Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

If you know me in person, on Facebook, or on Twitter, it's likely you've learned that I'm a wine lover. For many people wine is an acquired taste, but for me it's been a lifetime love.

 My mum  is from San Francisco and her immediate family still lives in the Bay Area, very close to the Napa Valley. I grew up in a household that appreciated wine and was allowed sips here and there, as well as my own (small) glass on holidays and special occasions.

As I've gotten older I've become quite interested in viticulture, but let's be honest. The best thing about wine is drinking it!

The other night, I was having a Twitter conversation with Erin, Kate, Mandy, Erin, and Katherine about my love for red wine (and all wine, really). Several of these ladies enjoy wine, but confessed they didn't know much about it and asked me to do a wine series here. I happily obliged!

Every Wednesday, I'm going to talk about a favorite wine or two. And don't you worry...even though I love learning about, talking about, and drinking wine, I am not the type to spend more than $10 a bottle ($12 if I'm feeling a bit crazy). My goal here is to spread the word that you don't have to spend $30 a bottle to enjoy decent wine.

To start, I just want to provide some basic information about wine. When you see names like Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, etc., that is the "varietal", or type of grape used to make that wine. Each varietal has subtle (and some not so subtle) differences in flavor, and grow best in very specific environments.

For example, Pinot Noir is a pretty delicate grape. It doesn't grow well in hot sun and heat, which is why it grows so well in the California Central Coast region. Sure, there are hot sunny days there, but there is a constant marine layer and fog that keeps the grapes cooler. Other grapes grow much better in hot, dry environments like Napa, or Eastern Washington.

The aging/storage process also contributes greatly to the flavor of wine. Wines are stored in many different types of containers, but most often it's oak or stainless steel. Aging wine in oak gives it a much smokier, earthier flavor, and generally reds are stored in oak. White wine is about half and half. White stored in stainless steel will have a much brighter, fruitier flavor and whites stored in oak will have a richer, buttery flavor (which I personally prefer).

The best way to learn about the nuances of all the different varietals is to experiment and taste everything.

The gals I mentioned above asked me about reds. I don't discriminate when it comes to wine, but generally I gravitate more toward red so that's what I'll be talking about mostly. But I'll throw in my favorite whites for good measure!

The first wine I'll mention is one of my go-tos. My favorite varietal is Syrah (Shiraz is the same thing). It has an earthy, spiciness to it that I absolutely love, with just a hint of sweetness. The first time I tried Silver Lake's Syrah I was very pleasantly surprised. For $8.99 a bottle (sometimes $9.99), it gave me exactly what I always look for in a Syrah. If you're new to drinking reds, and haven't quite acquired a taste for them, you might not like this. I still recommend trying it, though. You might surprise yourself!

If you have any questions about any of the wines or info I discuss here, please let me know! You can e-mail me anytime at, or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Also, no one is paying me to say these things. These opinions are all my own. No one is giving me free wine, either. I think something needs to be done about that! 


  1. Yum, I love Syrah! I'll definitely have to look for this one next time I'm out :)

  2. Thanks for doing this! Can't wait to learn more. Also, to drink more.

  3. I remember seeing that conversation on Twitter and kept thinking "how do they NOT love red wine?!?!" But then again, I live in WA and we have all kinds.

    So good choice on your 1st in the series, syrah is so tasty (& goes great in spaghetti sauce!) and Silverlake is a great winery. Have you been to their place in Zillah? So beautiful, I'd be tempted to have a wedding there.

    Can't wait to see next Wednesday's!

  4. Well done! We drink most of our wine with my parents... dad buys a LOT of wine, and mostly pricey stuff, so I never know what to buy in the affordable range. But now I look forward to some things to try!

  5. This is so fun! I'm so excited to learn more about wine. :)

  6. This is great! I am a wine lover as well and have done wine tours in Napa and Tuscany. But, like you said, the best part is drinking! Glad you will be posting your favorites!

  7. Oooh, I like the idea of this! I'd like it even better if I was actually IN the states so I could check out the wines you recommend, but that's ok. I'll just save all your suggestions for when I come home next year. :)

  8. Mmmmm wine, I miss you. Funny, I didn't drink it that often before because Marc doesn't like it and I generally don't drink enough to finish a bottle myself, but now that I can't have it I miss it.

  9. it took me a while to develop a taste for wine - big reds, especially, take some practice, i think. i don't imagine anyone who has a big cabernet as their first taste of wine would enjoy it too much. but maaaaan there is nothing as good as a huge, spicy cabernet with steak! or cheese! or.. you know, anything at all!

  10. Love this idea - and when I saw you all tweeting about it, I totally thought you were talking about writing blog posts AFTER drinking a lot of wine. Ha!

    I actually prefer whites - reds always give me migraines - someone told me maybe it was because I react to the sulphites in it?

  11. @Becky - all wine has sulfites, as it is a natural by-product of the yeast fermentation.
    possibly, if you are already sensitive to migraines, the tannins in reds are causing them. tannins release seratonins in higher levels.

    looking forward to more of your wine series, stevie! :D

  12. mmm.... I just started getting into wine. right now I'm loving this sparkling red I found thanks to my pottery instructor. lol

    GOod post!

  13. Love this post. Love love love wine.

  14. Silverlake is my MIL's favorite wine!


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