July 23, 2012

Spicy dish + Gewurztraminer = Perfect

Summer holiday is lovely. Long days and bright evenings spent just relaxing. Much easy cooking at home accompanied by wines in the lighter style.

The other day, we enjoyed a dinner out and were reminded about how well a Gewurztraminer matches spicy dishes. A salad including fresh root vegetables and apples was served with a well-balanced curry mayonnaise. The 2011 Neethlingshof Gewurztraminer was a perfect match. The nose filled of litchi, roses and sweet summer flowers. A round spicy palate with just a hint of fruit sweetness, an agreeable fresh finish and good length.

In wine classes, people often like the perfumed soft Gewurztraminer. The wine’s role as aperitif is unquestioned. But then the same question each time. “What can we serve to this wine? Is there really anything that can match?”

The answer, of course; “Try it to a spicy dish, instead of the routinely selected beer. You will most probably like it.” Most often they look at me in disbelief, but come back some weeks later with a new experience. Now convinced.

My list of Gewurztraminer favourites is heavily dominated by Alsace and producers such as Gustave Lorentz, Hugel, Trimbach, Marcel Deiss and Comtes d’Isenbourg. Lately I have enjoyed Jean-Baptiste Adams organic Gewurztraminer Les Nature 2010 with great pleasure. The Neethlingshof will be the new entry on the list.

July 02, 2012

Mindful wine tasting

Now, in the middle of the summer, the number of regular wine tastings decreases significantly. There are on the other hand abundantly many occasions to just enjoy a glass of wine, as it is or paired with a summer meal. I love both, but if it is too long between the tastings, I really miss them.

I like to have many of my tastings blind or half-blind. The reason is that I concentrate so much better then. I have to be structured and register all the nuances to give the wine a fair review and to make an educated guess.  

I love the moment when everyone in the group has full focus on the wines. No one is speaking, the silence is total. Being here and now with the wines. All other thoughts excluded. It is a sort of exercise in mindfulness.

The routine is well rehearsed and needs no thinking. The focus is on the senses and the brainwork. Colour. Note. Sniff. Note. Swirl and sniff again. Note. Taste. The palate, the feeling in the mouth and the length. Note. Analysis. Guess! Pleasure!

My friends will be sitting around me. All behave the same. Concentration. Sniffing, swirling, noting. Smiling! Some knowing glances and nods across the table. It usually lasts for about half an hour. Then the silence is broken and converted into elated chatter.  A real joy!

Many people are doing different relaxation exercises.  Perhaps meditate, practice yoga or mindfulness. Different ways to slow down from the hectic life outside and inside the mind.

For me, the full focused wine tasting is an effective way to achieve something similar. A mindful wine tasting where the brain cannot be occupied with anything else than an enjoyable sensory training.  

My rules for mindful wine tasting:
1) Taste in silence.
2) Use 5-7 minutes per wine.
3) Taste half blind or blind.
4) Follow the routine and make notes.
5) Focus.


Isn’t it one the best ways to present, here and now? Anyone else who feels the same?