After a long day, there is no better way to unwind than having a glass of wine. Unfortunately, many people get overwhelmed by wine selections; I used to be one of them. Let's get real, there are so many wine options to choose from. Merlot, Chardonnay, Burgundy to Riesling - the list goes on. How does one really know what type of wine they actually like?
I've been to a few wine tastings and still, I didn't understand what I liked and disliked about certain wines. It wasn't until my recent collaboration with American Express that I really got to dive into learning about wine, (finally)! Using my membership reward points, I booked a personal wine tasting experience with Jeffrey ______ from Wine Hack, and boy, was it a complete game changing experience.
It was great to instantly have a connection with Jeffrey. His bright energy and fun attitude really shines through his personality. I was also happy to learn that Jeffrey and I share a lot in common; we both graduated with a business degree and we both left our cubicle jobs in order to pursue our passions and dreams. After visiting a friend that worked at a vineyard in Oregon, Jeffrey instantly fell in love with the art of creating wine, and BOOM - life goals instantly changed. He realized the missing gap of simplified educational books on wine and decided to write a book on this topic.
"How drunk do you guys want to get?" - was Jeffrey's first question. I couldn't help but laugh out loud. With Santa Con madness in the air, and having left my Cadillac in the garage for a driving free night - I was ready to drink the night away, (responsibly), and finally understand wine.
Jeffrey immediately told us that this wine tasting experience is all about fun - learning about what we like and dislike about what we taste. Hearing that immediately made me comfortable asking questions and put my mind at ease because, hey - I barley knew a thing about wine.
The first thing we learned about were the four attributes that describe all types of wine - B.O.S.S. (Body, oak, sweet, sour) - then the drinking began where I specifically remembered hoping I'd survive our drinking escapades. I really don't drink as much as most people in their 20's. After the waitress served the two different wines, she couldn't remember which was which. With a simple smell and taste, Jeffrey immediately figured it out. It was then and there, I knew I was learning from a pro. We started with drinking two different wines that had a different body to them. Instead of him telling us which wine we were drinking, he put our taste buds to the test to distinguish which had more body, (I found this method so much fun and focused hard to get the answers right). The best way to compare body would be whole milk and skim milk - one is much thicker in body while the other tastes watered down. I was easily able to figure out which wine had more body. After understanding body, my confidence level was definitely boosted. I was ready to learn about Oak in our second round of drinks. Bring it on!
The second letter of Jeffrey's acronym is O - for oak. After the wine has been prepared, it is then aged in barrels of oak wood to complete the transformation of grape juice, to wine. A few years ago, I did a wine tasting in Tuscany, Italy. I remember seeing barrels of wine, but never understood the reasoning behind it. Jeffrey compared this concept to tea bags; the longer you leave the tea bag in hot water - the more bitter the tea flavor will get. This same concept applies to wine aging in oak barrels. The longer the wine is in oak, the more bitter the taste will be. It also makes the wine richer in flavor and body. It was all starting to make sense. Before we even tasted the difference, I already knew I would favor the wine that hasn't been aged in oak as long. I was never a fan of bitter wine that had more body; and finally I understood why.
The next letter we learned from the BOSS acronym was S -which stands for sweet. Sweet wine is definitely the underdog of all wines, as there are certain stigmas against sweet wine lovers. It reminded me of all the times I would ask waitresses at restaurants for a sweet tasting wine, meanwhile get dirty looks from people around me questioning why I like sweet wine. I was glad to learn that sweeter wines are the better option for food wine pairings - as it brings out the flavors of the dish more. Ha! I dare someone to question my wine selection next time I'm at dinner!
Last but certainly not least was the last attribute that describes wine; S, which stands for sour. Now, please note - I am NOT a heavy drinker. Growing up, my friends called me astro-NAT, because I was such a "lightweight" when it came to drinking. At this point, after having so many glasses of wine - I wasn't sure if I'd even be able to tell the difference. Luckily, Jeffrey was there to guide me through this last flavorful experience. First, he described what sour wine would taste like- freshness. Our next test was to figure out which wine was more sour. Without giving away the answer for us, he had us to taste both wines and hinted that the more sour the wine is, the more your mouth will water after drinking it. I don't know about you, but I was on a roll figuring out the differences between each wine and was on a mission to get this comparison right. Drinking also tends to bring out my competitive side. With a little drunken concentration, I was happy to guess the wine that was more sour! Hooray for me! I guess, when broken down - understating the different flavors of wine isn't so hard after all.
I couldn't believe it. Could this be real? How was I able to tell the difference between the 8+ glasses of wine we drank? Was I just drunk getting luckily with answers? Something tells me that was not the case. Wine is like a foreign language and in order to understand its vocabulary, you have to practice, (something I don't mind doing at all)! Having wine being broken down to 4 elements, simplified to easy descriptions, I finally understood wine and all of its attributes.