Finding Your Wine

What I’m drinking this week:

This week I ventured out to the quaint town of Los Olivos for some wine tasting with friends. We hit a few of my favorite spots and finally made it to Waylan Wine Co. for the first time. Waylan is owned by the Saarloos brothers, Greg and Brad. What stands out about Waylan for me is the experimentation with some white varietals that you don’t often see in the Santa Ynez Valley. Sadly I missed out on the Chenin Blanc and Albarino, as the small batches sold out fast, but I did get my hands on some of their Grenache Blanc.

This Grenache Blanc is my kind of white, full bodied with notes of green apple, peach, and honeysuckle. The neutral oak aging adds some richness to the wine without making it a butter bomb. This wine lends itself to foods with a little spice, so something like a Tandoori Chicken or yellow Dal dish would pair nicely if you’re in the mood for some Indian cuisine.

Pro tip: Finding wines that are similar to ones you already enjoy is a great way to branch out. If you’re like me and you enjoy Roussanne, you may also enjoy the Grenache Blanc - or vice versa.

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Finding good wine:

In college, I had ritual Sunday dinners with my friend, Erin. We would decide on a menu, go grocery shopping, and also pick out a bottle of wine. I fondly recall walking up and down the wine aisle searching for a varietal we liked/recognized and picking the one with the prettiest or most interesting label. It was our little Sunday gambling game, sometimes we got lucky.

But we’re adults now, and life is too darn short to drink wine you don’t like - am I right? So let me help you take the mystery out of choosing a winner. First things first, if you live on the Central Coast or somewhere you have access to go wine tasting, do that! I joined most of my wine memberships strictly for the purpose of regularly getting bottles of wine that I already knew I liked. Buyer beware, the more you drink, the less discerning your palate. If you will be drinking large amounts of wine, perhaps don’t choose that day to sign up for a membership. You might not love what you picked out as much as you did after three tasting room visits.

A good wine store with knowledgeable staff is another excellent option and something I’ve done for years and on both coasts. I love being able to walk into a store and describe what I’m making for dinner or requesting certain notes and walking out with a new favorite. Zac at Ventura Wine Company is basically my wine Dalai Lama. Give that guy a price point and some tasting notes and he will find you a winner every time.

If you don’t like chatting up the locals like I do, most wine stores have tasting notes and ratings listed on some of their wines. This can be very helpful in finding a bottle with the characteristics you enjoy. Also, if there are particular wines you know you like, keep an eye out for ones with the same importer listed on the label. Chances are you like the same style of wines.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to try something new. If you’ve fallen into the comfort zone with Pinot Noir, get out there and try a Beaujolais!

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Sarah Robin