What is the definition of a diva? What comes to mind for me is a famous singer or entertainer, but in a single word one could sum it up to be a Prima Donna. I have never thought of my self as such but suddenly had a change of heart when I found myself in Nashville Tennessee, in the middle of nowhere right by the airport, without a car. Let me explain. I made my way downstairs and asked the lady at the desk of the Hotel where I was staying if there was a place I could get a nice glass of wine. She looked at me and smiled in a way that made me think that I must have had a look of desperation on my face. She pointed to a hotel across the street and said, “They have a bar over there.”
I stepped outside and made my way across the street in eager hopes that there might be a decent glass of wine in the cards. I had my serious doubts as I walked in and spotted a very small bar that offered just a few selections of wine with what appeared to be generic labels. The young gentleman behind the counter offered his help. I just sighed and said, “I would like red wine please, I am from the Napa valley in California.” YES I said that!Seriously who do I think that I am, a celebrity that thinks if they throw out their name that a magical glass of glorious perfection might present itself from somewhere in the shadows? He looked at me and laughed saying, “Just taste this I promise it won’t disappoint you.”
I was willing to give it my best shot and to my amazement this Cabernet was absolutely wonderful. This little experience taught me that INDEED I am a WINE DIVA. Since that day I have been over several times and the young people that run this place have become my friends. The young man that helped me the first night just finished school in Hotel management and knew quite a bit about wine. Raj was his name and I also had the pleasure of meeting Nakia, Ian, Sasha, and Reggie . They were all warm, friendly, and made me feel well taken care of. The owners of this Hotel should be very proud of their staff. In turn, anytime you see employees that are pleasant and helpful it is a direct result of they way they are taken care of by management and owners. If you ever get a chance to visit Nashville and need a place to stay go visit HYATT NASHVILLE AIRPORT
The wine which is worth writing about was created by Michael Mondavi (Napa Valley) HAHA! Yes I had to laugh!!! CANVAS – Wines Developed Exclusively for Hyatt Hotels:Cabernet Sauvignon – This Wine is smooth from start to finish with a slight sweetness, mellow tannins, and nuances of tobacco and cedar. Canvas also makes Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Pinot Grigio.
I was blessed to make new friends and find a pleasant glass of wine in an unlikely place. Now if I could only fix the challenge I have with hotel coffee…..YUCK!!!!!!
Wine didn’t grown wings and fly away…and no it’s not a new airline that offers wine tasting aboard.
Wine flights, or what are commonly referred to as a TASTING FLIGHT, are 3 or more generous tastes of wine in succession for the purpose of trying a variety in a certain year, region, or varietal. Flights are gaining popularity in many bars and restaurants.
Wine flights are a little different than a wine tasting in the sense that you get to choose the wines you want, and the amount of wine in your glass is a bit more generous than a usual tasting (approx. 3 ounces) and at a pretty good price too. In addition, it gives you the ability to enjoy many different wines without drinking too many glasses and plastering yourself to the wall.
Recently at the Suisun Valley Wine Coopmy husband and I were in a tasting room and were communicating our love for Zinfandel. Kat, the wine steward was gracious enough to pull out 4 bottles of Zinfandel from the same vintner which was Sunset Cellars and we got the privilege of tasting a flight from four different harvest years. It was amazing the difference in taste and subtle nuances of each wine.
Tasting Flights are a great way to compare different interpretations of the same varietal or different wine region.
It would be interesting to create a pairing flight to go with your 4 course meal starting with an aperitif before or during the appetizer, and then move to something to go with your soup and salad course, and so on finishing up with a sweet dessert wine at the end of the meal.
There are endless possibilities whether you have your flight already set up for you, or you create your very own. Go and have fun with it!
Recently on a trip to Napa Valley my husband surprised me and took me to the Castillo Di Amorosa. As we drove up the road I could not believe my eyes. There right in front of me was a real Castle. Little did I know that my husband had planned the whole thing days in advance.
He had contacted the castle ahead of time and arranged a private table atop one of the towers with a dozen roses, wine, cheese and candles and it’s where he proposed to me that we get remarried. It was an amazing day full of romance and the Castle just added to the magic! (Later I will write in detail of my experience of the winery itself.)
The wine that my Husband chose for this wonderful occasion was La Fantasia “FANTASY” A very fruity Rosé with creamy berry flavors and a slight effervescence. Not at all like a Champagne. I wouldn’t even venture to say it is a sparkling wine. Men, you will score big points with this one for a romantic Valentines Day dinner with a few raspberries dropped inside the glass. It goes well with yummy creamy Brie and Chocolate covered berries.
What does it mean to let a wine breathe? In the biological sense, wine is not alive but the nurturing hands of a wine maker might beg to differ. Wine absorbs oxygen and then gives off carbon dioxide similar to humans. Though it can’t reproduce, it can die very quickly if exposed to light, heat, movement, and even noise. But what we are talking about here is something a bit different. If you have ever heard of the term aerate, it simply means to let air get to your wine before you drink it. WHY?
Letting air get to your wine for a period of time before drinking it can actually change the flavor of the wine for the better. Experts say that some young red varieties should breathe for 1 to 3 hours. Now who in the heck is going to let their wine breathe that long when they are biting at the bit to pop open the bottle and drink it? Personally, before I knew enough about wine, it was years before I understood what it meant to let wine breathe. What you don’t know can’t hurt you right? Not really. There is a significant difference in the wine flavor from the time it leaves the bottle, hits the glass, and then hits your mouth.
If you have doubts please do your own taste test. Even a few moments can make a big difference, but to completely let your wine breathe helps the wine soften and the authentic flavor profiles to really come alive. Some wines are perfect the moment you open them but wines that are high in tannins (usually young reds) are good candidates as the harshness softens quite considerably. Some white wines can also benefit from aeration.
What are ways in which you can aerate a wine? Simply pour it in the wine glass and wait or decant it. A decanter used to be thought of as just a beautiful glass bottle in which to display or serve the wine, but there is a method to it’s madness. The wide mouth of the decanter allows enough air to the wine to help it breathe better but again for a lengthy time. It is a great way to let any sediment in the wine settle to the bottom so when you pour it you avoid it in your glass.
I personally recommend the VINTURI aerator. It properly aerates your wine so it is perfect to drink the moment that it hits the glass. No need to let it breathe. Now THAT is what I am talking about!!! These devises also remove any sediment left in the wine so you can drink every drop without filtering it.
So is aeration over-rated? I THINK NOT! I have tried it every which way and I AM SOLD that aeration definitely works! See for yourself and have some fun with it!!
Consider a glass of wine as a piece of ART. A wonderful creation that is dictated by the land, the weather and location of the vine, the handling, aging, and even bottling of the product you are drinking. It has so much more meaning when you consider that one harvest year will be completely different from the next depending on so many factors. Wine tasting itself becomes more interesting and fun when you concentrate on the flavors in your mouth whether one stands out or a few. What you taste, may be different from what another person might taste and who is to say who is right and who is wrong? Though I hope you would never taste such a taste in your glass, if I say my wine has the taste of stinky socks who is to say that it’s not true?
Case in point, on a recent weekend away to Monterey, my husband and I were at a 5 star hotel and asked for a nice glass of Pinot Noir. We received our glasses, we both took a sniff and agreed the nose on it (the smell) was pleasing. Next was the first sip. My first reaction was that I liked it, it was interesting enough. I always take my second taste and really dig into what flavors are popping. On this occasion, the taste in my glass was deceiving of the smell. The berries that I smelled were not present, and the entire wine fell flat on flavor. There was also a strong metal taste at the finish of the wine. My husband said it tasted like what a public bathroom smells like.
It reminded him of those discs they put into the urinal to freshen them. haha~ He laughed and called the wine “POTTY PINOT” Go figure!! He also said, “Make a note of this one so we don’t make the mistake of buying it again.”
When tasting wine, use all your senses to enjoy every nuance.
First look at the glass preferably next to a light colored wall so you get a true sense of the color, the richness and depth. Can you see through it or is it slightly cloudy?
Put your nose into the glass and smell the wine. Any strong aromas around you will alter the taste of your wine. A fire, strong food aromas, or even someones fragrance can interfere. What aromas are present in your wine? You might smell an earthy smell, fruit, grass, coffee, vanilla, chocolate etc.
Feel it in your mouth as you TASTE it. When it touches the front of your tongue. The middle part of your tongue (Mid pallet) and how does it taste as you swallow it? Is it hot? Does it go down smoothly? Do you taste sweet, sour, salty, bitterness at all?
Focus on the tastes and sensations as they change from the beginning to the end of each taste. Realize that the nose and the tongue work together in this part. You are actually tasting the smells and smelling the tastes simultaneously.
This is not rocket science and there is no need to be intimidated. When you approach wine tasting with an open mind, and an adventurous spirit, it can be an enjoyable and delightful experience.