Some help please........

msprettyky(Z6 KY)August 28, 2006

My friends and I visit wineries as often as possible. We are very limited in our education as far as wine goes. We know what wines we like from the wineries we visit. We have a few favorites that we stock up on every year. Don't ask us to walk into the local liquor store or grocery and pick out a bottle of wine. Everyone freezes! We know we like lambrusco and this seems to be all we purchase for gatherings. I want to try to broaden our horizons so to speak. We like sweet to semi-sweet wines. No one in our group is a "dry" drinker. I was thinking of having a wine tasing party and would like suggestions for wines and maybe what to pair them with. My hope is to walk in the wine store and actually have some idea of what I am looking for!

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Posted something yesterday in the thread "Looking for cheap wines" or something similar. Too long to re-post here, but there are some suggestions.

A couple thoughts - "dry" means that the sugar is fermented to alcohol and there is no residual sugar left. But wine is still fruit juice and some wines, especially those from the "New World", often have a great deal of fruit up front. Because we think of fruit as dessert or sweet, we sometimes find those wines sweet even tho they are completely "dry".

Wines similar to Lambrusco on the other hand, may not be completely fermented. So they sometimes have some residual sugar, sometimes sugar is even added, and sometimes they have a slight fizziness. For the most part, those wines are not something you keep - you buy them, take them home, and drink them. They are unlikely to improve.

So if you don't know, then I would suggest buying some fruity wines. The stereotype from Australia is "fruit bomb". This is not really true, but if you find something like a shiraz from the Barossa Valley, it is likely to be a fruit-forward wine, unlike say, a Chinon from the Loire in France.

So pick up a few wines from Australia and Argentina. The wines from Two Hands like Yesterday's Hero, Lily's Garden, or Lucky Country will run from $12 to $30 (I don't know your budget) and they are wonderful examples of really ripe fruit and big wines. You can look for Peter Lehman - his cab or shiraz, and some of the others I mentioned.

Grenache, as a grape, has a flavor and aroma that reminds one of raspberries/strawberries, and it has soft tannins, which means it is not usually bitter. So if you find something w grenache, you may like that too.

From Argentina, try some malbecs. Do not think that Chile and Argentina are similar - the wines are very different and I specifically did not suggest Chile.

For whites, a grape called gwertztraminer has aromas of lychee nuts and kind of tropical flavors. It comes from Alsace in France, as well as many other countries. In Washington, the Chateau st Michelle wineries make it - the Columbia Crest series has one and the Ch St Michelle label does too. It will seem rather fruity and non-dry.

Riesling is made in a variety of styles, from dry (trocken) to half dry (halb-trocken), and with a variety of sugar levels to start and end the fermentation. Too much to get into them all here, but you can find some of the off-dry ones by getting the halb-trocken or by asking in a wine store. Interestingly, many of the rieslings found in the new world (defined as not Europe) are rather dry, even those from Australia. But again, Washington has one called Poet's Leap, made as a joint venture between a guy in Washington and a German. I don't particularly care for it because I find it too sweet, but it may be something that excites you. It isn't bad wine, just not my taste.

Viognier is a white grape with a gorgeous aroma. Never tastes like much, but won't offend you either. You may want to try one - Fess Parker makes one for about $15.

Start with those and you can work from there. Sweet wines are not really great with food and are usually, but not always, not very good. Unless you are going to spend lots of money. The 2001 Chateau d'Yquem is going to set you back around $500 a bottle. A good PX sherry from Spain may be around $30. Australia has some sweet muscats for $20. Some people like the latter but they are kind of like syrup - you can't really drink a glass of them.

So don't freeze next time you go into the liquor store.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 7:03PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

OMG! Wow, you really know your wines. I agree with you about wines that are too sweet or taste like syrup. I don't care for those either. I have copied and printed what you posted and am taking it with me to the liquor store tomorrow. I also emailed it to some of my friends! We can use as much help as possible! lol! Believe it or not I was looking at a few wines from Australia the other day. I am ashamed to admit it was only because I thought the bottle was pretty. I know....such a loser! I was thinking of just buying one of each variety that was offered by that line. I know a shiraz was one of them. They ran around $10 each, which I found quiet reasonable. Our groups budget is limited and we tend to stay in the $10-15 range. I have purchased more expensive wines, but never to take to our gatherings! Horrible friend that I am, I tend to share those with my hubby! Thanks for all the suggestions and help! I can't wait to buy a bottle of wine now! :)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 10:23AM
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Roses in NY...great exposition on wines. Thanks for sharing that. I think I have a question for you (will post seperately...)
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 3:02PM
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rottenlivia(MA, USA)

I found the most beautiful rather sweet white wine, with just a hint of sparkle, and I mean a hint....San Stefano Muscato. Very, very delicious. Light and fruity, but not (pardon me)sickening sweet like those white's you can buy with the vegetation on the front label. Very fine and sure to please. Near us it runs $14.99 a bottle. We love it as is or mixed with Simply Sweet O.J. as a Mimosa. Try it.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 12:11PM
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