When the Volvo dealer, sent us an invite to be a part of a wine and chocolate indulgence evening a few weeks back, I signed up immediately. In May, when on my trip to Italy, I had promised myself a wine education and this opportunity presented itself! I was eager to find out what I was going to learn on this special evening and I was not disappointed. As I write this, I am more knowledgeable about wine and can whisk up three varieties of offbeat chocolates if it came to serious entertaining.
The evening started off with wine tasting. The first wine was Tintoralba(2007), which in Spanish means ‘Red Sunset’. It is a wine from Spain, apt choice too, after the FIFA world cup win.
The second bottle of wine was a Sherry, a fortified wine made from white grapes, called Pedro Xeminez (1980)(Pronounced – Pedh-ro Khi-menez). The wine comes from an area called Jerez ( Pronounced Kherez) in Spain. The Pedro Xeminez is grown on white chalky soil and is also called the Champagne of Spain ( The original French Champagne is also grown on white mud)
Lesson 1 : The colour of the wine depends on the weather conditions of the area where the grape is grown.
The Tintoralba, is made in the vineyards of the Spanish province of Almansa. The weather conditions of this area are hot which makes the wine dark in colour.
The Pedro Xeminez is made from the grapes harvested in the province of Valdivia, Southern Spain. The Pedro is also grown in dry weather. The grapes are picked in September and dried in the sun for a week till the flavors concentrate.
Lesson 2 : Wines change colour with age. Red wines get lighter and transparent as they age while a freshly bottled red wine will be opaque and dark when held up to a light source. White wine gets darker as it ages.
The bottle of Tintoralba that we were served was bottled in the year 2007 which made it quite dark.
Due to the aging of the wine, the Pedro Xeminez, was very dark, almost rusty amber, in colour. It was a 30 year old wine and the colour looked more like a young red wine than white.
Lesson 3 : The more viscous the wine the more it sticks to the sides of the wine glass. When you swirl the wine, you will see bands of liquid on the walls of the wine glass.
Both the Tintoralba and the Pedro Xeminez turned out to be viscous wines.
Lesson 4: When you smell a glass of wine, the first breath should be a brief sharp breath. Ponder over the smells that hit your olfactory senses and then take another long breath with your nose just inside of the mouth of the wine glass. You will discern the most identifiable smells that could range from woodsy( because wine ages in Oak casks), fruity, flowery, spicy or earthy.
The Tintoralba was chocolaty, oaky and maybe also smelt of burnt coffee.
The Pedro Xeminez had a spicier smell. And definitely smelt more woodsy because of the aging. I could also distinctly smell caramelized banana, fig and other fruity smells.
Lesson 5: All wines leave a sediment at the bottom of the glass. Some are very obvious because as wine ages, they leave more sediment.
The Tintoralba, (though only three years old ),left brown dust in the bottom of the glass.
I did not finish the glass of Pedro so did not notice the sediment.
Lesson 6: When you taste a red wine first and then a white wine, make sure you rinse the glass or ask for another glass; when you taste the white first, you can use the same glass without rinsing.
More on the chocolates and how they paired with the wine in my next post!