While taking classes at the Northwest Wine Academy over the past few years I have learned quite a bit about wine. The classes offer an in-depth study of world wine regions, history, viticulture practices, winemaking styles, sensory evaluation, food & wine pairing, wine sales & marketing, production etc. Anything you need to learn for a career in the industry. Maybe someday that knowledge will help me in future endeavors but for now, it is wonderful to have the ability to pick out my own wine and to understand what the limited label information means.
You learn about wine one bottle at a time, not only by drinking it and pairing it with food but by looking up each bottle online to see what others have experienced.
Across the country huge wine supermarkets have opened. I have yet to visit one of these chain stores but in Seattle a local sommelier David LeClaire oversees Wine World. It’s a unique, huge wine supermarket but it is local in every sense. I had the opportunity to taste wines from around the globe before the store opened with a group of experienced tasters who were sorting and selecting the wine for the store. It was an amazing experience. Each day we travelled to a new region or country through the wine we tasted without leaving the confines of our 600 square foot secret tasting room. Sitting next to David and his business partner Lenny Rede I learned a great deal but it helps to immerse yourself in it as much as possible by learning what you can about each bottle you taste.
Find a good wine shop in your area and get to know the staff, ask for their advice, buy the wine, and google each bottle to learn something more. Shop in stores that hire knowledgeable people: In Seattle I visit Wine World, McCarthy & Schiering, Pete’s Wine Shop, and the Ballard Market because they all hire the right people. Another great resource is Full Pull a newsletter from Paul Zitarelli with in-depth descriptions and tasting notes and the opportunity to purchase his monthly offerings. (And Dan McCarthy co-owner of McCarthy & Schiering is a gluten free friend—he graciously did the wine pairings for Cooking Gluten Free!)
We recently tried this bottle with grilled steaks. It tastes like a $25-$30 bottle but it’s selling at Wine World right now for $ 8.99. It was so good I went back to buy more. There are many Malbecs from Argentina priced inexpensively but this is one of the best that we have tried. When you research a wine from another country it helps to know what food hails from that area as well, usually their wine varietals match well. Argentina is known for their beef and lamb which is always a great match with Malbec.
For Valentine’s Day grill some steaks, roast some vegetables and serve a little Gougeunheim to your sweetie!
2011 Gouguenheim Malbec Mendoza Argentina