Tor wines are among my favorites; I buy them every year, often enjoying their annual release party in August as a guide to my purchases. Kenward Tor engaged in Q&A in his latest newsletter to customers.
I’d like to share my answers to the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked over 43 years as a winemaker. The mantra is keep it simple, to the point, and easy to digest so we can all move on to opening the next cork, or unscrewing the next cap.
What makes a good (or great) wine?
Great grapes, and someone who has the smarts to stay out of the way, yet knows when the time is right to interrupt the dance, or change the music. Experience is helpful. All this is good verbiage for the website, but the ultimate judge is you. Greatness rides the coattails of perception. It’s personal.
What did Robert Parker give this wine?
Google it. Remember a score on a wine, is one opinion on one wine at one moment in time. I wouldn’t overthink that opinion. That said, I think of Bob Parker as a friend, and miss sitting down with him and tasting through a set of wines. There are a lot of excellent critics today. I have my favorites. Find those who reflect your tastes, and follow them. Walk away from those who do not, or are inconsistent.
What is this wine’s PH, TA, and alcohol?
Really? Don’t get lost in numbers. Do get lost in the smells, aromas, tastes, and flavors of the wine.
What temperature should I drink this wine?
If you’re going to drink it over an hour – room temperature – because after 20 minutes it will probably be at room temperature. That said, whites are generally served too cold and reds too warm – see, I really do have some hard opinions.
Should I decant this wine?
A little air should help all well made wines, red and white. The big question to ask yourself – do you like cleaning decanters? Or more importantly, how much air does a wine need? Every wine will be different. Experiment on how you give it air. Decanters are optional, a good wine glass less so. You can decant your wine directly into your glass, swirl, wait and sip. I like some young wines better the next day. Experiment. Air can be your friend, too much your enemy.
I’d like to leave you with a story about wine writing. My wife shortly after our marriage decided to join a wine tasting group of women for fun and knowledge. Several of the women in the group were very prominent women winemakers in the Napa Valley. One decided for chuckles to select several wines to be tasted blind for the group. She also dedicated to add a little spice to the game.
For each wine in the blind tasting she selected a famous wine writer’s description of the wine, copied it, and dropped it in a hat. As the group tasted the wines, she passed the hat, and each taster read the description they had selected, then the group was asked to match the description to the wine. No one, not the pros, or the amateurs like my wife, got it right.
The lesson here simply is one man’s cassis might be another man’s blackberry. We all interrupt flavors a little differently. Wine descriptors reflect us more than the wines we taste.