Monday, May 18, 2009

What Went Down?

Wondering what went down at the winery??

Here's how it went:

My dad and I walked into the restaurant about 2 minutes late and were directed downstairs by the wife of the owner (although that's a terrible way to word it because she is probably just as much of an owner as the husband!). She said that we would reach the bottom of the steps, turn left, and we would "hear them working."

When we got down there the assembly had already begun. We got a 30-second briefing on how to put a label on the already-filled wine bottles and got busy. About 2 minutes into the labeling the owner came up to us and poured us each a glass of the Riesling that we were bottling. HOLY MACKEREL- that wine was good! It was a little odd drinking it only an hour after breakfast, but I welcomed it with open arms, pinky up (just kidding, I would never do that). He made sure our glasses stayed full throughout the bottling too, which was very kind.

There were about 12-15 people or so doing various jobs such as filling the bottles, corking them, pressing a seal on top of the bottle in the aluminum-type wrap, labeling the bottles, and then packing/stacking the cases.

Most everyone seemed to know what they were doing--and then there was my dad and I. They were all probably thinking, "Who invited them?"

My dad was quick and hyper, as he tends to be, and I was slow and precise, as I tend to be. So between his rapid movements (knocking over a glass of wine at one point) and mine, which were admittedly slow, we were a sight to see. I was actually laughing at one point thinking about how I was going to demonstrate to my mom how my dad continually reached in front of me to place bottles for myself and the other workers to label (we were lined up like an assembly line, so it was necessary to pass them down, but his hyper personality took it to a whole new level). It was like a scene from "I Love Lucy," which is exactly what my brother said when I told him the story.

Please don't feel sorry for my dad that I am picking on him on this public-access website. He publicly commented on the fact that I was going slow several times throughout the day. Comments like, "I don't mean to say anything, but I think I'm doing 4 bottles to every one that you do" and "I hate to comment, but you do seem to be going awfully slow."

What the Heck?!? Obviously he was joking and if you don't know me and can't detect my jokes through the computer, I'm joking about him too. But the people there didn't know how we relate to one another, so I hope they don't think we're crazy! And I also hope that we actually do get invited back because I had a FANTASTIC time!

In my last post I mentioned that if I learned anything new about wine during my visit, I would post it on here. Well, after the bottling was over, everyone went up to the restaurant and had an amazing meal prepared by a rather young and handsome chef. They served enormous portions of Chicken Parmesan with pasta, fresh tomato sauce, and a super-soft breadstick. Delicious! Once again, all of you Cincinnatians have to get there! During lunch, we had a nice conversation with everyone, some of it having to do with wine.

I already knew that the "Brix" was something that was examined to determine the sugar content of the grapes. One thing that I learned is that the amount of sugar present can affect the amount of alcohol in the wine. There are limits to the amount of alcohol that wine is allowed to contain, so it is just one of the many things that winemakers must monitor and control. For a quality product they also must control the amount of acid, as well as the amount of time that it "sits on the skins." I had never heard this expression before, but they were referring to the amount of time that the skin is left to mingle with the liquid, which obviously affects the color. It is also important because the tannins from the skins also affect the flavor and almost the mouthfeel of the wine. I'm not sure if "mouthfeel" makes sense to you or not, but I have been to a wine-tasting for an old job and they explained how you can almost feel the tannins present in some red wines because of the bitter taste/feeling that causes you to pucker.

I also picked up some do-it-yourself winemaking tips from another newcomer to the group who makes his own wine. If I ever find the time/money to give it a try, I'll certainly talk about it on here! However, don't hold your breath because I am just now learning how to garden and want to master that first! I'm no Martha Stewart, ya know. Oh you didn't know that? Then you're reading the wrong blog!!

Well, if were you I would have probably stopped reading by now since this entry was so long. It's a beautiful day here in Cincy- go out and enjoy it!! If you are somewhere else in the world, I hope you are having great weather too!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wine Time!

It's 2:00am on a Friday night. What better time than now to write my comeback blog entry? I use the word "comeback" lightly because it has only been a few weeks since I last posted and there is no one that I am really "coming back" to--is there?? I hope at least one person is still reading; if you are that person please comment so I know you're there. Or I tell you what, why don't you just call me since I probably know you anyway! :)

Since it is 2 in the morning (and no I'm not drunk or anything; just taking advantage of staying up late on a weekend) I'll probably keep this post short and sweet. I wouldn't want to strain anything as I make this ever-tough re-entry to the blog world. I should really just ease back into it. Of course I'm joking, but this post will be short, even though "short" probably means that I should be finished by now rather than rambling on like a lethargic maniac.

Well, the topic that I'm choosing to talk about today is WINE! Who doesn't like wine? I feel rich when I drink it. A false sense of financial security never hurt anyone, right?

Tomorrow morning my dad and I are going to a local winery to help them bottle their Riesling. They have a restaurant that some of my dad's racquetball buddies frequent so they encouraged us to go. I have to admit that Cincinnati is a conservative town where opportunities such as bottling wine are few and far between. That being said, we jumped at the chance to help out, and we even get a free lunch afterwards! Or at least I think it's free.

I'm not sure if we will be sampling the wine but I won't complain one bit if we do! I like Riesling a lot because it is sweet and very refreshing. That is the extent of my wine knowledge right there. I know which wines are red and which are white, but I couldn't tell you which ones have a floral note or flavors of crisp apple and pear, blah, blah, blah. In my opinion wine never tastes like the fancy words used to describe it.

If I learn more about the almighty grape, how wine is made, or how to describe it, I'll be sure to let you know!

Have a great weekend!!

p.s. If anyone reading this is from Cincinnati, here is the link to the winery/restaurant: Henke Winery