Taste Pinot Noir Like a Pro
I hear it over and over, “Well, I’m just not a big red wine drinker”, or “but whites are just so easy”, or even "I feel like red wine is fancier than I usually drink." For the longest time, all I could do was shake my head and wonder inwardly what caused them to go so astray. I usually push a bottle of pinot noir (Willamette Valley, of course) on them and urge them to go home and find something that doesn’t pair with it, or just to sit back and give it a try.
The world of reds is not relegated to those with deep purses or finely tuned palates. Red wine, and more specifically Pinot Noir are wine of the people.
The Pinot is an ancient grape. It’s finicky, hard to grow, and challenging to make into wine. But the result of all that work reveals wine that pairs with most food from fish to duck and strips of crispy bacon. The creation is wine that is great on warm days sitting outside and cooler winter feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But let’s say you sit down one day long after experimenting with, let’s say Dauntless Wine Co. Estate Pinot Noir or perhaps the No Man’s Land Pinot Noir blend. Let’s also say you find yourself wanting to know more about what you should be looking for smelling and tasting. After all, sitting down with such a well-rounded wine intrigues you, doesn't it?
Grab a glass, give yourself a hearty yet measured pour (I like roughly 3 ounces mostly because it is easy to swirl and not spill but is still a decent amount at one time) and let’s begin.
- Swirl the glass. Look at the color. Pinot can take a beautiful array of colors from a red mahogany (typical in more youthful bottles though this is not necessarily a hard rule) to a light translucent cherry.
- After you swirl the wine and look ever so sophisticated, give it a smell. Each area even within the Willamette Valley will have different looking and tasting wine, so it’s worth giving it a little sniff and prolonging your excitement a bit more. Smell from the bottom as well as the top of the glass and you may find a difference in aromas. More than subtle floral and berry scents, swirling helps open the wine up and release those fruity and floral aromas.
- Now the best part. Sip ever so slightly (at this point it helps to lean back or look upward staying aloof as if you know all about wine and are in ecstasy, which you may be). Coat your mouth and hold the wine for a moment or two to process all the tastes. Don't swallow right away, but breathing in through your nose let the full range of tastes hit you. Pinot Noir will make you think. This is not a full-bodied wine that will make your mouth pucker with tartness or leave you wanting more flavor. This is a medium wine that releases hints of florals and fruits, cranberries, bing cherries, and raspberries often come to mind.
- Lastly, go slow. Savor the wine. Test yourself. Between each sip, can you think of more notes that you are picking up? Strawberries on the second sip? Black currant on the third? Before you know it, your hand will reach out absent-mindedly for the bottle and a second glass.
If you are trying our No Man’s Land blend next to the Estate,--which is obviously highly recommended--you may notice the estate is a bit more full-bodied and complex, floral and slightly less tart, more subdued. Perhaps you taste a difference of cranberries (Blend) instead of Bing Cherries (Estate). Perhaps not.
More than anything, however, enjoy the wine.
While it is fun to break wine down, ultimately wine is meant to bring people together and share good times. Lounge outside on a warm summer day, or around the fireplace with friends. Tell stories and bring back memories.
Jump into the world of red wine through Pinot Noir. You will not be disappointed.
- Paul Warmbier