Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sniff, Swirl, Sip : Try Wine St. Pete

One of G and I's favorite pastimes in wine tasting. And while most wouldn't consider drinking a hobby, or at least not one to boast about, we do take our wine pretty seriously. That's not to mean we drink expensive bottles exclusively, we more often enjoy supermarket finds for 10 bucks or less. But no matter what we are sipping, we like to contemplate our wine. We don't merely drink it; we think about it. We sniff, we swirl, we sip, and then we share what we taste. If in the presence of company, this routine is usually laughed at, especially when I start saying something is "agricultural" or "has a hint of bell pepper." The hubs and I are not experts by any means, but we are winos through and through. We drink what we like, and I pick bottles based on their labels occasionally, but we are also open to trying new, unique and bold flavors.

When we lived in San Diego, we had the luxury of being just 45 minutes away from Temecula wine country, where we'd often visit on weekends and where we were members of two wineries. (Wiens Family Cellars and Danza del Sol, we miss you!) The state of California as a whole is full of wonderful, highly-rated wineries and while Temecula was in our proverbial backyard, we also made trips to wineries in Santa Barbara County and Napa Valley. (We even went wine tasting on our Canadian honeymoon!) But now that we are in Florida, the land of tropical fruit wine, we sometimes find ourselves longing to make an excursion to a California vineyard.

The next best thing? Try Wine Retail Tasting Lab, which has nearly 100 wines on tap for your sniffing, swirling and sipping pleasure. I had heard of this downtown St. Pete wine tasting lounge a few months ago, and we finally (finally!) made our way there this past Saturday evening (after exploring and tasting some of the wine and wine cocktails at new foodie haven, Locale Market). Since it was chilly outside, G and I stuck to reds, but we tried reds of all kindsred blends, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Merlot, Grenache, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and even a few unfamiliar varietals. We walked around the entire lounge trying a little of this and that. Using a preloaded card, you can try by the taste or by the glass; you pick your pour. 

While I wasn't a fan of everything I tasted—my husband had a bit more success with his picks—it was a blast trying so many new wines together for a relatively low investment. (A screen displays exactly how much each taste costs.) At the end of our tasting, we went back to our favorite wine for a full glass. My favorite, by far, was Inkblot, a 2012 Cab Franc from Michael David Winery in Lodi, California. Admittedly, I was first attracted by the name and the label, and was pleasantly surprised that my good first impression held up in the taste test. Inkblot is bold in flavor but still smooth and fruity, which I prefer. While I was previously unfamiliar with Michael David Winery, I realized that I am familiar with one of its wines that I'm sure you have seen on store shelves, too: 7 Deadly Zins. Now I'll be on the look out for Inkblot, though finding a straight-up bottle of Cab Franc at the grocery store is near impossible. That's why we bought a bottle at Try Wine. The winos in us just couldn't resist.

Do you enjoy wine tasting? What's your favorite type of wine? I'd love to hear. Cheers!

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