Fruit set is underway in Napa Valley

Fruit set is underway in Napa Valley

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finding Your Wine IQ


(1) You can tell if a wine is “dry”, (a) If nothing comes out when you pour, (b) If no “legs“ appear after swirling the glass, (c) If it doesn’t taste sweet, or (d) If you’re still thirsty after you drink it.

COMMENT: If you don’t know it’s (c) , the rest of the quiz may be somewhat of a challenge for you.  

(2) Wine drinkers love California Chardonnay because (a) It tastes like butter, (b) It tastes like vanilla, (c) It tastes like tropical fruit, or (d) It tastes like . . . well . . . all of the above.

COMMENT: Crazy as it seems, it’s “all of the above.” It’s a wildly popular style, but there are indications that many wineries are starting to lighten up on these aspects.

(3) "The French Paradox" (a) Is an HBO sequel to the famous Gene Hackman movie The French Connection, (b) Clarifies which wine is an appropriate pairing with snails (c) Caused the sales of red wine in America and elsewhere to soar, or (d) Explains why a life filled with fromage, pâtés, and foie gras doesn't decimate the French population.

COMMENT: A segment on TV’s “60 Minutes” many years ago gave red wine a big push implying it is the underlying cause why someone in France doesn't die every five seconds.  The answer is (c) and (d).

(4) The preferred way to buy wines is (a) The prettiest bottle label, (b) If the word “Chateau” appears anywhere on the label, (c) If it costs under five bucks, or (d) Any way you damned well please.

COMMENT: Research shows that (a) is quite popular. Sales show that (c) is alive and well. On the other hand it’s pretty hard to argue with (d).  I'm a believer that the word "Chateau" has some subliminal appeal, but have no evidence to support that theory.

(5) Pinot Grigio (a) Is Pinocchio’s brother, (b) Is the Italian version of Alsace’s Pinot Gris, (c) Is an Argentine wine made from Pinot Noir and Grenache, or (d) Is a warning about Viagra’s side effects.

COMMENT: Leave it to the French and Italians to differ. Pinot Grigio are Pinot Gris are twins, even though quality-wise and stylistically they are quite different.  The Viagra thing is a crass, unsubstantiated rumor.

(6) Rioja is (a) An expletive that Flamenco dancers yell at the end of their performance, (b) A wine bag that Spanish sheepherders carry over their shoulder, (c) Spicy Spanish rotisserie chicken, or (d) One of Spain’s premier wine regions.

COMMENT: It may be served at Flamenco concerts, and sheepherders may love it with their pollo, but wine from the Rioja wine region is one of the great values in world class red wine.

(7) Pinot envy (a) Was Freud’s field of expertise, (b) Occurs outside of France, (c) Has something to do with Pinot Noir, or (d) Occasionally afflicts short men who drive sports cars.

COMMENT: There is a certain world envy of Burgundy’s style of Pinot Noir, but not sure if Freud knew about it or if short men even give a shift.  

(8) Acidity is (a) What cleans the palate between bites of food, (b) What results from a nervous stomach, (c) More common in Old World wines, or (d) To white wine what tannins are to red wine.

COMMENT: Don’t let this quiz get you nervous. The other three are correct.

(9) A wine's "Finish" is also known as, (a) The aftertaste, (b) The lingering farewell, (c) The tail of the peacock, or (d) The bottle is empty.

COMMENT: Somewhat misleading and sneaky, but only the real wine geek will know that (a) (b) and (c) all mean the same thing.

(10) “Super Tuscan” is (a) Frances Mayes’ next “tell all“ book, (b) An Italian weightlifter, (c) A very large plate of antipasti, or (d) An Italian Sangiovese-based red wine.

COMMENT: Sangiovese-based red wines are always enjoyed under the Tuscan sun.

(11) You can tell if a wine is full bodied, (a) By the shape of the bottle, (b) By the wine’s weight on your tongue, (c) By how deeply your teeth are stained, or (d) By how much your joints ache the next morning.

COMMENT: It has to do with alcohol level, but (b) is the correct answer, even though I know some people who swear by (c) and (d).

(12) Europe’s Appellation system has something to do, (a) With growing apples, (b) Guaranteeing a product’s authenticity, (c) With rating their adult movies, or (d) With the movement of heavenly bodies.

COMMENT: If the label says “Bordeaux” it’s the real thing. Authenticity is what the system is all about.

(13) Chablis and Burgundy, (a) Are mountain grown wines, (b) Come in large, screw-cap half gallon bottles, (c) Are French appellations, or (d) Were invented in Modesto, California.

COMMENT: They’re quintessential French wines, no matter what the people in Modesto say.

(14) The basic food and wine matching rules are, (a) White wine with fish, (b) Red wine with meat, (c) Pink wine with anything, or (d) We don’t need no stinking rules.

COMMENT: As in all matters of the grape, do what you want, even if it means beer.

(15) A wine’s appearance, aroma, and flavor are most significantly determined by (a) The age of the vines, (b) The age of the winemaker, (c) The use of manure, or (d) The use of whole cluster fermentation.

COMMENT: Sorry, trick question. None of the above. The “answer is “ grape variety,” because its inherent nature, will determine those vital qualities.

(16) Wine appreciation requires, (a) A pronouncing dictionary, (b) Deep pockets, (c) A temperature controlled wine cellar, or (d) Special decanters and expensive wine glasses.

COMMENT: While some wine geeks have “all of the above,” none are really required.

(17) Aging potential is something that (a) Is not for sissies, (b) Not all wines have or need, (c) Is one measure of a wine’s quality, or (d) Occurs naturally if you take your daily stroll.

COMMENT: All of the above. I know (a) and (d) have nothing to do with wine, but it’s my quiz.

(18) Anticipated maturity is when (a) One moves from cola to wine, (b) One buys a refrigerated wine vault, (c) One starts collecting Social Security, or (d) A wine is at it plateau of drinkability.

COMMENT: Irreverent types may say “all of the above,” however, the answer is (d).

(19) Sauvignon Blanc is (a) The white version of Cabernet Sauvignon, (b) The same wine as Fumé Blanc, (c) The same wine as France’s Pouilly-Fumé, or (d) The same wine as France’s Sancerre.

COMMENT: You’re a true Sauvignon Blanc fan if you know that (b), (c) , and (d) contain the same grape.

AND THE FINAL, MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION IS:

(20) If you know the appellation, (a) You know the grapes, (b) You know the wines, (c) You know more than most American wine drinkers, or (d) People think you’re a wine snob.

COMMENT: No matter what people may think of you, the first three are accurate.

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ABSOLUTELY FINAL COMMENT: If you got fewer than 10 correct, you need to start uncorking more wines and stop drinking all that Bud Light.  Between 15 and 19 correct means your wine corkscrew is wearing out and will soon need replacement.  And if you scored a perfect 20, then it means your friends surely look forward to a festive dinner at your home.

 

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