Arianna Armstrong of Grape Smart shares a guest blog for this week’s Wine Wednesday. Spoken like a true Thirsty Girl, Arianna attempts to teach the importance of stemware. As Head Thirsty Girl Leslie Sbrocco says, “Any glass with wine in it is a wine glass.”
What are you pouring tonight?
Frank Talk – A Tasting Adventure with Frank Family Zin
I recently had the great pleasure of watching Maximilian Riedel give a spirited and enlightening demonstration of the impact that glassware can have on the beverage inside it. The lecture was a little bit life-changing.
I pulled a bottle of 2008 Frank Family Napa Zinfandel from my collection of samples. The famous Calistoga, CA-based wine, an estate blend of 84% Zinfandel and 16% Petite Syrah, comes in at a whopping 15% abv. I knew it would get him drunk and provide an excellent representation of how the profile of a wine will change, depending on the shape of the bowl it’s drunk from.
I chose three different glasses – the Riedel Vinum Tempranillo/Rioja, Vinum Cabernet/Merlot/Bordeaux and a Burgundy-style glass I snagged from a wine festival. I popped the bottle and poured. I had butterflies!
The first glass we sampled in was the Riedel Vinum Tempranillo/Rioja. I tasted notes of ripe berry, vanilla, cigar, spice and an alcoholic heat identical to vodka. My friend said, “I like this. This is really good.”
The Riedel Vinum Cabernet/Merlot/Bordeaux was next. “This glass smells funny,” he said. “Maybe you didn’t wash it well enough.” I took the glass away from him and gave it a hard swirl. “There,” I said, “the smell is gone. And the wine has notes of vanilla and dried honey, red fruit and clove. And you will clearly notice that it has a much smoother body than in the first glass, with considerably less kick on the finish.”
“Ok,” he said.
This was not going the way I had planned a fascinating discovery of the difference in perception from one palate to the next. I grudgingly poured the final glass – the festival Burgundy-esque one.
Compared to the smoothness from the Riedel Cab/Merlot glass, when I drank the Zin from the third glass, it burned. The round bowl concentrated all of the alcohol into a direct stream that scorched the back of my throat. I mentioned this, as well as the flavors of dried honey (again), plum, purple berries, and a mouthful of fierce tannin.
I let him finish what was in the stolen glass, emptied half the bottle into the Riedel Cab/Merlot, and swallowed down a mouthful.
“Wanna make out?” I asked him.
“OK,” he said.
Each one, teach one. There is no denying the benefits of a good education.