Thursday, March 24, 2011

I did it! The Wine Century Club is finished!

Readers, I have done it: After nine months of research, agonizing, and concerted, dedicated wine drinking, I have finished my Wine Century Club challenge! Wine varietal 100 was a delicious, aromatic, grassy bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, the varietal I'd been saving for last, consumed at home after a particularly not-so-awesome day.

The final bottle

The final glass

So, here are some things I learned during my quest:

1) This one's obvious, but there are some truly good off-the-beaten-path wine varietals out there. Take Goldmuskateller, a grape I'd never have tried if it weren't for the WCC; it's intensely flavorful, fruity, vibrant, and food-friendly. I learned I really like Malbec, my new go-to red wine. And albarino is a new summer favorite. And this was the point, of course: break myself out of my comfort zone so I don't ALWAYS go for the sauvignon blanc when faced with a wine list. That said...

2) I still really like sauvignon blanc. Man, it's delicious.

3) Finding obscure varietals is not easy, especially when you're largely confined to by-the-glass menus and under-$15 racks at the liquor store. Most of the by-the-glass menus around this city have the same usual suspects: pinot grigio, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, etc. etc. It's probably because most wine drinkers aren't that educated (me included) and therefore aren't that adventurous; unknown varietals scare them off. But sheesh, guys, it gets boring! How bout an erbaluce every now and then?

4) Since finding obscure varietals isn't easy, doing the Wine Century Club takes a LOT of research. And by research I mean countless hours on the Internet, spending quality time with restaurant wine lists and Googling the lesser-known wines, or standing in the aisles of a wine store, doing the same on my pathetic Blackberry browser. Some grapes have two names but are the same varietal! Some areas of the world don't put grapes on their wine labels, making the search that much more difficult! I'm talking HOURS here, people. By far and away, that is the aspect of this quest I will miss the least. It's positively freeing to be able to walk into a restaurant and just order a glass of wine that you want, just because. Or, you know, a cocktail!

5) And sometimes I just wanted some sparkling wine, but after the 10th varietal or so, I'd already tried every varietal that goes into typical sparkling wines. And so I gave up bubbly for the last, say, five months. I miss it. And I'm dusting off my champagne flutes as we speak.

5) But that said, if you like wine-- even if you know nothing about it, or next to nothing, like me-- the Wine Century Club is worth doing. It's an easy, painless, dare I say largely FUN way to learn a little bit more about wine and expand your palate in the meantime. If you're interested, check out the official site here.

In the meantime, I have a glass of sauvignon blanc waiting for me...

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