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Differentiating the wine

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

When it comes to alcoholic drink, I'm really a total beginner. I've tried several different red and several different white, and I couldn't really tell the difference in body, taste and smell. They all seem alike; or very closely similar to me. This makes me impossible to actually tell which one to pair with certain food. All I know is the theory - which wine is usually best for which food, but that's about it.

 

The smell just smells like alcohol, regardless of the wine type and the taste just seems bitter. How are they actually different at all?

 

I've always got this big question mark on top of my head when someone liked one red and dislike the other; and when I tasted, they actually taste really similar.

 

Any help on what should I look out for when I come across a new wine; so that I may identify what food does it go with, and other helpful attributes would be very appreciated!

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 11

Developing a wine palate takes some practice.  Many alcoholic drinks are an "acquired taste," and dryer wines certainly among them.

 

Good wine pairing requires you to be able to recognize nuances that are totally obscured to a novice palate -- everything just tastes so much like wine!  And not very good, either.  If it's any comfort, our palates become less discerning as we age. 

 

If you want to develop a palate quickly, see if you can't find wine tasting events, clubs, or classes in your area.  The larger liquor stores with the best selections should be able to hook you up.  "Free Universities," are another good starting place.  So, often, are wine bars. 

 

You'll have to learn a new language, but don't be overwhelmed by jargon.  Try and balance an open mind with a little scepticism,

 

Something to remember in terms of pairing is that complicated food wants simple wines, and vice versa.  Either the food or the wine is going to be the star, you don't want the other to be too demanding on the diner's palate.

 

Another rough rule of pairing is that big food wants big wines.

 

This all makes more sense when you begin to understand the roles "legs," "fruit," "currants," "grass," "leather," "oak," etc., play.  (Hey!  I warned you about the jargon.)  In some ways, once you pick up the lingo, those ideas are easier to understand than to appreciate.  Pay attention to what other people think -- at least when you can separate the real ones from the BSers, and there are plenty of BSers.

 

Like anything else, you have to practice to get good at it; the good news is that wine makes for pleasant practice.

 

L'chaim!

BDL

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post #3 of 11
My advice is to focus on one particular variety until you develop a more discerning palate. For example, try several merlots from Napa or some Cabernet Sauvignons from Sonoma. Since many of them will have many similar elements, it becomes easier to pick up on the nuances.



I agree with BDL that you should listen to people who know wine, but I can't stress enough how important it is to find wines that you like. Just because someone says that a particular wine is a good wine, doesn't mean you have to like it. That being said, there is a wealth of knowledge out there for novice oenophiles. Read constantly. Believe it or not, the more you read about wine, the easier it is to understand the differences In different wines.
"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input, boar_d_laze and tylerm!

 

I don't usually drink alcoholic drink, but this might be something that I need to learn by tasting, hopefully I dont need to do the same for other alcoholic drinks! I'm still wondering about the term simple and complicated in terms of food. Is the complicated ones are 'heavy' ones with beef, lamb, pork and such (or would that suit the definition of 'big food' more?), and the 'simple' ones are fish, soup, vegetables and such (I haven't served anyone that drinks wine with soup, though).

 

As for now, they all still taste and smell the same for me! Maybe except sparkling wines, they don't have after taste in my mouth.

 

Thanks again!!

post #5 of 11
When BDL says simple or complicated, it is not so much a reference to the protein or basic ingredients themselves, but a reference to the depth and combination of flavors in a dish. For example, a piece of fish with many different elements and many rich flavors would pair better with a simple white, depending on the actual flavors. On the other hand, something simple like a piece of grilled beef would pair well with a complex Cabernet.



Also take note that while there are basic "rules" when pairing wine, it again comes down to what you like. I, for one, would rather drink Pinot noir with fish than Chardonnay, which some would call a wine faux pas. But that's what I like.
"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #6 of 11

 

 

Everything is a learning procedure; once you gain the experience then you start making the conclusions. There are so many grape varietals in this planet that is impossible to say that this wine color goes well with this kind of protein.

 

Wine and food is like dress and shoes, when the match is right, it just glow, one is better after the other one, in no order, it is just a composition.

 

All this replies are good advice, mine will be to start drinking and reading what you are drinking. Just look at the label of the wine and start searching online for everything that you see there, that is a good start.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advices everyone!

 

What makes it even harder is that the winery actually make their own 'style' of wine!
So I was told that they can have a sweet and dry wine from the same grape. I hope I can take them all in slowly! haha

 

Then there's also sparkling wine.

 

I'm just hoping sparkling wine is not much different from both red or white wine!

post #8 of 11

This thread is loaded with great advice. My points are very simple. "Go out and drink wine." Go to all the local wine stores near where you live. Find out if they have free tastings. As example, there are six(6) LWS within a five(5) mile radius of my house that have free tastings every Saturday. Go and taste. I use a very simple 4-point rating system; 3 = great, 2 = good, 1 = I don't think so, 0 = forget it. Not complicated. Make up your own. If you find a really good LWS then become a regular. You shop and they will remember you and take care of you. Next, every big winemaker has secondary labels, in example Concha Y Toro, that puts out Don Melchor, a big bottle of highly rated juice going for +/- $70. They also produce Casillero del Diablo, a secondary label that puts out a fantastic Carmenere (a type of red from Chile) for +/- $12. Try these affordable labels and taste for yourself. I have a plastic coffee container that I use to save corks. I put my rating on the cork and file it away. When I want to revisit I pull out the cork and take it with to go buy more wine. Next point is to read some magazines. I love Wine Spectator. They have a page called SAVVY Shopper. It has two(2) sections called "Smart Buys" and "Best Values". I have found some of my favorite bottles in this section. 

 

Here are some brilliant ideas that I want to refresh for you: 

 

boar_d_laze ~ "Something to remember in terms of pairing is that complicated food wants simple wines, and vice versa.  Either the food or the wine is going to be the star, you don't want the other to be too demanding on the diner's palate."

 

Brilliant. A big giant Zin will wipe out a simple pork-chop sandwich but is my go-to pick for bbq ribs. 

 

Now at the same time, this is genius: 

 

tylerm713 ~ "Also take note that while there are basic "rules" when pairing wine, it again comes down to what you like. I, for one, would rather drink Pinot noir with fish than Chardonnay, which some would call a wine faux pas. But that's what I like."    

* I do a great rainbow trout that I serve w/ PN.

 

When I was in school, a big-named chef once told me "Kid, when you make a big dinner for a big client, listen to everyone's comments, but, pay attention to the guy picking up the check."

 

 

Here are some great pairings that I have done.  (I'm not saying to do any of these, I'm just giving examples.)

 

Lobster Capri Salad served w/ a crisp citrusy Torrontes (Argentina white, $8)

Cedar-Plank Rainbow Trout w/ a cherry-rich Pinot Noir ($14)

Chile-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos w/ a spicy bright Malbec (Argentina red, $8)

Thai-style Buffalo Wings w/ a crisp dry white Riesling (California $9)

* Prime Rib-style "Rib Cap" (not Flannery's, but my own) w/ a rich buttery oaky Chardonnay (California $12)

 

It's all good. Go have fun learning. I hope I helped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by pfelix View Post

When it comes to alcoholic drink, I'm really a total beginner. I've tried several different red and several different white, and I couldn't really tell the difference in body, taste and smell. They all seem alike; or very closely similar to me. This makes me impossible to actually tell which one to pair with certain food. All I know is the theory - which wine is usually best for which food, but that's about it.

 

The smell just smells like alcohol, regardless of the wine type and the taste just seems bitter. How are they actually different at all?

 

I've always got this big question mark on top of my head when someone liked one red and dislike the other; and when I tasted, they actually taste really similar.

 

Any help on what should I look out for when I come across a new wine; so that I may identify what food does it go with, and other helpful attributes would be very appreciated!

 

Thanks!


A lot of experts can't either ;-)

 

Try tasting wide ranges of the spectrum,

ex. a chardonnay vs. a reisling

a pinot noir  vs. a cab sav

 

As far as being to tell a 2007 cab sav from a 2008 cab sav or a Lodi cab sav from a sonoma cab sav, its pretty much impossible.

post #10 of 11

pfelix,

 

just remember that there's fact and oppinion when it comes to wine pairings.  everyone has there personal favorite combinations and you will too over time.  but there are some things that are just chemistry.  for example, mixing a spicey food with an acidic wine is just going to elevate the spice level.  another example is that carbonation(sparkling wine) wipes fat from the palate.  just make sure you do some research and drink drink drink.  hope this helps.

post #11 of 11

I once asked a wine salesman who had over 50 years of experience about which wines were the best. Was it the style, region, year, etc? He just looked at me and smiled as he said, “the best wines for you are the ones you like best.” I think people have grown overly concerned with the whole wine phenomenon that we have experienced over recent years. At the end of the day, it’s all about taste. And no two palates are alike. I’ve learned to just try different wines and favor the ones that I like best, because to me, those are the best wines around.

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