Tag Archives: Emotion

Champagne, The Ethereal World Wine

Veuve ClicquotHow can we conduct a brief survey of French wines without highlighting champagne?  Champagne is an experience bathed in romance.  It breathes into our minds an atmosphere of excitement before it even meets the senses.  Wines can do that, but none do it so convincingly as Champagne.

No where else in the world do the elements of soil, climate and latitude combine to allow a true replica of this wine.  As we find in this Veuve Clicquot Brut, Champagne is vigorous and brisk while delicate and, at times, it can also be spicy.  Champagne is a wine on the move, effervescing and tickling the tongue while it dances around the palette, stimulating our gustatory cells and creating immediate emotional delight.  (Wine is emotion in a glass!  Remember?)

A racy attack, with verve, seeks to hide the gossamer aromas and flavors.  Apple and lemon dominate in this one.  A chalky texture that is not offensive but feels like it belongs to the wine confirms our expectations of Champagne’s expression of its terroir.  Firm acids create a vibrant freshness.  A biscuity note hangs around the edges of the flavors.

I’m enjoying this glass with oysters.  Their brininess marries well with the chalkiness of the Champagne and the lemon livens and frees the richness of the oysters.

The glass is warming up now and acids have tamed somewhat, as they do with rising temperature.  The evening is warm with a whispering breeze, but soon the air will chill at this high altitude and reflect the vibrancy of the champagne.  The mental world Champagne creates and in which we enjoy it so much is ethereal.  The real world fades and the virtual world of thoughts and feelings emerges as I sip.

Some Champagnes are full and bold, such as Bollinger, but this one expounds the meaning of delicacy, freshness and nerve.

Rating:  92

Emotional rating: Stimulating and, at the same time, reflective.

Widely available.  Veuve Clicquot

A Wine Series to Indulge Your Mind and Emotions

Overlooking the vineyard

Overlooking the vineyard

Old World-New World Experiences with Wine — France and the Rest of the World

(A Series to Indulge Your Mind and Emotions)

France is indisputably the Fatherland of modern wine.  Wouldn’t it be fun and educational to experience the wines of France and the wines of the New World (New world is all the wine regions outside of Europe) side-by-side with a guide?  It will give a greater meaning to the words “Old World” and  “New world.”  It will expose you to wine and at the same time, it will stimulate your senses and develop your wine appreciation and knowledge.

France has its Old World and New World, too — the “new world,” in this case, being the south of France around the Mediterranean.  But we will treat all of French wines as Old World in these articles.  Already, French wines have been compared to wines of the New World and you may have seen the film Bottle Shock, which portrays the 1976 wine world earth shaking event.  Watch it, or watch it again!

So what has happened since?  You will answer that.  This is not a class but an experience we will both enjoy, so taste along with me and experience the fruit of the vine in a new and informative way.

We will visit the regions of France and choose some New World wine regions from which to compare wines.  I will tell you where to go to get the suggested wines and also urge you to add a wine selection of your own, if you wish.

In the near future, you will find on this website a wine-tasting course like no other.  It will focus on how to taste and many surprises will greet you.  Add the course to your experience and you will immerse yourself in yet more wine experiences.  “Wine is emotion in a glass” and the course will certainly tantalize your emotions and, at times, send them into euphoria.

Grab an Old World or New World wine and enjoy it.  We’ll start our adventure next week with, “Wine arrives in France.”

A Wine to Define Your Emotions

Stoller Pinot Noir 2011, Dundee Hills

Stoller Pinot Noir 2011, Dundee Hills

Stoller Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, 2011

Here is a good example of a wine that will help you define your emotions when you taste.  Remember, wine is emotion in a glass.  We identify our emotions quickly when we taste a wine (or anything, for that matter) with the shallow evaluation of, “Oh I like this one,” or “I’m not impressed,” or at the negative extreme we blurt out, “I hate this!” as we ingloriously spit it out.

Do we often enjoy the experiences of wine that lay in-between these polarized reactions?  All our experiences are emotions and we need to get in touch with our emotions better in order to enjoy food and wine more.  We taste with our emotions, in the final analysis, and they are where we make our judgments of the wine or pause to dig a little deeper into their vast repertoire of experiences to find what it is we are enjoying or detesting.  To quickly enjoy or detest is to simply scratch the surface of our emotional reactions and leave out of the moment the many other reactions that our emotions want to give us.

So, here is how we do it most of the time.  First, we pour a glass, sniff, and say it seems to be good.  Then we taste and confirm: yes, it is pleasant.  And then we swallow and forget it.  Let’s do more.  As I said, this is a good wine to help you take a deeper journey into wine appreciation — your appreciation and enjoyment.

It is a red wine that you might agree is light and bright with no offsetting flavors or faults.  Start with a simple judgment.  In your opinion, is it red fruit that you are reminded of, like strawberry, raspberry or red cherries?  Or is it dark fruit, like blackberry, blueberry, black currant, or boysenberry?  I think it is red fruit.  Red, not black, and they are bright red berries.  Now, you  are on a journey with your emotions.  What are your experiences of red berries and wine that reminds you of red berries?  There’s more here as you think about it.  Doesn’t this light, bright wine remind you of sunshine, dancing in the fields and creating moments of pleasure and light heartedness you have enjoyed?  The flavors of this wine are assembling experiences in your mind, aren’t they?  They may make you feel light-hearted, making your thoughts more dance-like and receptive.   Wine begins an emotional journey that we should not miss, just like a steak can change the landscape of your mind if you will let it.

What of this wine?  It is Pinot Noir alright, light and bright with red berry flavors a plenty, a little spice, and reminders of cedar and vanilla.  Each facet can take you on another journey.  You may find more and that’s the wonder of wine-tasting: we all taste differently.  Taste again and let your mind wander among its many reminders of flavors and impressions and you will enjoy the wine all the more.

Rating:  89+

Emotional rating?  Well, you can describe your journey.

Available widely.

Pegasus Bay 2011, Pinot Noir — Memories and Whole Bunch Fermentation

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2011

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2011

Pegasus Bay 2011, Pinot Noir — Memories and Whole Bunch Fermentation  

Wine is all about memories of place and experiences that have brightened our lives.  We drove in, surveying the impressive architecture of the winery and restaurant situated north of Christchurch in the Waipara Valley of New Zealand.  Relaxing at a table on the outdoor terrace, I can remember the feel of the place more than the food and I recall the utmost delight in a wine worthy of a moment that celebrated the completion of one of my books.  Emotions kept morphing into more complex feelings; calm led to peace of mind, while the colors in the gardens stimulated moments of excitement and delight that faded again into the calm of contentment.  Just as expected the emotions are the essence of the easily and oft recalled memory.  Trees and grasses edging a large lawn waved gently in a cooling breeze.  When the wine had been consumed we walked the Impressive gardens and longed to linger or spend the day in such refreshing surrounds. “Wine is emotion in a glass” and the emotions of the place mingled with the tasty Pinot Noir.

The 2011 Pinot Noir that sits on my desk being evaluated comes from a vineyard on a stoney north face (warm in the southern hemisphere) and ideal for stressing the vines when necessary.  This is a fertile valley overall, but the soils can vary from limestone to rocky gravel beds.

Whole bunch fermentation can be tricky, but it was used for a lot of the grapes in this wine.  The whole bunch — grapes and stems — are fermented together.  The stems add bulk to the tank (usually an open fermenter), allowing the juice to drain more easily through the mix and oxygenate the wine well.  The tricky part is that the stems can add too much harsh tannin to the wine and unless the grapes are really ripe, it becomes a “hard” wine.  This was a warm summer that produced very ripe, rich grapes, so the method was well chosen.  The alcohol reveals the ripeness at 13.8%.  The result is a wine that is full, round, and rich with well married flavors.  Dark cherry and blackberry dominate with cedar, vanilla, and smoke adding big depth to the wine.  Strawberry hides in the background while the wine finishes smooth and without any faults on a very long finish.

Rating: 89+

Emotional rating:  The memories affect my biased rating, but I enjoyed the depth of this Pinot and would suggest a rating of great pleasure.  It needs no food but could enhance a pork dish and both food and wine could rise higher.

Available?  Try winesearcher.com and wine.com.

Why Do Our Tastes Change?

Happy boy celebrates his first birthdayMatt Kramer, whose articles I find stimulating and often very helpful, writes in his column in Wine Spectator, May 2015 issue, about how a palate transforms over time.  As he correctly states, our palates change and sometimes become strikingly different from what they were at the beginning.  The beginning for me was Blue Nunn, Black Tower, and then on to Hearty Burgundy and some of Paul Masson’s jug wines.  Yes, my palate has dramatically changed since then to become more complex, selective, and sophisticated — no doubt just like yours.Thinking senior man with birthday cake

Matt also suggests that the underlying values that we hold important in our tastes also change.  I agree, and that is part of the ongoing process of growth and development driven by curiosity, passion, and experimentation.  So, keep tasting those wines!

New experiences are essential to a developing palate but are not what causes our tastes to change.  A fascinating mental journey is responsible.  The taste buds transmit signals that become electrical in nature as they enter the brain and travel via a complicated electro-chemical pathway to our limbic system where they are evaluated.  There, the memory banks are searched for the identification of those taste signals.  A match is found and we say, “Oh yes, that is ripe, juicy blackberry.”  If we have not tasted this flavor before, new memories are formed.  When we taste that flavor again, we are able to recall it and experience it again.  Taste is in our memory!

We need to improve our memory and increase our memory banks to advance our tasting ability.  Two factors emerge to make a “memorable memory:”  first, the amount of emotional pleasure or displeasure the wine’s flavors evoke and second, the frequency in which we encounter them.  So, keep enjoying your wine.  Don’t just kick it back.  Wine is emotion in a glass!  Enjoy the emotions you experience for a more effective palate.

Our memory is logging more and more tastes in the form of memories every day — some loaded with more emotive value than others — and we find our palate recalling more readily those with more emotional value.  This is wonderful and it’s how we are made.  We don’t lose our emotionally important experiences.  Our palate will keep exciting us and keep building as long as we journey with awareness, passion, and new experiences.

All of us are developing creatures or if not developing, we are on the slide, losing a little more each day.  The path up is where life is to be lived with pleasure.

Check your journey.

Go back and try again a wine you loved long ago and parallel taste it with a wine you love now?  Think through your present evaluations and ask what has changed and what might still change in the future?  Analyze your palate.