By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 11:08 am   |   Leave a Comment »

Today is “National Drink Wine Day.” I have not researched the origin of the day nor have I learned its true mission. It just shows up on my calendar.

I suspect it has little to do with those of us who use wine every day. It probably is intended to encourage people who don’t use much wine or who have never tried wine to give it a go. And, being an American day, I also suppose it has a lot to do with stimulating sales.

At any rate, I feel obliged to pass along the news and to hope for a satisfying observance wherever you are. We should all also be grateful that our nation takes a moment to recognize the significance of a beverage spiritual, religious, healthful, pleasurable, and just plain delicious.

Happy National Drink Wine Day!

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 11:38 am   |   Leave a Comment »

A friend was recently nominated for a local “Women in Business” award, which made me recall some of the women in the wine profession who have been award recipients, some on an international level. For a not very logical reason, at the same time I started recalling my long drives across Kansas.

Having had to make a dozen or so car trips across the Sunflower State in recent years, I tried to vary my routes just to seek respite from the long straight highways with endless horizons. My quest for varying scenery wasn’t especially successful, but I did get to look at some quizzical and often interesting local sights, along with some destinations of significant historical value — Forts Riley (where years ago I had trained for my duties as an Occupation soldier in Germany) and Leavenworth, and the Eisenhower home and museum.

I saw the world’s deepest hand-dug well, the geographical center of the United States, the Dalton Gang’s hideout tunnel, and even the house of Dorothy and Toto with a real Dorothy on duty as a docent. I also sipped on wines named for Oz characters.

But at Medicine Lodge I came across the home, now museum, of one of the most remarkable women ever to be associated with strong drink. Carrie Amelia Moore Nation spent her last years in this plain frame house next to the Stockade Museum, and though she died before the nation imposed Prohibition on itself, she could without doubt pass on secure in the knowledge that her work would bear fruit. It was from this house in Medicine Lodge that she launched her famous hatchet crusades against saloons and the men who ran and frequented them. At 6-feet tall and more than 175 pounds, armed with a hatchet, she was a formidable presence and quite capable of making an impact.

While she was never in business, Carrie Nation was certainly a woman of influence, but I have never known her to be recognized as such, even though her influence has had an effect on the liquor laws with which we still live. At the very least, she was noteworthy!

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Monday, February 13, 2017 at 6:45 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Every once in a while someone hands me a glass of wine and asks me what it is. And often, friends starting a wine-tasting club think it’s wise to do their tasting blind. By blind, of course, I mean tasting without knowing what the wine is.

Unless it’s for professional purposes — buying for a bar or restaurant or in competitions or for journalistic reporting, I am not an enthusiast of blind tastings, though I confess to having done enough of them over the years.

For the start-up wine clubs, I just say start by enjoying and appreciating the wine rather than complicating matters. If you’re truly just starting, you won’t have a sufficient reference base to rely on. When handed a glass, I usually joke a bit by noting that it’s either red or white and comment about what appeals or doesn’t appeal and seldom try to identify it — though I am willing in friendly circumstances to take a stab at recognizing it as a Napa or a Riesling or a Bordeaux.  There are so many blends these days, that the old rules of knowing a Sangiovese from a Cabernet are no longer truly reliable as those two are increasingly blended along with many other grapes not traditionally bound together.

There are very few wine professionals who when given six or eight wines to sample will be able to identify all of them even by variety, let alone by a particular estate. Most will get the variety right and some will be able to guess the country of origin if not the region. But the odds are against anyone ringing up a perfect score, and no one needs to apologize for not telling the difference between a Margaux and a St Julien, though with practice one will learn to distinguish between a Bordeaux and a Burgundy, a Cabernet from a Pinot Noir.

Not only are there so many wines from so many places, wines from a single property can vary considerably because of storage, shipping, serving temperatures, and vintage year. This doesn’t mean that blind tastings can’t be enjoyable or useful; they can help you focus on the wine’s attributes and can hone the palate, but unless you’re taking an exam in a master sommelier class, never regret not guessing just right.

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