Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment or drop me a line. Cheers! - Bethany

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kindly don't shank my tannins

Descriptors are a subjective thing. They vary from person to person, and definitely from one instructor to the next. (I wonder sometimes if they all get together and agree to mess with our minds that way?) We were given the UC Davis Aroma Wheel back in the first class, but it's amazing what sorts of things the nose picks up ... and what sorts of things will get you that look of "are we even drinking the same thing?"

Tonight's class was all about descriptors. Randy was stationed up at the front, writing down aromas, textures and weights as fast as the class was shouting them out. Most were bang-on, some spawned debate, others got the odd "huh?" I was keeping fairly quiet at the back, as I usually do at the beginning of a new course: get a feel for the class dynamics, what the prof expects, etc.

But then my olfactory senses developed a voice of their own, and I suddenly found myself shouting out descriptors as the night went on: "ORANGE BLOSSOM! MINCEMEAT! PAIR IT WITH VEAL SCALLOPINI!!" Randy gave them a hearty "NICE!" and jotted them on the board. I'll admit to feeling like a bit of a smarty-pants, especially when one of the other students turned to me and said, "Wow, you're good!" (blush, blush)

It's also a nice ego boost in a class where I'm the only woman. (At least, I think so. The one other female in the class seems to have disappeared.) Studies have shown that women have a stronger sense of smell, and are thus naturally equipped for such tasks. But it still took decades for us to finally get into the old boys' club of the sommelier circuit. So for the 2009 graduating class, I'll be there to represent.

The Best Analysis of a Wine goes to Dan, and his comparative review of two cab sauvs: "The tannins in the first one felt like they were getting shanked ... these feel more like they're being caressed." Complete with hand gestures. I laughed so hard, I did a classic spit-take into the sink.

Rieflé Bonheur-Convival 2007 Riesling, Alsace, France
The usual gasoline smell is subtle on this, with orange blossom really taking centre stage. Well balanced fruit and acid, medium weight, with a spicy, mouth-coating feel to it. Pair it with Caesar salad or veal scallopini.

Rodney Strong 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, California
Complex nose of roses, cloves, jam, cedar, licorice and vanilla. The feel is smooth silk, with soft, medium-high tannins and enough weight to take on a prime rib roast.

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