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In Search of Good Wine

Google, the God of All Things, says that good wine follows a balance of acidity, tannin, alcohol, and fruit. Acidity, alcohol and fruit need no further elaboration. If it tastes like a used black tea bag on your tongue then you are in the midst of a tannin attack.

"Smooth" is when you feel all of it and none of it.

Just when you think you've got the rules, the wine label and tongue confuse the brain. Perhaps if oak and leather were normal part of my diet, it would be easier to understand. I can't even describe what I think is good wine. When I drink it, I know.

I have learned to rely on swirl-and-smell. Does it have "legs", I ask. When I swirl and the wine returns to the bottom of the glass, does it leave long lines on the sides of the glass? They are called legs and long legs are good. Then I wait for the flavor: honey, pepper, apple, plum, cherry, peach. If it smells decent, there is hope.

If you are connoisseur you will instantly recognize combinations of regions and years that are attractive. I am not a connoisseur; I am perpetually befuddled and always trying to make sense.

It helps to live in beautiful wine country.

The roots of Virginia wine, as you can imagine, are from the 1600s. Soon after the settlement in Jamestown, we had a thriving wine industry. Thomas Jefferson's close ties to France were the conduit of grapes to the Commonwealth. In fact, in recent times, only four states - California, Washington, Oregon, and New York - lead Virginia in the quantity and quality of the wine industry.

Did you know that Barboursville wines featured at the royal wedding of William and Kate? Neither did I!

Even though the wine story of Virginia dates back to the early settlers, it wasn't until recently that the wine industry has taken off in a big way. It is a $1.37B industry now. The Virginia industry employs 8.2k people, hosts 2.25M visitors each year, and sells 6.6M bottles per year. The growth is driven by small growers and wineries who employ locals. There are over 250 wineries within driving distance, no matter where you live in Virginia.

So, visit as many wineries as you can this summer. Raise a glass or two of Petit Manseng, Cab Franc, Meritage, or Petit Verdot. Enjoy the views, the food, the music, and the company.

We did just that at The Winery at Bull Run today and loved it. Clink and cheers!

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