All Grown Up: My First Hosted Wine Tastings

21 Nov

It’s strange being 25.  I remember being a kid in grade school and looking up to the new young teachers, those who were obviously younger than people like Mrs. Donaldson or Mr. Kinter–people who had been at the game for years and years.  They didn’t really know what they were doing yet, but they were bright and fun and energetic.

And now I might very well be older than they were at the time.

(My torts professor summed it up quite nicely when he quipped, “It’s a strange feeling when both the president-elect AND the chief justice are younger than you are.”)

Now that I’m a quarter century old, I feel as if I should be an adult.  I certainly feel adult-like at certain moments–for instance, when I cook dinner, or when I go to the Ritz-Carlton for drinks (that one time!)–but sometimes feel as if I’m a child playing grownup. I think many of my peers feel the same way.

All that aside, it IS nice to get together and do grownup stuff–like hold wine tastings.  My roommate and I decided to throw a wine tasting; I decided also to throw a wine tasting before that wine tasting to get the feel of things.

I’ll spare you (and myself) the details of the parties.  The first coincided with the arrival of Margie’s friend Ruth from Michigan and Alisa’s friend Kami from Arizona.  The second coincided with Margie’s birthday.  All in all, fortuitous timing.

This was the first wine tasting event I hosted, so I was anxious to do it right.  To that extent, I went to the Wine Specialist and talked to J.C. (their Spanish wine buyer) for over an hour, picking out wines.  The combined wines over both tastings were:

  • 2007 | Visión “Cono Sur” | Sauvignon Blanc | Casablanca Valley, Chile
  • 2007 | Verget du Sud | Chardonnay | Vin de Pays du Vaucluse, France
  • 2007 | Mulderbosch | Chenin Blanc | Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • 2006 | André Lorentz | Riesling | Alsace, France
  • 2007 | Jean Descombes | cru Beaujolais | Morgon, Beaujolais, France
  • 2007 | Maipe “Rosé of Malbec” | Malbec | Mendoza, Argentina
  • 2006 | Domiciano de Barrancas “Cosecha Nocturna” | Malbec | Mendoza, Argentina
  • 2007 | Oracle of the Stars | Pinotage | Western Cape, South Africa
  • 2007 | Thorn-Clarke “Shotfire” | Shiraz | Barossa Valley, Australia
  • 2007 | Cueva de las Manos “Bonarda Old Vine Reserve” | Bonarda | Mendoza, Argentina

I bought a few repeats, as well.

There was also a Chilean cabernet sauvignon that I wasn’t intending to serve (and so didn’t write down) but ended up serving after the first tasting; we also went through a few other bottles from my own “collection” and from others.

The theme for both tastings was “1.5 Generation Wines: Between the Old and New Worlds.”  Many of the varietals–sauvignon blanc, syrah/shiraz, and malbec, especially–have had great success after being transplanted to different parts of the world.

The first tasting was a bit more improvised–I didn’t have any food to go along with the tasting, but we more than made up for that by drinking a lot of wine.  The second tasting was more planned–Alex and I made appetizers such as pork sausage fried with apples and cider, lox with chevre and green garlic on melba toast, roasted Hungarian peppers with Greek goat cheese on sliced baguette, hummus, dark chocolate drops with raspberry, etc.  Daphne brought some spicy tuna rolls and vegetable rolls, as well.  Delicious.


I won’t comment on all the wines, but only the notable ones.

The Visión “Cono Sur” is an excellent sauvignon blanc–midway between the Old World (minerals, concentrated) and the New World (lush, grassy) styles, this was a real crowd pleaser.  The Maipe “Rosé of Malbec” was an intense blood red, almost as dark as the Beaujolais or a pinot noir.  It had a bit of a rubber boot nose, but this gave way to some nice berry fruit that ended on dried notes of raisin.  The Oracle of the Stars pinotage was a favorite–smoky, nice acid–and a steal at $7.99.  It’s definitely a wine I’d keep around for dinner or easy drinking.

Jordan and Margie donated a bottle of 2005 Bodegas Arrocal tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain.  We poured it in a decanter and swished it around.  I happen to love tempranillo from Ribera del Duero (Tinto Pesquera, anyone?)–they’re intense and dark, with earth and tobacco.  “This is going to be evocative of a dry, dusty riverbed,” I announced drunkenly as I poured out tastes from the decanter.  Yup.  It WAS like a dry, dusty riverbed.

Overall, I really enjoyed the process of hosting a wine tasting, and people seemed to like it.  Then again, who wouldn’t like to pretend they’re adults and get drunk off of good wine?


3 Responses to “All Grown Up: My First Hosted Wine Tastings”

  1. Shea November 22, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    Sounds like a good time. I love the plastic cups! Eventually you’ll graduate to glass :).

    Impressive with all the appetizers. I usually go for cheese pairings but have always wanted to prepare something a bit more. I gotta try some of that 05 arrocal – you really seem to like it. Cheers!

  2. vinicultured November 22, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    Ah, my good sir! The first tasting was with plastic cups–the second one we used all glass. Granted, the glasses were mismatched, but hell, I’ll drink from a glass wineglass over a plastic tumbler any day!

  3. winetastingguy December 7, 2008 at 6:52 pm #

    The first of many I hope!

    Plastic cups are of course not the best option, but if you must seek out the hard CLEAR plastic cups. Pretty adequate substitute to proper stemware.

    Another thought – see if you can gather some of the people that enjoyed themselves and form a wine club. You can get together 1-2 X a month and have everyone bring a bottle. It is loads of fun and a great way to learn about wine!


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