There are those people who seem to remember every bottle of wine they have ever opened or tasted. They can reel off the winery’s name, vineyards the grapes came from, the vintage and the winemaker’s process for that year. Then there are those of us who remember that the “wine was really good” and forget everything else. Next thing, there we are wandering the wine aisle hoping to recognize the label, feeling intimidated by the woman who breezes past and confidently grabs a couple bottles.
“I should keep a wine journal,” you mutter to yourself.
The staff from Allegretto tasting room, the home of some of the best single vineyard wines in Paso Robles, have some easy tips for keeping a wine journal that is going to build your knowledge and appreciation of wine.
Starting your journal
You can buy wine journals that are ready to open and start writing, or you can create your own with an inexpensive notebook. Some experts suggest using a binder so pages can be removed and filed and new blank pages added as the journal grows.
If you create your own, here are topics that will help you get the most from your journal:
The description of the wine, vineyard, year and type of grape
Where you are when enjoying the wine
The date and location and if you like, the names of the friends or family members you were with. Sometimes you might find it helpful to record the names of people you talk to, and the names of the tasting room staff or server who helped you.
It can be helpful to write down what you might have eaten with the wine. Food greatly affects the taste of the wine.
What you like or not about the wine, including flavor, aroma and anything else that stands out for you.
Creating your own wine tasters glossary or downloading one from the Internet can help you remember terms like “best single vineyard wines in Paso Robles,” or what “estate wine,” or other terms mean.
If you are using a loose-leaf binder, type up a list of the topics and copy the pages. If you are using a notebook, make up some “cheater cards” with the topics you want to cover and insert them in various places in the notebook. Eventually you won’t need the cards as reminders, but in the beginning they might be helpful so you don’t forget to record something important.
Using the journal
The more wine you taste and record the more knowledgeable you will become, but is it practical to take your wine journal everywhere you go?
Enjoying and recording a new wine at home is uncomplicated. Open the bottle, kick back on the sofa and enjoy and write. Some people like to remove the label and keep it in their wine journal as an added source of information. Plus, some wine labels are miniature works of art and worth saving.
Opening your journal on the tasting room bar will most likely start interesting conversations with other visitors and the tasting room staff. You’ll probably make new friends and learn a lot about wine, too.
“Should I take my wine journal on a date?” That’s entirely up to you and how comfortable you feel. Then there’s the chance that your best friend will be annoyed because you spent part of her birthday dinner writing in your journal. Why not just take a few photos of the wine label and jot a few notes into your cell phone notes app? It’s not much different than taking a photo of your meal. You can transfer the information to your journal later.
Definitely take your journal with you when you visit the Allegretto Vineyards and Wine tasting room in Paso Robles. The tasting room staff is very helpful and always excited to talk about wine and wine tasting.
When and where you take your journal is entirely up to you. Of course, it makes sense to take it when you go wine tasting. Your goal is to keep track of wine you enjoy, to learn more about new wine, and to breeze down the wine aisle and know exactly what you want.
The Allegretto Tasting Room offers a unique opportunity to sample some of the region’s best award-winning wines. Both estate and single vineyard wines are available from the Allegretto vineyards that surround the tasting room and the nearby Willow Creek District Wine tasting at Allegreto Tasting room gets you a fresh glass after each tasting and explanations about the wine. Purchase at least two bottles and the tasting fee is waived. Food and wine by the bottle are available in the family-friendly courtyard. The wine tasting list includes the gold medal winning 2013 and the 2014 single vineyard cabernet sauvignon, both from the Willow Creek Vineyard. The tasting room is also the place to experience a unique “flavor balancing” experience that adds a completely new view to wine and food pairings. The flavor balancing seminar was brought to Allegretto by John Stallcup, the Director of Wine Hospitality. John, the former Marketing VP for the wine group also co-founded the Napa Seasoning Company with Tim Hanni, MW, one of the originators of Flavor Balancing as well as being the first American to pass the Master of Wine Exam and the inventor of the Progressive Wine List. Flavor balancing has been adopted by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust not to mention a growing group of chefs, including Allegretto’s Chef Eric Olson, Jeremiah Tower, Michel Trama in Bordeaux, France, and Sarah Scott in the Napa Valley. Flavor balancing is a technique to learning to drink the wines one prefers with the food one likes to eat. Yes! White wine with steak! And here is how it’s done!
Because humans adapt to any sensation of sound, sight, hearing, touch, aroma or taste we can experience negative adaptations. The easiest way to understand a negative adaptation for tasting food is to brush your teeth and then drink orange juice. You experience only the bitterness of the orange juice because your taste adapted to the sweetness and it disappears to your sense of taste. When you “flavor balance” you avoid negative adaptations and accentuate positive ones. By adjusting the acid, salt, savory (umami) and bitterness levels, while avoiding sugar in entrees and sides, chefs create a balance that allows wine to work perfectly with a dish, regardless of the wine selection. Flavor balancing is the basis of many foods in wine cultures like Italy, which serves lemon with its famed Steak Florentine. It also works with cuisines that are popularly considered more difficult to pair with wines, like Thai, Chinese, and Indian. To experience flavor balancing at the Allegretto Tasting Room, first call ahead to schedule the time. You and your guests will have personal attention while engaging in the hands-on exercise of balancing the five primary tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. By balancing the primary tastes in the food you avoid negative adaptations, enhance positive adaptations and thereby enhance the experience of food and wine. Guests will also learn about negative and positive adaptations, how to avoid them as well as the difference between flavor and taste. You will learn how to pair wine with the diner, not the dinner.
and be automatically entered to win two nights at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort. Your stay will include complimentary wine tasting and discounts on your purchase.