Friday, July 10, 2009

An Experiment

I have four kinds of red wine in the house right now: A box of Chianti, a bottle of 2007 Ruffino Chianti, the Crane Lake Merlot I've been working on, and my prized bottle of Vino Nobile. I decided to try a little experiment tonight: a taste test. I tried to do a blind test by myself, by numbering the bottom of each glass and then switching them around like a shell game. I first assessed the color of each wine, then the nose, and ended with multiple taste tests. 

The first glass was a clear garnet wine which smelled fresh, clear, bright and green. My first thought on tasting it: "This is GOOD!" I was pretty sure it wasn't the Vino Nobile; this one, to me, seemed to have a sharp finish as opposed to the smoothness of the Nobile. It was spicy, not dry, and went down easy. My guess was the Ruffino Chianti.

The second glass was a clear garnet wine with a heavy, soft smell, almost of sour cream or vanilla; of the four wines, this one smelled the most different. The wine seemed thick as I swirled it. Right away I was thinking Vino Nobile, because I remember it being heavy and velvety. It tasted smooth, velvety, soft and buttery, with low acid.

The third glass was a clear purplish-red. This was a pretty good clue to me that this was the Merlot, as it was the only one of the four that looked different. It smelled very much like alcohol, with perhaps a faint cherry smell. I thought the taste was the worst of the four; it was tart, and it made me make a face when I drank it.

The fourth glass was a clear garnet and smelled like some sort of nut; perphaps hazelnut. Next to the Merlot, this had the worst taste. It was perhaps the most dry of the four (it certainly left my mouth with a strange dry feeling) and it had a bad aftertaste, almost sour. My guess was that this was the boxed Chianti.

Well, I was correct about the first glass (Ruffino Chianti--good!!) and the third glass (Merlot--no reason to bother buying this one again). But, surprise surprise! I mixed up the boxed Chianti and the Vino Nobile!! I can't believe I loved the Vino Nobile so much when I tried it in Montepulciano, but I didn't even like it compared to Chianti in a box!! I guess that answers my question about whether I want to spend a bunch of money getting some Vino Nobile shipped to me (Um, no). An eye-opener! 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ruffino Chianti DOCG 2007 Italy

Recommended by a friend as one of her favorites. I think I have only tried Chianti twice before; once was probably more than ten years ago, and more recently was from a box, so neither time was especially memorable. Looking forward to the experience!

This Chianti is described as having "a deliciously vinous bouquet, where the floral and fruity notes lead towards a finish of slightly spicy scents of white pepper and hazelnuts."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Crane Lake Merlot 2007 California

Another Crane Lake El Cheapo. Here's how they describe it: "A medium-bodied, round wine with classic black currant and plum fruit flavors on the palate and a smooth finish." Well, that description makes it sound really good, but after my previous Crane Lake experience, I was rather leery. 

But good news! I like it!! Surprising, after the other bottle of Crane Lake. I have a hard time tasting the black currant and plum (I would have called it cherry... but maybe that is just because I ate a bunch of cherries today and they're on my mind). So, this may not be the best wine I've ever had (Vino Nobile still holds that title for me) but for $3.99, not bad! And it was really good with a square of Choxie dark chocolate espresso bar. Mmmmmm. It doesn't get much better than this!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Crane Lake Sauvignon Blanc 2006 California

An embarrassingly cheap bottle of wine (can't you tell just by looking at it?), but hey, at least it's in a bottle instead of a box! Here is what the bottle told me I had to look forward to: "Gooseberry, grapefruit and pear flavors. Beautifully balanced, clean and crisp, smooth acidity, medium (not too dry)."

I don't have the wine snob vocabulary to describe this wine in my own words, but I do know that I didn't especially like the flavor (when I tried to pick out different notes unfortunately all I could think of was urine), and I won't be buying this kind again. I did, of course, finish the bottle, because it's still wine, and I wouldn't let it go to waste! I even had some hope that perhaps I would enjoy it more the second time around (although my doubts outweighed my hope). Well, although I will admit that my second and third glass didn't seem to be as awful as the first, I theorize that this may be because, meanwhile, I forgot how good wine can be. Final verdict: Swill.

Now here is the question I have. I don't like Crane Lake's Sauvignon Blanc. Would I like a sauvignon blanc from a different vintner? Or do I write off all sauvignon blancs? I think sometime in the future I should try perhaps a slightly more expensive one before I make my final decision.