Friday, 26 February 2010

Advanced, urk.

We started the WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits on Wednesday. When we did the intermediate course we were in a class of only five, which was great. Loads of leftover wine to take home each lesson. This time it's a class of 13 which seems huge. Everyone seems great though. And Ann's not the only female which is good, there are three others.

First lesson we got our course packs, did a bit of talking about how to taste wine. Some more detail required in the advanced tasting. We then had a set of 5 mystery whites to try. I feel like I was rubbish but with hindsight I got the last three were Chardonnay and that the third one was French. I just wasn't confident enough in my answer on 3. It was a Chablis. The others were a Semillon (which I don't think I've ever had before) and a Chardonnay blend that I got totally wrong.

I still really don't like Chardonnay, even when it is a Chablis. In fact maybe especially not when it's a Chablis. Our teacher reckons they do badly in blind tastings against bolder wines like the last two. Possibly. If that is to your taste apparently this one is fantastic, and it was interesting and distinctive but really not to my tastes at all.

The best two we tasted (IMO) were a bourgogne blanc (I think it was this one, but didn't write it down) and a Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Chardonnay. I took the last little bit of that one home and enjoyed it. Maybe Chardonnay isn't all completely horrific... but if I have to go to a £20 bottle to start to enjoy it, that's not great.

Oh yeah, and I started looking at the course text book on the train this morning. It's huge and makes my bag very heavy. All I got through this morning was about wine reproductive system, classifications, crossing, hybridization and cloning. This is going to be a tough course.

Monday, 15 February 2010

What is your favourite wine and why?

I'm starting the WSET Advanced Wine and Spirit course in a couple of weeks which is very exciting. The Intermediate one we did last year was fantastic. Anyway the course organiser sent everyone on the course the following 2 questions I guess to get to know us a bit before we started.
  1. What wine you like most & why?
  2. What wine region you like most &/or would like to know more about?
2 was easy, although not really a region. I'd like to learn more about Germany. Trying sweeter whites on the intermediate course was a bit of a revelation and my father in law gave us a Mosel Dornfelder as a mystery wine when we were up in Scotland last weekend. Which (I'm sure you know) is a German Red. It was really good.

Question 1 is really hard though. What is my favourite wine? I am really struggling. I am so fickle. It totally depends what kind of mood I'm in. What do I drink most? Bit of everything really. So I asked my wife;
If we were on that quiz where couples go on and have to answer questions about their partners and the question was "What's his favourite wine" What would you say?
She didn't really know either. (Hers is Amerone).

The best one I can think of is the Seghesio 2006 Old Vines Zinfandel, which is absolutely huge and delicious. Is that my favourite wine or just a great one I had recently? I'm stuck.

What's your favourite wine, and why?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Wine Critics, the response

So the article I posted last week has a response, by Tim Atkin and it's a good one I think. He basically says, of course you should drink what you want but practice can help your tasting. Well, yeah.

The thing they both agree is that buying based purely on scores is stupid. I agree. I don't think I'll be scoring any wines on here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

"Wine critics' advice is unchallenged bunk"?

Quite an interesting piece from the Guardian today. In summary, they are saying a lot of wine critics advice is useless because people have different palates. Which is a fair point. We know it's true in food. Some people think something like moroccan lamb with apricots is a delicious match but I know a few people who just really don't get the concept of sweet fruit in savoury dishes and just think it's terrible. Why would matching food and wine be any different?

I definitely think it's the same with wine. You're definitely going to have more success enjoying wine and a meal if you pick something you like than something you don't like, no matter how well it supposedly goes. But there are probably some principles about the wine that will make it a better match. How full bodied it is, how sweet it is, how acidic it is etc.

I did the flavour profile test the article mentions (the link is broken in the actual article at the moment) and this was my result:

SENSITIVE: Members of the SENSITIVE TASTERS COMMUNITY are the most open to diversity and range of styles. Whilst you’ll tend to avoid sweet wines (except possibly for dessert) and are not too keen on heavy oak or over-the-top intensity of reds, you like a broad spectrum of rich, smooth flavoured red and whites.
Which is kind of right, although I do like huge reds as well. And among the recommendations are a few things I've been enjoying lately including
  • Pinotage from South Africa
  • Zinfandel from the U.S - not too high in alcohol or oak.
  • Modern French Reds especially Southern Rhone
So dunno, might be more useful the less you know? Does how you like your tea/coffee really tell you enough to know what wines you might like? It seemed to get the closest match for me from their four categories.