Editor’s note: Anu Karwa wrote the Culinate wine column, titled Swirl, from July 2009 through December 2010.
Welcome to the first installation of the Swirl column. I may be a wine pro, but my primary concern is wine as a part of everyday life, not just as a part of a few big occasions or collections.
I got hooked on wine while living in San Francisco. After moving there, I quickly began spending as much time as possible (without raising eyebrows) in Napa and Sonoma counties. Shortly after discovering this new world, I fell in love with how passionate everyone in the industry is about wine — from winemakers to vineyard caretakers to the people who poured the wine in tasting rooms.
Wine wasn’t something they learned about and drank to impress their friends or colleagues. Instead, they believed, as I do now, that wine is something of the earth, which makes us slow down, at least for a bit, to take time truly to commune with others.
And most importantly, wine is simply a soulful and delicious thing to drink.
With this in mind, I’d like Swirl to take the intimidation out of wine and add more fun and adventure to the subject. As a food-loving friend of Culinate, I’m eager to answer your wine-related questions, whether related to entertaining, food pairing, what to try, how to order — whatever’s on your mind. To get this Q&A format going, please send your questions to me at Anu [at] SwirlEvents [dot] com.
To kick off, I’d like to address one of the most commonly asked questions: “How do I make sure a wine I pick is going to be good without tasting it?”
We have so many choices in wine, whether in a restaurant or in the supermarket aisles, and we can’t “try wine on” before paying for it the way we would a new pair of shoes. Picking the “right” bottle can give some of us the trepidation we normally experience in a used-car lot.
Many of us choose wine based on a label we find familiar or attractive, and make a beeline out of the store, praying the bottle is good enough to go with the elaborate dinner we’ve planned.
Here are some methods to deal with the madness:
Editor’s note: For more of Anu’s good ideas, visit the blog on her Culinate member page.
Kerry Newberry is a wine and food writer based in Portland, Oregon. She believes a good glass of wine is a story of people, place, and time. Join her here as she seeks out the personalities, politics, and poetics that craft a wine from vine to table. Follow her online and on Twitter @KerryNewberry.
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