The other day I was dusting and I picked up a bottle of wine from our little wine rack and suddenly my husband said to me, “NO! Don’t dust that!” “Why?” I asked? “Because the bottles look better dusty, it makes them look nostalgic.” he said while laughing. Well now that kind of set me back a bit, but hey, if I get to skip dusting a section of my house, I am all for it.
Late in the evening, I was on Facebook and saw an entry from a friend talking about wine and it got me to thinking about a bottle of wine that had been sitting on the rack for about two years maybe longer. I went and dusted it off and it turned out to be a 1999 RUMANIEN CASTELU CABERNET SAUVIGNON which is to simply say, it was a bottle of Romanian Cab. Something that my husband was saving for a “Special Occasion” It was a beautiful bottle with a Romanian Crest on it. It somehow called to me.
We popped it open and I have to say we were quite surprised as to what was inside. The nose was not that of a wine per-se but smelled like a Brandy. We tasted it and were shocked to find that it didn’t taste at all like a Cab but like a yummy treat that closely resembled a MADEIRA. It was super sweet with flavors of oak and raisins. Some Madeira wines are fortified with Brandy and that is what this tasted like. It was smooth and warm to it’s finish but light enough to actually drink a whole glass of. It reminded me of our all time favorite Madeira wine from V. Suitui Napa Valley.
I Googled the wine and could not locate it at all. We could have opened the bottle and it could have been ruined, but it was perfect. So I am thankful that we got to enjoy it as I have an idea that it was a very rare wine. I may dig further to find out more about it but so far all the research that I have done has come up empty. Perhaps I could find a wine collector who may know something of it. I have saved the empty bottle. I wanted to share the experience with our friends here. You never know what treasures you may encounter on your own Wine Journey!!!
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.
Deep in the heart of the Napa Wine Country, off the beaten path there lies a treasure, a little piece of Heaven called Rombauer Winery.
Set on a hillside overlooking the Mayacamas Mountain Range, this winery is intimate, quaint, and secluded. If you love Horticulture, you will find this location to be quite fascinating. The garden pathways that wind up and down with stairways are covered with many varieties of plants and flowers.
I recall smelling each rosebush as I made my way down the delightful path witnessing beautiful bumble bees dancing happily from flower to flower. There are interesting pieces of artwork along the way as well.
The sweet homey atmosphere is quite different from the larger wineries that house many tasters at a time and large picnic areas overflowing with people. While there is no deli there, you are welcome to bring your own picnic which I personally recommend.
Now lets get to the wine review. I am absolutely IN LOVE with Rombauer’s 2008 Zinfandel. So much so that no other has managed to measure up to it. From the moment your nose hits the glass you know you have found something quite different!
Amazing to the nose and consistent through to a lingering finish. Layered with rich dark berry flavors, smooth oak, slight pepper, and soft tannins. This wine is stellar on so many levels!!
Please do yourself a favor and visit Rombauer Winery. You will not be disappointed by the beauty, the staff, and the evidence that there are still those who take pride in their craft!! If you’ve experienced this wine or winery, take a moment using our rating system below to give us your rating.
Imagine the perfect setting, a cool Spring afternoon, the sun peaking through the trees and lightly shining warmth on your face. You are on a blanket picnicking with the one you love. All around you are stunning rolling hills covered with rows of vines. You lift your glass to your nose and close your eyes breathing in the beautiful bouquet, melting into the moment. You know just by the smell, the taste is going to be heaven and as you sip it and feel it’s warmth run down your throat you realize you have found it. The one Zinfandel you have been looking for all of your life. As far as you are concerned others you’ve tasted before pale in comparison and yet to someone else this may be an entirely different experience.
Wine is as individual as the taste for fashion, music, and art. Wine can be as debatable to critics as politics, but one thing is for sure. Wine brings food and people together. Wine is a beautiful, artful experience and I now understand why enthusiasts choose to buy cases of their favorites and nurture it’s existence in their own home cellars.
We are blessed to live just a hop skip and a jump from The Napa Valley. In creating this web log, we plan to visit wineries all over California and educate ourselves about the many wonderful regions and varietals out there. We are committed to sharing all of this information to those who subscribe and visit our site. We are also looking forward to meeting many wonderful people as we go about our Wine Journey. We thank you and welcome your comments and participation in our endeavors.