Index of Thoughts

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wine, Girlfriends, Bikes & an Education

A couple of weekends ago my girlfriends and I went to Palisade, CO for a weekend trip.  It was a much needed break for us all to laugh and have time away from the duties of every day life.  If you remember last year we did the same thing but in Paonia, CO.  You can read about it HERE.  Palisade is a little town east of Grand Junction, CO that has just the right climate and location to be the perfect grow spot for vineyards and orchards.  Plus, it's only a short drive from where we live.

Here's some of the notable spots & info:

Lodging - We rented a house in Palisade which was actually between Palisade and Clifton.  It was a great little place that totally reminded me of my grandparent's house.  Check it out HERE.  The fall is a busy time of year for visiting the wineries in this area so lodging was limited since we waited until the last minute.  I also recommend the Wine Country Inn which has a pool and a restaurant and is super close to everything.

Dining - We got a taxi to come pick us up Friday night and take us to Downtown Grand Junction for the evening.  It was a super fun time!  We made our crawl to Bin 707, 626 on Rood, La Rouge and then ended the night at the Rock Bottom Brewery where they had a DJ and dancing. The second night we decided to build a fire and stay in for a home cooked meal.

Wineries - We rented bikes from Rapid Creek Cycles.  It cost $39 a day for a 7 speed cruiser with a big basket on the back.  They were super helpful and provided us with a map of the wineries and a suggested route. We weren't able to make it to as many as we would have liked in one day.  You really need two days of touring to get them all in.  Here is a great list of them all.  We just did the several that were close to downtown and then ended at the Peach Street Distillery for some yummy cocktails made with their Goat Vodka.  They even have all kinds of infused vodkas too.

But I wanted to mostly share with you all the invaluable information on wine tasting that we received at the first stop at Varaison Vineyard.  It will forever change how you taste and buy wine.

  • When drinking wine, you should never hold the glass on the cup.  It can heat up the wine just enough to change the flavor by releasing alcohol into the air.  Always hold a glass by the stem therefore, stemless glasses are really no good.
  • When drinking red wine, you want to always ask what the % of alcohol is.  It should be between 13.5 - 15.5% for the optimal ripeness of the grape.  It is totally drinkable under that % but it tells you that the grape was underripe and the flavors will reflect that - grassy or herbal taste.  A higher % will tell you that the flavors will be more robust and pronounced.  In white wine you want to look for 13 - 15% alcohol.  By doing this you will already know what the wine will taste like without even tasting it yet.  And in restaurants if they are trying to sell you a really expensive glass of wine and the % is way low, then you should ask for something else.
  • Also with red you want to give your glass a good swirl to let in the air which also helps develop more flavor and then smell it.  
  • When tasting wine, you want to let it go down the middle of your tongue where you will pick up the flavors that are marked on the bottle.  In white wine if you let the wine fall to the sides of your tongue where the bitter/sour taste buds are then the wine will taste like vinegar and you will loose the notes of flavor.  In red wine, you let it go down the middle to pick up the notes and then let it fall to the sides to get the other smoky, rich flavors.
  • Eating with wine is now a new experience!  You aren't supposed to let the wine wash the bite down.  You are to get a bite of food and chew it a little.  Then add a sip of wine and chew it with the food.  The alcohol in the food is a solvent which enhances flavor.  All of a sudden a burst of flavor is released into your mouth when you do this.  We took some cinnamon sugar almonds and tried this out.  When we added the wine with the bite, the cinnamon exploded into our mouths.  It was really remarkable.  That is also why you add wine to recipes.  It brings out the flavors in the dish because it is a natural solvent.
I hope this helps you all as much as it helped us.  We went to the next winery and asked for the % in alcohol and the employee said that no one has ever asked him that.  We chuckled and told him that we like to be very thorough in our wine tasting.  Still makes me laugh!  I highly recommend Palisade being on your next little getaway.

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