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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio • Page 73

Cincinnati, Ohio
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The Cincinnati Enquirer TASTE G4 Sunday, April 2, 2000 Cincinnati Internationa 1 Text by wine columnist JohnVankat Take this Sippers' Guide to the wine festival 000 ine Festival 2 Wines 10 Wines to taste Stick to basics when describing wines To honor the 1 0th anniversary of the wine festival, I've selected 10 wines that shouldn't be missed. I won't claim these are the best wines, although I'd be stunned if several don't earn medals. While of course I considered quality, everything from nostalgia to unfamiliarity and familiarity influenced my choices. 1. Zaca Mesa Roussanne (Booth 23): This wine is as irresistible as the name.

2. Wild Horse Pinol Blanc (Booth The good doctor (Stanford cardiovascular surgeon) operates on my favorite varietal. 7. Pride Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Booth 56A): A fistful of golds at past Grand Tastings. 8.

Peter Lehmann Shiraz (Booth 58): Aussies know their shiraz. 9. Pelee Island Icewine (Booth 94): "Blame Canada?" 10. Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz (Booth 100): Universally acclaimed (I like it, too). 24): Ride bareback with a chardonnay alternative.

3. Bumel Ridge Purple Trillium (Booth 35): Don't miss North College Hill's finest. 4. Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee (Booth 39): Have a nostalgic sip of a 1991 gold medal winner. 5.

Beckman Syrah (Booth 43A): See what "the experts" are raving about. 6. Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer (Monterey) (Booth 53B): INTERNATIONAt -T. The level of ripeness of grapes which depends on weather and harvest dates results in wines ranging from sharply acidic to exceptionally sweet (as in 'late harvest" dessert wines). The third taste component, astringency, is due to tannins, which areimportant only in red wines (tannins occur in whites, but at much lower levels).

To taste astringency, try a young cabernet sauvignon and youH identify the taste immediately. It's the "fuzzies" that coat your teeth like a wool blanket, as when you accidentally crush a grape seed or aspirin in your mouth. Highly astringent (tannic) wines can be unpleasant, but tannins add complexity to red wines and make them more age worthy. The best red wines successfully balance all three taste components of sweetness, acidity and tannins but different wines are successful with different balances. White wines involve only sweetness and acidity, but again, individual wines successfully emphasize different taste components.

With a basic understanding of taste components and their balances, you're now ready to describe that wonderful wine to your friends: When you find a terrific wine at a tasting and want to tell your friends, how do you describe it? Experts use such phrasing as "faint cola and licorice notes that give way to tame, dusty tannins" and "dried, rich black fruits married with leather and tobacco." Fine. But how about the rest of us? Fortunately, we can simplify things by focusing on the basic taste components of wine: sweetness, acidity and astrin-gency (bitterness produced by tannins). Sweetness is the most iar taste. All wines have sugars, and they are the key to whether a wine is sweet or dry (not sweet). Wines are "sweet" when sugars dominate other flavors, and they are "dry" when other flavors mask the sugars.

Acidity can hide sweetness. For example, acidity dominates the sugars in green apples, so they taste tart or crisp. Similarly, wines in which acidity dominates are characterized as "crisp" or "fresh." But as apples ripen, sugars increase. At some point the sugars begin to balance the acidity, and eventually they can mask it really liked the crispness of that sauvignon blanc. The tannins in that cabernet were too strong.

That chardonnay was very well-balanced. But what about using words like "faint cola and licorice notes" and "married with leather and tobacco?" Of course you can mention specific flavors when talking with friends, but be careful that this doesn't inhibit people who don't taste the same individual flavors. Remember that different people even so-called wine experts often find different flavors in the same wine. So have fun with identifying flavors, but always start with the basics. John Vankat's wine tasting tips Here's a list of wineries, distributors and importers appearing at the Cincinnati International Wine Festival Grand Tastings.

A.V. Imports Alderbrook Vineyards Winery Allied Domecq Artisans Estates Banti Beaulieu Vineyard Beckmen Vineyards Belvedere Wine Co. Beringer Wine Estates Bettinelli Vineyards Bighorn Cellars Bonny Doon Vineyard Bouchaine Vineyards BRL Hardy Wine Co. Brown-Forman Wine Estates Buena Vista Cameras Winery Burnet Ridge Winery Canandaigua Wine Co. Cameras Creek Winery Chalone Wine Estates Charles Krug Chateau Saint Georges Claar Cellars ClosDuVal De Loach Vineyards Domaine St.

George Dourthe Edgewood Estates Emilio Guglielmo Winery Enotec Imports Ernest Julio Gallo Winery Fine Wines International Famille CohenLaboure RoiDubos Freres Firelands Winery FiresteedTrefethen Vineyards Folie a Deux Winery Foppiano Vineyards Forest Glen Winery Franciscan Estates Frederick Wildman Geyser Peak Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves Gordon BrothersErath Vineyards Goundrey Winery (Australia) Grovestreet Winery Haywood Winery Henke Winery Hidden Cellars HinmanSilvan Ridge Vineyards Hyatt Vineyards Ironstone Vineyards J. Lohr Winery J. Jacobs Creek Kendall-Jackson Artisans Estates Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Livermore Valley Wine Group Lockwood Winery Louis M. Martini Winery Maison Louis Latour (USA) Inc. Marie Brizzard Wines Markham Vineyards Martin Weyrich Winery Merryvale Vineyards Michel-Schlumberger Wines Ltd.

Mildara Blass Wines Mirassou Vineyards Moet Chandon New World Wines Pty. Ltd. Oak Knoll Winery Parducci Wine Cellars Pelee Island Winery Pepperwood Grove Pride Mountain Vineyards Quady Winery R.H.Phillips Winery Raymond Vineyard Cellar Inc. Robert Mondavi Winery Rodney Strong Vineyards Rombauer Rosemount Estate Round Hill Vineyards Schlossadler International Wines Schmitt Sohne Schug Cellars Seagram Chateau Estate Sebastiani Vineyards Smith HookHahn Estates Southcorp Wines U.S.A. St.

Clement Vineyards St. FrancisLouis Jadot Stimson Lane Vineyards Estates Stonehedge Winery Thomas Fogarty Winery TikvesPovardarie Trentadue Winery Vineyard Trinchero Family Estates Van DuzerSketch Book Mendocino Collection Vigil Vineyard Vintage New World Vinum International Vranken America WJ.Deutsch&Sons Washington Hills Cellars Wild Horse Winery Vineyards Wyndham Estate Wines Zaca Mesa WineryWilson Daniels Ltd. Zonin various shades of purple to red, and white wines range from yellow (occasionally with a greenish tinge) to gold. Aroma As with color, there are two key characteristics: intensity and complexity. These can be more difficult to judge, so swirl your glass to provide more aroma.

Intensity is the strength of the aromas. Most wines have "light," "medium" or "strong" aromas. Complexity refers to the variety or diversity of aromas perceived. Straight-forward terms are "simple," "pleasant" and "complex." Wine writers are renowned for flowery descriptions of the specific aromas (and tastes) of wine. If you are influenced by whether a wine appears to have aromas of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme or even of Simon and Garfunkel indulge yourself.

Taste Of the many aspects of taste, three are essential to note: body, balance and length. Body is the weight or texture of a wine in your mouth. Terms include "light," "medium" and "full." Nearly all white wines are lighter in body than reds so again, always compare wines of the same variety. Balance refers to your perception of the combination of sweetness and acidity in white wines, plus tannin in red wines. Wines that overemphasize one of these tastes are "unbalanced," because they are too "sweet," "acidic" or "tannic." Other wines have "good" to "excellent" balance.

Length refers to how long the wine's taste lingers in your mouth. Simple terms range from "short" (disappearing a few seconds after swallowing) to 'lingering" (lasting 60 seconds or more). Overall Although I've made the case for looking at different aspects of a wine, the key to wine is how well all aspects blend. Therefore, end your short description with an overall grade for the wine. I suggest using something simple and meaningful such as an A-B-C scale, and adding a check mark when the wine strikes you as truly special.

With a few simple words, a grade and an eye on price, youll know which wines are the best for you to buy after the tasting. Taking notes If you want a wine tasting to be more than a social event, youll need to taste carefully and take notes. When I taste wines at home, I evaluate more than 20 different aspects of color, aroma and taste. But that's far too many considerations when sampling wines at a large tasting. At such tastings, even ultra wine geeks normally jot only a few words just enough to help remember which wines to purchase after the tasting.

So what aspects of color, aroma and taste are most important? Color I argue that there are only two critical color characteristics: intensity and hue. Normally, these characteristics are easy to determine, but the dim lighting at most tastings may present a challenge. Intensity is the depth of color, so just note "pale," "medium," "deep" or "dark." Of course some varieties are typically lighter, so as for any characteristic always compare wines of the same variety. Chardonnay to chardonnay, not chardonnay to sauvignon blanc. Hue is what most people mean by "color." Red wines are WINE ffSWAl 2080 Is presented DtlTA AIR llNlS 1 Tasting strategies I.W.w.HyBJ.Sl1 ting allows you to enjoy more wines without having your taste buds and mental capacities altered.

And youll also be less of a threat to yourself and others if you drive home. After spitting, notice how long the taste of the wine lingers in your mouth. The longer, the better assuming you like the taste. Finally, empty the wine glass into a dump bucket, rinse with water and move on with your game plan. Snacking Be sure to snack occasionally on the food provided.

It will help your body deal with the alcohol, and plain bread or crackers will refresh your taste WINE Enquirer file Jim Poth of Oxford has judged wines for all 1 0 festivals. So many wines, so little time. Wine lovers are faced with this dilemma at large wine tastings such as the Cincinnati International Wine Festival. Large tastings can be confusing and intimidating. After you arrive for the tasting and pick up a glass and a list of the nearly 600 wines being poured, what do you do next? If this is strictly a social event, forget about getting organized, just jump in and start sipping.

But if it's the wines that brought you to the tasting, take a few minutes to skim the wine list and check off the ones you want to sample. My game plan usually centers on variety, because variety is what I enjoy most about large tastings. Therefore, I spend time with less familiar wineries and varietals. Develop your own game plan to ensure you get to the wines that interest you the most Remember, you can't try all 600. And don't worry about "going for the gold" by making a bee-line for the medal-winning wines.

You will miss too many other good wines, some of which you might prefer. Also, if you're serious about wine, plan on at least two trips around the tasting room. It is difficult to adequately judge light-bodied wines after tasting more full-bodied wines, so sample white wines first, red wines second and dessert wines third. The following guide to the S's of wine-tasting can help. However, besides having fun, the only absolutes are noting which wines you enjoy, drinking responsibly and using a designated driver or taxi to take you home.

Starting You've followed your game plan and asked for your first glass of wine. But why is so little poured? Is it stinginess? No, actually the pourer has done you a favor. You have plenty to taste, and you can pour it out guilt free if you choose. Remember, this is a wine tasting, not a wine drinking. Seeing Dim lighting might make it difficult to see the color of the wine, but give it a try because color enhances taste.

Hold the glass by the stem rather than the bowl, so you can see the wine. Is the white wine yellow or gold, the red wine red or purple? And the depth of color pale, medium, or deep? Swirling Rotate the glass counterclockwise (clockwise for lefthanders) in small circles until the wine rises up the glass. (Aha! The small amount of wine also makes it easier to swirl without spilling.) Swirling spreads the wine over the inside of your glass, where it evaporates and releases aromas. Sniffing Immediately after swirling, First gold medals buds between wines. Sneaking? Tempted to go back for more of that wine you really liked? That's OK, but be considerate of others by waiting until late in the evening so everyone has a chance to try it Better yet, check out the tables of auction items in case some of your favorite wines are up for bid.

If not, visit a wine shop the next day. Speaking Be certain to talk with wine-makers' representatives as you taste wines. Youll learn from their comments, and they from yours. Also, be sure to tell the pourer what you liked he or she may be the winemaker! And drop me a note. I might select one of your recommendations for a "Wine of the Week." tip the glass to your nose and sniff.

Appreciating the aromas of a wine is more important than color, because your sense of taste depends on smell. Does the wine smell attractive? Simple or complex? How intense? Are some of the aromas identifiable? Common aromas and flavors in white wines include citrus fruits, such as lemon and lime; tropical fruits, such as melon and pineapple; orchard fruits, such as apple and peach; and floral, vegetal and woody scents and flavors. Red wine aromas and flavors often are associated with red fruits, such as cherry and raspberry; black fruits, such as plum and blackberry; and herbal, vegetal, woody and earthy fragrances and flavors. Sipping Take a small sip and swish it inside your mouth for several seconds. Is the body light, medium or full? Does it taste sweet or dry (not sweet)? Is the acidity (crispness) flat, refreshing or sharp? In addition, for a red wine, are the tannins soft, dry or hard? And are all these tastes in balance? Is the wine simple or complex, and does it change as it sits in your mouth? Can you identify any of the flavors mentioned? Spitting Swallowing adds little if anything to perception of taste, so smart tasters spit the sip of wine into a water glass or a dump bucket OK, so it's difficult to look cool while doing this.

But spit At the first wine festival, a panel of 22 local judges evaluated 200 wines poured at the Grand Tastings. Judges awarded 32 wines with gold medals that year. Kendall-Jackson led with three golds for chardonnays and zinfandel. Two wineries had double winners: Adler Fels for fume blanc and gewurztraminer and Gloria Ferrer for sparkling wines. Of the original 22 judges, only Jim Poth of Oxford has participated in all 10 festivals.

Vintage reading If you're interested in reading about wine not just tasting it new books include French Wines (DK; The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Wine (Carlton; and The Magic of Wine: A Bookot Quota-tions (Quillen Boynton; I..

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