Valley, Chile.

Maquis Calcu Rose

Winery: Vina Maquis
Wine Name: Calcu Rose
Variety: 55% Malbec, 35% Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot
Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Year: 2010

Dry. Smells a little like licorice. Not as sweet as I had inticipated. Meh.

Apaltagua Pinot Noir

Winery: Vina Apalagua
Wine Name: Reserva Pinot Nior
Variety: Pinot
Region: Curico, Chile
Year: 2012

Tasting apple and plum, but it has a bitterness to it I don't like. It kinda stays on the tongue a long time. Jodi says of the selections, this is the least likely to be tannic.

We get into an extended conversation involving the exhange of avocados for mangos (neighborly stuffs), and whether there was a rule of thumb about which varietals have less acidity. She sais, when a fruit ripens, it loses its acidity and gains sugar. Grapes grown in warmer climes, like the Cabernet Sauvignon, generally have more sugar because they ripen for a longer time, and less acidity than those grown in a cooler climate, like those grown in Germany ("Germany is really cold."). We ask, but what about all those sweet dessert wines from the region? She stressed that sugar has nothing to do with acidity (by which I would guess she may have meant that sugar and acidity do not affect one another).  She said dessert wines, like German Reislings, are often 8% alcohol or lower. This is because the wine didn't ferment all the way through (leaving more sugar).

Calcu Cabernet Franc

Winery: Vina Maquis
Wine Name: Calcu Cabernet Franc
Variety: Cabernet Franc
Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Year: 2010

Very fruity - like black cherry, but really very astringent. Jodi says that many Cab Franc wines are said to have aromas of bell peppers, but the ones from here don't have that because of the different climate. Hm. Yeah. I can't find a whiff of peppers. She says this grape grown at this elevation has a red fruit flavor with a little spiciness to it. I taste red fruit, sure. And chocolate - unsweetened.

Back to Argentina!

Ricardo Santos Las Madras Malbec

Winery: Ricardo Santos
Wine Name: Las Madras Malbec
Variety: Malbec
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
Year: 2010

Jodi explains in Bordeaux, this varietal was used as a blending grape. She said after World War II, immigrants brought their grapes to South America, and this kind thrived in the sandy soil in Argentina - so it really became the grape to beat all grapes in the region.

I think it smells very clean.

A conversation ensues about the definition of a varietal wines. Jodi says that U.S. law allows a wine to be labeled as a varietal as long as it contains at least 75% of the named grape. Whoa. Jodi can vouch for this bottle though; it's 100% malbec.

Jodi says this winery is at 2,800 ft.

Now, again, to Chile. Getting majorly jet lagged, here.

Winery: Vina Maquis
Wine Name: Cabernet Sauvignon
Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Year: 2010

Jodi said that of the spread, this would be the least likely to be acidic. The image on the label was from a very old earring found one day digging in the vinyard. Neither of us like the wine, and pour the sample out after one sip. I might have spent time trying to discover what exactly our toungues had a disagreement with. But I, um, forgot. You see, I hadn't eaten dinner, and I was feeling a bit more relaxed and distractible than when I first arrived (why didn't I pour out the stuff after I got a good taste?).

A guy suddenly appears. "Somebody took this!" He thrusts out a bottle of Cabernet Franc. "And this!" A bottle of Sauvaignon Blanc. "And made this!" Triumphantly, he holds out a Cabernet Sauvignon.

After some back and forth, we discerned that he was not talking of blending wines, but of botony. This was a hybrid.

"And yet some call it one of the Noble Grapes!"  I couldn't quite make out whether he was impressed or incredulous. I decided that Noble Grapes must be the Big Poobahs of the Pantheon, and this Cabernet Savignon hybrid upjump was trying to weasel itself into a seat at the high table.

Well, I don't like this particular hybrid - I'm dyslexic enough to guarantee I will NEVER be able to remember which is which is which. 

In the end, none of the wines suited our tastes. We thanked Jodi profusely, and left for a bite to eat. The HASR Bistro's menu was too meaty for me, and a bit pricer than we had budgeted, so we went to Sol de Cuba. Hmm. What wine might pair well with the Cuban cuisine?

MOJITOS!

Mojito

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THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013 - WELL, HOW DID I GET HERE?

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My mother's memorial party was a potluck. A chocolate potluck. You should have seen it. Someone counted sixteen boxes from the local bakery - and that barely scratched the surface. And off to one end were the beverages. Sparkling wine, chocolate stouts, chocolate wines (one amazingly mixed with uncurdled dairy products - how do they do that?), red wines. And more. The quantity and variety of leftovers seemed impossible, and nobody wanted to take any home. 

Long story short, this is how I came to have a bottle of Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, 2010 - the one I sampled while watching the first several videos of the course. My (newly) informed opinion? Yuck!

Why? I honestly don't (yet) know how to describe it. That is, I suppose, why I am here.

Skol.

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