Monday, August 02, 2010

Open Your Mind: Revisit the Grapes

A few days ago I was visiting with a long-time friend who was also raised in the Walla Walla Valley.  She also enjoys writing and was telling me she is starting a wine and writing club, but then confessed to me - - she has never really cared that much for red wine.   SKIDS-SCREECH-HALT!  WHAT?

She then confessed she tried Cabernet Sauvignon once with a steak and didn't think it was too bad.  Well, now you're talkin'.  I then went on to tell her that perhaps she should start with a softer red grape since she thought the Cabernet was okay.  Just when I barely got "... such as Merlot" out of my mouth she exclaimed, "I hate Merlot!" 

"What?" I said, "How can you hate Merlot?"  She went on to tell me that her first encounter with Merlot was even a L******* Merlot.  She said all she could taste was strong oak and nothing else.  I asked her how long ago it was that she partook of this coveted wine and she had figured it was about 10 years ago.  Yeah, there was a time in the Walla Walla when the oak monster visited the valley.  I told her that we could revisit that same wine today, same vintage, and more than likely she would enjoy it.  I then suggested that she starts visiting the wineries around the valley and to try all of the Merlots, because chances are she is going to find a Merlot she will enjoy.  Which leads me to - -

I cannot tell you how many wine tasting customers I have run across, during my days of pouring in a tasting room, who; when it was time to pour the Chardonnay would always say, "We hate Chardonnay (que to turn down the nose with a wrinkle and hiss). We only do redsss."  

Sigh. Here we go again.

It was often a challenge, but more than often I could eventually get the "Chardonnay Hater" to sample a sip and even walk out the door with a bottle (or two) as I triumphantly "tee-hee'd" quitely to myself.  The key to this success?  I told them the truth, but honestly?  I think it was the term, "Made the Burgundian style by our French winemaker." The suggestions and whispers of  Francophilia got them everytime.  It was just the visions of the "Old World" that finally made them open their minds - open their minds to try something new or in this case, something "old."  And I have my own guilt to bear as in the past I have been guilty of closing my mind to Semillons without even trying them.  Finally, I am free  as the more I keep sipping on Semillons, the more I am enjoying them and finding a winemaking style that suits my palate. 

The American consumer is guilty of following fashion and trends and unfortunately wine is being treated no different than purchasing a knock-off shoe that imitates the tootsie coverlet Paris Hilton wore to visit Lindsey Lohan in jail.  We tend to view varietals based on trend instead of our personal palates or well appointed food and wine pairings.  In the "New World," especially in North America, Merlot and Chardonnay were trends at one time and now the trendy wines to drink are Pinot Noir and Grenache. "Move over Chardonnay, we want Roussanne!" 

Break out of the trends.  Revisit the wines that you have forsaken and especially say hello to wines that you have decided you just didn't like because - - well, you really have no answer or reason.  Probably the same reason you chose not to eat your green beans as a kid without even trying them (But I bet you would now eat haricots verts if it was presented to you with that name - you know who you are). 

If you are a true wine lover at heart or want to learn more about wines, you will find the Semillons and the Merlots of your dreams if you keep an open mind.  Cheers!

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