Taste of Wine

Drink with your senses — A Holiday wine party idea

If you are at all a wine lover, you have been to one or more of the many wine events that are staged every week at wine bars, restaurants, hotels, parks and wineries.

Blind Wine Tastings are fun and informative and make great holiday
Parties. Photos by Frank Mangio
Gerardo Ortiz is the chef-owner of Nonno’s Restaurant, Pizzeria and Deli.

Well, you too can be a wine host, and with the approaching year-end holidays, your friends will thank you for the chance to get together at the ultimate wine home party, the Drink Yourself Blind-Name That Wine!

Pick out a dozen of so friendly couples who love to sip, and talk about what they sipped. Make a contest of it by wrapping 10 or 12 bottles, preferably all red wines, in bags. Be sure to keep all the wines a secret. (A Blind Tasting!)

Pick wines from all over the world. Be sure to include: Napa Valley,

Sonoma, Paso Robles and Temecula in California. Then go to Oregon and Washington, France, Italy, South America and Spain. The Varietals should be all different: a Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Malbec and the list goes on. Blends are hard to identify so I would not include them. The test would be to match a description of each and where it came from, with the actual wine bottle tasted by number. The most correct choices on the form provided would win. A great 1st prize is a big bottle like a magnum or larger. This really motivates all the guests to match up the correct answer.

When all your guests have finished tasting, collect the test form, tally up the answers, and the one with the most correct choices wins! At this point, tear away the bags and reveal all the wines, then give back the forms to show how well everyone did. There’ll be lots of groans for those that missed their favorites or thought a Zin was really a Merlot, but all will agree, the distinctive qualities of the wines are revealed for all to compare and debate. It’s one of the best ways to taste test palates and learn from the wine experience.

As host, you should supply appetizers before and during the tasting and water for cleaning glasses between tastes. Choose wines in a price range of $12 (Malbecs) to $50 (Cabernets).

Mistakes to avoid: make sure the glassware is the same size and let your guests know that only 2 ounces of each wine is allowed so there is wine for all to test taste. Don’t burn candles or open up smelly “air fresheners” that distort the scent of a wine. Make sure the red wines are at less than room temperature. I prefer 65 degrees. It doesn’t have to be precise, but just slightly cooler than 72 degrees.

So, start planning to put your creativity to work for a “Drink Yourself Blind” Wine Party. It takes wine tasting to a whole new level.

Say ‘yes’ to Nonno’s wine & food menu

Nonno is the loving Italian name for grandfather, the head of the house you could count on for comfort and who led the prayers at the dinner table that all the family gathered around. Nonno’s Italian Restaurant in La Mesa is a small, cozy comfortable place that serves the finest hearty and delicious meals, with family style Italian wines sourced from small vineyards that are fragrant and fruity.

The chef is the owner, Gerardo Ortiz and he has created a superb menu with his signature flavor profile. Besides Italian favorites, you will want to try Steak” Sinatra”, Seafood “My Way,” and Fettucini Salmon. “All entrees are made from scratch,” Ortiz promised. “My prices are very low, compared to others, as well as our wines that will surprise our customers. They will discover new names that we try, and know will pair well with our menu.”

Bivio, a 2011 Chianti from Italy’s Tuscany is a dark-berried wine with a toasted almond taste, lush and fruity, is just $15 for the bottle.

See more about Nonno’s at www.nonnositalianfood.com.

Wine Bytes

Grapes Café & Wine Bar in Fallbrook presents Powell Mt. Cellars Dec. 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. Meet winemakers Kim and Bill Powell. $6. Complimentary appetizers and music on the patio. Details at (760) 500-4374.

Solare Restaurant in San Diego has a Christmas in Italy Cooking Class Dec. 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $60 to learn secrets of traditional holiday dishes from Sicilian chef Accursio. Includes Italian coffee and pastry. Call (619) 270-9670.

Europa Village in Temecula Wine Country has a holiday Craft Faire in the vineyards Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gifts and things for the home, garden and personal products. No charge. Call (951) 316-0261.

Frank Mangio is a renowned San Diego wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at www.tasteofwinetv.com. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.


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