Monday, November 18, 2013

Testing Our Tastebuds

One of the more interesting ways to learn about wine is to try similar bottles next to each other. Usually, we do this in classes and tasting rooms, but every once in a while we try it at home.

We had a couple of interesting bottles to open: the 2011 Chardonnay and the 2011 Reserve Chardonnay from Castello de Amorosa. We decided to try a blind test, to see if we could figure out which was which. To put it simply, we failed.

We did our best to go into the test blind, but we both brought our own idea of what a reserve wine should taste like. Typically, reserve wines are more expensive, and the idea is that there is something special there. Ultimately, we were both expecting greater complexity from the reserve wine, thinking the best grapes from the best vineyard would yield a more nuanced flavor. In this case, it seems like the winemaker was aiming for capturing the essence of Chardonnay. We found the regular Chardonnay to be layered with flavors, with a rich buttery-ness from the oak, while the Reserve Chardonnay was bright and crisp, capturing that pure acidity of Chardonnay that often disappears with the addition of wood aging.

It's humbling to be reminded that we don't know everything about wine, and that sometimes you learn a lot more when go into a tasting open-minded. Making assumptions here meant we failed our blind tasting. There is a silver lining to this story: finding the unexpected in a bottle is why we love wine and how we continue to have such interesting experiences with it.

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