Showing posts with label sommelier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sommelier. Show all posts

Sunday, August 21, 2011


wine nose

People who are new to the wine tasting experience sometimes have a tough time describing how wine smells.  A recent article from Tacoma's News Tribune offered some tips on how to become more comfortable with wine's aroma descriptors.

Wine tasting isn't a test - there are no right or wrong answers when describing what a wine smells or tastes like to you.  Your palate is a singular event in the universe, and all you need to do is report what it tells you.

The Court of Master Sommeliers - folks who know a thing or two about tasting and describing wine - say the tastes and smells of wine are divided into three areas: fruit, earth and wood.

The fruit aspect comes from the grapes, while the earth aromas tell you about the soil where the grapes were grown.  The wood influence comes from the oak barrels in which the wine is fermented and aged.  Some wines are made in stainless steel tanks, and display no characteristics of wood.

To train your palate to pick up the fruit aromas in wine, pay more attention to the fruit you eat.  Don't be embarrassed to get a good whiff of the fruit you buy at the market.  Sometimes, closing your eyes when you smell or taste fruit will help you remember its attributes better.

Earth notes include chalk, flint, dust, slate or rocks.  The influence of wood often shows itself as a vanilla profile, but coffee, chocolate, caramel and spices can all come into play.

Smelling and tasting wine should make you think of something you have smelled or tasted before, and that's how you should describe it.  The article mentions Flintstones vitamins as an unusual, but perfectly legitimate descriptor.  Wet driveway, Pez candy, crayon, tar and a freshly mown lawn are some other descriptors that I find in wine aromas.

Swirling a wine around in the glass helps stir up those aromas and release them so they'll be a little easier to notice.

Expand you palate when you get the chance, and be true to it by expressing how the wine smells to you.  Remember, there's no wrong answer.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


Edgar Poureshagh

I'm always on the lookout for another nice spot to pop into and taste some wine.  Barely open a month at this writing is 3Twenty Wine Lounge, located appropriately enough at 320 South La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles.

I stopped in recently and had the pleasure of chatting with proprietor Edgar Poureshagh, a certified sommelier and card-carrying wine geek.  Poureshagh has spun his experience and connections as a distributor into a Miracle Mile wine bar, with a kitchen that produces a small plate menu.

He says the idea is to "have some small portions that can be paired with tastes of wine.  People can gain experience in pairing wine with food this way, and it's a great way to broaden your palate."

Wine is available by the bottle, glass or taste, dispensed in 1.7-ounce servings from several automatic machines.  The price for each taste varies depending on the price of the wine.  Most are in the three to five-dollar range, with the top end being $15 for a sample of the '87 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

In this family operation - Poureshagh is joined by his wife and parents in the venture - the wines center on family-run wineries.  "I'm trying to stay away from corporate wines and serve smaller-production wines with a lot more character.  I love wines with a story," he says.  He also knows plenty of those wine stories and loves to share them when he has the chance.  One of his favorite family-run wineries is R.H. Coutier.  They've been making wine for 500 years in France's Champagne region.

He points out that most of the wines at 3Twenty are sold below typical restaurant prices, and he works an array of sources to secure the wines he wants to carry.  "We buy our wine direct from about 10 wineries and use over two dozen brokers and distributors to find the right wines."  Eight beers are also on the list, in case you're not in the mood for wine.  That's a situation that's hard to imagine once you are inside 3Twenty.

Poureshagh is proud of his new place, and of his staff.  During conversation with him, it's easy to feel his passion for wine and his pleasure at having this wine bar open for business.  He says they are doing the same thing other wine bars are doing, just differently.  "We're not reinventing the wheel, just making a really shiny wheel."

Here are the wines I sampled from the automatic wine dispenser system at 3Twenty:

Seghesio Zinfandel 2009 - spice and chocolate

Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2009 - dark and dusty

Masi Costasera Amarone 2006 - cassis, blackberry and raisins, laced with minerality

Mayacamas Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - astounding minerality, perfect tannins

Lioco Sonoma Chardonnay 2009 - big and creamy

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Les Tuffeaux 2008 - Loire Chenin Blanc, lovely, nutty accents

Karthauserhof Riesling Spatlese 2007 - great slate

Bert Simon Riesling Auslese 2002 Serrig Herrenberg - petrol and just enough sweetness

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Drew Hendricks

If you really want a good recommendation on what kind of wine to serve with a particular cut of meat, ask a sommelier at a Texas steak house.  Wine Spectator did just that. 
That wine mag did a short interview with Drew Hendricks, left, director of beverage education and wine for Pappas Bros. in Houston.  You can read the entire article , but here is the meat of the interview:
Hendricks says the determining factor is the amount of fat in the cut of meat.  For a filet or tenderloin, he likes to pair a Chateauneuf-du-Pape or a Spanish wine for the bold flavors the lean meat needs.
For a New York strip Hendricks wants to keep the big flavor and add some tannins and acidity.  He says a Sangiovese, an old-school Zinfandel or a Washington Syrah are perfect for that.
With prime rib, his advice is Pinot Noir or Barolo.  Hendricks says those wines will offer a cleansing effect with the richness of the meat.
In the interview , he also answers some questions about wine service in restaurants, talks about how he got started and gives a bit of advice for future sommeliers.