Showing posts with label wine blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine blogger. Show all posts

Friday, January 31, 2020

One Wine Lover's Two Cents on Dieting

January is coming to an end. Some of you may be on the last stretch of Dry January or Whole30 or a similar month-long break from alcohol and/or other indulgence. I congratulate you.

Can't say no to Champagne and caviar
Try as I might, that is not my cup of tea (or glass of wine). But I am not immune to the allure of fad diets and exercise routines that promise a toner trimmer version of me. In fact, I am in the middle of an 8-week program. Just that I am ignoring the no-alcohol diet portion of it. Let me share my two cents on dieting.

No to No-Alcohol Diets

Unless you have alcohol abuse or binge issues, I can't imagine why anyone who appreciates wine would want to follow a no-alcohol diet, even if only for a month. The key word is "appreciate."

Proponents of Dry January suggests that taking a break from alcohol helps reset one's relationship with it. I see the point to some extent. I once gave up meat for Lent. When I got back to eating meat again, I became more selective in the meat I would partake. But I wouldn't say that I "appreciated" meat pre-Lent the same way I do wine.

My friend and wine blogger, Amber LeBeau, wrote a post that Dry January Can Go to Hell. She suggests that instead of taking a pause from alcohol in January, try mindful consumption all year round. Engage your senses when enjoying a glass of wine. Learn the story behind the wine and the vintage; how was the weather that year, what challenges were presented by Mother Nature, and how the winemaker artfully crafted the wine.

Wine flight is a great way to learn about wine appreciation
I mentioned in my blog that I belonged to the Specialty Club from my local wine shop. Every month, we get a red and a white from anywhere in the world. Tom, the shop owner, is a wealth of wine knowledge, and he always tells a good story for each bottle he carefully curates for the club. It brings a richer experience as I sip the wine. It is more than getting a buzz from the alcohol. If that is your experience too, then say no to no-alcohol diets.

No Bad Wine is Worth the Calories

One might argue that a good wine is a matter of taste. I think enjoyment is a matter of taste. Good, which suggests quality, is different. Consider this. I adore Jack in the Box tacos and all the beef-ish meat product tastiness. But that doesn't make them good tacos. Nor should I be eating them beyond rare moments of guilty pleasure. They are just not worth the calories.

Tasting our homemade wine
Wines of the Jack-in-the-Box-tacos variety are often mass-produced from leftover or poor-quality grapes, buffed up with all kinds of additives to hide the flaws. These could range from powdered tannins to provide structure to Mega Purple for a deeper color and a little residual sugar to mask any off-flavors.

Now I am not advocating for natural wine. As a hobby winemaker, I certainly have used my fair share of sulfur, commercial yeast, yeast nutrients, and malolactic bacteria. My goal is to ensure a clean and successful fermentation, but not to manufacture a taste. I very much subscribe to the philosophy of minimal intervention. Get the best grapes you can afford and make a wine that is a true expression of the variety, the vintage, and the terroir.

Perhaps I have the luxury since I don't make wine for a living so I don't worry about consumer taste and sales. But the overused additives in mass-produced wine can't be any better than the meat product of Jack in the Box tacos. When I go to a restaurant that only has cheaply-produced wine by the glass, I would skip it. If I were to add wine calories in my body, I'd like to have the full experience of a well-made wine.

So there you go! This is just one wine lover's two cents on dieting. What do you think?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Au Revoir, Amber!

"What Bordeaux tasting? Can I go?"

My friend, Siti, had flown into Seattle last minute to attend a private tasting, and I practically begged her to take me with her.

First Cellar Party

That was how I met Amber LeBeau and her lovely wife, Beth, the gracious unassuming hostesses of the tasting. It was the summer of 2016. Despite the gorgeous weather, dozens of people were crowding inside a wine storage facility in Bellevue, chatting and sipping wine. Numbering more than humans were bottles of Bordeaux, arranged by regions with maps and printouts describing the respective terroirs. Amber and Beth were cleaning out their cellar to make room for a new shipment of Bordeaux. Like everyone else, I was happy to help.

Tasting Bordeaux Classified Growths

Amber and the SpitBucket

Amber was working at Total Wine at that time. Her impressive list of credentials in the wine business includes a CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine), a degree in Wine Marketing and Sales/Wine Production at the Northwest Wine Academy, and Level 3 of the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) with distinction. What truly impresses me about Amber though is her curious mind and her open palate. She reads about and tastes through a myriad of wines. Her spirit on inquiry is almost infectious although I did pass on her blind tasting of coffee-infused wine.

A few months after the cellar clean-out party, Amber started where she blogged occasionally about her thoughts on wine and the industry. When a health condition took her out of the retail wine business last year, she began to spend more time blogging while preparing for her last level of WSET.

As a fellow albeit more casual blogger, I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from Amber's posts. One of my favorite posts of hers is about Jancis Robinson, the Beyoncé of Wine. It is a tribute to the celebrated British wine critic, published on International Women's Day last year. And guess what? Jancis noticed and tweeted about it!

And More Cellar Parties

A few weeks ago, we got the news. Beth has accepted an exciting job offer in Paris, and they will be moving very soon. And just like that, Amber and Beth need help cleaning out their cellar again. Wines that need to be drunk in the next three to five years must go.

"Nothing off limits!" She posted to a private Facebook group page.

A private tasting and dinner with Amber and friends
Also, just like that, Siti flew into town last minute again. This time, we hosted a small intimate private tasting and dinner, before Amber kicked off her cellar clean-out parties. The line-up that night was incredible. A few of us carefully selected a couple of bottles from our cellar, while Amber brought the equivalent of half a case. Nonetheless, it was a good human-to-bottle ratio in my opinion. And below are some notable mentions:

1998 Paul Jaboulet Aine Chevalier de Sterimberg Hermitage Blanc
2013 Ashan Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay

2008 Domaine Taupenot-Merme Corton Rognet Grand Cru
2016 Domain de La Côte Bloom's Field

2004 Betz La Côte Rousse Red Mountain Syrah
2012 Cayuse Vineyards Walla Walla Syrah
2004 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape

2005 Sandrone La Vigne Barolo
1992 Delille Cellars Chaleur Estate Bordeaux Blend

Wine line-up from the private tasting
It is a month and two cellar parties away before Amber starts her new adventure with Beth in Paris. Even though we will continue to geek out over wine on social media, I will miss tasting with and learning from her in person. That said, I expect that we will meet on the other side of the Atlantic, tasting through different French vineyards.

So au revoir, Amber! Till we meet again!