liquid libations wine love
by Cara Strickland
fell in love with wine in the library. I was home from college for the summer, browsing the shelves of new arrivals at the South Hill Library when a bright green cover caught my eye. The book was Wine Wise, a publication of the Culinary Institute of America (who just came out with a second edition, late last year). Unlike many books about wine, this one was down to earth and relatable, even for a newbie like me. I read through chapters on each wine varietal (with handy pronunciation guides for some of the more challenging ones). As I read, I took notes on the ones that sounded like a match for my palate.
Liquid How I fell in love with wine
Every so often, I’d take my list to Rosauers or Rocket Market, looking for a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or a Pinot Noir from Oregon. That was how I fell in love with the bone dry, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde (a steal at under $10 a bottle). I read about the wines of Spain, making special note of the Rioja region. This was just before Spanish wines started popping up on every menu, stealing the show with their bold, fruit-forward flavors. I learned to enjoy Tempranillo and Garnacha, feeling a little like I was in on a secret. By the time I’d made it through the book, I felt confident that I could select a wine I would like off any menu, or from any store selection. I’d learned the basics of pairing, glassware and storage. Instead of worrying that I might embarrass myself in the world of wine, I simply wanted to plunge deeper. After graduation, I took a job with Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. There, amidst my clerical duties, I learned a lot about winemaking, vintages and terroir. As an employee of a winery, I had the opportunity to sip many different wines, some of them right out of barrels. The winemakers seemed to sense the genuine interest in my voice as I swirled a Garrison Creek Cabernet Sauvignon in Walla Walla. I heard about the barrels they used, and how long they kept the wine in them, filing the information away so that I could match it to label descriptions later. During my time at Arbor Crest, I celebrated the first International Grenache Day (observed on the third Friday in September, annually), with a blind tasting. My guests and I opened many bottles of Grenache (and its Spanish alias, Garnacha), choosing our favorites and getting to know this off-the-beaten-path wine, often used as part of a blend. I sought out opportunities to try new offerings of different grapes and winemaking methods, finding time to go wine tasting on vacation (even in regions not known for their wine), ordering flights in restaurants and wine bars and taking wine classes at Rocket Market when the theme appealed. Friends caught on to my interest, and soon they began to bring out intriguing bottles to share when we got together, along with gift certificates to wine stores for birthday gifts. The key to my enjoyment of wine has always been in allowing myself to decide whether or not I like something, regardless of the numbers it might get in a rating, the kudos it garners from wine professionals or the price tag on the shelf. As Matt Dolan, Rocket Market’s wine and beer steward says in every class: “There is only one wine expert in this room, and that’s you.”
There is only one wine expert in this room, and that’s you.
spokanecda.com • MAY • 2015