Wine Talk

When you are at a tasting, would you like to at least sound like you have some descriptive knowledge?

Any time you are tasting wine there is a process to follow. First hold up your glass and look at the wine, then smell it, take a sip, then talk about it. Talk can help sort out the complex impression a good wine makes on the taster. However, talk can go too far. Some connoisseurs, or wanna be connoisseurs, may try to intimidate newcomers to the world of wine. To avoid this remember, there are only four true tastes – sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

A second point to remember is the descriptive words – dry, sweet, tart, flat, thin, full bodied, young and old. Dry and sweet are opposites and are basic qualities in all wines. Dry means that all the natural grape sugar was fermented into alcohol when the wine was made. A dry wine tastes dry – “not always my personal favorite”. Sometime I refer to as spitting cotton dry. Other descriptions- a touch of sweetness is semi dry and medium dry.

Remember, there are only four true tastes – sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

Mellow can sometimes be found on the bottle label and, depending on the vintner, may mean very sweet. Full bodied or the opposite, thin flavor, mean how the wine feels in your mouth. A thin wine can mean like water, leaving no memory of the taste. A full bodied wine lingers, leaving substance that can be more complicated. Adding the adjective, robust, suggests some muscle including a tart flavor.  Tart and flat are another pair of basic descriptions that are opposites. When the grapes form in Spring, it is all acid and no sugar. As the fruit ripens, it’s acid level declines and sugar content rises. Exactly how the two balance at the time of harvest does much to determine the tartness or flatness of the final product.

Sometimes the smell of a wine can determine if you really enjoy a glass of wine. Aroma (young) and bouquet (old) is the last pair of opposites. Aroma is the smell of the grapes preserved in the wine. Bouquet is the smell that develops during and after fermentation. As wine ages, its aroma grows fainter while its bouquet becomes more pronounced. So aroma correlates with young wine and bouquet with old.

These descriptions should help to define the language of wine and allow you to gain more knowledge in what you enjoy in the wine drinking experience.

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Ohio… The next Napa Valley?… Maybe?

Red grapes

More and more wineries are calling Ohio home. Could we be seeing a trend? With Lake Erie to the North and the Ohio River outlining the Southernmost part of the state, Ohio has prime grape growing weather. Add to that the proper mix of lake and river bottom soils and you have the unique properties that can grow wine grade grapes like no other place in the world.

Here is an article from the Family Circle Guide to Wine from 1973.
Chapter 6 – Wines of the World.

More than a hundred years ago, an English visitor prepared a report on the progress of American wine making, and pointed out that vineyards had been planted in no less than 22 of the 32 states. One of the leaders was Ohio, which then produced a third of the wines made in the United States, twice as much as was being made in California. Ohio is less important as a wine region than it was, but a variety of wines continue to be made. Concord and Catawba are the most widely planted in Ohio, but there are new vineyards devoted to hybrids and to vinifera varieties as well.

And now, almost 40 years later, there are new wineries opening in Ohio on a regular basis. Have Vinters rediscovered the wonderful weather and soils that made Ohio a great wine state in the 1800’s? Only time will tell, but I believe we are already seeing the answer!

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The “New” American Pubs

Are you Pouring wine at a wine tastingconcerned that the local wineries are packed with only wine connoisseurs?  If you think only vino geeks, who know much more about wine than you are the only people that that visit wineries, well, don’t be intimidated.  WE live in wine country… Ohio wine country! That means there are plenty of experts more than happy to find you a palette pleasing match you will enjoy.

Many wineries have longer hours on the weekends with entertainment, appetizers, and some even serve dinners.  These lively locations are the American version of the old Irish pubs and a great place to relax, romance your sweetie, or meet up with friends.

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What Kind of Wine?

Wine Racks at a winery

Having so many wines to choose from can be a bit overwhelming

Here is a Novice Winer question….

What kind of wine would I like and how do I find it?

The best way to find out is to go to a tasting. This could be an organized event, a local winery or a retail store. Keep an open mind – try what is offered. Think adventure. At a store tasting, the steward will usually pick what they want to promote or have on sale. This allows you to try what you may not normally buy. The drawback is they will usually offer only four varieties. However, it’s still a good way to learn more and it’s fun.

Keep in mind tastings cost in the state of Ohio. Cost varies based on the price of the wine.

Another opportunity is to go to the source, the winery. This is where the wine should be presented in the best possible way. Tasting at a winery gives you the advantage of tasting many; if not all the wines they produce. If you find one or two that you like you can buy a glass so you get the full experience.

After starting this tasting experience you will not want to stop. After a time, you may discover your taste buds may change. The wines you didn’t seem to care for at first may soon become favorites. Your tastes may evolve.

Yes, being a Novice Winer is a lot of fun and you can meet some very interesting people who may share their experiences.

Warning…there can be set backs to these tastings. Don’t drink too many types at one time. You can possibly burn out your taste buds. Fortunately this is a minor and temporary set back. Another part of the learning process of Novice Wining. So get out and do some tastings. It’s another way to have fun.



And you laugh at “That Kool-Aid” now

I’m sure most of us today, even though we’re no wine experts, turn up our noses at Boone’s Farm wine. But that is probably where many of us, including me, had our first experience with wine. I remember back, with fond memories, those high school days – me and my buddies and a few bottles of Strawberry Hill. If we were feeling eventful, we’d also grab some Tickle Pink. It was cheap, went down like Kool-Aid, and made you happy. What more could a group of high school boys want?

So maybe Boone’s Farm is the bottom shelf wine, but maybe it’s also serving an important purpose. If I had not had those experiences with wine from my younger days, maybe I would not bother trying wine today.

Although, not an expert by any means, Grace and I have tried many different wines and found Reislings, ice wine (wine you can chew!), and our latest favorite – Moscato D’Asti.  This wine is a sparkling white produced mainly in the province of Asti, north-west Italy. Since it is sweet, it’s considered a dessert wine.  Best dessert you’ll ever have!!  It is made from the Moscato Bianco grape.  And at $11-16 a bottle, you won’t break the bank trying it.  Next time you have a special occasion that calls for Champagne,  slip in a bottle of Moscato D’Asti instead and watch the wonderful surprise on everyone’s face when they taste it.

Am I buying bottom shelf wine today?  Probably not.  Am I still drinking wine?  Absolutely!!

John Lucas

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Feb 17th, 2011 Welcome

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'Wine' by Laara, your Ohio winery connection, has added wine related art and photos from some wonderful artists and great photographers from around the world!

Be sure to visit the web site and look around so you don’t miss any!

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Away from the cold

We are getting a slow start to our Ohio winery interviews, however with the winter being such a cold one we needed a diversion and a warm up. We found it in a flight to Daytona Beach Florida for a week. We left the Saturday before the big ice and snow storm hit Northwest Ohio. It is so hard to believe that a change in atmosphere, attitude, and environment can happen with just a 2 ½ hour flight! This is how long it took to fly into Orlando/Sanford International Airport.

The sunshine almost blinded me. But I gladly slid into my sandals before we even drove our rental car away from the airport. I immediately let the sunshine soak into my arms. We were here to visit relatives and see a bit of the sites. What an opportunity we were to discover at a small, store- front, urban winery.

Julie and Clay

Julie and Clay at Superior Coast Winery

The FREE TASTINGS sign caught my eye as we drove down South Atlantic Ave. Florida Wines of Daytona touted “The Best tropical fruit, citrus and berry wines Florida has to offer!” The owner was pouring on this gorgeous, warm day. Rocky Meredith was welcoming as he apologized for being so low on inventory. As we gazed over the wine list we were amazed at the different varieties. Kiwi, Mango, Pear, Coconut-Orange, and Guava were just a few that made us think about what great food pairings were could try. “How do you make wine in these combinations?” we wondered.

“You can make wine from anything organic that grows,” explained Rocky. “Including any type of fruit or vegetable that produces a natural sugar”. Vegetable? He then pointed out the 40 Karats on the tasting list, a semi dry, buttery white made from carrots. The flavor was similar to a Chardonnay. We then tasted Hot Sun, a smooth, dry, white from tomatoes with a nice hint of jalapeno pepper. Who needs Beer? This would be great with pizza, beef roast or a burger. Our wine club members had to try these. How could be get these home on the plane?

Rocky again apologized. He was out of stock on some of our favorites but offered to ship when they bottled next week. He said Florida wines can be mailed to Ohio so future purchases would be easy. We ended up purchasing a bottle of the 40 Karats and two single sized servings of the Mango Mama in foil pouches. Perfect for our checked bag.
We will have to send for some of the wines because these usual flavors would be a great addition to any party. Plus Rocky’s imagination seemed to be working on his next flavor. We will have to watch what he comes up with next.
Check them out at .

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My History With Wine

Do you remember how you first became acquainted with wine? Did it start with TV commercials, the Bartle’s & James, “Thank you for your support”? Or the “We will sell no wine before it’s time”?

Like most, my alcohol consumption started out with beer. It was what my friends drank and who wants to be different when you’re young? The beginnings of my wine interest began when I overheard the host at a party talk about a wine they had recently tried. I noticed a more expanded variety of wine on my local store shelves. I checked out the clear and reddish colored liquid in the bottles. The names Merlot and Chianti didn’t mean anything to me, but I picked up a red with an interesting label and got a cork screw. When I got home I poured out a glass and took a swig. I quickly set down that glass and backed away. It was horrible! Was it me? I recorked and put that bottle way back in the fridge. Why would ANYONE drink that stuff?? Didn’t I hear that wine gets better with age? I’ll wait.Wine bottle

So I stuck with beer and was happy. But occasionally I would check out the wine department and buy a bottle with an interesting label. This would result in sometimes finding an okay variety or what I figured was wasted money and time. Then I met Julie. On one of our dates she ordered a glass of Riesling and encouraged me to take a sip. I was anxious about what kind of reaction I was going to have but decided it was worth the risk. The taste was very pleasant, so much different that what I had experienced. One of her favorite wines then was called Frost Fire from Breitenbach Winery located in Dover, Oh. I also enjoyed that so much we decided to look for similar types of wines. Together we went to tastings at wine festivals and we drove to some local wineries. At that time the cost was only about 25 cents per sample. Some we liked and some we didn’t. But we always tried to taste a variety.

Slowly I began to open up my palette. Eventually I started to enjoy some of the wines that I had so disliked before. I even had more confidence in stating what I enjoyed about a wine.

Don’t be shy in your tasting. Try all varieties and find out what you really enjoy. It’s not what’s popular. Trust your own palette and thank the Lord there are so many out there to enjoy!
~ Clay and Julie

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Welcome to The Novice Winer

Nov 8th, 2010 Welcome

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Grapes on the vineWho doesn’t enjoy tasting a great glass of wine?  How about combining that with finding a fabulous place that has created that wine?  There are wonderful wineries all over this great state of Ohio.  Join us on this adventure of discovery by checking into our site frequently.

To start this first venue of,  I would like to introduce our column of the Novice Winer. My old Webster’s Dictionary I pulled off the shelf identifies a novice as a beginner, “one who engages in a particular activity as a hobby, not a professional”.  That’s us!  Out for fun to explore wineries near and far, and taste their version of fermented grape juice.

We enjoy visiting wineries as well as participating in weekend tastings, wine festivals, and organized tours.   Sometimes if there is nothing organized, we will plan our own. This is how our group started a wine club.

The most enjoyable part of this is discovering what we and others enjoy drinking.  Of course now I know what type of wine most of my friends enjoy, sweet to dry, which lead to another discovery.  These preferences sometimes coincide with their sense of humor.  I guess that could mean that I have a semi-dry sense of humor?

More research on that later.

If you enjoy tasting and traveling, we hope you will watch what we have coming up in our next column.  Cheers!

~Julie and Clay

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A Real man

Woman drinking white wine

A real man is a woman’s best friend. He will  never stand her up and never let her down. He will reassure her when she feels insecure, and comfort her after a bad day. He will inspire her to do things she never  thought she could do; to live without fear and forget regret.  He will enable her to  express her deepest emotions and give in to her most intimate desires.  He will make sure she always feels as though she’s the most beautiful woman in the room, and will enable her to be the most confident, sexy, seductive, and invincible.

No wait… sorry… I’m thinking of wine.  It’s wine that does all that…….



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Wine Art & Photos