Though I’ve attended numerous (hundreds of) wine tasting events, I still find they can be punishing to you palate. And normally requires a recovery beer afterward, which, incidentally, will be one of the most delicious beers you will ever drink. But why is 58 my limit? Does the 59th wine send me over the edge? To the dentist? Gum surgeon?
This is no arbitrary number. I arrived at it after tasting 58 Washington Syrahs in my capacity as a judge for a wine event in Seattle, called “Sexy Syrah“. (Looking at my stained teeth after my judging duties were completed, I will confess to feeling low levels of sexiness.) So how do you survive sampling so many wines? What is a good strategy for tasting wines at an event you paid good money to attend? Do you follow the all-you-can-eat buffet strategy? (“Damnit, I paid for all these wines and I’m getting my money’s worth and then some, even if they have to drag me out of here.”)
Fortunately, I have a friend who tastes wine in a most thoughtful and methodical manner; someone who can offer advice to wine lovers and provide a window into how a wine critic evaluates his or her subject. He’s Sean Sullivan, creator of the invaluable Washington Wine Report as well as a Contributing Editor to Wine Enthusiast Magazine. He’s also the latest guest on my Wine Without Worry podcast.
After chatting about wine tasting, we move on to (naturally) talk a bit about Washington wine. I ask Sean if Washington has a signature grape. The candidates?
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Picpoul (joking…or am I?)
You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out Sean’s answer. And since this episode focuses heavily on wine tasting, I thought it would be fun to bring a wine for Sean to try blind. My intent was not to bring some crazy, esoteric wine that no one in their right mind would ever be able to identify. I take no shameful pride in such parlor tricks! Instead, since we were taping this episode on my birthday (I really know how to celebrate, huh?), I picked out a wine from my stash that I really wanted to drink: the 2002 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.
I’ve long been a fan of Mount Eden Vineyards, located in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. Not only do they make great Cabernet, but also fantastic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. All three are some of the best examples of each grape you’ll find in California. The 2002 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon met and exceeded my lofty expectations. A very smooth and elegant red, it was gorgeous joy to drink. And quite youthful; I would never have guessed it was 10+ years old based on both the color and the flavor. It has a long life ahead of it. Thank God I have another bottle. Hear all about it:
“58” photo courtesy roland.