Wed | Jul 26, 2017

Wine flight #008: Washington State

Published:Thursday | September 18, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Contributed Photo Jason Clarke
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Jason Clarke, Contributor

The enjoyment and exploration of wine is a very personal journey, one which requires you to trust your own taste. Not everything you will like or appreciate, but like all things, the more you expose yourself to and practise is the greater the appreciation for the character of a wine, and all the subtle nuances. This week, join me as we explore Washington State wines.

Passport. Check. Now boarding Flight #008 to Washington State. Please recline your seat in the most comfortable position, extend your feet and enjoy the flight. In the event of an emergency during this flight, keep calm and take a sip of wine.

CLIMATE IS CRUCIAL

Washington State is one of the more underrated wine-producing regions in the United States as opposed to the very popular and established California, but they have been quietly working and producing wines that are most certainly noteworthy. Wines are deeply affected by climate - warmer regions produce more ripe fruit flavours, and cooler regions like Washington State create more tart fruit flavours with high acidity. Washington State is home to more than 30 varietals, the more popular being whites: Reisling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Pinot Gris; Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah/Shiraz. It's a shame we never considered making wine in Jamaica, it would be a great source of economic activity. Washington State wineries generate roughly US$1 billion in revenue, making it no small fry. In fact, it is the second largest wine-producing region in the United States behind California.

As a red wine lover, the Red Diamond Shiraz is certainly a must-try for those who enjoy a little spice in life. This fruity yet spicy wine is superb, with subtle notes of tobacco. One might wonder how does this taste good, but it's the right balance of fruit and spice on your palate. This is one of those wines you can surely enjoy alone as well as with food. If it's just a nibble of cheese and crackers you are in the mood for, the stinky, blue cheese will complement this well, and for more hearty meals, think barbecue or jerk. The trend in Washington State is that the popularity of the Shiraz will soon overtake the well-known Merlot varietal, although not likely to unseat the king, the Cabernet Sauvignon. Red Diamond has a range of varietals you can try that may appeal to your taste buds, but specifically from Washington State is also the Merlot.

For the white wine drinkers, I have not forgotten you in the least. The Hogue Riesling is simply superb and extremely fragrant, which adds to the overall experience of sipping this wine. Think apricot, peach and melon but crisp and refreshing. Nowhere near as sweet as a Moscato but it is slightly sweet, making it a perfect companion to Indian foods.

There a few other brands you may find on the shelves from Washington State, worthy of giving a try; Chateau St Michelle and Columbia Crest, both in a range of varietals that should appeal to your unique preferences.

Remember when trying something new to look and appreciate the true colour of the wine. It works best by tilting the glass against a white surface, to see the full bright and clear colour. In white wines it is visually more obvious at the first pour, but in reds, looking at it against a white surface truly does highlight the varying intensity. Swirl, in order to release the aromas of the wine. Smell - taking a deep inhale of the wine to fully appreciate its aroma. You may have to do this a few times to fully appreciate all of it. Lastly, enjoy.

If you are truly into wines, keep a note of the wines you have tried, what you like, what you don't like, and more important, why. It helps when you are wine shopping to find something that works well for you.

I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at wineenthusiastja@gmail.com.