Since introducing Chef’s tasting notes, I’ve made a point in trying something new every week. The idea is to expose my palate to new flavors and to inspire creations. This week it is all about wines.
I live in Quebec, Canada. What sets this province apart from the other Canadian provinces is beer and wine for sale at the grocery store. (Gas stations as well.)
No, you won’t find a forty-five dollar bottle there, but many can be had for fewer than twenty dollars. That’s why we are tasting value wines. Why you ask? I say, “WhyN ot?” (Get it? Why not?)
The best advice from a Sommelier
Patrick Ryan stands at my height, with a girth that I probably match. The wispy, gray haired Sommelier taught our Serving class in culinary school. I remember he patiently explained to me how it was in our guest’s best interest to taste the Chardonnay with the ballotine dish. (I had already sold them a bold, Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon.)
The best part about service class was when we got to taste the alcohol. What better way to upsell the wine than to have an experienced drinker push the selection.
I remember one line he said above all:
There are a lot of wines out there. We don’t have a lot of time in our lifetime, so try them all!
The wines I am going to taste today is on the cheaper side. You may ask why we are going to taste them. A bottle of wine doesn’t have to cost you half of your month’s rent to be tasty. Don’t panic if the bottle has a screw top instead of a cork. You only drink what’s inside.
Woodbridge Chardonnay 2011
I had this at my In-law’s anniversary party. We made a pork loin, and I made a sauce using this wine to deglaze the pan.
Appearance: Clear hue, like sunshine in a bottle.
Smell: Light oak, apples, spices. Perhaps like it was sweetened with honey.
Taste: Fruity, with an apple or pear undertone. It had a hint of spice like pepper in the background.
Mouthfeel: Crisp, light but with an oak undertone that made the wine appear dry.
Overall Score: 7.5/10: This wine is a user-friendly wine that will pair well with many main dishes. The reason it didn’t score higher is because the taste is on the dry side. People who like their wines sweet will want to give this one a pass.
Serve with: This would be delicious with apples and peaches. I used it to make a sauce for roasted pork tenderloin with mangoes. It works with risotto and quiche as well.
Sand Stone Creek 2011
A nice Shiraz from Australia. I had this with a friend that came down to visit.
Appearance: Dark, heart-blood red with deep reflections. Generous legs on the glass. (Legs are the streaks that form on the glass when it is swirled.)
Smell: Dark, musty. A fruity smell that you’d swear had cherry in it.
Taste: Bold, slap-your-face spice with a hefty background of dark fruits.
Mouthfeel: This wine was thicker than most, and left a pleasant, lingering finish.
Overall Score: 9/10: This wine is a winner, especially if you are planning to have a barbecue featuring grilled meats.
Serve with: Vegetarians. (That is, grilled meat.)
Wish For Luck
This was a lovely Cabernet from Chile. Sure, it’s got a screw top. It’s a wine available for a song.
Appearance: Dusty red, little legs.
Smell: Earthy, with a sharp note of spices.
Taste: Imagine you taste a freshly picked tomato and combine that with how you would normally think of red wine.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied, almost a sensation of a thin creamy flavor that sang with sharp notes on your tongue.
Overall Score: 7/10: Not for everyone. It’s dry, but will hold up well against anything that is fatty. It will compliment those bold flavors.
Serve with: Great with rib eye steak, or lamb. Goulash would be dashing. I served it with a cheese course.
What cheap wines have you tried and liked (or hated?) Let me know in the comments.