Mich and I hosted our first wine tasting party yesterday.
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Since it was our first attempt we decided to keep it REALLY small and low key.
We spoke with Bob Cochrane at our local East Cobb Sherlock’s and he was instrumental in helping us decide on the wines we would sample for this first attempt.
I visited aromadictionary.com’s Wine Education resources and used their “Nine Wine Glass Place Mat”. I also had to choose a score card and had many excellent options to pick from (thanks JB!) and eventually settled on this excellent offering from “The American Wine Society”. This appealed to me because there was plenty of room to make notes on the various wines plus a good description of the evaluation characteristics plus a take-away wine aroma wheel that complemented exactly the laminated, colored wheels we had purchased from Sherlock’s to help prompt us through the aroma evaluation.
Mich picked up 24 wine glasses from TJ Maxx for an excellent price which meant that we would not need to be constantly washing glasses throughout the evening.
We decided that we would focus on a single varietal (Shiraz) and primarily one country (Australia). This drove our wine selection.
The wines we evaluated where (in order):
- Penfold’s Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2003 (Australia)
- Nine Stone’s McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003 (Australia)
- Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2003 (Australia) < -- unanimous favorite among our guests
For contrast we then chose two non-Australian wines to demonstrate how much variation there can be in a single varietal.
- Perrin Cote Du Rhone Villages 2003 (France)
- Rock Rabbit Syrah 2003 (California)
There was quite a lot of agreement that the French wine had the “silkiest” texture and it rated very favorably with the Grant Burge offering edging it out as the overall favorite in the end.
After a palate-clearing glass of Argyle Brut Champagne we then offered our “Wow” wine for the evening – Peter Lehmann Shiraz (Australia). Now, “Wow” wines are very palate specific, and most of the people sampling these wines were not experienced wine tasters so I think – in retrospect – I would not have gone past the 5 principal wines of our tasting were I to repeat this tasting theme. The “Wow” was more of a “hmmm” but I don’t know how much of that was due to the wine I’m not even sure that the Californian got a fair shake as I know my taste discriminatory abilities were long gone by then. Steve, easily the most experienced taster among us suggested that the wine may have needed much more time to “breath” than I had allotted and that’s a fair assumption as I had not opened this bottle until nearly halfway through the evening. I had allowed all of the other wines a good couple of hours breathing time.
Overall I believe the evening was a success and hopefully marks the beginning of a series of such tastings in which we’ll explore many more varietals, vintages and appellations.