Month: June 2012

AHHHHH Vinho Verde

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Summer is upon us.  If you couldn’t tell from the three digit days for the last month.  I have found the perfect summer wine to come home to.  It is Vinho Verde.  Vinho Verde is a style of wine out of the Minho region of Portugal.  It can be in a red, white, or rose style.Many grape varietals are used in making this style of wine.  They are all picked before the grapes are ripe-hence the name “Green Wine.”

Last night I enjoyed a Brisa do Mar Vinho Verde and it was everything I could hope for after walking in the hot sun in downtown Denver.

The bottle I had was a white variety and I shared it with a person who hates sweet wine.  She was really reluctant to try it but was pleasantly surprised after her first sip. “It’s not sweet at all!”  She was right.  Vinho Verde is a dry, crisp, highly acidic wine which makes it the perfect summer sipper.

Vinho Verde has a slight effervescence which adds to the overall refreshing feel to this wine.  Lots of citrus notes, bold acid, and low alcohol content all add to the drinkability in the hot weather. Chill, pour, drink and repeat.  This wine is so affordable as well, between $6-$12.

YOU Can Drink Bordeaux!

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You Can Drink Bordeaux by Andrea Heap

French wine intimidates me.  Today my eyes were opened to how approachable they can be, even for a novice.  Bordeaux is a region in Western France that is known for beautiful (and very expensive) wines, but there are some very affordable and delicious wines available for everyday drinking.  The six allowable red grapes in Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere.  The white grapes from this region are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.

This afternoon, I had a delicious 2009 Chateau Le Pey Medoc wine out of the Bordeaux region of France.   The dominant grapes in this bottle were Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Not a fan of big tannins? Fear not, because this bottle didn’t have them.  The wine was very well-balanced and ready to drink. The bottle retails for under $20 and is easy to find in Denver.

The wine was inky purple in the glass and smelled like vanilla and rose petals.  Vanilla is a characteristic note of French Oak.    It was smooth and silky on the tongue with vanilla, plum, and ripe dark berries. The bright acid was a nice surprise and made it very satisfying to drink on a hot day in the city.  I enjoyed the wine with dark chocolate and it was magnifique.

The controversial subject of the importance of terroir is unending- but I tasted France today.

Wine- The Snobbiest of Subcultures?

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This is the beginning of a long paper I wrote for my nonfiction writing class.  I think it is funny-but afterall, I wrote it…

Enology- The Snobbiest of Subcultures? by Andrea Heap

We have all been there.  We want to order a bottle of wine at a restaurant, but the wine list is practically unreadable to a novice.  Words like Petite Syrah, Gewurstraminer, and Viognier are scary for someone who simply wants a drink.  This is the high society part of the menu.  I wonder if restaurants put a “House Red and White” on the wine list simply for people who don’t know the first thing about wine.  Once you finally decide upon the bottle, that is when the real panic creeps in.

The server comes to your table holding the bottle of wine like a newborn child.  The label strategically facing your table, as if each server has been trained by Vanna White.  They somehow manage to uncork the bottle while having the label in view the entire time. Pop! I usually jump slightly at this point from my nerves.  Here is the moment when you are given the cork to inspect, but God forbid do not smell it.[1]  After cork extraction, the server pours a thimble amount of your selected wine into your stemmed glass.  Then a stare down ensues while you are supposed to either taste the wine or ask for forgiveness of your sins.  You just give a nod of approval so they leave you alone and you celebrate getting through another grueling process of ordering fermented grape juice by raising your glass in a toast.


[1] A wine professor of mine made this rule very clear on the first day of class. “Don’t ever smell the cork in public! EVER!  Only if you are home behind closed doors may you do this, otherwise you look like an amateur.” Although, every time he would open a bottle in class he would smell the cork and the class would laugh accordingly.

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Delicious home made Popsicles! I had the lemon peach.

Me and Vanessa catching some shade under a tree.

Mesa Park’s Wines.

A real life statue!
Vanessa pouring wine for a guest.

Urban Winefest 2012

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I was able to attend the Colorado Urban Winefest this year with Adam and Vanessa Weiner of Alto Vino Distributing.  We poured wine for Mesa Park Vineyards, but were able to walk around quite a bit.  It was a very hot day for the event, but it was really fun to be with fellow wine enthusiasts!  The event was very well organized and put together, but the heat was brutal and was on a mission to melt all of the ice!  There was over 200 wines to taste and each winery had it’s own tent to represent their wines.

I was able to talk to Michelle Cleveland of Creekside Cellars and taste her delicious wines.  She will be teaching my Enology class in the fall.  I loved her Bianco and Rosso wines.

I had a great Chardonnay from Settembre Cellars out of Boulder.  They had a great tent with misters to cool off the hot wine drinkers.

The blog I wrote about last was about the aroma wheel and the importance of having one.  There was a giant aroma wheel at the event! They had wine glasses filled with the actual aromas so you could get a nice whiff of what certain things can smell like individually.

Overall it was a great event.  I am really glad I got to attend!

Aroma Wheel

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Aroma Wheel

Use an aroma wheel like this to help develop your palate.

It’s just vocabulary.

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I overheard a (very smart) girl in my class yesterday say that wine is, “just vocabulary, like anything else.”  I thought this was so interesting, and I thought she was right.  A novice could describe wine as being fruity or tannic, but a wine expert described those very same things more elegantly and more specifically.

Developing a palate for wine is a very hard thing to do.  It takes a lot of well…wine drinking.  Not very many people have the opportunity to to taste 10 wines in two hours like I do in class.  The only way I feel that I have been able to develop any palate at all was through these experiences.  You have to taste wine.  You have to taste wines against each other.  You can start small.  Buy two bottles of the same grape from two different wine regions.  This will help you realize that the “same wine” can taste completely different.  You can also get the same grape, from the same winery, but with different vintages.  (Vintage is a fancy word for the the year the grape was harvested.)  Young wine tastes very different than wine that has a little age on it.  These exercises are a great way to start to appreciate the taste of wine rather than just, “liking it, or not.”

Another very important thing you can do is print off an Aroma Wheel for free on the internet.  It looks like a color wheel but has the most common aromas found in wine broken into easy to find categories.  Even looking at those descriptions can help you determine what you are smelling and tasting.

Happy drinking.