Big Mac’s Mondays: Bordeaux a go-go

Alright, it’s Tuesday. We bought a bottle from Big Mac’s yesterday with the intention of popping it open and taking some notes. But then the neighbor came down to Her place with a bottle of Hendricks gin. We’re not just wine lovers, We like spirits too and couldn’t resist a couple of g&t’s. So We pulled the cork tonight on an inexpensive Bordeaux.

By way of background, four or five times a week We find ourselves at Big Mac’s, a neighborhood liquor store on Sunset Blvd. We’re not always shopping for wine ($14.99 for a big bottle of Skyy, oh my), but on Monday’s We make a point of it. The store fits the bill for our quest to learn about and taste accessible wine. (We’ve said this before, but it’s worth restating: We’re also regulars at the many local wine shops–and you should be too.)

We always keep price in mind when We pick out a bottle and this week We also decided to choose a Bordeaux, the area We are reading about in Zraly’s excellent book for beginners like Him: Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2009 Edition.

As usual, we follow a basic tasting method: swirl, smell, slurp…and savor.

Chateau Les Rosiers (Patrick Jolivet), 2005 ($8.99)

She said: It’s dark outside, where we’re tasting, so the color is a bit hard to distinguish. It’s dark and reddish and a bit translucent. On the nose I get currants and subtle wood, with a little bit of pepper and a chemically smell. Tannins are initially soft but linger long on the palate. Way more structure than I would expect from a Bordeaux of this class and price. And it’s the kind that I like: a bit taught with long lasting, tannic finish. Pepper again in the mouth. No real fruit characteristics, per se, but nothing flabby or soft about it. Really good value for the price. I’m impressed, I may buy a case of this. Can imagine all kinds of grilled meats and hearty flavored dishes with the wine as well as stinky cheeses. Makes me hungry.

He said: Like She said, it’s dark outside (and, I repeat, I’m colorblind) so I guess that this wine looks very red and probably opaque. On the nose I am getting very light strawberry, that chemical-balloon-y thing I still can’t pinpoint, sharpie/magic marker–it stings a little bit. In the mouth I get strawberry again and a little blackberry. The flavors are very light, I don’t find this to be a bold wine at all. Nothing is jumping out at me, soft tannins, easy to drink, not much aftertaste. Earlier this week I proclaimed that the cheap Bordeaux I was drinking paired well with Peanut Butter. I don’t know why, and my education in reds is just beginning. Whites are much easier for me to understand, but I really enjoy learning about (and drinking) reds. I initially thought this wine was very coy, and didn’t much care for it. But, it is opening up and I am liking it more and more.

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No Rest for the Wine-y

All that and football too…we had a busy, productive Sunday. So much so we only got through the Chablis and Rhône chapters of Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2009 Edition (although we did mange to get through two bottles of wine.) I just bought us a bottle of cheap, er inexpensive Bordeaux at Big Mac’s to sip while reading the next chapter. And it’ll be our Big Mac Monday’s selection. If I don’t finish it off before He gets home.

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The Ritual

Some days we’re more vigilant than others on The Wine Education.

Take yesterday. It was 90 degrees outside, the day after a boozy, spooky Halloween night, and there was a whole bunch of sports was on tv. Which to say: it wasn’t a serious day. We drank gin.

But on the serious days we typically buy a bottle of wine (nothing too fancy or obscure) from the growing region we’re studying in Kevin Zraly’s excellent book for beginners, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2009 Edition. With the unopened bottle in front of us, he’ll slowly and deliberately read out loud.

I tend to interrupt every few sentences with asides or examples. “That makes sense, right? The wine is made near the sea so of course it will go well with the local food: oysters, shellfish, fish.”

After the chapter is finished we’ll review the major facts and then I’ll quiz him.

“What are the three major white wine grapes of Loire Valley?”

“What is the difference between Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-Fuissé?”

I’ll also throw in some questions from previous chapters to make sure he’s retaining the info.

“What is the major white wine grape of Bordeaux?”

“That wasn’t in this chapter.”

“Come on… we read about it last time.”

“Arrgh… Chardonnay?”

“Nooooo. Come on, you know this.” Et cetera.

The reward for all this reading and quizzing and sometimes frustration: opening the bottle sitting in front of us.

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