So, one of the things I’ve been trying to do lately is actually get out there and spend some more time in the wine world. All of this is, of course, in the name of bringing you more snarky commentary and helpful advice. One of the ways I’ve been doing this is by trying to attend more wine tastings and let me tell you – boy, it is a jungle out there.
Just this past week I went to two very different tastings (I know, tough life, right?) – the first was Garnet Wines’ (one of NYC’s most beloved wine shops) First Annual Fall Harvest Wine Tasting on the Upper East Side. Despite what Gossip Girl would have you believe, while there is a small portion of the UES that is inhabited by glamorous rich people, there are also a lot of old people and “young professionals” (bankers, finance guys, lawyers, and the Tory-Burch-clad girls who love them).
Anyways, the tasting was (not surprisingly) mostly populated with respectable looking older people – the kind of people whose kids I would probably be friends with – and younger guys in yellow sailboat ties. The whole point of the event was to go and try a whole bunch of wines that the store was selling – you could place an order for bottles and cases as you walked around and sipped. It would be fair to say that I, being a female under 30 and the only person in the room wearing skinny jeans and also not in any kind of financial position to buy loads of wine, was the odd man (erm..woman?) out in the room. Nevertheless, I drank some awesome wine and passed a pleasant evening tasting and talking with strangers.
Last night’s wine tasting was a horse of a whole different color. I ventured out to Brooklyn for Second Glass’s Wine Riot. I’ve been talking the event up on this site because, in full disclosure, I’ve known the company’s founder and CEO, Morgan First, since high school and I think the concept behind their company is pretty awesome. This time around the crowd was way younger – mostly people in their 20’s and 30’s, there was music being pumped into the room, plastic stemless wine glasses instead of the usual suspects, and an air of giddy excitement.
These two very different wine tasting experiences placed side-by-side offer an interesting view of how the wine world is changing. The Garnet Wine tasting was far more traditional and so was the audience – the younger people at this tasting were the kind that were suddenly coming into respectability and felt compelled to grow up and learn about wine because that’s what you do!
At another party (this time I freeloaded off of some friends – cheers!) earlier in the week, I talked to a (straight!) Marc Jacobs lookalike about how he’d gotten into whisky as he’d approached 30 exactly because it was something he thought he should know about. When I asked about wine he said that it was something that he thought he’d come around to when he was approaching 40. 40!
The young people at Wine Riot were there because it was an event for them as much as it was about the wine – they were happy to be wandering around sipping wine all night instead of taking shots because the atmosphere was just as amenable to sipping a Jack and Coke as a Barbaresco from Piedmont.
Wine Riot was much more about bringing wine into a space and attitude that young people are familiar with than bringing young people into the “wine world” and the result was total success!
So my take away is this:
1. I’m gonna work on a post about how to attend a wine tasting without looking like an idiot
2. There is no reason why young people shouldn’t be drinking more wine but the reason they’re not is because it’s still put up on this ridiculous shelf that a lot of people think you’re not supposed to reach until you’re 40 (40?!!).
3. I will continue to work tirelessly to correct the wrongs inherent in #2.
Lastly, what’s the point of going to these wine tastings if I can’t share with you some delicious new finds, right? Below is a list of my favorite wines from both of the tastings – cheers!
Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2009, $9.99: This wine from the Garnet tasting just about ran away with my heart. It is a simple bistro wine – a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre from the Languedoc region that was delightfully savory. It actually kind of tasted like stew and, more specifically, the carrots that you slice through like butter – so rich.
Segura Viudas Brut Cava, $10: For $10, this is an amazing wine. It’d be no less delicious at $50/bottle. With the teensiest amount of sugar (7g in a 750 ml bottle – that’s like…nothing!), this is a rich and full-flavored sparkler with an elegant bubble, notes of ripe apples, pears, and almonds.
St. Francis Winery Red Splash 2008, $15: I’ll be honest, this was one of the last wines I tasted at Wine Riot so I don’t remember a ton about it except going back for seconds because it was really yummy. What I can recall is a juicy, rich red wine that drank easily and satisfied.
Au bon Climat Chardonnay, $16: I was really skeptic about this one – I’ve really tried to like Chardonnay, guys, really, I have. But, at the end of the day, I have to admit that it’s just not my favorite. This wine blew my mind – it had just the right amount of slightly toasty oak – lending it a smokey richness that gave way to notes of hazelnuts and pears.
Austin Hope Trouble Maker (Paso Robles, CA), $20: A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petit Sirah, and Mourvedre, this wine is so-named because, according to the guy pouring it, “It’s lots of trouble to make!” Indeed, the wine is made from grapes from three different vintages (2008, 2009, and 2010). Besides being weird, it was also really delicious.
David Bruce Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir , $25: I think I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not the biggest Pinot Noir fan – usually its just too light. But, the PN’s I do love are usually from Sonoma Coast or Santa Barbara and this one is no exception. David Bruce also makes a really good Petit Sirah worth checking out.
2009 Hauner Hiera Salina, $18: This was my absolute, hands-down, favorite from the Garnet Wines Tasting. My tasting notes read: “Wet earth, raspberries OMG”. The nose is where the wet earth comes in and it tastes very rustic until about mid-palette when it explodes into flavors of ripe raspberries. To die for.
Arlaux Pere & Fils Champagne Brut 2009, $36.99: A tiny producer in Champagne that, after one sip, will have you saying, “Veuve wha -?”. With a beautiful floral nose, the first taste is a really lovely “grapey” taste that tapers off into delicate notes of sweet almonds.
2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Beaune 1er Cru Les Vignes Franches, $70: Ok, this one is a stretch. BUT! It’s from Burgundy! And it had the most amazing perfume – seriously, like sticking your nose into a bouquet of roses and violets. And the wine was slightly effervescent on my tongue and had really nice savory quality to it that gave it substance.