I live with a wine connoisseur. That is a good thing, yes. Always a well-stocked wine fridge, cork screws everywhere, decanters, aerators, and wine reference books aplenty. Not that I use any of that when he's not around. Well, except for the well-stocked fridge and the occasional cork screw. There is a downside too. When I am looking for an easy plonk, there is none. Or the unspoken disappointment when I've downed one of his better wines in his absence, and don't remember much about it. "See, that's why I want the easy plonk in your wine fridge as well", is what I tell him. And then, always the "tasting first". He'll open a bottle, pours us a glass, and when I lift it for a nice big sip, I find him bent over his glass sniffing it, swirling it. Looking up only to ask me what I smell, what I taste, how would I describe its color. Mind you, his attention span for color, nose and palate is relative to the quality of the wine. Still, I'm not always in the mood for this. So, very childish, I know, but sometimes I just walk away with my glass, simply wanting to enjoy my wine.
And therein lies the key word: enjoy your wine.
Taking the time to smell a wine's aromas, letting your palate pick up on its flavor notes before it glides "down the hatch". It really does make you appreciate a wine more. So much more so, in fact. I may take only a fraction of the time he does, but I do appreciate the value of tasting when it comes to enjoying my wine.
And last week, that attitude helped me out big time when I found myself invited to partake in The Label Project. A blind-tasting global wine project. Three times last week my door bell rang to announce the arrival of a "package". My wine man away on business, three times I found myself staring at clues and a bottle of wine on my own. Three times I went through the "see, swirl, sniff, and sip" steps of tasting a wine. At the end of the project, each participant had to indicate grape varietal and region of origin for each wine. And in addition give a short explanation for choice of varietal and/or region.
I noticed crisp acidity in the first wine, hints of green apple, and maybe white peach. I let the wine linger on my palate, and appreciated its subtle creaminess in the finish. A couple of days later, wine # 2 arrives. Along with a box of chocolates. Mine had melted in the Dubai heat, so I quickly lapped them up. As you do. The clues hinted at chocolate and berries, spice aroma of rich fruit cake and velvety texture. Appreciative, I did pick that up. Candied fruit, peppery. Dark chocolate as a hint in the background of ripe blackberries. Smooth and velvety.
Wine #3 was a giveaway. The "polaroids" of red dirt and an old railway crossing sent my google search straight to the Coonawarra, and in fact to the winery's website. But then, I guess, that was intentional. The Label Project after all is a promotion-driven project. Fun as it was - and great fun at that - the Label Project aims to make you not just aware of grape varietals and regions of origin: it seeks appreciation for their wineries, their varietals, and their terroir. And appreciate I did.
All has been revealed on www.thelabelproject.co:
It was Jacob's Creek, from the Reserve Series, and the wines were:
1. Chardonnay from Adelaide Hills
2. Shiraz from Barossa Valley
3. Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra.
I am delighted that I got all the answers correct, even if I did not win. That honor goes to fellow Dubai food blogger and sommelier The Hedonista!