Monday, December 7, 2009

Wine Tasting

I didn't get much cooking done this week. I went wine tasting the weekend after Thanksgiving and had a blast. Unfortunately I also came home with a raging allergic reaction to something -- soap, we think -- on my hands, arms, and legs (the arms and legs are just an overreaction to the soap). However, it's taking a pretty serious steroid cream to bring it to bay, so I've not done much with food.

That's not to say I don't have anything to talk about. Remember, I was on a wine tasting trip; so I've got lots to talk about. I tasted at least 100 wines at 16 wineries in the Tri-Cities region of Washington over the course of two days. Don't worry, I wasn't driving, and generally didn't have more than a sip or two of any wine.

Washington state wines are coming out of obscurity and being recognized as the great wines they are. Washington vintners produce big, buxom Chardonnays; crisp, clean Pinot Noirs; well-balanced, lush Merlots; and subtly complex Syrahs. Do you want me to gush more? I didn't think so.

I noticed some interesting trends in wine production. Viogniers and Lembergers are the two hot new varietals that vintners are producing; at least one third of the wineries were sampling one or the other of them. Historically, these wines have been used predominantly for blending; now they are being recognized as varietals in their own right.

A Viognier is a quiet white wine. Its delicate fruitiness plays well along the tongue with just enough acidity and a touch of spiciness to keep it interesting. A Viognier has more body than a Pinot Gris or a Riesling, but is lighter than a Sauvignon Blanc.

A Lemberger, on the other hand, is a red wine. Elements of cherries and berries combine with a bright acidity to wake up the tongue. Lembergers are great wines when you want a wine that is reminiscent of a Merlot without the ponderousness that a Merlot can have.

Another interesting trend is Rieslings. Most of the Rieslings that Washington wineries have been producing are sweet, dessert Rieslings. Recently, several wineries in the area have been experimenting with dry Rieslings -- to great effect. A dry, crisp Riesling is quite refreshing, well-prepared to complement a cheese casserole (but I get ahead of myself -- that's next week's post).

Speaking of next week's post, it's getting late and I'm getting itchy (again). So I'm going to let you go so I can put cream on my poor itching epidermis. But before I go, next week's post is going to talk about pairing wines and foods -- just in time for the holidays!


Nicolas and Elizabeth said...

at Pacific Rim we have been making Dry Riesling from Eastern WA for 12 years. We really do think we can make some great Dry Riesling. Give ours a try!


Susan Wensel said...

Do you have a tasting room? I'm always on the look out for new/good wines.