We’ve made it to another Friday! I’ve been working a lot lately, for several reasons. The most exciting: I’ve started a new job! I’m still working a few days a week at my old winery, but I’ve started working 4 days a week at a different winery. It’s odd in some ways, because this new winery is much, much smaller than the old one, and it’s a very different environment. I’m very excited to be working there, though, and I’m enjoying it a lot. The downside is that I’m working a lot, which means less time for my blog (and less time in general). I still have time to browse the internet, though, and this is what I found this week!
For those of you who are afraid of speaking in wineries because you might embarrass yourself, here is a Glossary of Wine Pronunciation!
The Truth About Wine Prices; an infographic about the costs of making the wine you drink.
The 86 Rules of Boozing
Because I’m a child in an adult body: Alcoholic Beverages Inspired By Harry Potter
BoozeBuddy, helping you find drinks to fit the random ingredients in your liquor cabinet
For all you artisanal cocktail fiends, here are 5 Creative Takes on the Ice Cube.
And for those of us who enjoy a little bubbly now and again, Champagne History and Serving Instructions.
Have a good weekend!
I recently spent a day on the other side of the bar and went wine tasting with some friends! We went to Castillo de Feliciana for some Spanish wines (including a bubbly!), Rulo (which is our favorite winery in Walla Walla), and Tertulia (for a bottle of rose and a picnic!).
It’s a hectic week at the wineries, getting ready for Cayuse weekend and Wine Club shipments, so here are some photos to enjoy instead of a long post!
I know wine tasting can be intimidating if you’re new to wine or have never been to a tasting room before. Luckily, we tasting room workers are trained to tell you about the wine AND make you feel comfortable in the winery; if you’re an inexperienced wine taster, let us know, and we can explain it to you! We see a wide range of people in tasting rooms, from the person who is tasting for the first time to the person who grew up in Napa around wine and tasting rooms. However, there are some tips that are helpful to know ahead of time; here are 5 things you should know before you descend on the wineries!
I’ve declared it riesling week, so instead of the weekly link round up, I have some Washington rieslings rounded up for you! I know we’re all on a budget these days, so I picked a few of my favorite grocery store wines and then a few of my favorite local wines.
Awesome Grocery Store Rieslings
Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2011
I tend to think that Charles Smith’s wines are good, but often overpriced. Not this one! This riesling is crisp and refreshing, with a touch of residual sugar (about 1.8%). $12 at the winery (located here in Walla Walla), where it’s sold out, so grab some at the grocery store, where you can find it for around $10. Or, if you have your heart set on going to the winery, you can try the 2012 Kung Fu Girl Riesling!
Willow Crest 2011 Riesling
This riesling is a little sweeter than the others on this list (4% residual sugar), but still pretty refreshing. A little unbalanced in the sweetness vs acidity, but a good choice for those who prefer their rieslings sweeter. Tropical fruit and honey notes make this a good summer riesling; I enjoyed the first glass, but couldn’t get through a second. Buy for $12 through the winery or $11 in grocery stores.
Residual sugar is one of those terms that is really very simple, once it’s explained to you. If you drink rieslings, this is the best phrase you can know for determining whether or not you’ll like a riesling, because residual sugar describes how sweet a wine is.
So what is it? Residual sugar is the sugar left in the wine after fermentation. During the fermentation process, the yeast converts all the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol; if fermentation is stopped (whether naturally or by the winemaker) before all the sugar has been converted, you are left with a lower-alcohol, higher-sugar wine. This is why sweeter wines tend to be lower in alcohol.
How is it measured? It’s measured in grams per liter, often expressed in a percentage. A wine that has 1 gram of sugar per 1 liter of wine will have a residual sugar of .1%.
Wines are categorized as dry, off-dry, or sweet. Dry wines will have a very, very small amount of sugar (think .01-.03% residual sugar) or none at all (in which case they are often called “bone dry”). Off-dry wines are 1%-5%ish residual sugar (you will learn quickly that the wine industry is rarely precise about terms like this). Off-dry rieslings are incredibly popular these days, and incredible tasty. Dessert wines will be anything more than 5%, although they can get very high.
So, if you are shopping for rieslings and you want to know how sweet it will be, take a look at the back label for one of these categories, or pop online to see what the technical notes from the winery’s website say about the residual sugar!
Photo by David Wilbanks via fotopedia.
Varietal Spotlight: Riesling
How do I love Riesling? Let me count the ways! It can be a very elegant and refreshing wine, even though it’s sometimes considered a beginner wine because it’s often sweeter than other whites. It’s a classic starter wine for new drinkers because you can find very sweet Rieslings and work your way towards the dry Rieslings. Not all Rieslings are sweet; it really all depends on what style of Riesling the winemaker is trying to make. Rieslings in the European style (as in, barely sweet or not sweet at all) are all the rage in Washington right now.
Sorry, I just got back from a meditation retreat, and I thought I would have enough time to put together this week’s links, but I have overestimated myself. So, no links today; have a good weekend!
While watching bad tv this week, we opened a bottle of the 2010 Jaja from Maison Bleue. Jaja (according to the bottle) is a southern French word for an every day blend; true to its name, Jaja is a Rhone-style blend of Syrah (37%), Grenache (37%), and Mourvedre (26%). I’m going to be honest; I wish we’d waited on this bottle for another few months at least, or decanted it ahead of time. We didn’t decant it, and it was like WOAH acidity when we first tasted it. We drank it over two days, and it was better the second day, but I think it still needs a little time to mellow out.
Fairly light, nice and peppery (my favorite!), and lots of blackberry flavor up front. I thought it tasted like slightly unripe blackberries, on account of the acidity, but it would go much better with food, in my opinion. Even though I felt like it needed more time, I still enjoyed it, and Boyfriend Wino thought it was excellent. The grapes are sourced from the Yakima Valley.
The website has it listed as sold out now, but it was $25 a bottle, which is a good price for a wine of this quality. For more info on Maison Bleue winery, check them out online.
Let’s talk about wine regions. I went to Paris for my study abroad semester in college, and I was really excited because, you know, PARIS. I should remind you that, at this point, all I could tell you about wine was that it was red or white and that I only drank white wine. Right before I left, my grandpa tried to give me a crash course in French wine regions, and all I could remember is that pinot noir is called “Burgundy” in France. I couldn’t have told you why, except I thought that maybe it had something to do with the color burgundy. Then I went to France and drank a lot of wine and starting drinking red wine, and then I learned a thing or two about wine regions in Europe.
Happy Friday! I hope everyone has fun plans for the weekend; I will be working (as you do in the wine industry) and tasting wine (as you do in wine country)!
What I discovered online this week:
Quick, what should I drink?
The cage on the top of champange bottles is called an agraffe and 11 other cool words you probably didn’t know.
I know it’s not summer yet, but I can’t resist this roundup of popsicle recipes.
How to give a good compliment.
How to stock your bar for $100. Because we’re all on a budget.
And finally, best bottles of bubbly for under $20.