A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Well, not exactly to the forum, more like the kitchen table.  I was getting ready to sit down and enjoy my meal.  A combination of lamb chop and 2 bone rack of lamb.  At this point you probably are saying "that's funny enough, you can just stop there."  While I agree and will explain why the two different cuts of the same meat in a moment, this actually had to do with the wine I had chosen for the meal.  

I happened to have a 2009 red blend in my cellar that I hadn't had before.  I was familiar with the winery, just not this particular wine.  Being a red blend from California, and a bigger style as well, I guessed some combination of Cabernet, Merlot and maybe some Cab Franc.  So I opened the bottle, poured a nice amount into one of my red wine glasses (one of these days I'm going to have to do a blog on wine glasses) and then sauntered over to the kitchen table to partake of everything.

Even though I was salivating over the lamb, as a true wine snob and geek, I went straight for the wine.  Took a sip and proceeded to realize a very different flavor to the wine then I was use to from the likes of Cabs or Merlots.  Big earthy, not a flavor I disliked, but one that just seemed a little off??  Being a wine with a few years in the bottle, my first thought was that it might be in a funky phase or maybe something happened to it over the years of storage.  

If you follow me on Facebook, you might realize that I will sometimes post a review of one of my wines through my online storage cellar called CellarTracker.  This is a great tool if you don't want to spend a lot of money to keep track of your wines.  It's actually a voluntary program for payment.  Anyway, while I was drinking the wine I was thinking about what I could say, I also like to give each wine a score.  Again, nice wine, just different.  I thought "A solid 90 points."  

Here's where it gets interesting (took long enough, right?).  Before I go and enter my review in CellarTracker, I decided to look up the wine through various sources to see if I could find anything I might have missed.  Boy did I!  Going to the winery's website, I looked up the wine and that particular vintage.  I find that almost 40% of the wine is made from Tempranillo.  There is some cab and merlot in there along with a couple others.  Looking at their review I see what I was tasting.  They used the term "smoked meats."  Maybe call it savory, but now things started to make sense.  

I had a brand new appreciation for the wine.  I also decided to raise my score for the wine to 92 points.  As a cab, a little funky, as a tempranillo blend, much better.  

Now I started thinking (and yes, I know that's always a dangerous thing for me to do), I've been a long time subscriber to the likes of Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate and have read how they go about reviewing wines.  Hadn't really thought (there I go again, thinking again) but when I review wines I usually know the grape or blend, unless doing a totally blind tasting, as I blogged about in "Blinded by Wine," so I use that knowledge of the wine in determining a score.  If you read how these wine reviewers do it, you see that the reviewers usually have some basic information on the wines, maybe grape type, location and vintage.  I've always thought "Aren't they given too much information to make an unbiased review?"  I kinda felt a 90 point wine is a 90 point wine regardless of the grape and such.  

Get ready, here it comes...."I was wrong!"

To protect my reputation, I will say that I have been using that method of knowing about the wine most of the time, I just didn't realize it.  Knowing I used a different set of standards for whites versus reds versus sparkling wines.  Now I can go forth and know that I am on par with the rest of the world.  I don't have to ditch my cellar full of wines and give up my future in wine.  (I'll say it, what future in wine?)

Oh, one last item.  The different cuts of the lamb I was eating?  Quite simple really.  I went to the store one day and bought the lamb chop (only one) and then realized that that would never be enough meet for me for a meal, so when I returned to the store I know I needed another one.  They had this cute 2 bone rack of lamb (is 2 bones a rack?) and as I love that as much, if not more, I bought it.  In trying to keep my honesty in tack, I will also mention that I did forget that the previous cut was a chop.   Oh boy....