I have the great fortune of sitting with people who like to drink a glass of wine and want to know more about what they consider to be a complex and mysterious subject. Here, I hold the key to understanding. Wine geeks sit around discussing the ancient granite soils, rainfall and oak treatment, but I am more interested in what the average drinker needs to know in order to better enjoy wine in their lives.
I am also fortunate that most of my friends humor my particular and specific tastes in wine and let me do the choosing. My preferences are well known - Old World, cold climate, dry, high acid, un-oaked, elegant white wine or bubbles - and my choices are always delicious, I say with a sweet smile and a pure heart.
Imagine my challenge, and the shock of being challenged,when an old friend came to visit whose wine loves are the polar opposite of mine. The first wine I opened, a perfect example of what I find best in a wine, Weingut Mathern Old Vines Spatlese Trocken Nahe Germany 2010 had bright acidity and a perfect balance of fruity and stony with just a little weight in the mouth but still only 12.5% . Later in the night I poured the ever reliable Etz Gruner Veltliner 2011. Both of these wines were deemed "too sharp".
Not having any high alcohol Chardonnays laying around, I switched to red wines. A Monastrell from Spain was "too leafy". She didn't like the Tempranillo from Don Manuel Villefane in Argentina, either. (Granted, both wines would have benefited greatly from a snack of some sort and we were drinking sans food and on nearly empty stomaches.) I finally found her sweet spot with two California wines - Syrah from Santa Ynez and another from the Central Coast.
Any girlfriend weekend in NY is necessarily wine soaked. As we talked for hours on end over the many bottles and many meals and "wine-tail" hours, I began to think of the misperceptions that people have about wines, but even more about the misperceptions we have about our own palates and what we like.
My friend informed me, quite knowingly, that she always prefers blends. I nearly laughed thinking of the dozens of people who've asked me if blends are in some way inferior to mono-varietal wines. I chuckled again, to myself of course, when her favorite wine of the weekend was 100% Syrah. Yes indeed. Not a blend.
It's rarer than you'd think that the grape stated on the label is the only grape in the bottle. In California, you only need 75% of the stated grape - i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot - in the blend.
I wonder how many wines my friend has missed out on judging wines by the standard of BLEND?