A Good Wine Question from a Reader…

Happy New Year ALL- with a new season upon us and a whole slew of new ‘wine homework’ to begin – I thought I’d start this year’s blog off with an excellent email from a great client/friend of mine…

Here’s his dilemma…  Mr Yuck Pic

Happy New Year Leslee,
I need some (wine) advice from you.    I opened a bottle of wine the other evening that I bought on the recommendation of a friend.   This California wine is from an established vineyard and I really want to like this wine.   However, both (my wife) and I agreed that the wine had no real taste or flavor to it.  And yes, it was wine and not vinegar.  It was not that the wine was bad, or that I did not like its flavors.  But, I had a difficult time trying to find the individual tastes or to enjoy drinking it.  I looked it up on the producers web site and what they indicated it should have, I struggled to find those flavors.   I want to like this wine and, in the future, try this producers other choices.   Should I buy another bottle of the same vintage and try it?    I know my limitations on wines, but I think I am missing something here with this wine.  What do you do when you want to like a wine, but it does nothing for you to make it memorable or to have a good feeling about it?

Signed,  Anonymous…(Disappointed Drinker)

My response…

Dear Disappointed Drinker,

Such a bummer that is when you go and search out the wines of a recommendation all to find that it wasn’t all that it was cracked up, by your friend to be, right?  I too, get very excited when someone recommends a wine to me, I go to get it and open it up to find…maybe it’s not everything that it had been talked up to be.

However, there are some key points that we all must remember.

1.  We don’t all ‘taste’ the same.  (I wish I tasted like chocolate!  Ha, JK.)  Something that is appealing to your friend, may not be as appealing to yourself.  For instance, maybe your friend is a big fan of warmer climated wines (IE: a Napa Valley Cabernet) does that mean that you’re going to love it too?  Not really.  What if you’re into drinking cooler climated Cabernets from Italy and France and he’s into Napa Cabernet- your style of wine drinking is not necessarily the same.  What turns someone else on when it comes to smells and flavors, could be the complete opposite of what you like.  Maybe he likes all that big, jammy rich fruit and you’d prefer the smell of a pile of dirt or cow patty?  Not the same, right?

2.  If you went to the wine’s website and found a collection of tasting notes from the Winemaker, yes- those are some very individual smells and tastes that, most likely, will come from the wine – but sometimes finding those ‘trained tasting notes and smells’ may take you just drinking MORE wine to get into some of those intricate flavors to understand.  However, if the Winemaker is talking about something you’ve never smelled or tasted (IE: Corinthian Leather?#!) how the heck would you ever know what he/she is talking about unless you’ve had the opportunity to smell or taste the same things?

3.  If the wine was THAT subdued and without smell or flavor and everyone else who had had the wine before got so much more from it then… YES, I would pick up a bottle and try another from the same vintage. 

Here’s a tip:  the wine you picked up could be ‘corked’.  Corked is a term that refers to a bottle that has been contaminated with TCA, a bacteria that infects a wine, making it sometimes smell like wet cardboard.  However, TCA can affect a wine in other ways too – instead of that overt cardboard smell, and if not trained to pick up on that smell – the wine can come off tasting or smelling dull.  Flat on the palate and even lifeless in the nose.  So…your bottle could run that risk of actually, being ‘corked’.  Such a bummer that most people end of thinking that they don’t LIKE the wine when it is this lifeless and never try it again.  When in fact, the wine could have been corked. 

Most retailers will take your bottle back for store credit or exchange it for another bottle of the same, if you think that your bottle qualifies itself in this category.  My advice: ask your retailer what they think?  They should know the wine well.

4.  Lastly, drink what you like!  If your buddies tell you that ‘this’ or ‘that’ is the greatest wine ever, then that is their preference- not yours.  Could it end up being the bomb- definitely!- but does it have to be your bomb-diggity, nope.  Not even the great and majical Mr. Robert Parker could convince ME that I’m supposed to like a wine- no matter how many points he gave it.  Trust your own palate, Mr. Disappointed Drinker.  I know your palate pretty well by now, and I know that you are a great judge of character…you’ve turned me on to some very good wines!  We can all like different wines, but maybe some are better suited for others, maybe this is one of those wines.

Good luck and Keep Drinking!

(P.S. Readers: If you send me your questions, I’ll post them and answer them via THE CRUSHPAD.)

Replies for “A Good Wine Question from a Reader…”

  • Scrooge McDuck

    I am a cheap son of a gun. What is your vote for the best bottle of Red under $10 bucks to be found in the Twin Cities.

    I like bold reds but occasionally indulge in a pinot or other wines that don’t necessarily smack ya on the forehead.

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