Tag Archives: Guest Post

Italian & Green Wine Resources!

25 Nov

My friend Michael Horne  writes an Italian wine blog. He’s a talented writer with good sommelier sense!

I love his articles on The Best Regional Wines of Northern Italy   and What are ‘GREEN’ wines, just as a start!

I think you’ll like his work too, hence the hit.

Oh, for my buddy DVT, here’s a treat for you from Michael: 51 Top Italian Wines for Under $20.


If you want to copy the link, it’s http://www.dalluva.com/wine-journal/

à votre santé….or,  alla vostra salute!



A Way To Identify Smells In Your Wine!

28 Sep

Many of my friends and wine associates have challenges in identifying wine aromas. This is a fun article that describes a wonderful approach to expanding your sense and ability to smell and describe wine!

A link to the article is here, and the text follows. Ross Szabo does a great job. Enjoy, and follow his work on Huffington Post!


A Fun Way to Discover Wine Aromas With Items Already in Your Kitchen 

By Ross Szabo

As a person who rarely even selects which wine to drink when I am out for dinner, I am definitely a novice when it comes to properly identifying wine aromas. I can’t tell you how many times I have put my nose over a glass and guessed, purely out of embarrassment. When tasting in the past, everyone’s nose seemed better than mine, like they had an inside secret I would never know. I felt like I had some kind of impairment that would never be cured.

A large part of the problem was that I wasn’t in touch with my senses enough to know what words to use to verbalize the scents wafting past my face. When I don’t feel like I have words to describe what seems so commonplace to others, like most people in this situation I feel stupid and hesitant to speak up. However, all that changed with one simple exercise that anyone can do at home! This isn’t a wine infomercial. I promise.

My wife, Heidi, and I were guided through a wonderful lesson on how to smell wines by a sommelier in Mendoza, Argentina, Mariana Onofri. She made the process really comfortable. She said, “Scents are one of the basic building blocks of wine tasting. People say they don’t know about wine and feel inhibited. Wine is about enjoyment. My goal is to help people understand what they are tasting to enhance that enjoyment.”

Here are the three simple steps to properly identifying aromas. You can even use them to throw a party.

1. It’s important to include a variety of different whites and reds during this exercise. We had six glasses of wine for each person, including Torrontes, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. During our aroma ID session with Mariana, we smelled and tasted each wine one at a time. The first sniff should always be done before swirling the wine to preserve the purity. This exercise is to learn the scents, so it’s important not to drink all of the wine, as you will be smelling and tasting them again. As we smelled each wine, I expressed to Heidi my lifelong frustration with not knowing how to describe the odors. Then the magic happened.

2. We took a break from smelling the wines and played a game. There were 16 ingredients placed into individual short, black, opaque wine glasses. At home you could use coffee mugs, or small plastic cups — just as long as you cannot see what’s inside. We passed around the glasses and wrote down what we smelled in each of them.

When we couldn’t identify exactly what was in the glass, it helped to write down memories the scents evoked. For example, Heidi’s answers consisted of ocean, grass, Christmas and other familiar memories from her life. For me, Chardonnay smelled like fresh pancakes from my childhood, but I was actually identifying the buttery nature of the varietal. Smell often triggers memories. If they do, you should write down that feeling. The important thing is that this exercise is not about being correct, it’s about becoming more in touch with your senses and references from your world.

After writing down our thoughts, Mariana told us the answers, and the hidden scents came alive one by one. The ingredients were green olives, orange, honey, chamomile, fruit jam, pepper seasoning, butter, lemon, vanilla, red pepper, pineapple, black licorice, green pepper, caramel, cinnamon and apple. We kept score to see who had correctly identified the most items. You can come up with a fun punishment for the person who has the lowest amount of correct answers.

3. The next step was to go back to the wines and smell them again. For me the bouquet of smells came alive from every glass. Because we had taken the time to identify the individual aromas earlier, it all clicked for me now as I smelled the wines. I finally felt like I was part of the club that could identify different aromas of wines, instead of just looking around the room and trying to fit in or giving up on the idea of ever having this skill. Being comfortable with the words to describe the smells has changed my entire wine tasting experience.

It’s easy, and a lot of fun, to replicate this process at home. Invite some of your friends over and have each of them bring a different wine. There will always be cheaters trying to see what is in the hidden cups. Try to discourage them, as it is so much more important to be identifying with your own experience, rather than “the right” answer. You’ll be amazed at how well the sniffing experiment works.

2011 Modus Operandi Vicarious Rosé (Guest Post)

15 Jul
Here’s a delightful guest post & review from my friend, fellow theatrical artist/educator/ally, and wine enthusiast from the  great Northwest, Dave Tosti-Lane. His review is poetic, insightful, educational and a good time- much like the man himself.  Please share & comment!-JvB

2011 Modus Operandi Vicarious Rosé

Four barrels (100 cases) produced, $20/bottle.

The delight begins with the appearance of the wine in the bottle – crystal clear, salmon pink with a tawny edge – not a trace of haze or sediment; it invites one to open as soon as possible. Passing that threshold, the nose is distinctly floral, again the words that come to mind for me are clean and fresh. Inhaling deeply (yes, I did inhale) lets you feel a bit of the tang of the acid in this complex wine. Swirl in the glass and observe the lazy slow legs making their way down the sides. The first sip is luscious, hitting the tongue with a rush of sweetness that is not remotely cloying, followed by a smooth taste some liken to rhubarb cobbler. That’s a little specific for me, I would say soft fruit, but the cobbler image is probably a good one. Perhaps I’d say many flavors blended together. I’m not really adept at specific tasting notes, but the whole is absolutely smooth and refreshing, neither overly sweet nor bitingly dry. There is a long, delightful finish, lingering with no harshness. As the wine warms in the glass, it continues to improve, encouraging one to hold it in the mouth and only reluctantly swallow it down, but the reward for doing so is that luscious finish. You want to take another sip as soon as possible, but as you enjoy the taste, you transition to long drawn out time experiencing the silky feel of the wine in the mouth and contemplating the enjoyment of the finish to come. Then, a bit of extended nosing of the delicious citrus and cobbler rising from the glass – and the sensuous feel of the wine as it slides over the tongue – you want to make this ritual last for as long as you can. The hardest part is leaving some in the bottle for your partner.

Jason Moore, the master winemaker and founder of Modus Operandi Cellars, describes his process and goals in making the 2011 Vicarious Rosé:

“This Rosé was made in the saignee (French for, to bleed) method where a certain percentage of fresh juice is bled from the tanks of freshly crushed red grapes…the juice that has been bled out can be fermented to create Rosé wine. My goal and intention when making Rosé for Vicarious, is for it to give the experience of a crisp, refreshing white wine. Therefore, this wine has lower alcohol, higher acid; it has gone thru no malolactic fermentation, and has had no exposure to new oak.”

Master Moore and Modus Operandi Cellars represent a serious threat to my annual budget for wine. It’s bad enough that I was unable to resist joining the Modus Wine Club after trying some of their luscious Cabernet Sauvignon; I was not finished with my first glass of the Vicarious Rosé before I found myself online ordering more bottles.

I worry that this will become a pattern with the wines from Modus Operandi – they tend to exceed all expectations. In the case of the Rosé, they also amaze with regard to price at just $20/bottle. In the Pacific Northwest, we’ve been waiting and waiting for summer this year; fortuitously, my Modus Operandi Wine Club shipment arrived just as the temperature finally hit 80˚ for the first time. The Vicarious Rosé is a wonderful warm-weather wine; its low alcohol level and clean taste are completely refreshing. It pairs well with many foods, we tried it with grilled Halibut and fresh roasted beets the first night, and good old fashioned hot dogs the second. Perfect compliment to both, and each highlighted a different quality of the wine. The simple grilled fish with the sweet roasted beets emphasized the balance between tart and sweet of the Rosé, while the hot dog allowed the wine to show it’s power to clean the palate and make an old favorite taste even better. With both, the best part was the time after the meal relaxing and finishing off the glass, allowing the wine to come front and center and be the focus of attention.

My friend and host of this blog Jim van Bergen has noted how impressed he is with the wines of Modus Operandi, and I have to agree (and thank him for the tip to try them out).

Because I live in the Pacific Northwest, I tend to drink a lot of Washington wines, and am somewhat spoiled by the ability to find wineries like Baer, Hedges, Corliss, Canoe Ridge, Novelty Hill and others pretty much right in my back yard. And yet, I find myself returning to the website to order more Modus Operandi wines every time I sit down to drink one. Recently,  looking at the wines in my cellar, I realized that many of them really want to have a few more years in the bottle before they reach their peak -but it seems to me that everything Jason Moore produces is intended to drink NOW – there’s no need to plan out the timing of when you’ll be able to drink it, no feeling guilty because you couldn’t wait until 2014 – there’s only the pleasure of exceptional wine asking only to be decanted and allowed to breathe for a bit before enjoying.

-Dave Tosti-Lane is a theatre sound and lighting designer living near Seattle. He is a founding faculty member and chair of the Performance Production Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. His adventures with wine, ignoring those earlier ones in college that more often involved screw caps, plastic glasses, and unfortunate mornings, began with an effort to increase HDL cholesterol through regular ingestion of resveratrol.  He reasoned that if he was going to be drinking at least a glass of wine each day, it really ought to be good wine! Happily, his wife Linda agreed, and the cellar began to grow.

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