As I’ve noted before, I’m a huge Illinois Fighting Illini basketball fan. I frequent the House of Paign Hoops fan forum to read up on the latest happenings with the program. After each game, there is a particular poster who publishes his “9 Observations” on the Illini’s performance. I have borrowed his 9 observations theme and applied it to what I have observed as a wine consumer in 2012.
- Northwestern Rieslings (Washington and Oregon) are currently the best bargains available among American wines. In the past year, I’ve had a boatload of high quality Rieslings in the $12.00-$20.00 range.
- When it comes to Pinot Noir, you typically have to pay the piper. With a few rare exceptions, $35.00 seems to be the low end of the price range in which high quality Pinots dwell.
- Syrah is the most diverse varietal that I’ve encountered. From floral and fruity, to savory and meaty, to earthy with minerals and funk, to dark, brooding and stout, you never quite know what you’re going to get.
- I’m amazed at the number of people who describe themselves as wine drinkers that associate Zinfandel with the pink, cheap stuff. The Zinfandel advocate in me cringes at such responses, while the wine consumer in me rejoices that top-notch Zins will continue to be available in the $20.00-$35.00 range.
- Walla Walla, Washington is a must visit for wine fans. The wines in the area are consistently good (some are great), tasting fees are nominal, and it’s one of the friendliest places that you’ll come across. If you make the trip, be sure to eat at Saffron, Pho Sho, Brasserie Four, and the Colville Street Patisserie–you’ll thank me later.
- Back here in my adopted state of Colorado, it’s nice to see our local wines getting some notable publicity.
- Wines made from hybrid and native grapes are getting a lot better. I tasted a Vignoles from Southern Illinois this year that I would love to slip into a blind tasting of white wines.
- Charity wine tastings aren’t exactly the ideal place to taste wines, but they can help to enhance your tasting abilities. Typically, a large variety of wines (sometimes excellent wines) are available, and mustering up the concentration to taste among a group of lit, loud, and thirsty guzzlers makes tasting at home seem like a breeze. If you do attend one of these events, take a spit cup or bottle, lest you be classified as one of the lit, loud, and thirsty guzzlers.
- Scentys candles are the bane of wine tasters. Well, this wine taster in particular. I swear that my wife has strategically placed them near all of my favorite tasting spots in the house. It typically plays out something like this–”That’s odd, why does this Sauvignon Blanc smell like fake cinnamon? Wait a second….damn Scentsy!” I have gotten in the habit of switching these Scentsys off even when I’m not tasting, just in case I get the itch to taste later.
Happy New Year! I hope that 2013 brings you good fortune and of course, good wines.