Here is the ninth in our weekly series of Another Wine Bytes; information about wine you can use to impress your friends (but not in an obnoxious way, of course!)
AWB #9 – It’s Not the Mile High Club
Ladies, have you ever felt like slapping a guy who just invited you to a horizontal tasting? How about a vertical tasting? Don’t! As suggestive as it sounds, a vertical tasting isn’t an initiation into the “Mile High Club.”
Wine tastings are usually a variation of three forms — a general tasting, a horizontal tasting or a vertical tasting.
Vertical Tasting: A vertical tasting is one in which several vintages of one varietal from a single producer are tasted. This way you can see how dramatic or subtle a wine changes from vintage to vintage. We do this with some of our wine clubs that deliver just twice a year in the Fall and the Spring. Although a vertical tasting is not quite the same as our side-by-side comparison in the linked post, because the wines we tried were from grapes of different vineyards. To do a pure vertical tasting, for example, you could taste Chateau Dauzac (Margaux) wine from 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Horizontal Tasting: A horizontal tasting is one in which a number of different wines all come from the same vintage. We did this when we attended the 2006 Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. A horizontal tasting allows you to distinguish the differences between wineries. You can do a number of different things with a horizontal tasting — concentrate on only one varietal, like the ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) Festival; or limit your tasting to only Cabernet Sauvignon, and compare those of Napa Valley, Sonoma and Calaveras County.
General Tasting: A General Tasting is one in which the wines are not limited to a single varietal or vintage. It can include reds and white still and sparkling wines. We had one of these during last year’s Wine Blogger Conference, but ours had a little twist: it was a tasting with Live Blogging. I usually refer to that one as Speed Tasting. We sat at tables of 10 or 12 while each winery had a very few minutes to pour and describe the wine. Then we had a minute to blog about it. It was so fast that I just got to the point where I snapped a picture of the wines I preferred, which is how we ended up visiting Murphys in Calaveras County, and Twisted Oak a few weeks ago.
So the next time you’re invited to a horizontal tasting – resist the urge to counter “in your dreams!” and consider it a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a variety of wines!
And that’s this week’s Another Wine Byte. Stayed tuned for extended posts about our adventures in Murphys, Twisted Oak, Occidental and Barrel Tasting in Russian River Valley!