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I am a beginner at this so please be kind.

j
jefpen2 Jul 19, 2008 09:13 PM

I am a beginner at this so please be kind.

I have decided to embark on a journey through the world of wine. I enjoy wine but seldom do I really know what I’m drinking. My first step has been to read as much as I can on the internet, shying away from the snobbery that is obvious on many sites. I plan on taking a wine class at a local wine store that will give me a base of knowledge to start with. I am about to buy a used Avanti that holds 34 bottles (although most have said that those numbers are arbitrary at best) And I have tried some new wines : A wonderful malbec from Argentina, Chardonnay from WA, red Zinfandel from California, Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough NZ, Chianti Classico 2001, Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Vintage Port, Shiraz from Australia, Pinot Noir. All of these I have enjoyed and plan on buying more. I have tried some of the French classics (Bordeaux, Burgundy etc…) and have not been as interested. I plan on buying only what I like and want to share. I have always been curious about this subject and the last thing I want to do is buy something just because some says I should be liking it! All of the wines I have tried have been in the $10-20 range (NH prices!)
So here are my questions…

Are any of these wines going to improve with age (2-5 years)?

Can anyone suggest other wines that I should try seeing what I have liked?

Will a vintage chart help?

Are “new world” wines less able to get anything out of
aging?

My price range is up to about $25. Am I dreaming??!!??

I have been with Chowhound for 4-5 years now and respect this community’s opinion.

Thank you

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  1. w
    whiner Jul 19, 2008 09:47 PM

    Hi jefpen2!

    Welcome to the world of wine!

    As to your questions...

    I seriously doubt that any of the wines you have tried are going to improve with bottle age; the only one that could concievably improve is the Bordeaux, but at less than $20 NH price, that is not necessarily going to happen.

    Seeing what you have liked... I would try a Rosso di Montalcino since you liked the Chianti. I would try CA Sauvignon Blanc to see how you like it compared to NZ -- specifically I'd reccomend seeking out Mason. I would try a dry Vouvray from te Loire Valley in France and compare that to the Chenin Blanc you have had. And I would tru Cru Beaujolais (Morgon, Fleurie, Chirubles, Moulin-a-Vent, Saint-Amour, etc) -- your wine store can help you find a good producer and bottle -- it would be interesting to see your take on these relative to the Pinot Noir you tried. I would also suggestseeking out a Barbera (from Italy) both because they have upfront fruit, which you eem to enjoy, and also because I consistently find this grape from the Piedmont region of Italy to represent one of the fiest values in all of wine. Generically, I would seekout the lesser-known wines of Spain and Italy as I find those to provide the best deals in sub $20 wines.

    A vintage chart may help. Right now, the big no-no is 2002 in Spain, Italy, and Southern France, I don't think there are really any other catastrophes out there.

    With higher levels of alcohol and lower levels of acidity (as well as, often, softer tannins) new world wines, generally, do not get as much out of aging as "old world" wines, nor do they age as long. In the sub $20 category, there are very few "Old World" wines that will significantly benefit from aging right now, though.

    There are some very good wines out there for $25 and less. Especially from Italy and Spain, imo, but also from other lesser known regions -- parts of the Rhone valley in France, for example. And from CA, wines made from grapes such as Petite Sirah and Zinfandel can be quite interesting, especially for a novice (they tend to be hedonistic wines) in that price range.

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner
      j
      jefpen2 Jul 20, 2008 08:06 AM

      So what is it about a wine that enables it to age and improve? What is it that costs $20+ more per bottle?

      1. re: jefpen2
        r
        RicRios Jul 20, 2008 09:08 AM

        To make wine you make decisions all along the way.
        Each single decision affects costs and final product quality.
        For sarters, the grapes.

        IF you :
        a) throw away green grapes to concentrate the flavors of the remaining ones, and/or
        b) hand pick ripe bunches and throw away rotten stuff, and/or
        c) only pick those grapes from a special little parcel where you know the sun exposure, dew, moisture, wind &etc factors are optimal and/or ...

        THEN your final costs are going to be negatively affected.
        THEREFORE your final price will be higher.

        And please remember, this is only the beginning of the entire process.

    2. w
      Walters Jul 20, 2008 07:45 AM

      Jefpen, Whiner's suggestions are excellent--especially the Italian wines. I would also suggest some wines from some of Washington State's smaller producers. (You may have to spend $5.00 more.) Watch for wines from McCrea Cellars, L`Ecole, Andrew Will, Owen Roe and Thurston Wolfe. McCrea Cellars' Viognier will light up your world.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Walters
        p
        Pigloader Jul 6, 2009 05:22 AM

        Dude, you're throwing him in the deep end of the pool price wise... i thought he said he was trying to keep it under 25! If you can find me a bottle of Andrew Will OR L'Ecole (the semillon notwithstanding) under $25, let me know, cause I'll buy everything they've got.

        That said, I also agree with Whiner varietal wise... would be interested to hear what the SA Chenin was.

      2. b
        bubbles4me Jul 20, 2008 08:42 AM

        Jefpen2,
        I too would like to welcome you to the glorious and fascinating world of wine. If at all possible try and find a wine shop and create a relationship with the buyers, let them know what you like, (in your case saying wines with primary fruit should give them a good ieda what you are looking for) and they can help you. There really is no better way to learn, once they get a handle on your palate they can even let you know when something you would love has just arrived, things like that....
        I am with you in that I abhor snobbery, (and I am in the wine business) don't let anyone yuck your yum, you like what you like and there is nothing wrong with that. People that try and makes others feel as if they no nothing are not really wine lovers, they love owning information that others don't and feel that their ability to retain said information makes them experts, it does not make them experts on your palate so when you think about it they know even less than you do...hope that helps a bit when you encounter snobs...which happens often in this little world of ours.
        The wines you listed are, (and I am generalizing here) are fruit forward, soft on acidity or round in the mouth without a ton of tannin so aging is not neccessary, (the reason that a lot of us have a cellar/wind fridge). Are you buying the wine fridge to keep bottles on hand or were you thinking that cellaring would improve the wines that you already like? I only ask because aging might kill what it is that you love about them...fruit. I would recommend trying to find an aged wine....a New World one, with maybe 10 years on it and see if you even like what happens, some love aged wines some hate them. The exceptions on your list are vintage port, very long life on those and NZ Sauvignon Blanc drink those now as they get rather funky with too much time in the bottle, to me they start smelling like the water after you steam veggies..blech!
        Have you played around with Spanish wines yet? They tend to be pretty forward and there are tons of values there. Just curious, what didnt you like about French wine? The reason I ask is becuase with a bit of aging those wines may really float your boat but I can see how people can find them too acidic when consumed young.
        Have fun, drink what you love and go to as many tastings as you can...maybe even start a tasting group in your area.

        5 Replies
        1. re: bubbles4me
          j
          jefpen2 Jul 20, 2008 08:45 PM

          The acidity is what turned me off. There are so many choices that I feel intimidated. Those of us who failed french/spanish in HS are at a disadvantage! By the way, I just got the fridge today and it seems to work well there is a difference between tempeture on the top and bottom, but it's keeping between 53-60.

          1. re: jefpen2
            t
            tmso Jul 21, 2008 08:16 AM

            I love Burgundy and Bordeaux, but there's more to France than just those!

            You might try Beaujolais (not nouveau) and Côtes du Rhone as well. Also, if you give Burgundy and Bordeaux another try, if you're drinking younger wines, make sure they've gotten enough air. Pouring them into a pitcher and waiting a half hour can be the difference between an "enh" experience and a delicious wine that you don't want to stop sipping.

            1. re: jefpen2
              o
              olasek Jul 21, 2008 04:19 PM

              >> The acidity is what turned me off.

              Understood. This is precisely what turned me off in my early days. Excessive acidity may be an indication of cheap wine but generally on the average French wines will have more acidity than California wine. To test your tolerance to acidity try different red wines at different prices. For example try some full bodied Zinfandel at just below $30 (I admit I don't know about wine prices in N.H.) and if you picked right you should be pretty far from acidity. This is what happened once to me - I had artificially limited myself to wines below $20 but when I tried something outside this range I discovered the whole new world of wines.

              1. re: olasek
                Bill Hunt Jul 22, 2008 10:11 PM

                Still, it is often the acidity (in a balanced wine), that makes it food-friendly. Do try your wines with food, especially from the region of origin.

                Some wines are better alone, and some work best with food.

                Hunt

              2. re: jefpen2
                Bill Hunt Jul 22, 2008 10:09 PM

                Under no circumstances are you allowed to feel "intimidated." Always remember, that your palate is your palate. It is all about what YOU like. I'm the biggest wine snob on this board, and I respect your preferences to the max.

                You might want to talk to your shop (see mine and Bubbles4me's comments) about a few bottles, that will "improve" with age. This is highly subjective, but it's the best way to experiment, to see if you like an older wine. Fill three slots, and forget about them. Come back in a few years, and sample them. You will learn, and may find that you do like an aged wine. I love 'em, in many flavors, but my wife, less so.

                The rest of your 'fridge should hold wines for today, or tomorrow.

                Remember, practice, practice, practice.

                Hunt

            2. z
              zin1953 Jul 20, 2008 10:15 AM

              Jefpen,

              Welcome to the world of wine! May your journey be as fun as it will be rewarding . . .

              Keep in mind the world attempts to reduce everything to generalities, and there are ALWAYS exceptions. That said, it is difficult to say "this WILL (or will NOT) improve with age" without knowing the specific wines in question. However,

              -- ALL wines age. All wines change with that age. Whether or not they "improve" with that age depends upon whether you prefer the wine in its youth or with that additional age.

              -- For some wines, their "peak" of development/maturity may be considered to be reached in 25-50 years; for others, 10-15 years; for still others, 2-5, and for some, it's six months . . . it all depends upon the wine: what grapes are in the wine; where the grapes were grown; the winemaker; and the style in which the wine was produced.

              There are some "New World" wines that are capable of great development with age, and some that are not. But this is no different than wines from the "Old World," some of which are capable of great age, some of which are not.

              You are NOT dreaming.

              1. j
                jpc8015 Jul 20, 2008 11:45 AM

                As far as I am concerned the only rule of wine is: Drink what you enjoy.

                Seeing what you say you like I would recommend you try Bogle Petite Sirah. It's a great everyday wine that costs about $12.00. It has a dark color in the glass and it is full of flavor but it is very drinkable at the same time.

                I also recommend you check out any of the books by Andrea Immer. She is a Master Sommelier who takes the snobbery out of wine. You can easily find the books at Barnes & Noble, Staples, or Amazon.

                1. jayt90 Jul 20, 2008 12:34 PM

                  Since you are based in New Hampshire, you will have to deal with one of the smaller state monopolies, or perhaps head for Boston. The special selection of 2005 Bordeaux may have some lower priced wines worth aging a few years.http://www.nh.gov/liquor/bordeauxrele...
                  Ch. La Tour de By (Medoc) 2005 at $22, and Ch. Richelieu Favourute (Fronsac) 21105 at $27, are reliable wines.
                  Martin Ray Pinot Noir (no vintage given) at $23 is in your price range, and won't need aging.
                  Not much showed up on the N.H.website but they have had a reputation for having well priced wines, and limited but decent selections.

                  1. m
                    mpalmer6c Jul 20, 2008 08:29 PM

                    You'll have a lot of tun, I know. Hard to recommend specific wines based on your comments. Not all malbecs from Argentina, for example, will taste the same. And not only Bordeaux, BTW. need aging. Most red wine, though not all, is put on the market too young. To do otherwise, the winery would have to build a lot of costly air-conditioned warehouses, or dig a lot of caves, or whatever.

                    I can understand your lack of interest in Bordeaux and Burgundies. Though the best are amazing, the prices are vastly inflated. This has also become true for cabernet sauvignons from the Napa Valley.

                    Here's a site you might find interesting. Though it's a retailer, they have a lot of information on individual wines (and I find it accurate enough that I buy from them):

                    http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku...

                    1. c
                      chriscatva Jul 21, 2008 04:02 AM

                      You've received many excellent suggestions, but I'd like to add another. I'd recommend trying a Riesling or two -- see how it compares to the Sauvignon Blancs. I'd look for one from Germany, though they can be more expensive than new world Rieslings, as it should give you a better feel for the "essence" of Riesling. There are also some excellent Rieslings from New York State, which should be available in your area. I'd recommend trying a dry Riesling as well as a sweeter one. (Ask for guidance at a wine shop if you can.)

                      Also -- since you're in NH -- let me recommend a field trip to a great wine shop: The Winecellar of Silene in Waltham, MA. I've no affiliation, but these people are largely responsible for my early interest in and learning about wine. Alas, I'm now 500 miles away :-).

                      1. DanaB Jul 21, 2008 04:33 AM

                        I think you've gotten some great advice, but your best friend in the wine world will be your local wine store. Find a good one near you and make friends with them. In my neck of the woods, they do wine tastings often, but in addition, they are really great with recommendations.

                        If you can, take a wine class. It will answer some of the questions you have about aging wines (in particular, most white wines do not benefit from any extended aging, with exception to some specialized varieties (Bordeaux, Riesling) or special vintages from other areas). All wines do not benefit from aging, and that is perhaps one of the worst misconceptions about wine.

                        Also, starting a wine "notebook" is a good practice, so you have an easy way to keep track of anything you taste at a restaurant or otherwise.

                        1. d
                          dkenworthy Jul 21, 2008 06:40 AM

                          Lots of great advice here. One other suggestion to help you with understanding the aging process. If you find a red wine (there are white wines that can benefit from aging, but this is more rare, IMO) you really like, buy a case of it. Open a bottle every few months, and see how it changes. By the time you have finished the case, you will know that wine really well, and you will see if you value the changes that occur.

                          Also, your tastes will continue to evolve as you try more wines, but more slowly after the first few years. I started drinking wine when I was quite young, and I still discover wine types that I enjoy after nearly 40 years of wine consumption. Have a great adventure!

                          1. TonyO Jul 21, 2008 07:55 AM

                            NH has pluses and minuses:

                            Pluses:

                            No tax and some great sales. Register for their email updates. The best time to shop is when the have what I call the Triple Play: No Tax (always), Wine is on Sale (choices vary monthly) and case discounts (selection varies and discount ranges from 10% to 20%). I live in Vermont and have been able to buy a case of wine that would cost $250 + tax here for under $175 in NH.

                            Large selection of Porto and similar style wines.

                            Monthly magazine(free) that lists all items as well as a comprehensive website.

                            The often give you gift cards when you make a minimum purchase.

                            Minuses: The staff in most stores are not very versed in wine. They are helpful and will special order for you but most are not "wine people".

                            Isn't it interesting that NH sells alcohol on the Interstate ?????

                            1. scrappydog Jul 21, 2008 05:35 PM

                              jefpen2 -

                              You have recieved some great advice from the other posters on this thread. If I were to make any other suggestion, it would be to try as many different wines as possible. Trying something new is part of the fun for me. Keep an open mind; I know that if I don't like the first bottle of a new (to me) variety of wine, that I may like some other bottle (a different vintage or often, a different producer). I don't think I could ever regret trying a wine and not liking it as much as I would regret not even trying a particular wine. Wine is a fun hobby if you approach it with the right perspective. The other thing I would say is to realize that your preferences for wine may change over time. I have different favorites today than I did 5, 10 or 15 years ago. Other than those two pieces of advice, I would say to just have at it.

                              On aging, my personal experience is that almost any wine that is properly stored will keep for 2 years and most will keep for 5 years. In my opinion, the number of such wines (out of the general population of all wines) that actually improve with such aging is suprisingly low. The wines that benefit from aging often benefit from even longer periods, but as Jason noted in his response, generalizations are dangerous, there are always exceptions. Most lighter white wines (NZ SB for example) and Rose I do not buy to age, although some of these do get aged unintentionally. I am always happy and surprised when they hold up under my inattention.

                              Something you might want to experiment with is decanting. I try it with some red wines. It allows you to experience how the wine develops over the course of an evening with exposure to the air. (It also offers more immediate feedback and gratification than aging.) I usually pour a little wine from the bottle as soon as I open it for the first point of comparison, and then check back in periodically to monitor progress. Sometimes I think the decanting has a positive affect, seldom do I think that it has ruined an otherwise good wine. (There are also plenty of times when no decanting is needed.)

                              I do not think you are dreaming with a price range of under $25. We buy most of our wines in that range, but also frequently exceed it. The tricky thing about wine is not finding the best wine, but finding the wine you like best at various price points. From my experience, I often find that I enjoy a $20 wine more than twice as much as a $10 wine, but less often do I enjoy a $100 wine five times as much as a $20 wine. But again, there are always exceptions.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: scrappydog
                                l
                                Leper Jul 22, 2008 06:53 PM

                                Scrappydog, great advice. I am often amazed at how wine changes when decanted. They literally transform. I think for most people, it has more effect than aging and, as you mentioned,it offers more immediate gratification as well.

                              2. Bill Hunt Jul 22, 2008 09:59 PM

                                Jefpen2,

                                Whoa, a lot of questions.

                                First, drink what you like. Keep some notes, so you can approach your wine merchant with you likes, and let them make suggestions. At this stage, I'd find a good local shop and strike up a relationship. Tell them everything that you do like, and also anything that does not hit the mark with you. If they steer you wrong, go back and talk to them. Explain what you did not appreciate. If they are good, they will get it and realize that you are a serious client. They *should* do their best to make you feel welcome and satisfy your desires.

                                Next, Vintage Port will age for longer than I will be alive, given good care. The OZ Shiraz, the PN and the Malbec, can improve with some age. Whether you will enjoy them more is a good question. Some folk love the bigger fruit, and do not appreciate an "aged" wine. Others, really do. It is personal.

                                New World wines can age well, even well-made whites - if you enjoy aged wines. (See above).

                                SB (unless it is from Bdx.) will not age so gracefully. Again, a personal taste. I love a great white Bdx. with about 10-15 years on it. Others do not. Unfortunately, it's tough to find older whites, that have been stored well, to try. This is a tough one, as it's tough to pay top $ in a restaurant, only to find that aged wines are not what you enjoy. Finding older wines at retail can be a crapshoot, as the provenance of that bottle might be in question - was it stored well? Did it get heat damaged? Lot of questions on this. Best thing is to find a friend, who has a good cellar, and would love to share his/her older wines, for you to try. Do not be alarmed, if you do not get the kick out of an older wine. Not everyone does.

                                Rather than wines to try, I'd suggest Andrea Immer's (now Robinson) "Great Wines Made Simple." It's a great book, and offers a tasting of the world's wines, as homework. Hey, how much better can life get? Some of the producers will have changed, even if she's updated the book (wine is a volitile business), but you'll get plenty of ideas. You get to taste around the world, and from several different perspecitives. Do the homework!

                                Last, keep an open mind. You may not enjoy Bdx. and Burgs now, but do not dismiss them. Same for any wine/region. Heck, I still try to find a good Chilean wine, after years, and years of failure. Your tastes will likely change, over time.

                                Most of all - it's about practice, practice, practice. Tiger Woods did not get where he is today, without practice.

                                In the US$25 range, you should be able to find excellent wines from almost any place on Earth. These might not have much age (see above), and might not be the wines, that hard-bound books are written about, but they will be excellent wines.

                                I wish there was a quick and easy way to experience well-aged wines, but alas, there is not really a quick track. Besides, you may not appreciate these - yet. Time in a decanter can mimick aging, to a degree, but it's not quite the same - similar, but not quite the same.

                                I'd also suggest that you do some reading of older threads on this board. Look for recs. from Jason (Zin 1983) and Maria Lorraine. Try some of the wines, that they recommend, when you can find them. Talk, at length, to your wine merchant and do not hesitate to tell them what you like/dislike about any wine. Use the terms, that you are comfortable with. Wine-speak will come, but a good merchant should be able to fill in the blanks.

                                Enjoy,

                                Hunt

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                  r
                                  RicRios Jul 23, 2008 06:16 AM

                                  "Maria Lorraine"

                                  maria lorraine

                                  Just in case the search utility, or maria lorraine, are case sensitive.

                                  1. re: RicRios
                                    maria lorraine Jul 24, 2008 05:10 PM

                                    OK, I'm laughing pretty hard right now. I feel like I've arrived to the party so late that the hosts are doing the dishes.

                                    The funny thing is...I read this thread right after it was started and said to myself, Aw, isn't that sweet? -- Just getting started on the never-stopping gerbil wheel of wine enjoyment!!

                                    My first suggestion would be to attend a wine-tasting class (usually several weeks long, one night a week) at a local community college. This will provide a framework for all the other information to follow. It can be a wines of the world class, or a specfic country or region, but you'll have fun in the class and learn the "vocabulary."

                                    The vocabulary, the language, is not to be underestimated. The difference between dry and sweet, between fruit and sweet. Flavor descriptors and nuances. How to articulate what you perceive. Wine terms, wine flaws. Most of all, it's fun.

                                    Please remember to respect your palate while at the time exposing it to new flavors. No one tastes like you, has the mouth chemistry that you do, experiences flavors like you do. Trust yourself, but keep exposing yourself to new wines.

                                    If you don't like one Syrah or Cabernet or Pinot Noir, it may not mean you don't like that particular grape, only that the wine you drank perhaps wasn't a well-made wine. Try a number of wines of the same type before making a decision. In one of my posts, I talk about organizing a wine tasting based on a varietal -- Syrahs from around the world, for example: some from the Rhone region, some from the US, some from Australia. Try the grape grown a variety of places, and made into wine using different winemaking styles. The same is true for Pinot Noir, or Sauvginon Blanc or Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio.

                                    Your post actually touched me, jefpen2. It catapulted me back to my first days of learning about wine. I have such fondness for those days, and have always had good teachers. And now, oh gee, they've created a monster, or a delightful monster, as I like to think.

                                    I've been passionate about wine a long time now. Not as many years as some others, but I've been lucky enough to go to A LOT of classes and have tasted wines all around the world right where they're made. And, maybe it's just me -- and I'm a sponge for knowledge -- but I *still* take wine classes. I'll take another class in something, or an advanced class in something else, and I'll still learn tidbits and taste wines I've never tasted. The thing about loving wine -- you're never done. There's always more to learn, always new wines to try, another vintage as the next year rolls around. It's one of the endless subjects you can study: like chess or baseball or cosmology or cooking.

                                    I sincerely wish you the best! And much fun!

                                    1. re: maria lorraine
                                      Bill Hunt Jul 24, 2008 06:51 PM

                                      "on the never-stopping gerbil wheel of wine enjoyment!!"

                                      What a wonderful visual and so well-put. Now, I gotta' get back and read the rest of your post.

                                      Hunt

                                  2. re: Bill Hunt
                                    scrappydog Jul 23, 2008 08:14 AM

                                    Speaking of aging - wrong vintage on Jason - Zin 1953 rather than Zin 1983 ( although he might like to have some of those 30 years back). :)

                                    I think the Andrea Immer (Robinson) book suggestion is a good one, and something that can be even more fun if you can muster up a group of friends that want to try it with you. Andrea Immer is definitely someone who believes that wine should not be intimidating.

                                    1. re: scrappydog
                                      Bill Hunt Jul 23, 2008 07:52 PM

                                      Dang, I guess that it was too much Biale Zinfandel. I should have known this by heart. Thanks for the correction. I knew it didn't type "right," and should have checked other thread.

                                      Thanks,

                                      Hunt

                                      PS I find that wine goes better with friends, than anything else, including food. It also defrays the costs and allows for better conversation. It's easier for me to discuss a wine with a few people, than just me and the Bulldogs...

                                      1. re: RicRios
                                        Bill Hunt Jul 23, 2008 09:02 PM

                                        Well, let's see. Back when I was about 10, I'd sneak into my parent's wine locker and share a bottle with my buds. So, based on that, it was about 50 years ago.

                                        Now, I have to say that my parent's wine locker was not the best, and my friends, and I, enjoyed the wines from other parents' stash, much better... That is what I get for growing up in a Jewish family in the Deep South.

                                        Now, I found out that "good wines" went better with friends in the late '70s. Which figure should I use? [Grin]

                                        Hunt

                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                                          w
                                          whiner Jul 24, 2008 03:07 AM

                                          ^^^

                                          "That is what I get for growing up in a Jewish family in the Deep South."

                                          [grins to self] I had a professor who was Jewish and grew up in the Deep South. I could tell he was Jewish from his last name (Lowi -- obviously a derrivative of Levi) but the first time I heard him speak I nearly fell out of my chair! (Southern drawl!) Actually, he gave a really amazing speach after the attacks of Sept 11, though and his explanation as to how nations build and stabalize really helps crystalize, in my mind, things that are happening in the world right now...

                                          1. re: whiner
                                            wolfe Jul 24, 2008 07:10 AM

                                            Whiner read quickly before deletion. I know you are up. I was quite startled by the southern accented Shema I heard in a Charleston synagogue while visiting with the Navy.

                                          2. re: Bill Hunt
                                            r
                                            RicRios Jul 24, 2008 10:45 AM

                                            Very funny: my post vanished, your reply stayed.

                                    2. h
                                      hungry_pangolin Jul 24, 2008 08:53 AM

                                      Just to add to the above embarrassment of riches... Welcome to what will be a lifelong obsession. The great thing about wine is that you can never know it all. A few random notes:

                                      Portuguese wines are still a relative bargain, and offer up some very high quality wines. Amongst reds, look for Dao, Douro, Alentejo as beginners, and are age worthy. Whites vary. Vinho verde is a lightly sparkling white for immediate drinking, low alcohol, refreshing (and a delicioous companion to chilled pineapple on a hot summer night). Some white Daos can take aging.

                                      Among Spanish reds, Ribera del Duero is a region for you to look at within your price range as being both high quality and age-worthy. Spanish whites come in a variety of styles, some age worthy, some not. For the former, a white rioja from a reputable producer can be very good, though aged is not to everyone's taste. I had a 15 y.o. once that was so somplex I almost wept. If you can find it (it seems to be easier to find these days), try a Rias Baixas, from Galicia in northwest Spain. It's made from albarino (a descendant from riesling brought by German monks on their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela), and is the perfect companion for seafood.

                                      Don't be afraid of a bit of sugar, even in table wines. Rieslings range from bone dry to quite lush. What you're doing with it (sipping it by itself, having it with pad thai, or whatever) will help you to decide which style you want.

                                      Sherry is the single best buy in the wine world. $20 will get you some of the very best. It comes in a number of styles from very dry ("fino"), to dessert styles. To my palate (and, as pointed out above, this is largely subjective), my favourite style is Amontillado, which is slightly sweet with a distinct, almondy flavour. Essential in my cabinet when the weather turns cold and damp. Anything, any style, from Lustau is worth purchasing.

                                      Amongst French wines, for whites, do not ignore Alsace. Look for riesling, gewurztraminer, pinto blanc, pinot gris. Take a pass on sylvaner, and "edelzwicker", as generally they won't be very interesting, unless you come across a specific recommendation. The only red in Alsace is pinot noir, which you probably won't enjoy at this stage, but as you learn more, you might be interested in trying, and the good ones tend to be about $30+ (in Ontario, at any rate).

                                      I have a soft spot for certain reds from the south of France, which haven't gone through the price spiral that Burgundy and Bordeaux have over the years. Look for Minervois and Corbieres. They usually need a bit of time to lose their edge.

                                      Cheers!

                                      1. j
                                        jefpen2 Jul 26, 2008 09:59 PM

                                        WOW! What an education!!
                                        Thank you all for your insight and wealth of advice and information.
                                        Since posting I have been quite busy. I still have an affinity for Argentina Malbec (Altos) and I have tried some other wines. Something about Chenin Blanc in the summer is so wonderful! I finally understand what people mean when they say a chardonnay is “buttery” (Fish House Chardonnay) and a Syrah from Lodi CA was a bit much, VERY heavy….memories of grape juice at the seder! I have been wanting to try some Pinot Noir from Chili (I have been “told” that Casablanca is the place to look for this.) I have a bottle of Barbara from Italy, a Bottle of “Earth Zin and Fire”, and a cab from AU. Some of these might sit a while as I now have friends who know I am experimenting with this and are more than happy to help! I have not delved into any French wines yet. I have not spent more then $17 on a bottle. Someday I’ll splurge. The selection in my area seems limited. Every time I read about a wine to try I can’t seem to find it. I am right next to NH, cheap but quite the monopoly. I am in Brattleboro, VT. I have found some stuff in MA, and there is a wine shop downtown that offers classes… sometimes (don’t know how well it’s doing) Not sure how far I want to drive for a tasting…without a hotel room! Some web sites have been helpful, but many want $. Wine Spectator seems to be the end all for ratings and info, but subscriptions are a bit and thumbing through some at the newsstand with their 2-3 page spread of the luncheon in the vineyard with “Buffy and Ken” in their Birkenstocks and Saabs is a bit much.
                                        So I will move forward with an open mind and palate….
                                        Thank you all for your help!

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: jefpen2
                                          wolfe Jul 27, 2008 08:25 AM

                                          I did a search this page and came up empty on spit. It is not necessary to swallow every wine you taste. This allows you to "taste" and not need a room for the night.

                                          1. re: wolfe
                                            w
                                            wally Jul 27, 2008 11:29 AM

                                            http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

                                            1. re: wally
                                              wolfe Jul 27, 2008 05:26 PM

                                              Thank you, that site is helpful so that jefpen2 doesn't think I made up the spitting suggestion as a sort of snipe hunt for wine beginners.Specifically in the link:
                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49219...

                                              1. re: wolfe
                                                w
                                                wally Jul 27, 2008 07:18 PM

                                                We almost always spit and knew there had been some posts that mention it. I like places better if they make it possible to spit easily. We do carry plastic coffee mugs with us for difficult situations.

                                          2. re: jefpen2
                                            ideabaker Jul 30, 2008 06:02 PM

                                            jefpen2, if you are into reading, there is a wonderful true story of two people (who are currently the wine critics for the Wall Street Journal and are down to earth wine lovers) who begin and follow their journey of falling in love with wine, and each other (they are married). When I first started seriously getting into wine, I read it and it paired perfectly with where I was and where I was headed into the world of wine. It's called Love by the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher. Pick up a copy for an easy read that will make you know you are definitely entering a whole new life in the world of wine!

                                            1. re: ideabaker
                                              Bill Hunt Jul 31, 2008 06:44 PM

                                              I agree. Both John & Dottie do a great job of adding a perspective to the beginning of the road to wine appreciation. It's a touching and fun read. It also reveals how they got started in the world of wine.

                                              I've got their second book, but have not had time to get to it yet.

                                              Hunt

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                ideabaker Aug 4, 2008 05:12 PM

                                                Oh I didn't know they had a second book, I will look for it! I've given the first as a gift to many people over the years and they love it too!

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