Friday, September 25, 2009

5:00 Fridays

I am honored to write this guest post for Dirt & Noise 5:00 Fridays cocktail. I met Ilina, your hostess of this web space, about a year ago, and I count her as one of my good friends. For readers that have never met her, you need to find some excuse to meet this great lady in person, but just don't loiter outside her home for fear of her not only calling 911 on you, but calling you out in a diatribe on her blog as an inconsiderate fan that just can't give people their privacy. So maybe you should just get by with knowing her through her writing. That's not a bad thing, as she is one of the most open and honest bloggers I have come across. I often relate to her parenting posts, laugh out loud at her "woman" posts and nod my head in agree at her observations of the contradictions in modern society. Sometimes I am even shocked by what she reveals to her readers, all of whom she considers friends.

Today's 5:00 Fridays post is not about a cocktail you can make at home, but about a kind of wine. Actually, it is less about a particular bottle of wine, than about what I have learned drinking wine. And how good is life if you can learn things by drinking wine? I do a wine show on the internet (see shameless plug below), which should make me qualified to write a guest post about wine. As it turns out, I am a co-host on a wine show, and I am the one who is learning about tasting and describing wine in our show about North Carolina wine. One of the best wines we have tried in nearly 50 episodes (one bottle per show) is from Raffaldini Vineyards in North Carolina's Yadkin Valley. This is our concentrated wine region with over 20 wineries and the first of North Carolina's American Viticultural Areas (AVA).

The Raffaldini 2008 Vermentino is a white wine made from an Italian grape that is not grown much in the United States. Raffaldini, which features a large Italian villa, exclusively grows Italian grapes and makes Italian wines. The best way to describe the Vermentino is that it is a red wine drinker's white wine. I am not going to get into the wine tasting terminology, except to say that this wine has a lot going on with a complex array of aromas and flavors. It is not a light summer sipper, but a wine that pairs very well with food. You can read the winery's description of the wine here (http://raffaldini.com/displayProduct.aspx?qryProdID=57), and you can also order it, but the point of this post is not to sell wine. Although I would like to note that this wine was chosen by the White House to present to the Italian president as representative US wine with an Italian heritage.

I have always enjoyed drinking wine, but in doing our wine show, I have learned to enjoy wine even more. And the reason for this is simple. As we try each wine, we talk about what we are smelling and tasting. This is not a snooty approach, but one that makes you reflect on what's in your glass. Taking more time with wine by describing it enhances the experience. I still have no idea how grapes can taste like lemons, grapefruit or honeydew, but I know that sometimes I can taste it. Other times I can't. I have learned that some of these tastes are subjective, and sometimes I just don't have enough experience to taste them. This is an acquired skill for most people, as I have gotten better at this the more I have done it.

The other thing that has increased my enjoyment of drinking wine is that we apply a rating to every wine we try. This means I need to put every wine in its place as compared to other wines we have tried. This is where we try to be objectively subjective. How does this white wine compare to other white wines? And not all white wines, but similar white wines. Again, this process of really thinking about the wine and deciding how it compares to other wines forces me to form an opinion. And give a reason for that opinion. Since we shoot our show in one take, and generally the first time we try a wine is on camera, this can sometimes be difficult. I have found myself stalling for time, while the whole internet is watching, as I form an opinion about a wine and have to explain and justify that opinion.

But what this process has done is allow me to really understand what kinds of wine I like, and why. The extra time of really tasting the wine, describing it and giving it a rating against other wines I have tried helps me remember what I thought of each wine. We eat a lot of food and drink a lot of beverages over the course of our lives, but if you take more time to savor these experiences, the standouts will stand out even more and the average will still be memorable.

Jeffrey L. Cohen is a Marketing and Social Media Strategist and Partner at OurHashtag (http://OurHashtag.com), which brings together the elements of community, marketing, business and technology to provide platforms for connection and engagement both online and off-line. Jeff is the Producer and Co-Host of http://NorthCarolinaWine.TV and blogs at http://SocialMediaB2B.com and http://DigitalPapercuts.com.
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Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

How fun! Thanks Ilina, for having Jeff post for one of our fave bloggy traditions on D&N, 5:00 Fridays. Great idea.

And thanks Jeff for writing. Um, and drinking. And sharing!

Cheers, y'all.

jreesnc said...

How about that. I have seen Raffaldini but it did not click that it was an NC wine, with the name and labeling. I am going t have to try it out now!

Jeff said...

Lisa: I'll definitely keep writing, and drinking and sharing.
John: Some of Raffaldini's wines are only available from the winery. Check their website for more information.
Ilina: Thanks again for letting me spread the word about North Carolina wine and drinking experiences.

Ilina said...

Loved reading this post, Jeff. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it! We'll have to do this again if you're game.