Adventures in Wine-Tasting

I love sampling wines, though most of the wineries in my native Virginia seem to have too much trouble producing decent red wines…and thus offer only a cabernet franc.

But on our recent cross-country sojourn, I did manage to stop in to some wineries and tasting shops for some amazing finds and a few interesting trends. In no real order:

1. Who knew Arkansas had such a thriving wine industry! We sampled from several, but our favorite was clearly Mt. Bethel in Altus, AK. The woman pouring was one of the owners of this family business. She knew her wines, had a lovely selection, and caused us to linger on and on. The port-style wine was pretty darn good as well…find them online at http://www.mountbethel.com.

2. Mt. Bethel also tipped us to two trends that are underway. First was the sudden emergence of “white moscato” wines. They’ve suddenly cropped up EVERYWHERE, though the grapes are native to Italy. Way to sweet and perfume-y for my taste, but moscato is a pleasant hot-day wine that is providing popular with new wine drinkers and lovers of sweet wines.

3. The second trend was the number of wineries that are getting into specialty vinegars and olive oils. At Mt. Bethel, I sampled and bought their blackberry vinegar. But we kept finding vinegar and oil tasting places with the wineries, so my lady love and I came home with nearly a dozen bottles of everything from 30-year-old balsamic vinegars to a lovely apple balsamic. Put me down as a serious fan…I could drink the stuff and be happy. Just as a note, I do not buy olive oils. I buy a really good olive oil and infuse my own herbs.

4. Decent wines were found in New Mexico and Arizona, and even in Kansas. A jewel to try: The official winery of OZ, just down the street from the Wizard of Oz museum in Wamego, Kansas. Here’s the link: http://ozwinerykansas.com.

5. Missed on this trip were the wine regions around Niagara Falls (was too busy watching the falls, which I had never seen before). And Iowa, which we had to pass through quickly to make a business meeting in Chicago.

All in all, a fine trip that will not be soon forgotten, and some lovely wines I will need to revisit. After I finish sampling wines around Virginia, that is.

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