Wine With Me: A Readers Digest!
Greetings vinos from all over the world, from beginners to advance, or anywhere in between. Welcome to my blog forum in regards to all things wine, from rich bold to fruity reds, crisp whites, sweet rosés, sparkling, and vintage wines from the Old World and the New World. This is my space to share a bottle or two with personnel tasting notes, preferences, a brief history of the wine makers, and maybe even a few wine tips.
When you think of wine, what comes across your mind? A selection of your favorite bottle, a proper shimmering clean wine glass, and maybe even enjoyed with a charcuterie board decorated with a spread of sausages, bread, crackers, cheese, savory dips, or perhaps, a finely cooked dinner to pair well with your wine choice. For me, it's the music in my ear at the plop of a bottle being uncorked, the fresh tinkling sound it makes as it pours into a polished crystal wine glass, and the aroma of a rich yet structured vintage rich big red wine from the cabernet sauvignon family simply permeating from both the bottle and the glass itself. For me, a typical wine tasting consists of a brief introduction to the bottle of wine, the winemakers, the vineyard, right before a moment of uncorking, a pour, a gentle whiff of the smell with your nose at the tip of the glass, and a light swirl to allow it to aerate right before the first sip.
However, before all of this, the question begs; How do you know what type of wine(s) you personally prefer? What is your favorite type of wine? How can one know or find out?
It depends. Everyone's taste palate is different. Some may like more whites than reds, vice-versa, or both, to anywhere in between reds, whites, rosé, and sparkling. Then there are some who simply don't care what type of varietal wine grapes, appellation, country, year produced, or content of flavor that makes up a bottle, whether it is a red, white, rosé, vintage, or young, etc. Before I can dive into how one can find out what type of wine one prefers, allow me to backtrack to the very beginning of my younger years sipping wines through a journey of self-discovery.
The first table top red wine that I have ever tried was when I turned 21, (21 is the legal drinking age in the United States to consume alcoholic beverages). It was an Apothic Wine and particularly it was the Apothic Dark Bold Red Blend. It was the rich, bold, dark red, with the notes of dark chocolate and blackberry that won me to the brand. I knew absolutely nothing about wines at the time or whether it was from the merlot grape varietal which is a wine grape that is darker bluer in color or whether it was from a cabernet sauvignon red wine grape varietal which is the more common wine grape that is grown in vineyards all over the world. My first brut champagne was a table top wine from the brand Korbel. For both of these types of wines, you can easily afford them from your local Safeway's. My palate changed dramatically when I was first introduced to French and Italian wines when I hit my early 30's. I believe this was the result of dating a Swedish man that introduced me to the world of vintage wines and since then, I preferred a more sophisticated type of wine especially a cabernet franc and merlot mix from the region of Bordeaux, France. The first time I had an Italian white sparkling wine was when it was gifted to me in the form of sugar coated-glera grapes (candied confections), which is the same grape varietal that makes most Italian white sparking and of which are produced and grown in the Italian vineyards from the region of Prosecco in Italy. It was the sugar candied coated-glera grapes, along with a bottle of a Ruffino Prosecco on my first anniversary with my boyfriend. I had learned that day that a legit Italian white sparking wine can not be called or considered a Prosecco if it doesn't indeed contain at least 85% of the glera white wine grape varietal from the Prosecco region of Italy. So what was my first vintage wine? Let me tell you and it's a high top grand vin that changed the way I wine.
My first French vintage bottle of wine was a 2005 Chateau Leoville Las Cases St-Julien, and at that time, my rather wealthy Swedish boyfriend had bought perhaps half a barrel at an online wine auction via Bid For Wine UK, for a whopping €28,500 EU / equivalent to about $30,000 USD, which is stored in his wine cellar as a vintage collection in his home somewhere in Pembrooke Gardens in London, UK. One wine barrel approximately makes about 288 wine bottles. This was where I learned the continental language of French wines. This bottle consisted of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, fermented and aged in a French oak barrel in France. It was a very dark red, almost black in the wine glass. After a swirl, it created nice leg-drippings down the bow of the wine glass. There were subtle flavors of blackberry, bit of minerals due to the contact with the earth, black currants, and notes of vanilla. It was somewhat full-bodied with tannins and long finish but it was delicious and since it was my first time tasting a grand vin, the taste palate was a huge game changer for me back then. It was unlike any wine I have ever had. I was such a newb back then but my boyfriend was quite charming, very quintessentially European of him to give me a bit more sophisticated and elegant education in French wines such as how to read a French or Italian wine label and why he choose to get the best of the best wines. What helped a lot was my ability to speak, read, and understand French, otherwise, I would be totally lost in both the language and the French wine labels.
I started to have my own middle age epiphany with wine. Does anyone have an epiphany towards the way ones select and consume wine? No? Well I did!
I had thought to myself, if I am drinking this, then what was I drinking before this? Over the years, after working with a slew of celebrity chefs on the Las Vegas strip in an upscale food and beverage wholesale and commercial retail industry with a French-based coffee roaster company via La Colombe Torréfaction (translates to The Dove Coffee Roasters in English), my selection and ways of wine changed and it elevated me to meet wine more on a sophisticated level where I was also eager to explore wines from the Old World and the New World. I learned that I am a big red drinker but I also like fruity and sweet reds now and then paired with lamb, steaks, ribs, most red meats, and French baguette with a butter and cheese spread. Not a huge fan of whites but I learned to develop a taste palate for a sauvignon blanc and a chablis which pairs well with most seafood dishes and pastas. In the summer, I love indulging rosés, moscato's, and chardonnays with strawberries, macarons, and Belgium dark chocolates. I enjoy a port and sherry sometimes with subtle sweet deserts like a Victorian cake but all of this really depends on events like a formal wedding or private birthday party that requires me to socialize with my more internationally sophisticated and mature colleagues from all over Europe. Champagnes, especially French Champagne like Bollinger, for example, which is probably one of the superb white wines that I know, far different from a Korbel's brut champagne, is also one of the most celebrated French champagne I have ever had because of it's wine grape varietal from the Champagne region in France. I enjoy them on anniversaries and major holidays. My boyfriend sometimes gets a bit French-lipped with me when it comes to wines like champagnes, he argues that champagne is truly a champagne if it comes directly from France, anything else is simply just sparkling wine.
Here is how you can discover your taste palate for what type of wine you most prefer. I recommend going to a wine tasting event or better yet, you can practice and host a wine tasting at the comforts of your own home. You don't necessarily need to become a sommelier or consult a wine professional to figure out your taste palate unless you're very serious about it. If you do decide to host one at your own home, a beginners advice; Don't worry about what your taste palate or wonder what your preference would be too much, the more you think on it, the more you'll doubt and confuse yourself.
Ask yourself these questions first to narrow it down:
Do you like full-bodied, bold, rich, heavy flavors in red wines like a cabernet or bourgogne?
Do you like fruity flavors in red wines like a pinot noir?
How about sweet reds like a merlot?
Do you like crisp, citrusy, or fruity whites, maybe chilled, like a pinot blanc or chardonnay?
Do you like flowery, fruity, flavorful, maybe chilled, like a rosé?
Do you like a mixture of grape varietals?
Do you like a dry, light, or long finish?
If you answered yes and no to some but find that you are mostly yes in one particular area than maybe explore the ones that you have said no to. Why? To further explore your taste palate and challenge yourself like I did. I learned that I loved more big richer reds because after several wine tastings of the whites, I still geared towards more of the bold flavors with heavier notes on reds so then my enthusiasm to explore more of the reds heightened. My taste palette comes from the fact that I also like things bitter. For example, when it comes to coffee, especially from La Colombe, I have always preferred a rich darker roast brewed in the form of an espresso shot such as the Nizza blend, which is an espresso blend. I prefer to consume it alone without the de la crème and all the confections like whip cream, syrup, and sugar. My point is, go out and select a few whites, rosés, and then a preferred choice of red wine, do your private tasting at home by yourself or with friends and family then see what you think. Who knows. You might find that you are primarily a red drinker but enjoy whites savored with a pan seared buttered lobster and a rosé in hot summer with a strawberry shortcake.
Whatever your taste preference and wine vintage selection, all that matters is that you enjoy the wonders and complexity of wine. My journey to wine is just the beginning, as I only discovered French and Italian wines 9 years ago dating my British boyfriend. I'm 38 years of age now and at this age, I want to drink the best of what the rest of the world has to offer but also enjoy and support my local wineries and winemakers as well with Naked Wines and at K&L Wine Merchants in which both venue brings the best of the best when it comes to other wines locally sourced from Napa Valley and/or internationally imported from the Châteaux de France through professional buyers and private auctions. I'm excited for that and this wine blog is only the start. I originally wanted to blog a few years ago but I felt I needed more wine knowledge and the ability to describe what I'm tasting to reach my readers out there and become a better wine consultant and wine host. I want everyone to be able to go out and try the wines that I share on my blog and to taste what I taste, and better yet, even share how one drink with what food pairings. I understand people may not have the same taste palate as me but it's all about sharing it, the discovery, the wine journey, and having fun doing it because I look forward to utilizing my French with audio and video clip snippets, as well as sharing more photos of my culinary dishes that I learned from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts from my 8 year residency in Las Vegas, which I'm super excited about!
Aside wine, my biggest treat is sharing cooking recipes and even cocktail recipes involving wines and spirits. On this wine journey, at the ready, I have my professional photography camera, a lovely Victorian-decorated space (mostly baroque) as the perfect backdrop, and my culinary skills in food, beverage, and chef food knowledge, professional photography, graphics designing, web design, content creation, creative writing, and on top of that my private and virtual wine hosting gear with the best collection of wine accessories and gadgets that I am so dying to share. For this new year, I want to be able to host more virtual wine tastings where my colleagues can virtually have a real Wine With Me tasting experience in the convenience of their own home. My intention is not to sell anything through this wine journey, it is more like a social circle of close friends, family, or fans who wishes to gather in a virtual space to discuss all things related to wine. My soul intention is to discover and explore the wonders of wine and celebrate the winemakers and learn more about the wine grape varieties from different vineyards around the world and to that I say to you all, à votre santé!
Happy New Year!
May you all Wine With Me into 2023.
A wine tasting blog that shares Yoshi's personal preference and taste in red, white, rosé, port, sherry, and sparkling wine with food pairing recipes.
All wines selected, shared, and featured in Yoshi's wine tasting blog are credited to the winemakers. Expect a new Wine With Me blog post every first of the month posted at 9pm-PST.