One of the cool things about being the administrator of a blog–at least powered through WordPress–is that I am able to see what search phrases people are using to get to my site. Some of the most direct are phrases like “joon song wine blog” or “vinicultured.” Others are things like “wine blog” or “hip wine blog” (since when did my blog become hip?). The most popular phrases involve “pinot noir” or “best pinot noir”–my most popular entry, actually, is suitably titled “Mission Wines Tasting: The (Second) Best Pinot Noir I’ve Ever Had.”
Then, others are… well… not what I would have ever anticipated for a wine blog. “Wisdom teeth coffee” has come up–presumably for my entry on how getting my wisdom teeth pulled temporarily ended my wine drinking career. “LegalZoom sucks” has come up 24 times since I started my blog–and I can assure you quite readily that LegalZoom does not, in fact, suck. A morbid series of phrases deals with how to throw a party for a dying person–which is somehow derived from my post on the psychology of a dying party (as in a party that is winding down, not a party for… well… dying).
But perhaps one of the most enjoyable series of phrases shows how the Internet is truly being used: the second most popular search phrase on my site is “French women,” the fifth is “women smoking,” and somewhere lower on the list is “French women smoking.” My post isn’t really about drinking per se but is about the relatively recent ban on smoking in France. (Look out for the nasty comment comparing me to a Southern slaveowner!)
Another year, another few scores of bottles of wine. I’m not sure if the start of a new year necessarily engenders hope and thankfulness–usually, I feel more of a mix of relief and a creeping feeling that maybe my life is slipping past me–but 2009 in Washington, DC, has found me in a very thankful mood.
For one, I’m living in a nice, comfortable apartment with great food. I have a wonderful family that I appreciate more as I get older; great friends. I am going to a good law school with outstanding professors and classes. I have nothing to complain about, and I am going to try to be more appreciative of the incredible opportunities I’ve been given.
To kick off the new year, my roommate and I hosted a champagne and sparkling wine tasting, the details of which will be coming out in the upcoming Nota Bene (GW Law student newspaper); I will write up my blog observations on that evening a bit later. Suffice it to say that the big winner in the tasting were a beautiful sparkler from France, the Charles de Fere Blanc de Blanc Reserve Brut ($12.99)–was, as I described it, “the group’s favorite, with a nose of hazelnut and toast, a light, almost ethereal mouthfeel, and notes of apple and pear.”
I moseyed into Mission Wines yesterday, seeking respite both from the 95 degree-plus weather and the drudgery of life.
But with what wine could I seek respite?
I am a big lover of reds–during warmer weather I am apt to go for lighter reds, such as beaujolais, or, lacking anything suitable, to mix one- or two-day-old red wine with good Korean cider (such as Chilsung Cider, which is cleaner and lighter than, say, Sprite, with a pleasant touch of strawberry). This 60-40 blend of red wine and cider, served over ice, is delicious and a great way to beat the heat and dispose of wine that is past its prime.
I didn’t have any old red wine on hand: I was fresh out, in fact, and looking for something quick, cheap, and refreshing. A long, tapered green bottle caught my eye: the 2007 vinho verde branco adamado from the Adega Cooperativa de Ponte de Lima (whew!).
This vinho verde is a mix of different white varietals, including the obscure loureiro, trajadura, and pederna grapes. This vinho verde is great: very light body with high acidity, mouth-puckering tartness approximating green apples and citrus, low to medium sweetness, and a pleasant effervescence caused by the addition of carbon dioxide before bottling. (Thanks to tvinoronquillo at http://www.cellertracker.com for this picture!)
When I think of wine, I think of terroir: I think of the essence of the land, the air, the sun blended together and refined into a thing of utter and wondrous beauty. An especially well-constructed wine transports me in one sip to the dry fields of Ribera del Duero or the slate of the Mosel, though I certainly have never been to those places.
But who could have imagined that every sip was imparting more than just terroir?
Given everything else that is wrong with the world, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn about the presence of pesticides and other chemicals in wine. Recently, Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) reported a study in which 35 out of 40 bottles of European wine were found to have pesticides–four different pesticides on average but as much as ten in one particularly unfortunate bottle. One of the six organic wines tested also contained trace pesticide residues.
At Mission Wines, my friends and I are the sole representatives of the 25 and under demographic.
It’s a bit sobering to chip in five or ten bucks each for a $20 or $30 bottle of wine–nothing to shake a stick at–and watch as silver-haired gentlemen wearing well-worn L.L. Bean vests and Eddie Bauer sweaters carry out cases (CASES!) of $50 wine to their idling sports cars.
That’s why I love going to wine tastings. For $10 I can try five different wines. Nothing’s worse than spending good money on a vaunted bottle of wine and finding that it’s terrible. (I guess the same goes for first dates, eh?)
The five wines at the tasting today were:
- Juve y Camps Brut Rosé | Sparkling Pinot Noir (Sant Sadurini D’Anoia, Spain)
- Breggo Ferrington Vineyard | Sauvignon Blanc (Anderson Valley, California)
- Luzon | Monastrel/Syrah (Jumilla, Spain)
- Chateau Puygueraud Cotes de Francs | Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Malbec (Bordeaux, France)
- Graves | Syrah (Paso Robles, California)
I’m not the biggest champagne drinker–I’ve found that champagne gives me a big headache, probably on account of the residual sugar and carbonation–but it’s absolutely the best drink for special occasions: weddings, anniversaries, New Year’s Eve, bar and bat mitzvahs, promotions, or Valentine’s Day. And, with New Year’s coming around (as Kris was kind enough to point out!) I thought I should talk a bit about champagne and its bastard half-brother, sparkling wine.
There are different categories of champagne based on the amount of residual sugar:
Brut Natural or Brut Zéro (less than 3 grams of sugar per liter)
Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per liter)
Brut (less than 15 grams of sugar per liter)
Extra Sec or Extra Dry (12 to 20 grams of sugar per liter)
Sec (17 to 35 grams of sugar per liter)
Demi-Sec (33 to 50 grams of sugar per liter)
Doux (more than 50 grams of sugar per liter)
Valentine’s Day 2006 was shaping up to be more like Single’s Awareness Day. Having gotten out of a relationship that spanned the two Valentine’s Days previous, I found myself in my room at Clark Kerr, alone, a tea candle or two lit, drinking some tea and listening to Nick Drake.
But then a rapping on the door! I drag myself out from under my duvet and open it to reveal my resident L. and her friend A.
You know how sometimes you look at an attractive person and you’re like, “Sure, they’re pretty, but whatever”? And sometimes you look at an attractive person and you’re like, “My God I must holler at them.” (In my thoughts, I sound like a white suburban kid trying to be a gansta’.)
This girl, A., was in the latter category. Pretty face, big dark eyes framed with dark lashes, supple red mouth, all framed by “long dim hair” (a point for anyone who can identify that literary allusion). I was drawn to her lips, her eyes, her hips… her hips were womanly, curved and full of life.