Thursday, April 2, 2009

Washington Wine

Red or white? I never use to know the answer to that question. Choosing wine can be a complicated endeavor. It has for me, anyway. Most often, after staring down grocery store shelves or a complicated wine menu, my choice amounts to what is most familiar or what is easiest to say.  I just want a glass of good wine! Truly, if you are a Washingtonian, you needn't look further than your own backyard.
Washington, with it's diverse geography, has nine wine regions with all but one falling on the east side of the state. When glaciers retreated thousands of years ago they left behind rich fertile soils. The rain shadow, created by the Cascade mountains, leaves the Columbia Basin dry enough for grapes to grow and our latitude allows for similar hours of sunlight as the prime wine producing regions in Europe.  So it is no surprise that the wine industry in Washington has grown considerably since our state began producing wine in the 1940s. In 1981, Washington had just 19 wineries and in 2001 there were over 170 counted.  The top produced Washington red wines include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah and the top white wines include Chardonney, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.  With its diverse flavors and complexities, wine can be described as sweet, dry, fruity, rich, buttery, spicy, or smokey and deliver a palette of tastes from cherries, herbs, bell pepper, nutmeg, to chocolate. 
Now I'm not going to pretend to be a wine expert, because I am certainly not, connoisseur maybe. What I have discovered, through this small bit of wine education, is the key to good wine needn't be unattainable. It has to be discovered and best of all shared.  So next time you find yourself wavering in indecisiveness over choosing wine, find a bottle of Washington wine. And if you're asked to choose between red or white, just dive in, sample both.  
And to begin sharing, I highly recommend 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon, a red wine from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, grown from grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington.  Share your own favorite(s)...

1 comment:

  1. Yum - 14 Hands is great stuff! And if you want to imbibe some wine science on the way to becoming a connoisseur, check out Voice of the Vine from Washington State Univeristy - it's a free publication available by subscription or in an archive: