We love wine. Not gonna lie. Almost every Friday the Ham Fam hits up A Tasting Room, a local wine establishment offering the finest vintages at a price we can afford. Once there, co-owner Anthony Palermo pops them bottles and teaches us about what's in 'em. Now, thanks to him, we know the difference between Boone’s Farm and a nice Bordeaux.
Did you know the juice of a Pinot Noir grape is white? Or that a wine’s color can tell you the geographic region it comes from? Yah – fun little tidbits of info like that make tastings a well-rounded experience for us. And since there’s still so much we don’t know, we figured we’d take our boozy new card straight to our wine man and ask him some questions we’ve been rolling around on our palate.
TAY HAM (TH): What is proper wine tasting etiquette? Should we stuff our noses in the glass? Swish and spit?
Anthony Palermo (AP): If we’re really analyzing it, we look at the color, we swirl it a bunch to mix in the air, which actually releases all the little bitty molecules that your body perceives as smells and tastes. Now, it’s more aromatic than when we started. Sniff, sniff, then sip. Suck a little air in the mouth after we put it in there, make that funny bong noise, you know, and further stir the wine – kind of make it get in all the corners of the mouth and try and keep it in there for as long as you can. Like, 45 seconds to a minute. And then typically you spit. If you don’t spit you’ll get schwasted and you can't evaluate things. Doing it for a living, you gotta spit or you’ll die. For you guys, out being social, it’s fine to swallow. Then take a deep breath in and out and notice how it makes your chest feel. Notice the flavors on the way out.
TH: Out of the eleventy-billion types of grapes – which makes the best wine in your opinion? Why?
AP: One of my favorite blends is a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend. It’s like a new style of Côtes du Rhône. It was the first wine that I really recognized that I loved. It has a specific memory. We call it the AH-HA wine. It was the first wine that I can remember that had fruit and forest. Cellier des Dauphin – it has all these deep dried leaf, dried mushroom, tobacco-y, smoky, very sexy flavors.
TH: If it’s Rosé all day, whatchu drinkin’ at night?
AP: More Rosé! Or something dark, I guess.
TH: Should you eat with wine?
AP: Sure. Frankly, wine should be on your dinner table next to the salt and pepper. It’s a condiment in my life.
TH: Screw top or cork? What’s the difference?
AP: It doesn’t matter. As far as it being environmentally friendly goes, screw cap. The cork allows for air transfer. Air transfer is necessary in about 1% of wines in the whole wide world. These are wines that the winemakers make with the very intent that you put it in your basement for 10 years. It is not ready to drink. It is tight and tannic and acidic and abrasive. Ten years from now it will taste like liquid wonderful. So it doesn’t matter. Unless you’re spending $100 on a bottle, nobody cares.
TH: Uh, and don't forget about easy access.
TH: WTF’s a tannin?
AP: Tannic acid is something that is lots and lots of things in your life. It’s in coffee, it’s in chocolate, it’s the chemical that we use to tan leather, and it cures and dries things. And when it’s in your mouth it’s not actually a thing that you taste, it’s a thing that you build a tactile, physical response with. It gives you that tingly, fuzzy, mossy feeling on your teeth and your gums. It makes things taste dry.
TH: What are wine legs?
AP: The slower wine drips down the sides of the glass, the higher the alcohol content.
(Source: The Atlantic/Video: Dan Quinn; GIF: Megan Garber)
TH: Why are wine hangovers different than others?
AP: So, were looking for chemicals like benzodiazepine, ethyl alcohol, suspended esters in the alcohol, added sulphites – these are all things that happen when people mass produce wine. It’s for consistency. When we sell a product in America, if we sell it on a massive scale, it needs to be completely consistent that’s the only way to stay in business and keep their profit margins very thin, but still make so much money. If you’re going to make 300,000 cases of sulphite wine, because you have the capacity, you have the grapes, and you want to sell it in every Harris Teeter in the land, then you have to stabilize your wine. There’s literally a list of hundreds of additives that people are allowed to put in wine . . . and that stuff will give you a rip-roaring hangover. We don't sell any of that here.
TH: What’s the best part about owning a wine shop?
AP: I get to try all the things. I mean, like, everything. We taste probably almost 100 wines every week. So the education I’ve gotten since we opened a year ago has been more wine than I’ve ever tried.
via Game of Thrones