Celebrating ....

* CELEBRATING OUR 40th YEAR! * www,junto.blogspot.com * Richard Carreño, Editor * PhiladelphiaJunto@ymail.com * 1.215.385.3512

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Fly on the Wall







USA Chardonnay All the Way By Don Merlot

Once the Classical (Old World) was moved off its throne, the New World defined wine through grape varietals. Mixtures as in Bordeaux notables became blended wines. California calls them meritage.


Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon ore planted from California to Australia.


Pinot Noir in Oregon can match their names sake in Burgundy. Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand has become as notable as its Loire family. The most planted white wine grape is Chardonnay, and in the USA the most popular red grape is Zinfandel.


Is red Zinfandel that popular? No, it is not, but blush wines are more popular than any red. Blush wines are rose.


So how do we get rosé? Well we follow the first same steps of red wine making. We need to squeeze some of that tannin from the grape skin.


White wine, rosé wine, and red wine: All are defined by their variety of grape (varietals) and lack of tannin or light to heavy tannin.

  • The one quest one has in enjoying wine is finding out as an individual what you like.

  • Your threshold will be different than someone else's so do not despair.

  • Getting to know what you like with your favorite foods will be fun as well as finding out what you spouse prefers. No to palates are alike nor are our thresholds the same.

  • So let's say we are comfortable in the American wine scene and know what we like in the different grape varieties and flavors: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon

  • So the rule is by trying these wines you find what you like and which wines you do you not like and what food combination goes with the wines you like.

  • Making some mental notes or even carrying an index card in your pocket and pen with you and noting your observations are key as you go along the way. (I have books, three ring binders ).

What happens on you first trip out of the USA?
So let's find ourselves traveling , and you are in Canada and you are given the wine list to select a wine for the meal. Sometimes when traveling with friends and or business associates, you can be put on the spot.

  • If there is a sommelier or the wine staff has been educated by the chef, there will be suggestion.

  • If you take someone else's suggestion you will be buying what they want to sell. They will ask what you like, but will sell what they want and maybe two bottles.

  • Go back to what you have liked in you mind and look at the Canadian wine list.

  • Canadian wines follow the new world protocols and have developed quite well over the last few years.

  • So let's say the list only contains Canadian wines.

Whites, reds, rosé and sparkling wines and sweet wines are grown in the best wine growing regions of:


British Columbia – Okanagan valley -– Top performers are: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • Niagara Peninsula in Ontario -- Ice wine from Riesling and Chardonnay

      • A grape that is harvested after the first freeze and is on the vine. It is still luscious with its fruit taste. Unlike the grape of the noble rot (Sauternes) which do have raisin, thick and syrup tastes.

      • A perfect marriage of Ice wine is the Crème Brule dessert.

Do not be intimidated by going into an environment that does not have the wine labels you know.


New World savants and oenophiles have really pushed the spectrum of wine and that is good.

Classical approach as in white meat and white wine or red meat with red wine are being challenged with new fusion menus. Alsatian Gewürztraminers has been matched to the Indian Raj curries. Argentina matches its Malbecs to its Churrascos. Chile matches beef Churrascos; its Carmenère Reservas. Peruvian Ceviche to a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Chilean Sea Bass, to a barrel aged reserve Chardonnay. Guacamole, to California Chardonnay.

My own curiosity about wine tasting was developed back in the '60's by my mentor; and after some years, I took wine courses and read books, because when I read wine reviews I felt was missing something. I took the Wine Spectator School courses and that really defined my thoughts on what wines are to me and which my favourite wines are. I suggest if your curious you take a look at a wine tasting course. You have to educate those taste buds.

Continue being curious about your taste in wine. Do not be persuaded by what other people like, or what they are trying to sell you. If you buy a good bottle of wine and know it has rave reviews, but when you taste and savor it lacks compatibility with your food, remember that wine is like a condiment to your food and it should blend perfectly as it passes through your mouth and your aroma detector - Olfactory epithelium. It does not mean that a great wine will make a great meal. Another rule to include in the rule list noted by my first mentor

If you take a trip for two weeks you can come back and write a book. If you take a trip for two months you can come back and write ten pages of observations. If you take an extended visit for two years, you will come back confused.

Wine is that way, the more and more you taste red and white wines and match them with foods the more one becomes confused – good and bad. But eventually it all comes together.

My first mentor loved Art Buchwald. So my last parting shot is this: 'When it came to writing about wine, I did what almost everybody does – -faked it.'

(Don Merlot and Ron Alonzo are one in the same).

Philabooks|Booksellers