Wine How To Redux: Avoiding Palate Fatigue

Nearly two years ago I wrote the following blog post about palate fatigue. It’s one of the Top 10 posts on this site so I thought maybe I should review my advice and see if I still agree with it!

Fortunately, I do.

During the past week, I tasted a lot of wine: about 2 dozen wines at Bridlewood with winemaker David Hopkins, 15-20 wines at three Ventura County wineries on Friday, a couple of bottles on Saturday at home for blog posts, on Sunday another 20 or more wines at 4 Ventura County Wineries,  two more wines on Monday, then on Tuesday about 50 wines at an industry event in Los Angeles. That’s a lot of wine, but I didn’t have any problems with palate fatigue (no hangovers, either).

And I’m preparing for Dark & Delicious where I will taste as many as 50 different Petit Sirahs! Insert image of red wine tongue here!

So in addition to the ideas about palate fatigue in the post below, I’ve learned this about attending tastings:

1) Drink lots of liquids before (and after) the tasting; don’t drink water during. I like protein shakes before.

2) If you taste a lot of wine often, you don’t get palate fatigue like you do as a beginner.

3) Dump. Spit. Dump. Spit. Dump. Spit. You’re not going to offend anyone!

4) When in doubt, don’t drive. When your palate is fatigued, maybe this is a sign for you to stop tasting. There was a woman at the tasting Tuesday who insisted she could drive home. While I prayed the valet didn’t give her her keys, we went for sushi and let the traffic die down. I didn’t want to be on any road she was on.

5) Wear dark clothes!

Keep reading for more tips on what to do about palate fatigue.

Wine How To: Avoid Palate Fatigue When I applied for the “dream job” as Caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef I discovered a whole community of fellow applicants–warm, interesting people who share my interests. Same thing around this time as an applicant for the Murphy-Goode’s Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent. One of the cool people is Andy over at Andy’s Goode Life Blog where she’s hosting a blog carnival by asking us to respond to these three questions: When I drink red wine … Read More

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PS I Love You Says It’s Time to Get “Dark & Delicious”

Most people don’t know Petit Sirah or if they do, they confuse it with syrah or shiraz.  According to the advocacy group PS I Love You, Petite Sirah is the offspring of Syrah: “Every grape variety has two parents. In the case of Petite Sirah, those two parents are Syrah and Peloursin. That means that half of the genetic makeup of Petite Sirah came directly from Syrah. Syrah is the father of Petite Sirah in the true genetic sense.”

That more people don’t know their sirahs from their syrahs is a shame because it means they’re missing out on a big, juicy, inky “dark & delicious” wine!

It’s not surprising that more people don’t know about Petit Sirah: it’s commonly a wine used in blending, adding color and body and umph.

But when it’s good, or very very good, a winemaker will bottle straight PS –and that is an uncommonly good pleasure!

As you may know from reading this blog, I cut my wine teeth working at the Ridge tasting room up Montebello Road back in my 20s. They knew how to make some incredible PS then (and they still do).

So if you come across a petit sirah at a wine tasting, you should definitely ask to try it. Just last weekend, at Ventura’s Valentines n’Wine Passport Weekend, my husband had a few wonderful petit sirah experiences, especially Ojai Vineyard’s Petit Sirah…what a dreamy PS… and now he wants more!

A great way to discover how great Petit Sirah can be is by tasting a lot of it by several different winemakers. And since PS is such a great food wine, an even better way is through pairings of food with Petit Sirah.

Which is exactly why tomorrow night’s “Dark & Delicious” is such a brilliant event: Continue reading

Wine Blogging Wednesday #70: Celebrate with Spanish Sherry, Garnacha & Cava!

For over five years, each month wine bloggers gathered around a virtual fire to discuss a wine related theme or prompt. For a number of reasons, about a year ago Wine Blogging Wednesday waned and fell by the virtual wayside.

But some of us blew on the embers (by some tweets, blog posts, and other social media means), and lo and behold,  Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report got the fire going once again!

This month Wine Blogging Wednesday #70 comes to you from Ryan and Gabriella Opaz of the award winning blog catavino.net. Their prompt, not surprisingly from bloggers who specialize in wines from Iberia, is to blog about a Spanish wine today, Wednesday February 16 and to let them know about it!

They suggest we

Seek out Spanish wines that you’ve never had before! Get creative! Hunt for unique styles such as a Sherry, Cava, Fondillon or Mistella; an unheard of region like Arribes, Txakoli de Alava or Extremadura; or a unique native grape like Prieto Picudo or Treixadura

On Monday February 7, I  wrote about a Spanish Amontillado sherry for the Secret Sherry Society which I paired with Belgian chocolates and which was hard enough to find!  I found it equally difficult to find any obscure Spanish varietals that would allow me to an obvious way to get creative.

For this post, trying to find some unusual angle, I considered visiting a local wine bar, The Wine Rack, which sells Spanish wines made from familiar varietals  like cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay that taste familiar to American palates and are under $20. Owner Seana even offered to open any wines I wanted for me to taste (and write about!)

Instead, I went to the Ventura Wine Company, which, while lacking much of a selection of unusual Spanish varietals, did offer a few of one of my favorites.  I settled with choosing a varietal  I love grenache, or, as it’s known in Spain, garnacha, and tried two versions of it, a Vina Borgia Campo de Borja 2009 which retails between $6-10 and a Tres Picos Borsao 2008 which can be found from $15-20. Continue reading

Wild Rock: Cupid’s Arrow NZ Pinot Noir for Valentine’s Day or any romantic occasion

If you’re still looking for a wine for Valentine’s Day –or some other romantic occasion– you can’t go wrong with Wild Rock’s Cupid’s Arrow from New Zealand.

The label is clearly a winner for romantic occasions: it features a person diving off a rock, possibly struck by cupid’s arrow!

We’ve chosen this wine a few times because it’s a good value ($20 retail but often on sale) and we really like it with simply grilled salmon, rice, and a vegetable (in this case, we had asparagus; it pairs just fine). We often grill salmon when we’re camping or having a cookout at the beach and we love that most New Zealand wines have easy open screw tops.  You might also like it with lamb or duck.

In the glass, the Wild Rock Cupid’s Arrow Pinot Noir has lots of color and it’s full of red fruit, especially fresh raspberry and cherry with some plum. There’s a nice earthy quality too–almost like you’re walking in an herb garden. Like most pinot noirs that I’ve had from New Zealand (and I’ve had a few!), it’s easily approachable with nice body and character. It’s not going to overwhelm your date like a cab might–but it’s not going to underwhelm them either! While you’ll probably finish it up the first night, I kept it cool and it lasted surprisingly well for a few days.

According to Wild Rock folks, this pinot noir is made from Pollard and Dijon clones, grown sustainably on hillsides in central Otago which is way way south of any place else where they grow wine. The grapes are 80% hand picked, fermented in stainless steel and using indigenous yeasts before 10 months in French oak barrels.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Or whatever you’re celebrating that brings you here!

(Please note that while I have purchased this wine in the past, this particular bottle was a sample.)

The Valentine angel is a handcrafted felted doll made by my friend Borbala Arvai…see more of her work here:

5 Ways to Green Your Valentine’s Day

How can you “green” your Valentine’s Day? Here are five ideas on how to green everything you need from cards to candles to wine to chocolate covered strawberries!

Greening Valentine's Day with organic treats, homemade gifts & local, sustainable, organic, biodynamic wines of course! Even though Valentine’s Day screams RED: red roses, red foil chocolates, red sweaters, red hearts, and RED ink in your checking account, GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN this year! Turn your Valentine’s Day GREEN with some of these tips from LIVE Earth: Save a Little Love for the Planet on Valentine’s Day (photo by LA Green Girl). Wine Predator’s additional tips and commentary are in bold and italics. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! February 14th is … Read More

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For Your Valentine Angel: Sparkling Rose + Seared Ahi Salad with Blueberries!

What should you serve your Valentine?

Something pink? Something sparkly? Something as delightful and surprising as your Valentine?

How about a light “pink” sparkling wine with ahi tuna, seared to keep it a pretty pink inside?  Served on a bed of field greens with a white stilton with cranberries? And paired with a Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut Rose Cuvee de la Pompadour? Made in the traditional methods? And retailing at $35?

Take it from me, this meal of seared ahi and sparkling rose is a winner!

We’re fortunate here in Ventura to have a tuna boat come to our harbor about once a month from December through April or so. When it shows up, we go in with friends on a whole tuna and come home with bags of sushi grade meat that can’t really be any fresher. Continue reading

Adventures in Wine Coming Up: Egypt, France, Portugal, Spain–and SoCal too!

I’m bathing in a wealth of wine and stories about wine right now! This afternoon, I head up to Bridlewood Winery to see my Wine Bloggers Conference friend Kelly Conrad (who does PR for Gallo) to meet Bridlewood Winemaker, David Hopkins (who I already know is quite a character!) and to look around and do some tasting too of course!

Tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday I’ll be out and about in Ventura County visiting as many of the Valentine n’Wine wineries as I can, then Tuesday, I’ll be at a French industry wine tasting, and Friday is PS I Love You‘s “Dark and Delicious.” At the end of the month, I’m attending a Paso Robles tasting.

Not to mention I have tasting notes and half written blog posts about Egyptian wine, Spanish wine (beyond sherry!) for Wine Blogging Wednesday #70, plus ideas for wines for Valentine’s wines and food pairings and posts on Portuguese wine too! And more!

So please subscribe to Wine Predator and receive an email to your inbox to let you know I’ve found more on my prowls to share with you!