How to taste wine... and stay sober
You have bought a good wine in order to celebrate the New Year. You have taken your time to study all the labels (French of course), your choice goes well with your menu. The wine is served at the correct temperature and then...
... and then the time comes, dare you take the time to taste it? The tasting of a good wine takes a little time. So how do you do it during a family meal which is under the critical gaze of people ready to ridicule your efforts?
The good news is that the tasting of a good wine can be done discreetly. So, here are the instructions given by an expert in the art: Louis Le Roux:
- In order to taste the wine you turn it a little in your glass. You turn the glass around the wine, if you like, and so you start with the bouquet. You discover its perfume. Carefully you take a good mouthful. Don't be fussy over the mouthful. And at that moment, once it is in your mouth, close your mouth firmly, the lips tightly pressed together. You munch your wine, but munch it as if you were munching a piece of bread. It's chewed. And when you have completed this operation which takes about, what, twenty seconds, you turn it in your mouth, from the left side to the right side, and your cheeks are impregnated with it, your tongue also. And when you have done that thoroughly, let it rest a little in your mouth. It settles, you might say. You have warmed it by making it swirl in your mouth and so now, you leave it to bring out its flavours, and little by little, you swallow the mouthfuls, very slowly.
When you have finished swallowing it, keep your mouth closed and, at that moment you will feel the warmth of the wine which is going to develop in your mouth and it will for a long time, more or less. That's why we call it's the long time in the mouth. The more the bouquet stays in your mouth, the more we say that the wine is long in the mouth. At that point you will discover its different flavours. According to the wine, you will find flavours of red fruits , of mango or dried figs, and so on. You don't have to blow up your cheeks to chew it. That way is more elegant. You chew. You masticate. And in order to pass it from one cheek to the other, it's the same, you do not have to blow up your cheeks. You haven't taken an enormous mouthful. Your mouth isn't full of wine. You're greedy (drinkers). So you can do it at the table in front of your guests. On the other hand, you will show them that, for your part you know how to appreciate wine and you know how to taste it.
Problem solved. It is time to return to our wine merchant for advice on buying. At 'la Vieille Reserve' in Lyon, Fabrice Morel chooses all his stock of wines personally. That is a guarantee of quality. What is more it transforms buying wines in the shop into a pleasure. Let's go. We want to serve a wine as an aperitif:
What can I advise you? Very well, a white wine which is not too dry, you see, with a certain richness, a certain fullness, a thickness in the mouth, some flavours. You see, in the wines which have a good relationship between the quality and the price, I would say this one for example. That's very good. It is the lily of the field. It is a vintage from the vineyards of La Croix Belle. What is the Languedoc Roussillon melange made from? A mixture of Vio ... and of Grenache blanc. That gives the wine just enough floral bouquet, aromatic and well rounded with a thickness in the mouth. That is really good as an aperitif, very agreeable, and a wine, you see for less than six Euros is a good for quality and price. Or else, if you want a wine which has more of, how could I say, has more body, there is this one which has a good name. This is a Chardonnay produced by Louis La Tour, who purchased another vineyard in the Ardeche twenty years ago, and planted it completely with Chardonnay, but treated like bourguignonne. So there is a very good white wine to start with. Still with body, thickness and opulence.
Next we will try to (find a wine) to go with foie gras:
So for a foie gras, there are some very good wines, (those) which are also well known in France, are the Jurancons. These are the syrupy wines from the south west. Jurancon, we have, for example, this one here. It is the Domaine Coape. It is from a very good wine grower. It is a cuvee from Henri Riramonteux called Ballet d'Octobre. As its name indicates it is harvested late in October. Or we could also have some richer wines, a bit more syrupy, a bit sweeter, like, for example, from the same region, this one which is a little delicacy. This one, is a Pacherain du Vic Bille A good name from the south-west as well. A late harvest also from Alain Drumont. Pacherain du Vic Bille which is called le Vent des Mieres (Vendemiaires) That is really good. It's truly magnificent.
With the turkey?
Well, in the valley of the Rhone, you have the Crozes Hermitage which goes very well because you don't need very typical wines or too strong. That would go very well or a Crozet or a Saint-Joseph. Me, a Crozet I think, it goes well. It is from wines which are at the same time rich but not too strong, but which are nevertheless fine enough. Albeit different owners. You see, like this one for example, is very good. This one is very good. On the other hand, it is true that it is a little bit young. There, we are sure the 2003 is a superb year but it needs to age a bit. It's true, that? If you want one a bit (stronger) you are going to buy this one. This a little bit lighter and is from the house of Charpoutier on the millesime from 2001 for example. It could perhaps also be a Bourgogne. We can very well have a Bourgogne which will go very well. Unrivalled! Better a Bourgogne more delicate, not at all strong.
Finally lets place a lovely piece of Roquefort on our cheese platter:
Right, just the Roquefort, what is interesting, if you have some foie gras to begin with, you can finish with the foie gras wine. That's to say, if it is a Sauterne, for example, it is a wine which goes very, very well with the Roquefort. In the same way, with the Roquefort, you need a wine of luxurious strength, which has so much of... There is so much taste, so much flavour which a wine must have? So, that is why the sweet wines, Sauternes or others... The syrupy wines go very, very well with the Roquefort. Or else, perhaps a vin rouge as well. I would say as well a Bourgogne. In the same way, the ideal is to finish with the wine that you have because if you increase the number of vintages you become confused. It's too much. You must (have) two or three wines, that's already enough. Then you can finish well with the wine that you had with the previous course. With the turkey, to be specific. For the cheese, the Cote du Rhone or the Bourgogne go very well for example. But with the Roquefort it's true that the syrupy wines go well as with the blue cheeses, with the strong cheeses you see.
There are very few foreign wines in our selection, it's not a matter of protectionism, for sure.
Even if today we offer wines from around the world, foreign wines in France, I mean they exist, there are many which try to flood the market. We are well aware that in the end it doesn't really work. You notice that in France, it is a minority. It represents not even 5 per cent, I think, of sales in the market today. Even though it is true the Australians, the Americans etc try to penetrate the French market but they can't.
It is not at all Chauvanistic. But you can see that in France, the great strength of France, as against the other countries perhaps, is that we have all types of climate. Many different climatic conditions and a great variety of countryside. And as a result, a multitude of different wines as well. So you have, as we said, some syrupy white wines, sweet and sugary, and in the south-west, which is noted for, for example, the Lichen, which is one of the great syrupy wines of the world. You have whites, for example, dry whites in Bourgogne or in Alsace which are outstanding. We have the light, fruity, white wines from the Beaujolais. We have the Bourgognes which are undoubtedly typical of the area. There are the Bordeaux. There is the valley of the Rhone. So you see how it is. There is the Loire as well. So when you look at the geographical map of France, it is incredible, you see the diversity in fact, the multitude of wines that there are. Today where there is over-production in the end the people don't need to turn... in France the people don't need to turn to the outside world since they have all that they need already in France and even now in France we are producing too much. So the question is why would we look elsewhere? They already have everything here. You see that's it in fact, once again, it's not about chauvinism, or pretension or anything else, it's that, well, everything is here. So why go and look elsewhere? Now you see?
There are very, very good wines in California. That's quite obvious. In Australia as well. So we cannot say there is a supremacy of French wine still today, even though... I would have a tendency to think that since there are even so some wines from the country which have been in existence for a very, very long time. But that would be a very simplistic way of seeing things like that in fact, you see?
There is also the question of taste. Now, if you compare the taste of Americans with the taste of the French or of Europeans, they don't have the same taste. They like more things in general, whether it be wine or food, food which is more sugary and sweeter, you see? Not so dry. Us, we like the drier wines more in France. Well that's also a question, there is ... at the same time, cultural, the taste, and after, I tell you, we like very much the products made at home, I tell you.
Have a good party!
$Id: 2004_12_cul.htm 17 2010-04-03 11:44:00Z alistair $