In “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”, restaurateur and celebrity chef Bobby Flay challenges cooks to prepare their signature dish for a tasting competition. At the end of the show, their version and Bobby’s are evaluated by a judging panel and one is declared a winner. Elaborate ruses and setups aside, the concept of tasting edibles side by side is a more precise way to compare the subtleties of flavor that may be missed if consumed on different days.
We use the throwdown concept in different ways for comparing wines. A throwdown from our early wine days was to compare several different brands of white Zinfandel. Dare I say it? White Zinfandel, with its reputation for being an unsophisticated “beginner wine”. In the Boozy Lifestyle there’s room for all and every wine has its place and time. Sweaty and exhausted after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day, white Zin serves as a cool refreshing porch pounder (or Corona with a lime wedge if you’re a beer drinker).
At the end of a summer of random selections, we realize that we like some white Zins better than others, but from week to week, we can’t remember which. If we taste the four or five brands we’ve been fluctuating between side by side, we’ll know for sure. I had to wrap my frugal mentality around the idea of opening five bottles of wine at once, but in the end, we discovered that one of the wines was a clear winner.
We also use the throwdown concept to compare different vintages of the same wine. We especially liked the 2007 vintage of Simi Cabernet Sauvignon for its vanilla-laden quality and purchased a case. While we still had several bottles left, we tried the 2010 vintage. Could it possibly taste so different from 2007? A throwdown proved that 2007 and 2010 really were quite different and showed how much vintage does matter. We saved the remaining bottles of 2007 so we could look forward to a vintage throwdown every year until the stash was depleted.
Tasting notes from our 2007 vs. 2013 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon vintage throwdown:
In the glass, we notice that the color of the 2007 has slightly more brick coloration than the bright ruby hue of the 2013. Many of the wines we buy don’t age well past 8 or 9 years, so we take the change in color as a sign to finish up the vintage.
The nose is where the 2007 and 2013 differ most. In the 2007, vanilla dominates and is supported by dried herbs and blackberry fruit. The 2013 is more fruit forward with notes of coffee and fresh herbs.
Both the 2007 and 2013 are full of cherry, blackberry and currants on the palate. The fruits in the 2013 taste brighter and fresher, whereas in the 2007, the fruits are drier. It’s like the difference between a plum and a prune. The vanilla nose in the 2007 follows through on the palate, while the 2013 adds hints of dark chocolate and anise. The mouth-feel of the 2007 is smooth and mellow while the 2013 is edgier with higher acidity.
Both vintages have a nice medium-long finish but the 2007 wins by a hair. It has a roundness and lingering touch of fruity sweetness at the end that the 2013 misses.
Our exploration of the Boozy Lifestyle has brought about lots of different throwdowns that we’ll cover in later chapters.