Do you have a passion for wine or just like to drink it? Well do I have a treat for you. I would like to introduce you to Archie Hood, a very passionate, knowledgable and entertaining sommelier at Reif Estates WInery in Niagara on the Lake. Archie is quite the character and is one of the guys that everyone seems to know and love in the Niagara region.
I’ve had the privilege of experiencing two amazing wine flights hosted by the legendary Archie. The first was the Icewine Experience with Ayngelina wich is only available in the winter. This was an amazing introduction and made her realize its not too sweet, very complex and very mellow. I had such an unbelievable experience it was all I could talk about for weeks. I was so excited to start sharing Archie’s passion for wine I had to take Gillian back as soon as possible. Gillian and I received amazing hospitality and got treated to the Wine and Chocolate Experience. A little chocolate never hurt anyone, as if the wine wasn’t enough to get me through the doors. I will post more on these awesome wine flights soon and as Gillian said “Pay it forward with Passion” (OneBlondeChef, 2013).
Sharing the Passion, Education, and a few Life Lessons
Archie is so knowledgable in many fields he is like an experienced fisherman. He will throw you out 100 different tangent lines of information in what seems to be random or perhaps a little tomfoolery at first. However, every one of these lines has been purposefully cast with the skills of a true craftsmen. He is not only able to keep them all straight and reel them all in with purpose, but ties them all delightfully together in a fun-filled way. He will leave you walking away with a new-found passion for wine and an experience that you will want to share with your family, friends, or anyone that will listen.
The 8 Second Sip…
8 seconds? I thought that was only for bull riders. I assure you that once you have learned this tasting technique, and of course with a little practice you will be changed forever. The best part of this is that it works wonderfully for craft beer, spirits, and even food too. After trying this technique for the first time it totally made the wine come alive and reveal its hidden secrets. With practice you will find yourself tasting things, finding complexities and textures you never thought you would from a wine.
After taking the wine into your mouth the tendency is use your tongue as a shovel and just suck it all back. I have to admit I am definitely guilty of this on many occasions. Once the wine is in your mouth make sure it hits all of your taste buds and the sides of your cheeks by swishing it around in your mouth. Do not be shy at this point as it will help to get the flavour. In the first two seconds after the wine is in your mouth you are only looking for one of the 5 tastes; sweet, salty, bitter, sour or umami (savoury). Try to visualize in your mind the taste of the wine and hold it there.
The next two seconds you are looking for a flavour and texture. It doesn’t have to be right it should just be the first thing that comes to your mind. This takes practice and everyone will have a different flavour profile stored in their brain. The flavour profile will depend on how you were raised and what flavours you like or have been exposed to more often in your lifetime. The flavours you like or have experienced a lot of, you will have a larger profile and be able to call to mind these flavours much easier. A good hint to help practice this is to look at the label and have a starting reference point or something to look for. Chances are you can pick out of the flavours or might even have a different one all together. Keep in mind you are not wrong as wine tasting is personal. After-all, if you have never tried passion fruit before, how will you find it’s flavour in a wine?
From the four to six second mark you are looking for the acidity in the wine. The acidity in the wine will start to “excite” the taste buds on your tongue (fingerlike projections called papillae) and start vibrate and produce saliva or “water”. The more acidic the wine the more excited the taste buds and therefore more water will be produced. Different wines will vary greatly on the level of acidity, but should still be balanced.
In the last two seconds as more water is produced the wine and water will balance each other out. The solution in your mouth is balanced when your mouth stops producing water. This is a very unique feeling, but it is pretty easy to tell when it is perfectly balanced. Now for the moment you have been waiting for, you can now swallow the wine.
When you have tasted the wine try this technique a few times and keeping in mind what flavours are coming to mind. This is a personal experience and there is no wrong answer so have fun with it. Make sure you try this each and every time and soon it will be second nature and you will start to impress your friends. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride of wine tasting and stay tuned for my posts on the wine flights themselves.