Skál á nám! (Cheers to Learning!)

Entry Cinco

When visiting the Burlington Wine Shop (as described in my previous entry), I inquired as to whether they offer tastings. They indicated that they do, and that the following night they would be pairing wines with cupcakes at a local cupcakery called My Little Cupcake. This sounded delightful, so my husband and I joyfully endulged!

Following are my descriptions of each (from left to right, based on the photo):

SeaGlass Riesling (paired with a lemon blueberry cupcake):

Smell: vanilla, apricot

Taste: apple, light floral

Observation: less sweet with each bite of cupcake

Ascheri Moscato d'Asti (paired with a coconut macaroon tart)

Smell: white granulated sugar, honeysuckle, apple

Taste: lemon lime soda

Observation: did not decrease in sweetness when paired with tart

Ménage à Trois Rosé (paired with a chocolate orange cake pop)

Smell: strawberry, rose, caramel

Taste: caramel

Observation: less sweet after tasting the cake pop

Entry Cuatro

For my fourth tasting experiment, I acquired a wine from the Burlington Wine Shop in Burlington, VT. I decided to take this opportunity to test out my new-found confidence in my ability to discuss wine. I did so by asking for a wine recommendation based on taste/flavor descriptors (earthy and dark fruity). The salesman eagerly suggested a 60% Merlot, 40% Sangiovese blend from Tuscany in the flavor direction I was seeking. To be precise, it was a 2009 Querceto Toscana. I was pleased with this suggestion, since trying a Sangiovese has been on my list of to-do's.

Also, it is worth noting that I had never before asked for a recommendation based on taste in a wine shop. On all other occasions, I have endeavored to browse unnoticed and unbothered, searching for affordable yet unique wines in comfortable anonymity and silence. Clearly, this experience was a break from the ordinary...

My impressions of this wine were:

Smell: earthy, clove, nutmeg, grapefruit, cherry, vanilla, and more! A vibrant bouquet!

Taste: licorice, pepper, nutmeg

This was also my first time using a wine wheel, which I found to be a tremendous help at identifying words to match with the scents and flavors I encountered. I utilized the one available at aromamaster.com.

Entry Tres

My third tasting experience involved a Cabernet Franc (one of the 3 Bordeaux "Big Boy Reds", according to John Boyer's "Drink This Now!"). To be precise, it was a 2011 Jovly Chinon Cabernet Franc. My impressions were as follows:

Smell profile: fresh, dark fruit (black cherry and pomegranate) and brown sugar

Taste profile: blackberry jam, mellow, surprisingly light for a dry red

Mouthfeel: chalky

Following the initial tasting, I paired the Cabernet Franc with fresh tacos consisting of cumin encrusted chicken, oven roasted tomatillos, anaheim peppers, red bell peppers, onion, and hominy. The complex flavors of the food seemed to bring out more complex flavors in the wine as well.

My next task: visit another wine shop and be willing to ask for advice!

Entry Dos

For my second tasting experiment, I visited a shop that I frequently patronize: Cheese Traders and Wine Sellers in South Burlington, Vermont. Typically, when I shop for wines there, I avoid eye contact with the wine expert(s) on staff, out of fear that I won't be able to converse with them intelligently and will end up sounding like a blubbering idiot. This time, I wanted to do the same, but since I had shared my goal of talking about wine with my husband, he nudged me to ask questions. I explained to the associate that I was looking to try a couple of new wine types, and named two that I was aware I hadn't tried: Barbera and Cabernet Franc. For the Barbera, he pointed me to a 2011 Marchesi di Barolo Maraia Barbera del Monferrato, which I will discuss in this entry. My first impressions were:

Smell profile: woody, oaky, astringent (high tannin content), dark fruit (currant, perhaps)

Taste profile: acidic, salty

To accompany the Barbera, I tried a hard (or semi-hard) cheese (Leyden Cheese with cumin seed, from Holland) and a salami (Volpi Calabrese, which is spicy and garlic-rich). I noticed that when consuming the salami, the Barbera tasted much saltier. When eating the cumin cheese, on the other hand, the Barbera tasted sweeter.

All in all, this wine paired well with the snacks selected. In future, I would likely select it to pair with a heavy Italian meal, a beef dish, or a lamb dish, due its astringent qualities.

Entry Uno

First swig for "Get Wine-Smart": 2011 Tutunjian Pacifico Sur Carmenere. First impressions: cherry undertones, dry, mellow, and bitter.


I have been slowly exploring the wonderful world of wine for the past 5 or so years, always interested in trying something new, while having several staples that I love (Shiraz and Malbec in particular). However, I would like to educate myself to the point where I feel comfortable discussing and describing wine. Currently, I am very intimated by wine shops and wine bars, since I fear that my lack of wine knowledge will be all too apparent. Taking this class is my effort to eliminate the fear and intrepidation I associate with wine, and begin to feel confident in my ability to order it, purchase it, "evaluate" it, serve it, and --most importantly-- drink it!


Please sign in or sign up to comment.