Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hits and Misses

A friend at work was asking me about buying wine the other day. He’s just getting into wines and feels a little overwhelmed looking at all the different types of wine and different wineries.

I was telling him that the turning point for me in wine buying was when I stopped worrying about it. Basically, I decided to buy wines that looked interesting and give them a try. The more wines I tried, the more I came to realize that I liked more than I disliked.

Wineries don’t want to put out bad wine – most of them anyway. And, a wine you don’t like is a learning experience. Just like a dish you don’t care for is part of your cooking education.

I was reminded of this last night when my Valentine’s Day dinner fell short. The lamb steaks weren’t very good. I just can’t seem to get lamb to come out right. I’m really kicking myself because I ignored my own rule for holiday cooking – cook something you do well.

Luckily, the wine was a real hit. It was something that I knew nothing about when I bought it, other than it was a Napa merlot from a winery that I was vaguely familiar with and it was a good deal.

That wine was Havens Merlot Napa Valley 2004. A local wine shop had it reduced to $15, plus I got a 15 percent case discount. Napa merlot for $12.15? I’ll give that a try. I’ve found some really great deals in merlots lately. A quick peek around the Web shows the Havens for anywhere from $19 to $28.

It was supple, elegant, dark, sultry and a little spicy. How’s that for V-Day wine? I may not be much of a cook, but at least I still have a keen eye for wine.


Fiona said...

There was a time when I was clueless about wines but I was very interested in learning more about wine and wine culture. The internet had a great deal of information about wines and I also fortunately found a site called Bottlenotes on which I registered myself. I like the tasting notes that people put up there. Helps you make a better choice.

TheWinesleuth said...

Snooth is another good site and they also point you in the right direction to buy the wine. I think they also see wine on that site. I agree with you, go for unfamiliar wines. More often then not, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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