It’s no mystery that I am a fan of wine. It is my preferred adult libation, but I’ve never really taken the time to properly learn about the intricacies of how to properly taste and pair wines. For Christmas my Mom bought Don & I some great books from Williams-Sonoma, & this past weekend we tried out a tasty pairing from Wine & Food, A New Look at Flavor. We decided on the Seared salmon with mushroom-wine sauce, which suggested pairing a “bosky Pinot-Noir” or a “sikly Merlot based Bordeaux blend”.
We went with a Monterrey California Pinot-Noir, Talbot Kali Hart 2009 and Chateau Campot-Lafon Bordeaux 2007.
We then followed the steps of “Evaluating the Wine”:
1) Look – Hold the glass against a white background to give you an idea of it’s clarity and color. A white wine should be transparent & bright and a red wine should be translucent and brilliant.
2) Swirl – Holding the glass by the stem, slowly swirl the glass which introduces oxygen into the wine and helps release it’s essential aromas. The translucent lines or “legs” that you see on the side of the glass represent the alcohol in the wine. The higher the alcohol content, the more pronounced the legs will be.
3) Sniff – Put your nose over the rim of the glass and inhale deep and long through your nose. Aroma refers to the smell of a young wine and as the wine matures, the scents become more complex and the aroma changes to bouquet.
4) Sip – Fill your mouth about 1/3 full and swish the wine around thoroughly. This step is sometimes referred to as chewing the wine and is when you will observe the body, flavor and finish of the wine.
I found that the Kali Hart Pinot Noir had more tart cranberry flavors and left a more subtle finish. The Chateau Campot-Lafon Bordeaux seemed smoother with more cherry flavor & also had a subtle finish. I preferred the Pinot Noir over the Bordeaux because I enjoy the tartness, and I thought that it helped to offset the richness of the salmon.
Learning about the wines before hand was a nice way to turn a normal dinner to a special occasion. I’m certainly looking forward to the next tasting. I might delve into a white wine next time but since we managed to polish off both bottles – I might need to leave a little recovery time in between ;).