Heading to your first wine-tasting?  Here’s how to make the most of it

Heading to your first wine-tasting? Here’s how to make the most of it


Wine-tasting events can be very enjoyable, especially if they’re experienced with good company. To make the most of a wine-tasting event, there are a number of things to be mindful of, and others to avoid in order to prevent mishaps. Bearing in mind that you are there for the pleasure of the experience but also to learn, it’s important that you are comfortably dressed and well prepared. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind the next time you’d like to attend a wine-tasting:

- Attire, perfume and note taking
Aside from being comfortable it’s also important to keep in mind the likelihood of spills when choosing what to wear for the night. That in mind, it would be ideal to avoid clothing with loose sleeves, and maybe opting for dark colored tops. Additionally, it’s important not to wear perfume to the wine-tasting to avoid it from being a sensory distraction. You’ll also want to be prepared to take notes. You shouldn’t have to struggle the next day trying to remember that third or fourth bottle you tried and really liked.
- Eat First
The assumption is that you are likely to taste a significant number of wines. Knowing that, you’d really want to be completely mindful of the experience without distracting hunger or starting to feel slightly light headed early into the evening. Be sure to have something to eat before attending the event, or even throughout the event if need be.
- Catching and Releasing
In order to experience the wine in the best way possible, taking in air with the mouthful of wine lets you taste but also detect the aromas of the wine. After taking a sip and letting the wine coat the inside of your mouth, you would normally spit it out. Letting go of the wine then leaves you with a window of opportunity to really assess the distinct features of the wine including its texture and finish.

Have you ever noticed how memorable a story can be?
Bring your experience of every bottle to a good end by asking about the story of the winery and that specific wine. By doing so, not only would you be able to appreciate the wine more, but you’ll also be able to make your winetasting experience much more memorable.
 
November 06, 2017 — 209 Lebanese Wine
Notes and Impressions from a VINIFEST 2017 visitor

Notes and Impressions from a VINIFEST 2017 visitor



Interesting show. Several good surprises, some of which can even be called amazing. Overall Lebanese wine quality still on an upward trend.

Lebanese Wine discovery:

Chateau Marsyas red 2012: Amazing. Elegant and rich, balanced and fault-free. A bordelaise structure with no overextraction, no overoaking. The star of the classic red show. Buy Chateau Marsyas red 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/chateau_marsyas_red_2012_red

Sept Syrah 2016: Wooowww. An attack overwhelmed by velvety and super elegant tannins clearly engulfing and totally covering the structure with a transparent veil of lace; after having enjoyed crossing this golden gate, one discovers a beautiful array of pastel and oil colours with not the slightest clash in site. Akin to the feeling of Colombus discovering the American continent. Yet still very young, but with the promise of extreme greatness. Biodynamic and selective parcel vinification. A marvelously memorable experience. Batroun heights. Buy Sept Syrah 2016 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/sept_winery_syrah_de_nehla_2016

Vertical 33 Cinsault du soir 2015: totally unexpected. Is this wine or some sort of magic elixir. Never has any Cinsault offered this fine elegance with a touch of undescribable lightness combined with a fruitiness you'd think came from a newfruit of paradise. When I say unexpected i mean total departure from any previous conception of wine flavour profile. Is this a wine or a magic brew? Purists could complain about its extreme lightness combined with an unwinelike slight fruity sucrosity; they'd have nothing to compare it with; they would expect a layer of heaviness, a sting of bitterness, something to chew on. But no, nothing of this in this wine light and pleasant enough for any time of day, any occasion, any need to surprise one's senses. West Bekaa grapes. Buy Vertical 33 Cinsault du soir online 2015 https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/cinsault_du_soir_2015

Sept Obeideh: excellent. Feels like a concentrated thin straight line where you have to search but will be amazed by the mix of flavours you find within the rich and varied structure. It is flexible enough to pair well with foods of both higher or lower richness. Buy Sept Obeideh online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/sept_winery_obeideh_2016

Other very good discoveries: (in no particular order)

Syrah du Liban 2012: excellent, totally classic with an interesting syrah typicity. An unmistakably great lebanese red wine. Bravo Faouzi Issa, Domaine des Tourelles. Even better than the 2006 star. Central Bekaa. Buy Syrah du Liban 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/syrah_du_liban_2012_red

Qanafar red 2012: great follow thru after the very successful 2011. Definitely one of the great lebanese bordelais. Slight sucrosity but great structure. Blanc de Qanafar has improved and is vey good. The second red, Paradis has made a huge upwards leap. Buy Chateau Qanafar red 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/chateau_qanafar_2012_red

Muse rose 2016: excellent rose made from syrah monocepage. Elegance, faultless and no heavy acidity. Pity their white and reds are no way near the rose. Buy Muse rose 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/muse_le_rose

Tourba Petit Verdot red 2014: interesting and surprising as a monocepage; this varietal is normally added in very small proportion (typically 5%) to enrich Bordeaux style blends. Here, on its own its not bad at all. Buy Latourba Petit Verdot red 2014 https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/latourba_petit_verdot

Marsyas B-Qa: amazing second wine in both red and white. You don't feel it's a second wine with the red easily being the best at that price level. Buy Marsyas B-Qa online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/b_qa_de_marsyas_2013_red

Musar Jeune: in earlier years I had thought of this line as a wasted attempt at range extension. Not any more. It is now an excellent value line in all of the white, rose and red. A very decent entry level range that will not depreciate the Chateau Musar image. Bravo. Buy Musar Jeune online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/musar_jeune_white https://www.209lebanesewine.com/pages/chateau-musar

Bybline red: i could not avoid being attracted this year again by the amazing Musar-style Bybline. The same varietal blend Cabernet, Carignan, Cinsault planted in Wata Joz, kesrouan. It is a Musar near lookalike but with a bit less volatile acidity and brett effect. Those who appreciate the Musar style would enjoy it, particularly at half the price. Amazed it lasted 11 years. Buy Chateau Bybline online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/pages/chateau-bybline;

Karam rose: not bad at all. Faultless and interesting with any food. Buy Karam Rose online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/arc_en_ciel_2015_rose

Lebanese wines are definitely improving. There are much more quality wines than a few years ago. But the most interesting aspect is that new styles are appearing and this new variety of taste profiles and experiences is very pleasant. This novelty will not please everybody, particularly those fixated on Bordeaux style, but this extension will help attract a larger number of fans. I think it is great and the industry is going in the right direction.

Don't be surprised that I hadn't mentioned wines of Ksara, Kefraya or Ixsir . Not because I didnt like them, but because they were not offering their best at Vinifest: the two great Kefraya efforts are Chateau 2012 and the amazing Comte de M 2012, both of which were not offered; their entry level Breteche 2015 is not bad at all, but they seemed more interested in selling the label design than the wine experience. Ksara' s Souverain and Troisieme Millenaire seemed to be the same ones offered last year; their Chateau is more than decent but was not given enough boost. At Ixsir I eagerly looked for the fantastic EL 2012, but only the 2013 was on offer, slightly ahead of its top form. A brand that showed excellent follow-on to the philosophy of quality is definitely Chateau Qanafar where all the wines, without any exception, are improving vintage after vintage.

PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT THESE ARE THE PERSONAL OPINIONS OF THE WRITER, BASED ON HIS OWN SUBJECTIVE TASTE. I DONT MEAN TO DENIGRATE ANY WINERY OR OVERAPPRECIATE ANY OTHER.

 
On Lebanese Wine…Q&A with Mr. Zafer Chaoui, UVL President

On Lebanese Wine…Q&A with Mr. Zafer Chaoui, UVL President


1- What, in your opinion, is one thing that truly distinguishes Lebanese wine?

The exceptional weather permits for the Lebanese wineries to produce natural wine with almost no use of chemicals along with a unique terroir in altitude.

2- How does the terroir play a role in differentiating between wines from different areas in Lebanon? How are wines from the Bekaa, for example, different than those in North Lebanon?

The terroir plays a very important role in the taste of the wine (its phenolic composition, fruitiness, …etc). The terroir is affected by several factors including altitude, orientation, soil composition and topography.

3- How do wine-making techniques affect the resulting flavor of the wine?

The temperature of fermentation is fundamental in the quality of the wines especially for the Rose and White as it affects the aromas and the flavors directly. As for the Red wines, the skin maceration period determines the structure of the wine.

4- Why is Lebanese wine perceived as expensive by some drinkers?

Lebanon is an extremely small wine producing country and therefore we have no other choice but to produce high quality wines. Besides, we need to compare what is comparable (we can’t compare a cheap Bordeaux or a Chianti with a “Chateau” wine). Furthermore, we shouldn’t forget that Lebanon doesn’t produce colored bottles, corks, or cap, and so all of the packaging material has to be imported which leads to a cost increase.

5- Why do you think some Lebanese wine drinkers mention that some wines give them headaches?

What actually causes headache in wine is the high concentration of Sulfur Dioxide, which is not the case in Lebanese wines since most of the wineries use less than the permitted concentration. I think this has more to do with an unfounded propaganda. Having said that, we need to highlight that the Lebanese wines are exported to more than 45 countries requiring precise chemical analysis.

6- What makes Lebanese wine worth trying when compared to other wines?

Lebanese wines continue to gain popularity all over the world because of their high quality, the concentration of flavors, and structure. Every year, we witness an increase in the export of the Lebanese wines all over the world.

7- Where is wine-making in Lebanon heading? That is, what are the current trends when it comes to Lebanese wine-making and wine consumption?

No doubt that Lebanese wines are increasingly in demand, domestically and internationally, which leads to an increase in production. However, Lebanon is a small country and the narrow available surface will eventually limit the production. Nowadays, the trend in wine-making tends towards more fruity wines with less use of oak and lower concentration in tannins.

February 20, 2017 — 209 Lebanese Wine
A Wine affair… Pairing herbs with wine

A Wine affair… Pairing herbs with wine


Why is wine-herb pairing a good idea? It’s one more way you could enjoy your wine drinking experience. By pairing the right wine with the right dish, the flavors are balanced and you’d be able to discover the pleasure of the basic flavors in a meal, as well as the complex combinations that are created. The cornerstone of pairing wine with herbs actually comes down to the aromatic compounds found in both. In fact, it is better to pair the wine with the sauce than with the meat mainly because that is what is more likely to exude the dominant flavor.

When it comes to food, you’re mainly looking to complement the dish with a contrasting wine for balance, or enhancing the flavors of the dish by going for a wine that is a similar match. Imagine yourself having a nice warm plate of macaroni and cheese with a beautiful, creamy, béchamel sauce. On one hand, the acidity in a good Sauvignon Blanc would be a complementary match since it balances the fat in the dish. On the other hand, a creamy Viognier or Chardonnay would actually enhance the flavors in your plate. This is an example of how two different options of white wine can make for two very different food experiences. It really does come down to personal preference.

Taking this a step further first requires that you become familiar with the popular herbs and ingredients used in different cuisines. The Mediterranean cuisine, for example, is famous for using garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, and mint among other herbs. Garlic pairs well with fruity, and dry wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, or Pinot Noir, and Syrah, if you’re looking to have red wine. Syrah actually pairs well with most of the mentioned herbs, especially with basil and rosemary. Thyme and oregano are earthy herbs and would also pair well with Pinot Noir.

Tasting does take a little practice, but will eventually make for an enjoyable experience. The next time you sit down for a meal, try to isolate the predominant herbs in the dish, and experiment with wine flavors. There really is nothing like the perfect match.
January 16, 2017 — 209 Lebanese Wine