Friday, September 22, 2006

Wine Tasting 102

There's just no way, when you're setting up a wine still life to substitute Crimson red paint for the gorgeous transparency of a glass of red. You've got to use the "real" thing. I had plenty of the "real" thing yesterday at the Great Match Spanish Wine & Tapas tasting. The room was huge, offering 300 wines to taste from 64 dominions of origin. I decided to focus on the Riojas, Spain's flagship wine. There are 3 levels of Rioja. You'll start off with: The CRIANZA - lesser in price and younger, released after 2 years of aging. Next the RESERVA- costing more and aged 3 years. Finally the GRAN RESERVA - the top of the line and most expensive and aged 5-7 years. There's more to learn about these wines and it's preferable NOT to read your clip notes on the subway en route to the tasting...

Other prep you can do before a tasting, is walking around the house holding a glass of red, a notepad + pen + a plate of snacks, while chatting. Multi-tasking is required skill at any tasting. Along with carrying around stuff, are the activities of swirling, "nosing and chewing the wine," tasting and commenting. So it can be quite intimidating if you haven't prepped ahead. Remember not to wear a white shirt and leave your perfume at home. I would give just about anything for this red and black Osborne "toro" T-shirt...Hmmm, wonder if they would like a nice watercolor..? I got to taste these little red gazpacho soups. Did you know the secret of good traditional gazpacho is to add some stale, dry bread, soaked in a basic vinaigrette? Throw it into the blender with the rest of the ingredients and you'll end up with a much creamier texture and a more authentic Spanish gazpacho. On a color note, Red + Black seem to be Spain's national colors. The flag is Red and Yellow with a touch of Black. The bullfight is full of Red + Black: Matadors, the bull, the red cape. Then there are flamenco dancers and gazpacho. And finally the Rioja red wines in their Black bottles.

Rioja is less than 5 hours from Bordeaux and quite a few French winemakers brought their expertise to Spain when phylloxera bug attacked their French vineyards in the 1800's. So it's no wonder Riojas have a "Bordeaux style" to them. Oh and don't be disappointed it you just get a slug of wine to taste. 1 1/2 tablespoons is average. And don't forget to spit and drink plenty of water in between tastes. This time I remembered :)


  1. FANTASTIC!! Yep, nothing like the REAL THING!! LOL I am mad about the way you captured the reflections in the glass -- WOWZA!

  2. ¡Olé! The other day I tried an excellent Rioja reserva called Barón de Ley. Highly recommend it!

  3. Alright, I don't know why you wrote about German Rieslings tasting in your Wine 101, and then Spanish tasting in your Wine 102. These 2 regions are my passion in wine! This must be more than just a must be affinity. Alright, I don't want to freak you out. :)

    Which Rioja did you like best? Actually, imho, though Rioja is the most well known region to the mass consumers, it is hardly Spain's "flagship" region anymore (and only in regard to the red wines). It probably was the flagship region, but so many other regions now equal (or surpass) the overall quality of Rioja reds, such as: Ribera del Duero, Toro, Priorato, Manchuela, etc.

    Thanks to 2 man, mostly: Senor Jorge Ordonez for improving the quality of the wines there and for importing them to the US, and Robert Parker for overrating much of them. Jorge Ordonez is an importer and businessman who has become a giant in the industry. Wineries in Spain listen to him on how to improve their qualities and to serve the American palate. Then in turn, US wine drinkers listen to Robert Parker on which Spanish wines will make them happy campers (i.e. 90+ pts)

    Great post, thanks!

  4. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Last night I made myself a pot of tea, drank from vintage Dutch china and had some chocolate, ended up drawing and painting the cup (I might post the painting in my blog one day if I am brave enough).
    Tonight I just know I will end up with a glass of red wine.....and who knows, may be I will make another painting.
    You are my muse Carol :-)

  5. Anonymous2:45 PM

    Well done on Rioja/next time, though, you must try some of the other Spanish wine regions, which I find more exciting than Rioja.
    cheers/Larry W&V

  6. It`s such a lovely painting! And your text makes me want to try Wine tasting ;-)
    Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  7. I have to confess that I am not a wine drinker, but you captured the moment so well that I felt like I was there. The watercolour is excellent as well.

  8. Anonymous11:23 AM

    Your watercolors are amazing! Wow. :)


  9. Great story and paintig. its a peek into your life.
    shanti marie

  10. Anonymous9:28 PM

    I am about to host only my second (very unprofessional but fun)wine tasting ... so I read this with real interest ... and love the watercolor.


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