I’ve never been on a blind date. This is probably because physical attraction is important to me. I’d hate to come off shallow but I’ve always been a big believer that physical chemistry is an important aspect of any relationship- one lasting for years and one just beginning. This doesn’t at all mean that relationships should be based on looks alone. Sometimes attraction comes along over a few months of dates, sometimes it just takes a look across a wine bar. What I learned at a blind wine tasting is that first sight is not something to be ignored.
garnet, purple, bloody red, shallow, pink-silver rim, nice legs.
Shallow you say? You can describe a wine’s appearance in depth by tilting it back to have a center line of vision. Does the wine change color the farther back you look? If it does, it has depth. If not, it’s “shallow”.
Pink-silver rim? This is obviously a red wine and more of a brown or orange color at the rim can be a sign of oxidization or age. Pink-silver? We’ve still got something young on our hands.
After you swirl your wine around, there is a ring of liquid near the top of the glass and droplets which fall back into the wine. These are called “legs” or “tears”. It occurs because of the differences in surface tension and evaporation rates of water versus alcohol but to get to the point, visible legs mean a higher alcohol content. We all show a little more leg with a higher alcohol content.
alcohol (I know but some burn more than others), cherry, jammy, oak, baking spice.
Mm, baking spice. Did you know that the baking spice in an Old World wine means it’s been in aged in oak for an amount of time. Another sign that this wine is young but yet older than probably two years.
quartz, chalk, rock, high alcohol, savory, herbaceous, green pepper, fruit and wood tannin, medium acidity, concord grape, salty, dusty, salami, white pepper.
So depth, age, and the sight of visible legs and a higher alcohol content can all be told before the wine is even tasted or your date even seen. As our date was revealed, it happened to be this:
Neipoort is a producer in the Douro region of Portugal run by Dirk Neipoort and has been family-owned since 1842. The Douro region of Portugal is known for its schist "soil", a metamorphic rock known to “split” and flake because of its mineral consistency- this includes quartz and graphite, two things that you can taste in the wine. The Douro is mainly known for its Port-making abilities but because of economic tax breaks in the early 1900’s, table wine began to make much more sense. The Douro is also known for its tough terroir and high temperatures which make winemaking here extremely difficult and its resulting wine that much more appreciated.
The Vertente is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Amarela. All of these grapes are red grapes that are used in making Port. The grapes come from 20-year old vines, are then fermented in stainless steel tanks, and aged in French oak for 18 months.
So we deduced a somewhat higher alcohol content of 13%, aging in oak, a rocky terroir, and a young age but yet older than two years (2007) all without knowing what we were drinking. The only reason why I say you should maybe give your blind date a second chance is because I thought this was a French Syrah and Grenache blend. Portuguese? Really?
So I guess what I’m saying is that it’s okay to make some physical judgments but keep an open mind until your wine or date really let you know they’re one-note and don't last that long.