Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Black Raspberry, Tar, and Earthiness

Wine tasting was a big part of our Napa trip. Of course it would be. The valley was dotted with acres and acres of grape vines that were loaded with luscious fruits ready to be picked. And in the caves at each vineyard the old oak barrels held even older wines just waiting for their debut. We tasted many. At each winery, we sampled four to six wines. My favorite was the Von Strasser Winery, and there we sampled, among others, the Von Strasser Sori Bricco Cabernet 2005. The steward assisted us with tasting notes. The notes for the Sori Bricco: "the wine is extremely dark and extracted with tremendous depth and concentration. The aromas are of coffee, black fruit, licorice, chocolate, and eucalyptus. Very chewy and viscous on the palate, with flavors of black raspberry, tar and earthiness with a long and impeccably balanced finish."

Did I taste those flavors? Did I catch that hint of eucalyptus? Could I identify the licorice? Could I articulate the sensations on the back of the tongue or describe the delicate finish? Not a chance. But did I enjoy the wines? You bet!

My descriptions of wine, however, would be very different. My description would be something like this: "a hearty red wine to be enjoyed on Sunday night, on the porch of an old farmhouse, with six friends and lots of laughter." Or this: a light red best served with Copper River Salmon prepared in a great kitchen with friends keeping company with the cook." Or this: "a great little Tuesday night wine enjoyed after a long day at the office with neighbors who dropped by to say hello." Or this: "a crisp, refreshing sauvignon blanc just right to enjoy on a hot August evening with grilled cheese sandwiches and a salad and the couple you invited on the spur of the moment."

You see, wine to me is about occasions and friends. It's about good times and hospitality, old stories and laughter. It's about sunsets and cool breezes and moonbeams and stars. It's about good conversation and discussion and poetry and literature. It's about history and shared experiences. And yes, it's about good food enjoyed with others.

I probably won't ever get a job writing tasting notes; yet, somehow, I think lots of folks feel the same way I do.

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