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Jul 20

Glassware Matters (Part 1): Riedel Seminar

On our last day at sea on the Cruise Ship, we took a Riedel (rhymes with "needle") glassware seminar. It was actually a really interesting seminar, just in the way they forced you to compare the glasses.

The ship team of sommeliers all participated in the presentation, and
one of the first things they said was the clearest: Glasses are the
loudspeaker of the wine, instruments to increase your enjoyment."

We started out with 5 different glasses spread out in front of us. Four of those were from the Riedel Vinum set (Chardonnay, Burgundy/Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Bordeaux). The fifth glass was labeled as the Joker glass (ie, generic) and is the wine glass that was standard throughout the cruise ship and was not Riedel. It's worth noting that every time I've judged a wine competition, we've used similar generic glasses.

We received the wine one pour at a time, starting with the Sauvignon Blanc and then we started pouring and tasting wine as follows:

1. Sauvignon Blanc in the Sauvignon Blanc glass
2. Sauvignon Blanc in the Joker glass
3. Chardonnay in the Chardonnay glass
4. Chardonnay in the Sauvignon Blanc glass
5. Sauvignon Blanc in the Chardonnay glass
6. Chardonnay in the Joker glass
7. Pinot Noir in the PN glass
8. Pinot Noir in the Chardonnay glass
9. Bordeaux (in this case, Shiraz) in the Bordeaux glass
10. Bordeaux in the Pinot Noir glass
11. Pinot Noir in the Bordeaux glass
12. Bordeaux in the Joker glass

Needless to say, with all the pouring and switching going on, you really had to pay attention.

Riedel uses the idea of a Tongue Map to prove that glassware matters, and that directing wine to a particular part of your tongue makes a difference in what you taste. Now, the Tongue Map has been debunked, although it does have its roots in accuracy. From what I've read, while your tongue isn't strictly laid out in the maps areas, certain taste buds are slightly stronger in these areas as compared to other locations. So while you might pick up acid all over your tongue, it's strongest on the sides. As a general guide, our sommeliers told us that we pick up more acidity on the sides of our tongue, harshness/bitterness towards the back, and sweetness in the front, with weight of a beverage landing in the middle. 

So did it make a difference? Of course. Keeping in mind that holding a feather-weight, lovely glass in your hand can also influence your perceptions. However, the Estancia Chardonnay tasted soft, with less oak, and full of vanilla when I tasted it in the Vinum Chardonnay glass. When it was moved to the Sauvignon Blanc glass, it  had more compressed flavors and higher acidity. I didn't care for it. In the Joker glass, there were no aromas and what had been a decent wine before was suddenly harsh and poorly balanced. It made me consider that perhaps I would like Chardonnay a little more if I drank it out of proper glassware on a regular basis.

Perhaps the one that stood out the most for me was the Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir. I'm not a huge Kendall-Jackson fan, and I admit I scrunched my nose up when they poured the Pinot Noir into my Burgundy glass. The Pinot had soft aromas of earth and vanilla. Supposedly, the glass sent the wine directly to the center of my tongue, so I tasted a Pinot Noir reminiscent of what I smelled: softness, earth, vanilla, with just a hint of oak. Later, the KJ Pinot Noir ended up in the Joker glass and I hated it. I commented to Kevin that this was what I'd expected the Pinot Noir to taste like from the beginning. Again, maybe I should break out my Riedel glassware more often.

Another interesting note was on the Bordeaux glass, which we used for an Aussie Shingleback 2005 Shiraz. The Bordeaux glass is what our sommeliers said can serve as the Riedel All-Purpose glass. But they also called it the Tannin Tamer and I experimented with that later at the wine bar. Dump any tannic wine into this glass and it does lessen them to a certain degree – at least in compared to the Joker glass.

Although I'd been sold on the concept of glassware making a difference before the Riedel seminar, this excellent demonstration rather drove the point home. I do believe there are elements of visual expectation and psychology involved in it, and I'd drink wine in a paper cup if you gave it to me that way, but glassware does matter.

Tomorrow I'll talk a little more about general glassware tips. After all, we can't all afford Riedel. (Luckily, Kevin and I each got a set included with the seminar.)

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Posted by Michelle at 10:08 am in Knowledge, Tastings, Wine Misc, Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments (7)
Jul 16

Alaska Photos, Videos

I'm working on getting together some Alaska-oriented posts. In particular we did several tastings on the cruise ship – martinis, bourbon, single-malts, and wine – as well as a Riedel glass seminar. I hope to have those posts up all next week.

In the meantime, you can head on over to Flickr to check out our photos. They're divided into sections, including a Food and Wine section. I've included that one on this post as a slide show, but the other photos have great things like moose, mountains, and glaciers. You can also check out our short video clips, arranged in one location for convenience.

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Posted by Michelle at 7:16 am in Photos, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)
Jul 15

Your Thursday Evening: The Palace & the Bacchanalian Society

There is sort of a perfect coalescence of events happening tomorrow night. So here's my recommendation on how to spend your evening.

Once you've gotten off work, head straight to The Cincinnatian. Once there, you've got two options:

  • You can enjoy their new Happy Hour at the classy Cricket Lounge. Every night from 4-7 pm you can choose from 1/2 price items on the rather impressive bar menu. Drink specials include $2.50 Draft Beers (including Bass and Christian Moerlein), 1/2 Price House Wines, $5 Specialty Cocktails, and daily food and drink specials.
  • Not up for Happy Hour? It's the third Thursday, so that means you can enjoy the Two for $60 option in the restaurant. (Make reservations first though.) You've heard me talk about these enough – you can get a multi-course meal for two plus a bottle of wine for $60 at the Palace. If you haven't gone yet, you should. It's a real bargain and the food is elegant and approachable.

So now that you've eaten, you're ready to drink a little. That's good, because the Bacchanalian Society is hosting their Summer Gathering at the lovely Union Terminal. Haven't been to a Bacchanalian Society event? Well, don't expect high-end wine, but do expect a lot of fun and the chance to meet a lot of new people. This time around, your team (up to 3 people) needs to bring 3 bottles of a French Red. Think Bordeaux, Burgundy, or just walk into Party Source's French aisle and grab the closest Red. 

Now, don't get your hopes up that there will be a lot of expensive wine there, even though it's French. A lot of folks will buy the cheapest wine possible and then drink to get drunk. The kind hosts and hostesses (of which I'm usually one) bill this as a wine tasting, though, so please take that into consideration. (Kevin and I are not hosting this time around, as we've been out of town so often that we've missed all the emails and such. Next time!)

There are, of course, rules to the game, which you can read after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 13

Waking Up on East Coast Time

Well, we arrived back in Cincinnati yesterday, after a long day on various airplanes. In fact, we had to rise at 2 am to catch our 5:30 am flight out of Vancouver.

Today I'm trying to re-acclimate to our own time zone (something which doesn't ever come easy to me), catch up on an obscene amount of email, and try and sort through my 3.5 GB of photos and videos.

I hope to be back to regular blogging tomorrow.

In the meantime, if I could have a virtual round of applause for all of the amazing guest bloggers who filled in for me while I was gone. You guys rocked! And such a diverse selection of topics – thank you again!

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Posted by Michelle at 12:53 pm in Life | Permalink | Comments ()
Jul 10

Guest Post: When You Wish Upon a Grape: Disney-Related Wines

While Kevin & I are in Alaska, we've asked some friends and
colleagues to post on their wine loves, wine experiences and more. For
this post we welcome Tom Streeter and Carla Gesell-Streeter
, who are dear friends and like me, they are fellow Disney addicts. Tom & Carla run the popular blog Hoperatives.com, a
Cincinnati based beer blog aimed at Believers in Better Beer (In Cincinnati
and Beyond), but they love wine too. Thanks Tom & Carla – and happy anniversary!


love Disney and we love wine (almost as much as beer).  For the longest time, we’ve been
wanting to have friends over for a themed wine tasting.  There are three great Disney-related
wines out there. All are from California, appropriately enough, though each is
produced in a different part of the state.  These wines are frequently featured at restaurants at Walt
Disney World, Disneyland and on the Disney Cruise ships and most are also
available in the Cincinnati area.

Silverado Vineyards:
Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, California

Image Credit: Joe Shiabotnick

by Diane Disney Miller (Walt’s daughter) and her husband Ron Miller (former
president and CEO of Walt Disney Productions), Silverado was established in
1981. The Millers purchased
existing vineyards and originally intended only to grow grapes, but decided to
build their own winery a few years after purchasing the land. The winery was
designed by architect Dick Keith and is reminiscent of the old California mission-style
structures found in the area. The
name comes from a nearby abandoned silver mine.

Current winemaker Jonathan Emmerich produces Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon,
and some special limited reserve wines. 
Prices begin at about $20.00 a bottle.

Fess Parker Winery: Los
Olivos, California

Image Credit: Spencer Cross

Fess Parker was an actor who is famous for playing the original Disney Davy Crockett. (He also starred in Old Yeller.) Fess Parker is no longer westerns and coonskin caps, however. His name is increasingly associated more with his wines. Much like the Millers of Silverado, Fess Parker and his family originally
intended only to have a small vineyard and source grapes to local producers. They quickly added not only a winery,
but also an inn. Son Eli Parker
started as an assistant winemaker, moved into the position of winemaker in 1995,
and now serves as President. Daughter Ashley Parker Snider started running the tastings and now handles the public relations, marketing and
sales.  Blair Fox is the current
head winemaker.

Fess Parker produces produces Reisling, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir,
Syrah as well as several red table wines. Prices start at about $12.00 a

MacMurray Ranch: Russian
River Valley of Sonoma County, California

Photo from winery web site

playing everyone’s favorite dad on My Three Sons, actor Fred MacMurray starred in several
Disney live action films including The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded
, and The Happiest Millionaire.  In 1941, the actor purchased land near Healdsburg, which became MacMurray Ranch, from descendants of the tract’s original 1846

Susan Doyle has been the MacMurray Ranch winemaker for more than fifteen
harvests.  The MacMurray vineyards
specialize in Pinot grapes so the wines produced are Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  Prices start at about $18.00 a bottle.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:30 am in Disney, Guest Writers, Wineries | Permalink | Comments (2)

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