How To Learn More About Wine

We’ve discussed before how elusive-and therefore daunting-wine can feel. And, while we’ve heard from many people a desire to know more and be more confident in their choices, there seems to be a disconnect between that desire and reality. We suspect that’s because the wine industry overall seems to project an “all or nothing” stance, meaning, either you become the connoisseur or you resolve yourself for a life of ignorance. Not so! As we’ve suggested, a little knowledge goes a long way, and, for the majority of us, it’s all we need in order to fully enjoy our wine experience. While I’m sure our readers agree that this blog is the be-all, end-all to wine education, we thought it prudent to discuss the various options for learning more about wine so that you can pick and choose your own path.

1. Tastings – A good first step, and a typically low-key experience. You can find tastings at local restaurants and other venues. In New York City, Wendy Crispell organizes entertaining boat tours around Manhattan Island that feature wine and cheese pairings and discussion. With most tastings, the focus is on fun first, education second. These are a great way to meet other like-minded wine drinkers while learning about wine. Often the buzz hits after the 2ndtasting, so the learning will be more high level.

2. Classes – More formal, classes offer added structure to the wine education process. Quality programs are offered at culinary schools and wine associations around the country. You might be in class with chefs and other professionals who need the learning for their work. These classes can get into the various nuances available in wine, and the focus is on education first, fun second. Often you’ll be asked to spit out each tasting in the provided spittoon, but, surprisingly, that doesn’t stop the fun. The expectation for learning being higher, these classes are often more expensive than the traditional tasting. We have done our training at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City; their wine program is top notch.

3. Associations – There are many wine associations open for membership. Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) is one such association. Events, discussions, and a whole community are built around the love of wine. To find an association near you, use google: a search like “Virginia Wine Association” is a good start. These associations are non-profits, so you can feel good about your membership.

4. Books & Magazines – If you find this sort of thing interesting, there is no limit to the number of books and magazines out there. We have just two that have become our staples: Oz Clarke’s “Let Me Tell You About Wine” and Jancis Robinson’s “The Oxford Companion to Wine.” Clarke’s is a beautiful picture book, short, and succinct and perfect for us when we were starting this journey. Robinson’s is a tome of detailed information and almost too much for the casual wine fancier, but it is a big help when we’re doing our research.

You’ll want to double check what sort of information you’ll be getting in a magazine or book. We don’t find one-off reviews very helpful because for most of us, we don’t care how a particular wine from a particular vineyard from a particular year rates. Instead, we like lifestyle pieces and info about regions and information that helps us make connections.

5. Websites & Blogs – Same as Books & Magazines, really. Google “Wine Blog” and you’ll find a plethora of information. Remember the source: it’s much easier to launch a blog than get your book published.

6. Practice – This is critical. You have to go out and try what you’ve learned. So, we know that 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings have peach in their flavor profile. It’s what we were told at tastings when we were up there. So, every time we taste a 2010 Riesling from that area, we look for peach. If it’s there, we go “yup!” and if not, we go “hmph.” We expect Zinfandels to be lush and fruity, so, when I tried Carol Shelton’s creamy “Wild Thing” Zinfandel, I recognized something was different. It takes practice and exposure to start to make the connections you need to have to understand wine better.

You’ve already started your wine education by reading posts like these; why not augment by adding one or more of the above suggestions to your “wine practice.” Overall, just have fun and, remember, you don’t have to know everything there is to know in order to appreciate wine. Keep it simple and put the focus on enjoyment.

Virginia Wines – Things to Know

The Virginia wines are considered to be the best spirit with lots of innovations and improvements are done and experimented. The unique taste and the fresh flavor with the sparkling give us the refreshment to our soul, mind and the body. The inception and the forward thinking is the most important aspects for the wine yard and wine preparatory working for several years in the industry to bring the optimal taste. Testing the ideal soil, propagation, climate and the orientation are done frequently. Virginia is the fifth top most places for the wine production in United States and so the owners of the wine yards are so excited to produce and give the unprecedented support in wine manufacturing.

Wines are nothing but the nectar of the grape separated from the ripped fruit through different process and fermentation. Hume Virginia wines are welcoming the customers for the special tour in the wine yard to expose and entertain the show how the crop rotations are done every year. Due to the brand selection and the good vegetation Virginia is cultivating more grapes and the wine yards are also growing constantly. “The Virginian wines raise its glasses”.

Although Hume wine is the recently started with the tour, they are the growing faster with its creativity and becoming popular with its own customers and fans. Hume Virginian wines has also opened another bigger winery manufacturing to increase the supply and to sustain in the market. They are not only unique with the taste but also have the unique goal this inspired the wine tasters pretty much. Based on this the wines are now concentrating more to introduce the different taste, blends, different flavor, freshness and special complements to the upcoming customers every year.

The qualities are extolling with the numerous findings that are emitted and sentenced typically to bring up the new Virginia wines which are rich and poured. No one can recognize where the products are originally coming from. The good consistency and perfect grape for the wine blending needs to be cropped with the right soil, water and the sunlight gives the right taste and the tender. The right weather for cultivating the grapes is the warm fall season.

The Virginia wines have received the outstanding support from the customers and the government says the businesses are opened on every November to promote its product as a whole lot. Every year the Hume Virginia wines are sending 24000 cases to the market and selling as a huge amount. For promoting more the Virginia wines are conducting several programs for the planning and execution lining up to highlight the representatives with the awarding and membership programs were considered and discussed to motivate its customers. For more information, please visit: virginia wines.

Virginia Country Inns – Affordable Virginia Getaways

‘Virginia is for Lovers’ and the perfect romantic Virginia getaway awaits near the heart of the Shenandoah Valley at Prospect Hill Plantation Inn. This is very close to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The quaint country inn provides a much needed opportunity for relaxation.

In these economic times it is a relief to to have a great escape that is both affordable and close. Regardless of whether you have the time to get away for a night or an entire weekend, the short trip from Washington DC is well worth the investment in romance and yourself.

Guests will find themselves surrounded everywhere they turn. Few Shenandoah bed and breakfast inns can boast fifty acres of grounds. The estate’s treasures include original tree plantings from 1840 and the most rare Magnolia in the country. Visitors to such a VA Inn enjoy extensive gardens, a five-acre arboretum and one of the many secluded spots on the grounds for private relaxation.

Virginia country inns are well known for their romantic atmosphere, especially when it comes to an evening of dining, where Prospect Hill exceeds all expectations. Culinary delights of the season are often prepared by Chef William Sheehan.

A dinner served by candlelight is just what is needed to leave your troubles far behind and remember what is truly valuable. The four course prie fixe dinners, available weekends and most weekdays, include a complementary wine reception and dessert.

The Shenandoah bed and breakfast experience you’ll enjoy at Prospect Hill has been shared by thousands of guests and has led to Prospect Hill’s selection as one of ‘the eight best Bed and Breakfasts’ in the Washington DC area by Bethesda Magazine.

The original eighteenth century Plantation manor home and outbuildings have been restored to thirteen individual guest rooms, each providing a private bath (some with Jacuzzi tubs) and working fireplace. These amenities blend smoothly into the room or cottage’s original decor and function. Antique furnishings complement the comfort of the pillow-topped queen and king size beds and the feeling of simple elegance.

Once you are relaxed, you will be ready to enjoy a full country breakfast in bed. Later in the day you will be treated to afternoon tea. If your romantic Virginia getaway commenced in the dining room of the manor house, you may elect the Plantation’s newest unique dining experience: a Plantation Supper Tray. Served with china, this lighter supper tray is taken in your room and includes soup, salad, a light entree, dessert, and coffee or tea. Your complementary split of wine served your first night could be reserved for this time.

No one could debate that an experience like a Shenandoah bed and breakfast weekend makes for a first rate romantic Virginia getaway. Lovers simply need to step onto the grounds and take in all the Inn has to offer. They won’t be disappointed. The opportunity to get away without having to pay for air fare or other expensive travel arrangements can be saved, while not compromising on the experience.

Thomas Jefferson’s Love Affair With Wine

Although born on the Virginia frontier, Thomas Jefferson became the most knowledgeable wine connoisseur of his age, and his tastes in wine covered the world: France, Italy, Germany, Madeira, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Hungary and, of course, America.

His interests in wine developed early as indicated by his 1769 Shadwell wine inventory: 83 bottles of rum, 15 bottles of Madeira, four bottles of “Lisbon wine for common use,” and 54 bottles of cider, an inventory that would change radically with the passage of time. Exactly when Jefferson decided to design and build his own house is not recorded, but the first mention of Monticello (which means “little mountain”) is noted in his Garden Book on Aug. 3, 1767. A wine cellar, 17 1/2 feet long, 15 feet wide and 10 feet high, was laid out near a cider room. The 28-year-old Jefferson and a 23-year-old widow, Martha Wales Skelton, were married on New Year’s Day, 1772, at the home of her father, John Wayles, and two weeks later they arrived at Monticello on horseback in a snowstorm.

It is perhaps apocryphal but Jefferson’s great-granddaughter, Sarah N. Randolph, reports that they found a bottle of wine “on a shelf behind some books” that they shared before retiring on their Monticello honeymoon night. It was the first of many bottles that he would enjoy at home with family and friends. In his account book of Sept. 15, 1772, he records liquors and bottles on hand, including “about three gallons of rum and a half hogshead [271/2 gallons] Madeira, 72 bottles of Madeira, 37 bottles of Lisbon wine, 29 bottles small beer, 10 bottles of port and 31 bottles of miscellaneous in the closet.” The year earlier he had recorded ten dozen bottles of port, so in the intervening year, 110 bottles of port had been consumed.

In November 1773, Philip Mazzei, one of the most interesting men to enter Jefferson’s life, landed in Virginia from England with his wife-to-be, her 12-year-old daughter, and ten Italian vignerons. Mazzei arrived with a plan to cultivate European grapes, olive trees and the egg of silk worms to make silk. Traveling with Virginia merchant Thomas Adams to Adams’ home in Augusta County, where Mazzei expected to establish his vineyard, they stopped along the way at Monticello to visit Jefferson.

Early the next morning, Mazzei and Jefferson went for a walk through Monticello’s hillsides, and Mazzei found the vineyard land he was looking for, a 400-acre tract adjoining Monticello to the east. He named it “Colle.” Jefferson described the land that Mazzei selected as “having a southeast aspect and an abundance of lean and meager spots of stony and red soil, without sand, resembling extremely the Côte of Burgundy from Chambertin to Montrachet where the famous wines of Burgundy are made.”

What Mazzei and Jefferson talked about on this early-morning stroll was not recorded, but it sparked a lifetime friendship and caused Jefferson to become a partner in Mazzei’s vineyard project, the first commercial vineyard venture in America. As Mazzei remembered in his autobiography, “By the time we returned home, everyone was up. Looking at Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams said: ‘I see by your expression that you have taken him away from me. I knew you would do that.’ Jefferson smiled, and without looking at him, but staring at the table, said: ‘Let’s have breakfast first and then we’ll see what we can do.’ “

Whether on that morning walk or later, Jefferson learned that Mazzei had grown up in a mountain village in Tuscany, Italy. As a young man, he studied medicine at the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence, but was dismissed for drinking wine before taking communion on Holy Thursday. Undeterred, he went to Leghorn (now Livorno) and established a successful medical practice.
But ever restless, Mazzei left for Smyrna, Turkey, where he continued the practice of medicine for two and a half years. Bored with life in Smyrna and armed with a supply of Turkish opium and some other local products, he sailed for England in December 1755. In London he sold his Turkish goods for a sizable profit, rejected offers to resume his medical practice and made a living giving Italian-language lessons to the British gentry. With the profits from the sale of the Turkish goods, Mazzei opened a shop specializing in wines, silks, olive oils, anchovies, parmesan cheese and other Italian products that were almost impossible to buy in London.