Chip & Sip…A Perfect ‘Pairing’

By Leslee Miller

“Whatever life brings, enter the perfect wine.” – Sommelier Leslee D. Miller

Hi there!
I’m Leslee Miller, a new monthly contributor for Tee Times Magazine. I’m a certified sommelier and owner of a wine-consulting firm called, Amusée located in the Twin Cities. Through my company, I perform a number of different duties within the wine industry. Certified almost 13yrs ago, through the International Sommelier Guild and the Court of Master Sommeliers, I teach a wide variety of wine and food/wine pairing classes across the Twin Cities metro, as well as orchestrate and perform in home and corporate wine tasting events for folks looking to learn more about this tasty lil’ subject. If you pick up any number of wine columns within the cities, you’ve most likely seen my name as I chat wine from my own blog on to a variety of local magazines from Cambria Style to Artful Living and now, Tee Times Magazine!

Within the upcoming months, I look forward to sharing my love for the subject as I provide a fun sampling of wine recommendations, recipes, pairing tips and tricks so that you can, perhaps, take on a few new sips for your tee time fun! From a Mother’s Day brunch wine and recipe pairing in May, a delicious list of Father’s Day wine recommendations in June to a slew of other super sippin’ summer wine tips and wines to explore throughout the season–stay tuned!

Wine 101
To introduce the subject a bit more, I thought I’d entice your senses with this fun (and easy) tasting process I teach a number of my wine class attendees before we tee off for the season.

How many times have you said ‘What does this wine smell like?’ Unless you’ve been trained to smell through a wine, you might find yourself bypassing the aromas, the more intricate flavors and mouth-feel of a wine. To make it that much more enjoyable and easy, I’ve created a few simple steps to help you discover more about the wine in your glass:

Think & Drink
If you really want the most from your vino and truly want to intricately discover the real reasons why some wines taste and smell the way they do – we must engage our brains when sipping. By following these Deductive Tasting Method rules, you’re more likely to understand how the wine in your glass translates to regions, styles, aromas and flavors.

Sight: Looking at the Wine
When looking at a wine, tilt it away from you on a white background or surface. This helps us look at the belly of the wine (the mid center of the liquid). Generally speaking, when wines (both white & red) come from European countries, otherwise known as Old World countries, they tend to throw less color into the body. Whites are lighter in color and reds are a bit more reddish in color. When wines come from all other countries that lie outside of Europe, otherwise known as New World countries, wines tend to throw more color into their body. Whites are generally darker in color and reds are more purple, sometimes darker overall.
Sometimes the weight of the wine can translate into the clarity when looking at it on a tilted angle. In a red wine, if you can wiggle your fingers under the wine and see them clearly, this will give you an indication that the wine is lighter bodied versus not being able to see your fingers at all under a wine, showing much darker/opaque colors, leading you to believe that the wine is a bit heavier.

Nose: Smelling the Wine
This is the most important aspect as smell accounts for 90% of the taste. First, swirl the wine in your glass. Swirling releases the flavor elements attached to the alcohol molecules of the wine. Going back to the same rule of our Old World vs. New World country analysis…Old World wines tend to smell a bit more mineral-y (like minerals!) and can even smell more like dirt, damp earth, mushrooms or earthy spice. New World wines generally lead with fruit.

Palate: Tasting the Wine
Bring a bit of oxygen in your mouth at the same time you taste by sucking in air in the front of our mouth. Old World wines tend to lean on the more tart side for whites and reds, tasting more earthy, chalky or dusty. New World wines have a bolder, fruit first flavor, coating your mouth with round, full flavors of fruit and alcohol.

The Finish
Once you’ve confirmed the smells, flavors, weight and how it all lands on your palate, now you’re ready to sift through what you like about the wines you’ve tasted. Do you like the more earthy, spice driven, mineral wines – maybe you’re more of an Old World wine drinker. Do you like big, juicy, textured fruit flavors and aromas – you could be more of a New World wine drinker.

Until we talk next month…happy tasting!

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