Wine Line: Tasting wine like a pro

08/23/2012 12:02 PM

08/23/2012 12:04 PM

See it, swirl it, smell it. Sip it, swallow or spit it. Now summarize it. The end.

I covered these steps in a Wine Line column in 2008, and it hasn't changed. If you would like a review, just Google "how to taste wine" and you'll have a bazillion choices. One site I like has a step-by-step four-minute video followed by a written explanation of the six S's. Simple, direct and no wine-speak babble. For the final exam, all you have to do is buy some wine and follow the steps. For extra credit (retired teacher talking here), have your partner-editor bag up the wines and taste them blind. If you can identify the wines, great. If not, you'll just have to do more homework, which means tasting more wine, darn. If interested, go to Wine-101.

The dirty dozen deal

When I'm lucky enough to get some Giants tickets, I always try to get to SF early so I can visit a few of my favorite wine shops before game time. One shop is The Wine House at 129 Carolina St. Every month they select 12 wines ("Dirty Dozen Sampler") for $109, a 30 percent discount. The selection is a mixed case of old and new world wines — and honestly, none of them are dirty. The case comes with a summary of each wine and if you like a specific wine, you get a discount on your re-order. It's a fun way to educate your palate to wines of the world and a good excuse to go to the city, Giants tickets or not. To see the August Dirty Dozen Sampler, go to

East Bay wine alliance

The editor and I tasted wines from 18 East Bay wineries paired with food from local restaurants at the seventh annual Urban Wine Experience. The event was held at The Rock Wall Wine Co., on Monarch Street in Alameda, and accommodated about 1,100 tasters for great food, music and outstanding wines accented by the breathtaking view of San Francisco.

The East Bay Vintner's Alliance, founded in 2005, represents 23 innovative urban wineries sourcing grapes from well-known wine regions and producing award-winning wines.

Several small producers showcase their wines at the Alameda Vintner's Club, a new wine bar at Angela's Bistro in downtown Alameda. A few wineries offer tasting adjacent to The Rock Wall Wine Co., and Dashe and JC Cellars are located at 55 Fourth St. near Jack London Square. The editor and I are thinking about making a return visit. Does anyone have any extra A's tickets? For more information, go to

What's on our table

I ran out of peanuts. Trader Joe's Old Fashioned Blister Peanuts. These salted nuts are available 30 miles to the north or 55 miles to the south.

Why isn't there a Trader Joe's in Merced, Atwater or Turlock? I went to their website and made a request and you can too. I really want my Old Fashioned Blister Peanuts. Oh yeah, they have some good wine deals too, like the 2011 Marques de Caceres Rose from the Rioja region of Spain. It is a bargain at $6.99, and that is "what's on our table" for this week, a terrific crisp-dry rosé — and no nuts. Bah!

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