I’ll be the first to admit that prior to my year in Europe I wasn’t a fan of French wines. I much preferred red wines out of Italy and really had not tried much beyond that country. Every time I tried a French wine I really felt like I preferred the flavor profiles of Italian wines instead. In all honesty, I just didn’t understand or know how to taste French wines until I lived there for a year! French grocery stores pretty much only carry French wines and usually 1-2 cheap Chiantis and a few random wines from the US and Australia. But mainly French wine. I was delighted to learn that Wine.com was hosting a virtual tasting this month with Kevin Zraly and the focus would be totally on French wines!
One of the benefits of living in France was that French wines were rather affordable. My husband and I would do a little research before we went to the grocery store each week and picked up a few bottles here and there to try different things. What really catapulted my love for French wines were the tours we took in all of the major regions: Bordeaux, Loire, Champagne, Alsace and more! Learning firsthand about the grapes and wines straight from the producers themselves really helped me learn what to look for and what I like in French wines!
Fast forward to now when I live in the wine region of California but because of the current pandemic situation wineries are not really open for tastings and learning. I have seen more and more virtual events being put on by wineries from all over but was rather excited to sit in on a tasting with the wine man himself, Kevin Zraly. If you’re not familiar with this name he is one of the most famous American wine educators in the world and the founder of the Windows of the World Wine School. I’ve had his book sitting on my television stand for years and never really even opened it, until now. He is certainly knowledgable about all wine, has a great sense of humor and has tasted some wines that truly make me jealous.
The course he put on with Wine.com featured wines from 3 of France’s most prominent wine regions: Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. The 3 wines featured were Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Joseph Drouhin Macon Villages, and Chateau Mont Redon Cotes du Rhone Reserve. You can grab the trio of wines here.
How to Properly Taste Wine
Mr. Zraly discussed the tasting of the wines and walked us through how to properly taste a glass of wine. Here are some tips:
- Look – Check out how the wine looks including the color, opacity and viscosity (otherwise known as legs) and if you can see through the wine then it is ready to drink.
- Smell – Place your nose and mouth inside of the glass for a first smell. Note the different aromas including fruits, florals and earthy scents. Now, place your hand over the top of the glass and take a second smell. You’ll note the the wine has opened up and released some new aromas.
- Taste – Take a first sip and swallow. Notice the flavors and then take a second sip. Swish this sip around in your mouth and then let it sit for 30-45 seconds before swallowing. You should be able to identify new flavors that are salty, sweet, earthy, etc.
Once you have properly tasted the wine you should be able to decide if you like it or not! Try this for yourself at home.
I thoroughly enjoyed all 3 of the wines samples but my favorite was the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé. After visiting Epernay in the Champagne region I really have grown quite fond of the tiny bubbles of champagne. This variety offered light pear notes and red fruits.
Wine.com has some other virtual tastings coming up that you can learn more about here and purchase the wines. With my link you’ll get $20 off of your first order! It’s a fun event for date-night or girl’s night in! If you’re interested in learning more about wine, I also suggest picking up a copy of Kevin Zraly’s Windows of the World book. It’s a great resource for anyone looking for a better understand of the world of wine!