tasting wine: I

It should come as no surprise that wine is my beverage (alcoholic) of choice. For the record, I’m going to have to go with water/coffee/tea for my non-alcoholic beverage of choice. It may be a surprise (or not) that beyond knowing what I like – I don’t know a whole lot about wine.

Back in July, when it was nice and steamy, I attended a Macy’s Culinary Council event with Chef & Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson and purchased her book, Great Wine Made Simple, because I loved her simple, no fuss approach to wine. And because I know that I should know more about wine than I do.

After recently watching Bottle Shock, I was actually inspired to read the book and simultaneously inspired to move to wine country.  In the first chapter, Andrea discusses setting up a wine tasting with the “big six” grapes – Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Count me in. I promise to get over my “I only drink Cabernet” downfall.

The idea is that by tasting the different wines, side by side, you’ll really get a feel for what the grapes taste like. Sure, I’ve tried all of these varieties on their own but by trying them right next to each other really made the differences between them stand out. I also realized that white wines aren’t really all that bad. I never thought I liked Chardonnay, but it’s actually not that bad…

It would be a lot of fun to have friends over and set up the wine tasting, or at least have one other person so you can discuss things. The Taster used to sell wine so he knows all of those descriptive words (dry, blackberry, etc) but I still have no clue. Not to fear, the point of this first wine tasting is to just taste the different grapes.

You’ll need the six wines, some crackers (and obviously cheese), a lot of wine glasses and an open mind. Fill each glass with about 1.5 oz of wine and label glasses so you know which is which. You can always go back for more of your favorites, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;)

Swirl, smell, taste and feel the wines, starting with Reisling –> Sauvignon Blanc –> Chardonnay –> Pinot Noir –> Cabernet Sauvignon and finally Syrah.

Go back and taste the other wines to compare the flavors, the differences in feel and smell. Discuss. Drink. Eat a cracker. Drink something else. Learn and be open to new wines!

“Every professional knows that the best way to learn a lot about wine is also the most pleasant: Taste everything you can get your hands on.” – Andrea Immer Robinson

Next up, Chapter Two: Putting Flavors into Words. (I’m scared!!!)

The best part about a wine tasting at home? No makeup and sweatpants. :)



  1. Christine says

    My husband and I regularly buy a bottle of wine on Friday nights and write down our tasting notes and then keep the bottle but now I want to have a wine tasting party!

  2. says

    I love the recap on what you are learning. Thanks for sharing the knowledge! I vote for a blogger wine tasting party this summer when I’m in MN. :-)

  3. says

    I have to agree with you in that I love wine so much, but really don’t know much about it. I recently signed up for a wine class to learn more about pairing with foods, etc. I was thinking the other day about having another wine and cheese party with my friends. This was a great lesson Emily! Thanks!

  4. says

    I love when I find a good wine that is really unique. It usually ends up happening when we order one by the glass at a restaurant for a special event. Love your tasting here. I know so little about wines. My husband took wine appreciation in college so he has filled me on some things, but I have a lot to learn!

  5. says

    i would love to do something like this! i too get intimidated putting tastes into words. we would have to do this with coffee when i was at cbou. i would always come up with something that was off from everyone else. perhaps i have a highly refined palate?!?!

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