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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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!