Sunday, July 24, 2011


Try Before You Buy

If you are dining out in a restaurant and you have questions about some of the offerings on a wine list, most places will offer to pour a taste to help you make up your mind.

I can usually make my way around a wine list without too much help, but there are times when I like a little assistance.  Recently, at Sushiya On Sunset, I felt like a Chardonnay.  The by-the-glass list offered two, the Sanford Santa Barbara County and the Talus Lodi Chardonnay.  I was looking for a Chardonnay that was crisp and refreshing and somewhat light on the oak.  I asked my server which one would be better.

Rather than guessing for me, she offered a taste of each so I could compare the two side by side.  This helped me make up my mind in short order.

With both samples before me, I could easily see the Sanford was darker in color than the Talus.  Right away, I surmised there would probably be more effect from the oak barrels in the Sanford.  Tasting proved me right, with the Sanford showing a deliciously creamy, toasty vanilla profile while the Talus brought a leaner composition to the table, with more acidity than the Sanford.

My immediate needs called for the acidity of the Talus more than the lushness of the Sanford, so my choice was easy - thanks to the option of trying the two Chardonnays beforehand.

After the fact, I found that while the Sanford is 100% Chardonnay, the Talus is 91% Chardonnay and 9% Sauvignon Blanc.  Had I known that beforehand, I probably would have simply opted for the Sauvignon Blanc blend.  Since I didn't have this information at decision time, the offer to taste was quite appreciated and helpful.

By the way, the Talus Chardonnay paired perfectly with the freshwater eel and really brought out the flavor of the wasabi, too.

If you aren't sure about a wine selection in a restaurant, ask for a sample.  They should be happy to pour a taste so you can be sure you'll like what you're buying.

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