I recently had my sensed dulled by too much drink, but I still wanted to enjoy some wine. Not to get too technical or talk too much shit, but unlike Michael, I think Oregon wines suck, categorically, and with only one exception: some oregon wines come from the Walla Walla valley. I came to this realization concurrently with another important general realization about wine. To describe this new understanding, I will attempt to describe something about wine tasting.
To taste wine there are (allegedly) three components to pay attention to:
1) Smelliness: Sniff the wine and notice whether or not it is wine. If it smells like whiskey, you might have picked up someone else's drink. If it smells like butt, it could be wine, probably from California. But if you are really good at determining smelliness, you might notice that it smells like grapes or like alcohol. It might smell like your uncle Jimmy, which explains why your mom always locked the liquor cabinet before he came over. Wine snobs call this the "nose," since French people invented wine snobbery and they have historically large noses.
2) Mouthiness: Put the wine in your mouth, and like a classy prostitute, try not to swallow. Consider how it feels in your mouth, does it strip your tastebuds like turpentine? Does it taste like grapes or alcohol? Gurgle like you were using mouthwash (or again, like a classy prostitute) and see if that makes it taste more like grapes or alcohol, like dirt, like dog food, or anything else you've tasted. You are experience what the wine snobs call the "body" because they won't usually have access to someone else's body without wine. Decide if you really want to swallow (I don't need to mention it again), and get ready for...
3) Swallowiness: Swallow your wine. Notice what your mouth feels like. Does it suck your mouth dry of saliva (it might be from California), or does it feel like you've had a sip of cold water (in that case, it's probably from Oregon)? Spend some time noticing how much the taste lingers. Does it linger like a fourth person when all you want is a threesome, or does it run away quickly like a blind date done poorly? This is known as the "finish," and you should hope for happy endings.
So anyway, I was out with Michael and his friend Steve, numbed to the point that I was actually liking a certain Oregon wine. I evaluated the experience of the wine in all the aforementioned ways and three stars later, I was not offended, that is, until I discovered the fourth element of wine tasting:
4) Belchiness: Burp. What do you notice after the wine has made a comeback? Is it a pleasant experience, like tasting chili-cheese fries over and over again after the fair, or is it unpleasant like you had just vomited? Belchiness is always overlooked because of its improperness but I assure you that wine can come back to say "hello" and this is the real test for a good wine. This particular Oregon wine was holding up pretty well to me until at first burp all I could taste was oak barrel, as though I had been forced to lick someone's grandfather's oak-panneled study from top to bottom.
So, if you take anything from this little foray into the world of wine tasting, know that you know nothing until you've had a satisfying belch: only then will it all come together.