Embarking on a wine adventure (een avontuur van wijn)
Inpired by our friend Brett’s Beer A Day project, our own desire to have our wine ratings in a more portable place and my mom’s amusement at watching us discuss our wines, we’ve decided to start a new project for 2016: A Wine A Week.
At least once a week in 2016, we will post our description and ratings of a wine we’ve tried. These will be purely subjective; as Brett said about his project, our ratings are mostly for our own reference, so there’s no incentive for us to be anything but brutally honest. For each wine, we note the vineyard, the varietal and vintage (or NV if no vintage is given), where it’s from as best we can tell from the label. (Sometimes they only list the country, sometimes the region. In Oregon where we live, the AVA – wine region – is divided into six sub-AVA regions, which may or may not be discernible) and where we bought it. Wine changes a lot depending what you eat it with, so we always note that down – I may give or link to some recipes. We make subjective comments and use whatever words seem right to describe our wines – a true sommelier would probably drop his corkscrew while laughing at us.
We argued a bit on what the real “wine people” meant by aromas; here when I use the word I’m only talking about how it smells. Wines generally transition through a range of flavors as they pass through your mouth (especially if you hold them in your mouth for a few seconds) so we talk about front and back or beginning and end flavors.
We each rate the wine – our ratings have been much closer since we adopted this system, with an explicit description of each number. We don’t always agree on the details, so I will note if an observation is only from Ted or only Paula – if it’s not noted, assume we agree.
I’ve got a lot more to say about this (that I’ll write up sometime) but here is the ratings system we use:
0: Couldn’t even finish one glass. Avoid at all costs.
1: Wouldn’t buy again – might drink one glass if someone else is buying
2: Drinkable. Would buy again when limited options are available.*
3: Look for more of this at the right price (sometimes we will note what price we’d pay)
4: Go out of our way to get this, or pay more for it
5: Superlative. Buy a case – or two.
Those comments about paying more deserve some explanation. We don’t believe wine has to be expensive to taste good. Most of our wines come from our local supermarket, Fred Meyer, which has a great selection of local and imported wines. Other local grocers like New Seasons and Whole Foods, also have large selections with not that much overlap with Freddy’s, and our local Costco also stocks lots of local wines. For the first year or two we lived here, we set a price limit of $10 per bottle at the market, and we tried to stick mostly to Oregon wines, though we did drink a few others – the Spanish Fabla Catalyud was our ‘house wine’ for a while, for being a tasty red at a great price. Lately we’ve upped our price limit and will pay up to $15 at the supermarket. We will pay a bit more, say $25, if we find something we like while visiting one of our many (many many) local wineries. Also, we belong to four local wineries’ wine clubs: Ardiri and Montinore (very palatable and close to home, with great views (Ardiri – the picture on their home page doesn’t do it justice) and fun events (Montinore); Gran Moraine (a bit more pricy and slightly farther, excellent wines and great events) and Abacela (in Southern Oregon – we try to stop in when we head down that way to visit family). The first three specialize in Pinot Noirs (Pinots Noir?) though they do make other varietals; Abacela adds some balance to our wine collection by specializing in bolder, heartier Spanish styles. Their specialty is Tempranillo, though they also make Merlot, Syrah, and some less common varietals like Malbec, Dolcetto, and some others.
We don’t drink wine for any reason other than pleasure, so we drink the wines we like. We think our state has a lot of superb wineries and we enjoy the varietals grown here, so you can expect to see a lot of Oregon wines in our ratings. Also, we tend to prefer reds to whites, so you’l see more of them – but we do drink and rate some whites, rose wines, and even sparkling wines, whenever those see like they’d go better with the food we’re having. Neither of us like sweet wines, so you won’t see any of those, except for Paula’s occasional venture into a glass of port.
And away we go!