It has become a tradition in our house that every year for Nina’s birthday we throw a wine party. It used to be that it was a wine and cheese party, where we provided the cheeses and opened Nina’s huge treasure chest of mustards and fruit mustards, and everyone invited was asked to bring a bottle of wine they liked or always wanted to try or thought we just had to try. The tradition started back in Germany, where naturally almost everyone brought Rieslings…over the last couple of years we have also been able to open Rieslings from Nina’s birth year which has been fun and educational.
These days, the party has evolved to just a wine party. Nina still gives some guidance regarding what folks should contemplate bringing, and it is usually respected. One cool thing is that a number of friends that come are not really into wine, but are willing to explore and try things out. I always love that. The other cool thing is that it gives me an opportunity to see what others consider when they look at wines and try to bring something to a specifically wine party. Here are some of my impressions from this year’s party:
1) Pinot noir seems to be gaining ground like crazy. I’d guess that half the wines that were brought to the party were made from that grape. Pretty much all of them from the US or other New World locations, mainly because we tend to limit money spent to grad student salaries. I enjoyed seeing that not so into wine folks are embracing that grape more and more, yet some of the wines were clearly underwhelming…it’s just hard at that price range.
2) A Portuguese friend of ours brought a bottle of Alvarinho, a white, called Deu La Deu from the Portuguese sub-region of Monção e Melgaço. Our friend introduced it by saying it was a vinho verde, and she knew we like vinho verde, but that it was a “next level” vinho verde. I was naturally intrigued, given how much I enjoy vinho verde. When I tried it, I was quite impressed: It has all the citrus and refreshment that I love about vinho verde, the sazziness, the fun. But it also has a more serious air about it: It carries more weight, is a bit creamier, a bit more mature, I guess I would say. At 12.5% ABV it is great to drink, and made for a wonderful surprise! More about the wine here.
3) Our newly found blogger friend Hannah (of Next Stop TBD) and her fiance Mark brought a bottle from a winery visit in California last year: A 2011 Ferrari-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley. They wanted to retry the wine, because memories of it were a bit hazy, and so we were happy to oblige. You know how I usually see Cabernet Sauvignons with trepidation, but it was a really tasty wine: bold, juicy, chewy, with enough depth. Nina was shocked I liked it, which was probably the other reason I liked it even more. Nothing like surprising your spouse once they think they have you figured out.
4) The amazement that has been Vouvray whites is continuing: Our great tasting buddies and real life friends, coffee roaster Jay and his baking-wine nut wife Sarah brought another bottle: Noel Bourgier 2012 Vouvray, this one retailing for a mere $11! It was just what I described as a winter white in my post about Vouvray a while back: creamy and full, round and enticing. Uncomplicated and quaffable. Go find a Vouvray and let me know what you think!
5) As the highlight of the night, we opened yet another 1987 Vereinigte Hospitien Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese (we have had this wine before, last year we had a Karl Erbes Erdener Treppchen, and we have had Vereinigte Hospitien’s ’87 Erdener Treppchen before). We are now 27 years in, so I begin to worry a bit about how these Spätlesen are going to hold up, especially from a not ideal vintage. I have been telling Nina numerous times that we need to start stocking up on Auslesen and even BAs from that year, if there were even any produced. The cork was moldy on top, but came out seemlessly, and the wine presented itself in fantastic condition: I had gotten the decanter ready, to potentially breathe some life into it, but the tiny sip I tried made me push aside the decanter and go straight for glasses: The wine was firm and structured. There was very bright acidity which held the wine together and led to citrus aromas dominating the wine. The finish was holding up, and so all in all a very solid expression of what an aged Spätlese can taste like. I thought it was very tasty and definitely has a couple more years ahead of it, which I find astonishing….and reason enough to buy a couple more of this when we are in Germany next…
So, when are you throwing your next wine party and encourage friends to bring what they want you to try or share with you?
It sounds like a grand way to celebrate Nina and a chance to try some different wines as well. I am sure that it was one of the major wine parties in Ann Arbor.
Ha, John, I am afraid that might be true…but that would actually be kind of sad…
And yes indeed, this is a great way to celebrate!
My invitation must be here somewhere….
Come on, you got to spend parts of Nina’s actual birthday with her so stop whining!
Sounds like you had lots of fun! I’m glad that Vouvray worked out – in that price range it is hit and miss.
Sadly, with my reputation of the “wine guy”, people very rarely bring the wines to the parties at our house, so I have to plan all the experiments on my own…
Some arm-twisting might be in order, Anatoli…;)
Same! It’s mildly frustuating but I understand.
sounds like a great party and i think you can always learn something from what others bring to try –
I very much agree with that: It helps to keep an open mind and there are so many wonderful surprises out there that make it worth it!!
I love this. Do you find people tend to be a little shy to brings wines around?
It is a lot of fun. Those that are a bit unsure, they take it with a grain of salt and usually tell up front they had no clue what they were doing. But I hope we have established an atmosphere in our house in which anyone is comfortable bringing whatever they see fit…so far it seems to work! :)
But giving a price range has definitely been key, it gives a bit more structure for those who really are uncomfortable making a wine purchasing decision.
I’m throwing that wine-tasting party when you and nina are in town! ;)
That sounds like a great plan to me, as long as we can get Ken to cook for us. I will not attend a wine party at your house that doesn’t have Ken-food included in it…;)
I haven’t yet figured out how to get Ken to not cook, so I’m sure your wish shall be easily granted.
Phew, that is a relief! :D
Thanks for the shout out!! That Vouvray was delish and another tick on my way to Century Club membership :)
You hadn’t had a Chenin blanc before??? We need to have you over more often…;)
Well I think I had (I had actually premarked it) but I wanted to start from scratch on the club and write down specific bottles