Wine Flights At Home
With Anna's recommendations for Steals (around $10), Deals ($15 range) and Splurges ($20 - $40 range) - all locally available in the Bay-Waveland area!
- story and photos by Anna Speers
There is no better way to expand your palate than by trying many different wines. Unfortunately for our area, we do not have many opportunities to do this. Buying full bottles can be a daunting commitment to make, particularly when venturing into a new wine category. Restaurants often stock familiar wines that have a proven track record with their customers, which can limit the by-the-glass selections for an adventurous, aspirational wine enthusiast.
The solution here is wine flights and tasting events. Whenever I'm at a new restaurant, I ask the server if they offer flights. While smaller restaurants rarely offer this opportunity, bigger ones sometimes do.
A wine flight participant should follow a few rules to get the most out of their tasting experience:
- Start with a clean palate. No beer or liquor before wine.
- Begin with the lightest-bodied wine and move through to heavier, drier wines.
- Do not mix sweet wines and dry wines.
- Avoid mixing red and white wines (this is not a hard and fast rule).
- Flights should be accompanied by notecards with information about each wine, along with its price per glass or per bottle.
- Take your time and get to know each wine.
- Note-taking is highly encouraged.
- Ask questions.
- Finish by ordering a full glass of your favorite.
For a basic tasting, select your wine type and follow the guidelines and setup described above. Call up the gang and have at least three people bring a different bottle each (or buy them yourself if you're feeling generous). Everyone else can bring food. Keep the nibbles simple and in line with your wine selection. Think finger food.
I am not a subscriber to the “white wine with fish and red wine with steak” guideline. Party snacks for wine tastings can be literally whatever you like, but in case you're stuck, here are some classic pairings:
- Dry white wines with soft cheeses, Asian flavors, green apples and salads.
- Dry red wines with hard cheeses, charcuterie, fig jam and hearty soups.
- Sweet wines with spicy flavors and good vanilla ice cream.
- Crusty bread with everything.
Which wine is the least expensive? Which is the most? Which one came from (insert each region/country/continent here)? Which was your favorite? If the selection of wines includes any blended wines, the group can flex its collective palate sensitivity by attempting to identify what grapes are used in each blend. This can be very challenging but it is a fantastic way to see if your taste buds are as good as you think they are.
Remember, when tasting a wine we should take the time to appreciate the color, the nose, the mouthfeel, the tasting notes and the finish. Use these observations to guide your guesses, and good luck!
Steals, Deals and Splurges
Steal: 19 Crimes Red Blend: smooth, nuanced and very beginner friendly.
Deal: Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc: bright, clean and hefty (13.9% ABV!).
Splurge: Conundrum White Blend: balanced, creamy and slightly sweet.