Monthly Archives: February 2009

Education and Participation are Key When Introducing Your Young Adult to Wines

Your young adult child is about to turn 21 and you’d like to introduce them to the world of wine. It’s a big, sometimes scary world out there; full of terminology and techniques with plenty of opportunities for the occasional social misstep.

nullIf you’re uncertain on the best way to initiate your child about the benefits and enjoyment wines can provide, let me offer three suggestions that might help.

Education. Buy your young adult a good wine reference book. I’d steer clear of the cutesy, sometimes condescending, “Wine for Dummies” series and get them a book that speaks to them as an adult.

Andrea Immer-Robinson’s “Great Wines Made Simple” is one of my all-time favorites – in fact, I’ve used is as the basis for my beginners class at Bellingham Technical College for the past five years. Unpretentious, yet informative, she covers topics ranging from how to read a wine label, how to buy or order wine, what to look for when tasting wine, and storage and accessories.

Participation. Exposure your child to wine in a safe, controlled environment where they can feel comfortable learning and tasting.

For example, serve wine with dinner in the home to show how it can complement the meal. Take your legal age child to a restaurant – preferably one with a good wine list – and let them participate in the selection process by asking questions about what to choose. Then purchase them a wine “starter kit;” perhaps a sweeter wine (generally preferred by novice wine drinkers) such as Riesling, a good bottle opener, and a few pieces of Riedel stemware to share with friends.

Moderation. We’d be naïve to think that our children have not been exposed or possibly even participated in some sort of underage binge drinking. By implementing good education and responsible participation, there’s much less likelihood of abuse and a better opportunity to teach our children how wine, enjoyed in moderation, can be a very good thing.

Cabernet Sauvignon

nullRobert Mondavi 2006 Central Coast Solaire (about $17): I thought this California Cab was a bit on the lighter side when I first tried it, but it really firmed up and was most enjoyable after a return tasting.

Packed with berry and dark plum flavors, the wine glides into a finish of sweet oak and vanilla that make it extremely drinkable.

This is a fairly versatile red wine, and it should pair well with a variety of duck, pork and beef entrees. My recommendation is to enjoy it now and keep the cellaring time to a minimum.


Robert Modavi Winery 2006 Napa Valley (about $20): This is a lovely Napa Chardonnay that hits all the right notes; pear and apple aromas, touches of oak, and a silky, creamy finish – the result of partial malolactic fermentation.

Well priced at about $20 a bottle, it pairs beautifully with chicken, turkey and other poultry dishes. Serve lightly chilled and enjoy.

Washington Malbecs Becoming More Balanced, Food Friendly

It wasn’t too long ago that the only place you could find a malbec at your local grocer or wine shop was from France or Argentina. Today, it seems as if nearly every winery in Washington has a malbec on the shelves or plans to produce one.

I think the malbec grape is capable of making some really nice wines. They tend to be extremely dark in color, with medium tannins and a bit fruity. Of course, too much fruit in any wine can make it more difficult to pair with food. But many Washington winemakers have been pulling in the reins on their malbecs by nudging up the acidity and blending them with other varietals, resulting in more well balanced, food friendly wines.

nullSome wineries have the luxury of holding back their wines an extra year or two before releasing them, and winemaker Keith Pilgrim continues to do just that. His Terra Blanca Winery 2005 Malbec (about $32) is a perfect example of how additional time in the bottle allows a wine to develop character and depth. With seductive dark berry flavors and a slightly oaky finish, this beautiful malbec is well rounded and plush without being fat.

Winemaker John Morgan chose to blend in 25 percent cabernet sauvignon with a base of 75 percent malbec to create his just released Lost River Winery 2006 Massif (about $26). This is unlike some of the overly fruity Washington malbecs of the past, with just a bit of restrained black cherry fruit on the palate, accented by the cabernet to add density and complexity. It’s pretty heady stuff that begs to be paired with a big juicy steak. With additional cellaring time this wine promises to only get better.

Doug Charles, proprietor of Compass Wines in Anacortes just named the Woodinville Wine Cellars LMS 2006 Malbec (about $32) as one of his Top 10 Washington Red Wines of 2008 by noting the wine’s intriguing combination of candied cherries, smoked almonds and cocoa powder. Only produced in microscopic quantities, Compass Wines may very well be the last place on the planet to have any of this wine still on hand.

Wine Dinner Class at BTC

6:00 to 9:00 pm – Valentines Day Champagne & Sparkling Wine Dinner. Dan and BTC Chef Marc Eilberg team up once again to provide you with a very special evening featuring a five-course dinner paired with Champagne and sparkling wines. Click on the Wine Classes Page for more information.