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A wine is a terrible thing to waste.
And with a little know-how from Jordan Salcito, the wine director of Crown Restaurant in New York City and creator of Bellus Wines, you too can learn to read between the lines - and vines - to get the most out of every pop of the cork.
Five Questions to Demystify Wine: Jordan Salcito
Some people tend to like acidity in wines, and food, more than others. For those people, Riesling is a staple. For others, who prefer a luxurious richness and viscosity, a grape from the Rhône Valley, such as Viognier (if you want something floral and aromatic) or Grenache Blanc (if you want something more neutral, like red apple and Meyer lemon), will likely be more pleasing."
2. Different wines tend to be given different quality rankings. How does one assess this? Can a novice discern this?
Another hallmark of a great wine is balance. When you taste a wine, it should be harmonious - that is, no one element should stick out. For example, a wine should not taste like booze! (If it does, the alcohol is probably too high, and the wine isn’t balanced).
Another indicator of quality is complexity. When you stick your nose into a glass, how many aromas can you smell? If all you smell is fruit, and alcohol, the wine is probably not very dimensional.
Finally, pay attention to the length of the wine. That is, after you’ve take a sip, how long do the flavors linger on your palate? An inexpensive wine will disappear quickly, whereas one of higher quality will stick around and continue to develop long after that sip has disappeared."
3. What is the point of blind tasting? How does someone get good at it?
If you want to become a great blind taster, I highly recommend joining a tasting group (in which those involved possess abilities and experience greater than yours)."
4. What are good rules of thumb when creating wine pairings?
Another rule of thumb: match textures. If you are eating a grilled ribeye, you’ll likely want something as dense and chewy to drink along with it. Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, and even some Syrahs are perfect with beef, because they have a great backbone of tannins."
5. What is the most misunderstood grape?
Chardonnay from Chablis tastes, to me, of lemon, green apples, chalk, salt water and occasionally Parmesan cheese rind. It has a higher acidity and more freshness than wines made from Chardonnay even just south, in famous villages of the Côte d’Or.
These wines are especially different from most California Chardonnays, which are made from ripe fruit and often aged in a lot of new oak, lending vanilla, pineapple upside-down cake and baking spice overtones to the wine."
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