#99 Create a Wine Blend

On January 26, 2019 we attended a wine blending event held at Catoctin Breeze. For a few hours we were winemakers experimenting with four different types of red wines in different combinations to create a Bordeaux-style blend. The wines we chose from were Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

Before we began we needed to taste each of the four base wines to give us an idea of what we had to work with and give us ideas of which wines we would choose and at our choice of proportions. (We needed to blend at least two of the wines). Over the two hours, Mary Ann and I worked with another couple, each blending our own combinations of wines. We used measured beakers and measured eyedroppers to get the proper proportions, according to our guess percentages of each wine. We tasted each other’s creations and tried to differentiate the flavors of each of the component wines. After the first round, we all refined our wine selections and proportions. Again, we tasted each other’s creations. Then we voted on our favorite. The group chose mine to present to the winemaker and to the other group of 4 winemakers. I think mine was 45% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Petit Verdot. We liked ours better than the other group.

In the end it was a good time and we drank a lot of wine, some of it good.

Note: We could not create a ‘Bordeaux’ because that is a legally protected name for the wines created in the Bordeaux region of France. There are red, white, and sparkling Bordeaux wines although I have only seen and tasted the reds. In the US, a Bordeaux-style blend of wine is sometimes called ‘Meritage’. However, the name ‘Meritage’ can only be used if the winemaker is licensed by owner of the Meritage trademark, the California-based Meritage Alliance. ‘Bordeaux’ or ‘Meritage’? No big deal. To me it’s just a name for a blended wine.

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#98 Wines – Try 100 Different Wines

This experience was on my initial list: To experience 100 wines. While I have no specific number of wines I have tasted over the past 3 years since retiring, I clearly have achieved this experience. Some of these were written up in the links below.

I taste the most wines when we visit wineries, especially when they are located nearby each other. I also taste wines in wine stores that have a distributer peddling their wines. And there is the buying a wine unseen or drinking a wine that someone else had bought.

We visited the Finger Lakes twice since retiring. May 2016 and August 2017. The ‘Finger Lakes’ has three main lakes with over 100 wineries – Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka. While each time we visited some of the better wineries, we did visit some different ones each time. Over those two trips we visited a total of 17 different wineries for tastings, sampling between 3 and 5 wines at each winery. Our favorites being Lakewood Vineyards (https://lakewoodvineyards.com/) and Swedish Hill Winery (https://swedishhill.com/)

We visited 8 wineries near Charlottesville, Virginia (January 2017 and October 2018). We visited 3 wineries in Nova Scotia, Canada in August 2018. I even visited a winery in Paw Paw, Michigan in November 2017.

We visited 4 wineries in Maryland. We even joined the wine clubs at Catoctin Breeze and Big Cork. We have had several tastings at these wineries of different wines and different years. I even helped harvest grapes in 2017 and 2018 at Catoctin Breeze.   https://www.catoctinbreeze.com/ and https://www.bigcorkvineyards.com/

We have attended several wine tastings at local beer and wine stores, primarily at the Wine Harvest. These tastings include reds, whites, and sparkling from all over the world. I recall wines from California, Washington state, Oregon, Arizona, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Austria, and British Columbia.

So what do I conclude about the many wines and wineries that I have visited? My first conclusion is that is I have tried a lot of wine. Reds, whites, sparkling, different years, different vineyards, different states, different countries. There are even some wines made of grapes that I had never heard of.

Second, there is a lot of good wine out there and there is bad wine, too. What I think is a good wine, someone else could hate it, and vice versa.

Third, I have definite favorite types of wine. My top 10 include dry sparkling wines, dry whites (Riesling, Burgundy, Viognier, and Chardonnay), and dry reds (Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Petite Verdot, and Barbera). I don’t care for sweet wines.

Fourth, it seems some wines taste better at the winery than at home. This doesn’t happen often, but a few times a wine I really liked at the winery didn’t quite taste as good when I drank it at home. After all, I bought it because I liked it. It could be the temperature of the wine is not right when I serve it at home or I may have just been caught up in the experience at the winery.

Here are links to other experiences involving wine: