For those unfamiliar, Wine Shoe is a boutique wine shop in the Castleberry Hill area of Atlanta. Nora is the owner. They have roughly 140 small-production wines available for sale, mostly from Europe, Central and South America, and South Africa, and a few from California. Most of the wines are under $20 in price, which makes it much more affordable to Drink Well! They are also retailers of the ISAW Foundation recommended wines from M'Hudi and Seven Sisters wineries - which makes ME a HUGE fan off the bat.
Wine Shoe Classes - Also Wine Shoe hosts classes on various weeknights and weekends. See their website for details and registration.
We went to Wine Shoe for the Wine 101 class. Yes yes I know, we are not complete beginners, but it is always good to go back to the beginning to learn things you may have forgotten, or learn new things you missed when jumping into the Wine World the first time. Back to the basics we went.
Our instructor was Teresa (Tair-ray-suh), a lovely woman who can be instantly recognized by her black beret . you may have seen her around town? I know I have run into her on several occasions. She loves good food and wine, and she is hysterically funny to talk with. I adore her!
Top Ten Most Used Wine Terms (ok maybe more than 10).
Aroma (also bouquet, perfume, nose, scent), the intensity and character of the aroma can be assessed with nearly any descriptive adjective. Usually refers to the particular smell of the grape variety. The word "Bouquet" is usually restricted to describing the aroma of a cellar-aged bottled wine.
Balance balance of wine elements (ie: no individual part is dominant). Acid balances sweetness, fruit balances oak and tannin content, alcohol is balanced against acidity and flavor. Wine not in balance may be acidic, cloying, flat, or harsh.
Crisp - wine having a pronounced but pleasing tartness, acidity. Fresh, young and eager, begs to be drunk. In general used to describe white wines only, especially those of Muscadet de Sevres et Maine from the Loire region of France.
Dry- dry wine types have sugars that have been all used up to create alcohol. The wine possesses little or no sweetness.
Finish- term used to describe the taste left in the mouth after swallowing the wine. Both character and length of the aftertaste are part of the total evaluation. The finish may be harsh, hot, soft, and lingering, short, smooth, tannic, or non-existant at all.
Fruity- used for any quality that refers to the body and richness of a wine made from good, ripe grapes. A fruity wine has an apple-like or berry-like, or herbaceous character. Fruitiness implies a little extra sweetness.
Smooth/Soft/Velvety - Generally has low acid-tannin content. Also describes wines with low alcohol content. Consequently has little impact on the palate.
Spicy - almost a synonym for peppery. Implies a softer, more rounded flavor nuance however.
Structure - the flavor plan, so to speak. Suggests completeness of the wine, all the parts there, term needs a modifier in order to mean something (ie: brawny)
Sulphites - preservatives
Tannins - a naturally occurring substance in grape skins, seeds, and stems. Is primarily responsible for the basic "bitter" component in wines. Acts as a natural preservative, helping the development, and in the right proportion, balance of the wine. It is considered a fault when present in excess.
Taste - The four basic sensations detectable by the human tongue. The tip of the tongue contains the taste receptors registering sweetness, just a little further back, at the sides, the taste will appear salty, behind that the flavor will have a sour taste at the sides, finally dissolving into bitterness at the near center-rear of the tongue.
Terroir (tear-r-wah) - medium that the grape vines are growing in (land, geographical location, winds, weather, soil, etc).
Varietal - grape or variety of grape used to make the wine, sometimes many varietals are used in a wine, then it is considered a blend.
Vintage - the year or age of the wine
Classic Varietal Information
Cabernet Sauvignon -(Cab-er-nay-Saw-veen-yawn) - classic red - distinctive black currant aroma can develop bouquet nuances of cedar, violets, leather earth, or tobacco. typically has a tannic edge that will soften and smooth considerably with time. It's a wine that ages extremely well, and indeed produces striking results after a long storage period.
Chardonnay - (Shar-doe-nay)- classic white - unmistakable in the mouth because of its impeccable sugar/acid balance, full body, and smooth ripe flavors. It often smells like apples, peaches, or tropical fruits. Popular throughout the world, it is the most commonly planted varietal in California.
Chenin Blanc - (Shen-nin-blahnk) classic white - the most vibrant comes from the Loire Valley of France, but it is the leading white grape of South Africa, where it is known as Steen. It is full, round, and effortless to drink.
Merlot - (mer-low) classic red - Merlots tend to be dry, rich in flavor, and smooth in finish. The bouquet is ripe with berry and fruit smells, and thus the wines tend to have fruit forward flavors. Merlots can be consumed soon after bottling, but can age for long periods for optimal tasting.
Pinot Noir - (Pee-no-nwar) classic red - lighter color and bodied red wine, with intense complex flavors and a silky texture. Somewhat dry in its taste, the flavors often include berries, plums, cherries, rose petals, and mushrooms. The grapes are difficult to grow and susceptible to disease, making the varietal an excellent challenge for most winemakers. This varietal shows best when grown in cool climate. (My fave Pinot Noirs come from Williamette Valley Oregon or Russian River Valley).
Riesling - (reez-ling) classic white - A particularly refreshing alternative to the Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc white wine tandem. Unlike its cousin, Gewurztraminer (Guh-vertz-trah-miner), this varietal has little spice and instead relies on its delicate aromas and subtle flavors for its niche. usually lighter in style and sometimes residual sweetness, it's better paired with lighter fare. (I prefer DRY Rieslings)
Sangiovese - (san-gee-o-vay-zee) main red wine in Italy
Sauvignon Blanc - (Saw-veen-yawn-Blahnk) classic white - The polar opposite of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc is brisk, refreshing, herb scented, grassy, grapefruit, passion fruit, gooseberry, or melon with a streak of sharp acidity. The varietal can be extremely dry or even sweet, depending on the wine maker.
Syrah or Shiraz (Sear-rah, sheer-rahz)- classic red - makes velvety wine with exotic perfumes of smoke, bacon, violets, and blueberries.
Tempranillo (temp-ra-nee-yo)- red varietal from Spain
Viognier - (vee-own-yay) - white wine, typically sweeter and high in sugar (depending who makes it).
The 4 S's of wine
Wine 101's Tasting Notes:
1) 2009 D'Lucio Sparkling Rose, Tempranillo, Spain, 7% alcohol,
2) Altosur Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza Argentina, 12% alcohol,
3) 2010 El Peral Chardonnay, Tupungato, Valle De Uco, Mendoza, Argentina. 13.6% alcohol
4) 2009 Le Dog Merlot, Tuchan, Languedoc, France - $13.99
5) 2009 Vinum Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14% alcohol - $19.99
6) 2003 Mt. Jagged Shiraz (98% Shiraz, 2% Viognier), Australia, 14% alcohol - $19.99
7) 2009 Seven Sisters Odelia Bukettraube - Swartland South Africa, 12% alcohol - $17.99
Wine Shoe's Off The Wall VIP Club
currently $79.99/month to get:
- Wine shopping by appointment for your convenience - even when they are "closed"
- Six bottles of Off The Wall wines each month
- Free wine Shoe 6-bottle wine tote bag
- Free monthly tasting during scheduled pickup on 2nd Monday of each month
- Two Free Seats to one of their classes when you sign up for 1 year.
- Free gift wrapping on special purchases
- 15% off on re-orders of cases of the Off The Wall wines throughout the feature month.
- 12% off case purchases of any of their other wine
- 6% off when you buy 6 or more bottles.
- Half Price on any other classes, and half price for your guest(s) when they come with you.
- Personal Wine Consulting service
Bonus class notes:
Italian toast - Hold up your glass, look the person you are toasting in the eye, and as you clink, say "Chin-Chin." Make sure you look them in the eye or you will have 5 years of bad sex (says Teresa). The origination of the toast is the Italian word for 5 = Cinque (cheen-quay). It means from my 5 senses to your 5 senses. Meaning of course the 5 senses (see, smell, taste, touch, hear).
Bukettraube -(Boo-ket-traw-buh) white wine varietal - also sometimes spelled as "Bouquettraube", originally from Germany, now grown most notably in South Africa (yum!)