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Wine for Virgins

FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 06:02 AM

HI am not *technically* a wine virgin. However, I am TRYING (trying being the operative word) to like and possibly even LOVE wine. However, I still have not "acquired a taste" as they say. I am going to Paris in October for my honeymoon and need help! I did manage to gulp down a glass of Beaujolais recently...and riesling's aren't too horrible. Who can help me!?

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  1. z
    zin1953 RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 06:37 AM

    What is it you like about wine? What is it you don't like? And is "gulp" literal, or just an expression? Answers to these questions will help me (at least) to suggest some wines for you to try.

    Also, where do you live?

    Depending upon the era, Americans tended to "cut their teeth" on "pop" wines like Boone's Farm and Annie Green Springs (let's forget about these), wine coolers like Bartles & Jaymes (let's forget these, too), as well as wines like White Zinfandels like Sutter Home and Beringer, and semi-generic wines like Almadén Mountain White Chablis and Gallo Rhine Wine. These all have some degree of sweetness, and in a "soda pop society," helped many people make the transition. That said, I am NOT suggesting you run out and buy a bunch of Whtie Zinfandel, though I am curious what wines -- besides Beaujolais and Riesling you have tried.

    11 Replies
    1. re: zin1953
      FOTOgrlNic RE: zin1953 Apr 9, 2007 09:08 AM

      Thanks so much for both your inquiries and your advice! I like the sweetness and sometimes the body of wine. I do not like the immediate aftertaste or the bitterness. I am by no means (as you can tell) a wine connesieur . "Gulp" was not literal...it took me about 30 min to slowly sip my first full glass which was a beaujolais. I also had an australian merlot once that I enjoyed. Other than that, the riesling is really the only other kind I can tolerate thus far. Usually, if I don't like the smell at all, I won't drink the wine. It usually tastes exactly as it smells--in my opinion. I live in a suburb of detroit, mi and I do not drink much alcohol at all. I only like white russians...no beer...and other fruity or "girlie" drinks. Hope this helps and thanks again!!

      1. re: FOTOgrlNic
        m
        mojoeater RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 09:16 AM

        There's a Trader Joe's in Detroit, right? They have a very inexpensive Viognier called 'Honeymoon Viognier' that has some very nice peach undertones. It does not have the sharpness of many wines, and might be a good start for you.

        1. re: mojoeater
          FOTOgrlNic RE: mojoeater Apr 28, 2007 09:39 AM

          I did try the viogner from Trader Joe's...the Honeymoon wine. It was very nice. I also tried a seurat which I thought was OK. The honeymoon was very good...and very affordable ($5.99). Is it pronounced Vee-oh-nay? Thanks for all the advice!

          1. re: FOTOgrlNic
            Bill Hunt RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 28, 2007 09:51 AM

            Very close - vee-oh-NAYAY. Just a little curled tongue to the forward part of the roof of the mouth. It is also called "Vionnier," in some geographic circles.

            Hunt

        2. re: FOTOgrlNic
          z
          zin1953 RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 10:16 AM

          OK, for the moment . . .

          I would avoid reds and sparkling wines -- most of which are dry (the opposite of sweet). I'd also avoid fortified wines, due to the increased alcohol. Stick to whites *first*. Try some California off-dry (and that's the key: "off-dry") Chenin Blancs and White Rieslings. Viognier is also a good idea, as mojoeater suggests; so, too, is Symphony.

          Look for the basics: Rieslings from wineries like Kendall-Jackson, J.Lohr, Beringer, Fetzer; Chenin Blancs from Pine Ridge Bogle, Beringer, Fetzer; Symphony from Ironstone; etc., etc. Then come back and post what you think . . .

        3. re: zin1953
          Bill Hunt RE: zin1953 Apr 9, 2007 08:16 PM

          Wow, you are closer to being a "contemoporary" of mine, than I thought. "Annie Green Springs," eh? I used to purchase it, because I found that Boone's Farm was too acidic! Then, one day, I moved up to Mateus and Lancers. Finally, I had a nice Pomerol, with a few years on it, and the rest, as they say, is history!

          Thanks for the trip down "memory lane."

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt
            z
            zin1953 RE: Bill Hunt Apr 10, 2007 07:00 AM

            Hey, I still remember the Stiller & Meara commercials for Blue Nun that propelled that wine into becomming the #1 imported wine in the U.S. Lancer's, Mateus and Nectarosé also held that position, as did -- eventually -- Riunite Lambrusco. ;^)

            1. re: zin1953
              TonyO RE: zin1953 Apr 10, 2007 12:57 PM

              Did Stiller scream "BLUE NUN , I SAID !!!!!" like his characters on Seinfeld and King of Queens ?

              1. re: TonyO
                z
                zin1953 RE: TonyO Apr 10, 2007 01:37 PM

                yes

                1. re: zin1953
                  TonyO RE: zin1953 Apr 10, 2007 02:27 PM

                  Pure comic genius. Hate to see K of Q signoff this year.

                  1. re: TonyO
                    z
                    zin1953 RE: TonyO Apr 10, 2007 04:19 PM

                    IIRC, Ann Meara would ask why the nun was blue, and if she was chilled, shouldn't they give her a chair by the fire . . . Jerry Stiller would say Blue Nun was supposed be be chilled, and Meara would ask if that was any way to treat a spiritual being . . . .

        4. m
          mojoeater RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 10:24 AM

          It would also help to learn the lingo. Go to your local wine shop and do a tasting. Describe what you're tasting and ask them what's the best way to describe it (oaky, floral, berry, etc.). That way, when you hit Paris, you will be able to ask for what you like.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mojoeater
            FOTOgrlNic RE: mojoeater Apr 9, 2007 11:22 AM

            Thanks so much to all of you! Trader Joe's has always been my "go-to" place for wine (amongst other things). I will be sure ot try the Viogner...How is that pronounced? Vee-Og-Ner?

            1. re: FOTOgrlNic
              m
              mojoeater RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 11:39 AM

              I guess Vee-O-Nyay (slightly pronouncing the G)

            2. re: mojoeater
              s
              SouthernWineLover RE: mojoeater Apr 9, 2007 11:58 AM

              I think mojoeater makes an excellent point re: wine tastings. Many wine shops offer free wine tastings every month or so and you aren't likely to pay more than $25 at most wine shops. Being able to try a number of different wines side by side should give you a good idea of what you like without breaking the bank. Try www.localwineevents.com.

            3. w
              whiner RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 02:58 PM

              Songo Uno: http://www.winestoreblog.com/39/savan...

              Or maybe that isn't what you had in mind :-p

              1. Bill Hunt RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 9, 2007 08:11 PM

                Honeymoon in Paris? Wow, enjoy! Now, you’ve gotten some good suggestions on wines and on pathways to learning wine, before your trip. You have stated that you have tried Beaujolais and like it. That is about where I’d stop with the reds for now. If you go with the Bj-Villages wines, you will experience light, fruity and pleasant wines. Their acid will work with a lot of food and their tannins (think bitterness here) are almost non-existent. There are several “flavors” of Beaujolais, and I’d stay close to the Villages level (maybe try a 1er Cru just for an example) for now.

                For FR whites for “wine virgins,” I first think of the Chenin Blanc grape. For this grape, there are few areas equal to the Loire. Chenin is produced into wines that run a rather large gamut. You can find full-bodied, age-worthy wines, to light quaffers. There are dessert Chenins and almost everything in between. For drinking and most food pairings, I’d ask for something “off-dry.” There will be a bit of residual sugar (RS) in these, but that should be OK.

                A bit farther north, in Burgundy, Chardonnay is king. While most US Chardonnay is hard-pressed to fit with a lot of food, the Chards of FR are suited for it. A good place to start is Montrachet (Pugliny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Montrachet). It’s a medium-full-bodied wine, with good acid (for food) and is also very nice on its own. Meursault is also a good region for Chardonnay, but I find these to be a bit higher in acid (great with seafood and other dishes), but maybe a bit too tart for one starting out. One note: do not drink any of these Chards too cold. Let them warm up a bit and spend some time with the glass (a larger one, preferably) close to your nose.

                Another white wine grape, Viognier, is grown in the Northern Rhône, and sees its ultimate in the wines of Condrieu. However, these are quite expensive and, while I love the grape and the wines, might not be quite something that you are likely to really enjoy. OTOH, were I there, I could not resist.

                Most of all, enjoy!
                Hunt

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  j
                  jazzy77 RE: Bill Hunt Apr 9, 2007 08:40 PM

                  That's an excellent description-, Bill. I have one other piece of advice for you- try a French riesling (normally they come from Alsace, but I've seen them from other Northern regions as well). These aren't as sweet as the German or Californian types, but are still light and fruity (think pear and peach) - and you're still getting the experience of trying the different flavors that France has to offer.

                  It's important to remember that wine is like poetry: you don't have to like all of it, just perhaps some of it. If you find that you're not really into the "wine" scene- there are multitudes of other french delicacies that you could become an "expert" in!

                  Congrats and enjoy!

                  1. re: jazzy77
                    FOTOgrlNic RE: jazzy77 Apr 10, 2007 09:18 AM

                    Thank you all soooo very much! I REALLY appreciate all the knowledge and will use it ASAP! :)

                    -Nicole

                2. eatzalot RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 10, 2007 11:06 AM

                  Lots of good advice here. It would be helpful to get a *good* and *thin* wine book that orients you and explains some basics competently. Tasting is (as mathematicians say) necessary but insufficient.

                  The best THIN general introductory wine book I know of for North American readers appeared in the 1960s, have a stack of copies and lend them out sometimes, but it is badly out of date. Recently a couple of senior wine writers have made efforts at the same thing (one of these people passed both the MS and MW exams, an accomplishment) but I haven't checked the books personally and don't recall details.

                  The number of existing wine books that *don't* serve this need is legion.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: eatzalot
                    ekeeney RE: eatzalot Apr 10, 2007 11:36 AM

                    I know for my husband, who couldn't drink wine to save his life, actually really enjoys Pinot Grigio. Might be worth a try to ease yourself into other "harder" wines.

                    1. re: ekeeney
                      TonyO RE: ekeeney Apr 10, 2007 05:40 PM

                      Here is a light approachable red wine: 2005 Brachetto from Anthos in Italy. Easy drinking red that goes nicely with food. I do not know how widely this is available but there may be similar options out there.

                    2. re: eatzalot
                      Bill Hunt RE: eatzalot Apr 10, 2007 09:22 PM

                      Best book for learning the basics is Andrea Immer's (now Robinson) Great Wine Made Simple. It's a hands-on course to wine, starting with the major varietals and then branching out to the Old World/New World. I cannot reccomend it more highly.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        eatzalot RE: Bill Hunt Apr 11, 2007 09:56 AM

                        Thanks Hunt and I think that was one of the recent books I'd seen. Immer is a very active and respected wine educator.

                        Three older books in English of classic, even "cult" status are not good for current style info, but their geography and history information, and insights about wine and people, have not aged. Each by a writer or journalist who also was a serious wine enthusiast and wrote late in life after 50-plus years wine experience. Going backward in time, they're Yoxall's book (limited to Cote d'Or region), Blake Ozias's that I mentioned above, and the original popular handbook for wine consumers, Saintsbury's "Notes on a Cellar-Book," 1920, still in print via many editions.

                        1. re: eatzalot
                          Bill Hunt RE: eatzalot Apr 11, 2007 06:47 PM

                          Some of the older tomes still "have it." I found a copy of the Signet Pocketbook of Wine (do not have the author handy), that we must have had since marriage in early '70s (did not recall ever reading it). I kinda' laughed, but sat down with it. Great little read and still about 90% relevant to wine, in general. Now, that's the test of time in such a volitile market as wine.

                          Heck, I can do a grand trek of Napa in the Winter, and then talk to friends in the Summer, and they mention a half-dozen wineries, that I have never heard of, within a 5mi. radius, of where I was!

                          Hunt

                          1. re: eatzalot
                            z
                            zin1953 RE: eatzalot Apr 12, 2007 08:06 PM

                            Yoxall's book is great. And George Saintsbury's is, of course, a classic!

                      2. purple goddess RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 10, 2007 05:57 PM

                        I took my teen son on his first wine tasting this weekend... found a cute boutique winery that had no other customers and they were happy for him to partake in very small sips, to learn to appreciate their craft. They spent quite some time talking to him about flavours and mouth-feel and encouraged him to describe what he smelled/tasted/felt.

                        He's not quite ready for the heavy reds yet, but after a few young whites, down to a oaked chardy and via a rose, he "got" the beginings of an appreciation. And it was all very non wine-wanky, too... I would really encourage you to give this a go... Get someone who knows wine to hold your hand and encourage you as you learn.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: purple goddess
                          Bill Hunt RE: purple goddess Apr 10, 2007 09:26 PM

                          Great introduction. The time is passing for such trips to Napa/Sonoma, as the tourists will be filling up the tasting rooms. February is a great month to travel there, as Hwy. 29 will likely be deserted, as will the tasting rooms. The folk, who man these will be so glad that you are there, that they'll likely waive any fee and pull out the "good stuff." I cannot count the number of wonderful tastings that I've had in a steady rain in Napa in Feb.

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            purple goddess RE: Bill Hunt Apr 10, 2007 10:30 PM

                            That's why you have to move to Melbourne, Australia and check out the Mornington Peninsula after all the summer tourists have left. ;)

                            This is the winery we went to: www.darlingparkwinery.com

                            1. re: purple goddess
                              Bill Hunt RE: purple goddess Apr 11, 2007 06:51 PM

                              In the old days, we'd ski Colorado in the Winter and Spring, then head to Chile to ski in the Summer. I need to do the same for the wine countries today. Is the tourist in the wine country as sparse in NZ, as well. I would imagine, but do not know. I'd always rather have the tasting room staff to myself and not 20 tourist buses full. Amazing how much more personal it can get then. Of course, I also do not like long lines and crowds - Disney World is definitely out!

                              Thanks for pointing this out. We've been talking about OZ & NZ, but I had not thought about it enough to plan the season.

                              Hunt

                        2. leanneabe RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 11, 2007 01:50 PM

                          Honestly, if you find you don't enjoy wine, I don't see any problem with not drinking it. Not everyone needs to love wine, just like some people simply don't like alcohol of any kind. Stick with cordials, creamy liqueurs, and whatever else you enjoy drinking.

                          I used to hate beer. I found that there are few types of beers that I enjoy. If those are around, I'll have one; if not, I'll go to soda or water. I don't force myself to drink something just because I feel I should be.

                          Same with wines. I used to only drink Rieslings and Gewurztraminer (sweet whites). Reds were too bitter and dry. I also used to order a glass of wine with dinner because everyone else had, only to pawn off the last half after finding I didn't really want it. I gradually started taking a taste of wines other people were drinking, tasting at wineries, and just experimenting. I now enjoy wines from white to red to rose, etc. Sometimes you find you like them, sometimes you just don't. Sometimes your tastes change (or you end up discovering you've been drinking "bad" wines in the past which is why you didn't like them). Reds will probably be your biggest challenge.

                          To start, since you like the Rieslings, try a Muscat or ice wine. They're very sweet, not bitter, and they're enjoyable to drink. How about a port or sherry?

                          Sangria's a nice wine-based beverage (although, probably not prevalent in France). Don't feel you need to experiment while on your honeymoon. Drink what you like and enjoy yourself! If your husband orders a wine, take a sip and see if you like it. If you don't, no biggie! If you do, order another glass for yourself.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: leanneabe
                            j
                            jazzy77 RE: leanneabe Apr 11, 2007 04:42 PM

                            Ooh, that's a good idea too! Icewine/eiswein's are a good dessert drink, but if you were looking for French specific- try a Sauternes....

                          2. c
                            Cinnamon RE: FOTOgrlNic Apr 28, 2007 09:54 AM

                            Well, in Paris the selection you'll be presented with will likely be great no matter what. So you run less risk of harsh horribleness than if you were vacationing, say, in Northern California. You might find that the waiter's recommendations (if you ask for say something light and clean, or a smooth red) might hit the mark well. Pinot grigio's super-palatable - light and clean. Among dessert wines, a good madeira or port is very drinkable and not too sweet or strange.

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