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Tag Archives: wine tasting

Bluffer’s Guide to Wine Tasting

After dragging travel expert, but wine novice, Duncan Rhodes around the Douro Valley for a week, Catavino was impressed with how erudite his previously untrained palate became in such a short time… or did it? The Urban Travel Blog editor reveals his top 13 tips for faking it during a wine tasting… Nimbly holding the glass by the stem, with a deft movement, I rotated my wrist to create a mini-wine-whirlpool in the bowl, maintaining a strict look of concentration all the while. Having given the wine a good work out, I stick my beak in so that my nostrils are practically wet and inhale deeply, with eyes closed. A studied pause and I’m ready to commence with the first […]

Salon “Off” along the Rio Douro: Simplesmente…Vinho

This past Friday, I found my way down to the “Riberia” area of Porto, or rather the historic “Porto side” of the river, where a small group of both established and budding new wine makers assembled to pour their wines at “Simplesmente Vinho”. Dubbed as the first “off” event in Portugal for wine, it begged the question: Off to what? With a keen eye for marketing, these assorted wine “mavericks” hosted their event just up the road from the largest wine fair in Portugal, Essencia do Vinho, which was celebrating their 10th Anniversary. Essencia is a 4 day event, priced at 16 euros, within the stunning architectural wonder, Palacio da Bolsa. For those of you who haven’t visited the Palacio, please […]

A Tour of Portugal in 5 Wines

Vast tapestries adorning the walls of grand buildings around London are not a rare sight. However, the one that greeted us as we arrived for a wine dinner with the Wines of Portugal was quite exceptional. Protruding from the top of the hanging carpet, in the same pattern of thick wool, was a massive moose head – unusual to say the least! This prepared us for the equally odd venue for the dinner – instead of an intimate private area adjacent to the main dining room at Nuno Mendes’ casual restaurant The Corner Room, we were led into what can best be described as a mini-parliament! It was in fact a council chamber, complete with dark wood panelling and tiered […]

Final Thoughts on the Douro and Portuguese Wine

From the moment I first visited Porto in the winter of 2003 I have been in love with this city. I’m not entirely sure what grabbed me, but whatever it was, it’s never let go. Sitting in my room at the Yeatman Hotel, overlooking the Douro river and the colorful hillside of Porto’s historic center, I feel incredibly fortunate to be here. The people are friendly and welcoming. The food is diverse and exciting. And the downtown is undergoing a revival, where new shops, restaurants and hotels are popping up like mushrooms after the fall rain, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Rain can be absolutely magical, especially when the river sparkles from little pitter-patters of gentle drops; but […]

Interview with Catalunya Tour Operator: Nico James

Editor’s Note: Nico James has been a long time friend of Catavino. A daring entrepreneur, with a wicked sense of humor, he’s been our “go to” man whenever we need a fabulous tour of the Penedes. Today, we’ve asked Nico to provide you a little background on what drove him not only to Spain, but to wine.    What is your background and how did you end up in Spain and working in the wine industry? Before I was bitten by the wine bug, I was working in Sales for a multinational company, but ever since I returned to Spain in 1999 food and wine was always top of my agenda. Towards the end of 2004 I was set on working […]

Cellar Serendipity: Finding an Unexpected Bottle of Amazing Port Wine

Cellar Serendipity they should call it. That feeling of unexpected joy as you put what you think will be a jaded wine to your nose, take a sip and realise that the sensory receptors and processes in your brain are telling you this really isn’t such a dodgy bottle at all. In fact it’s bloody marvellous. And you pour out some more. It has happened to me twice in the last two years. The first was a year ago when, with my parents, we opened a bottle of 1997 Swiss Lavaux (made from Chasselas grapes grown on the slopes that tumble down into Lake Geneva from the Jura mountains) from a relatively unspectacular producer. Chasselas itself (with all the love […]

Connecting with Curious Palates in Brooklyn: Spanish Wine and Cheese Tasting

Editor’s Note: Today’s article comes from Diane Letulle, an passionate wine writer who we’ve known for quite some time. Today is her submission after attending a Spanish wine and cheese tasting in NYC by another good friend of ours, Adrian Murcia. We hope you enjoy her adventure. On a mild Friday night in April, a small group of food and wine lovers descended upon the Brooklyn Museum, which rises in neoclassical glory just steps away from the C train. Piped in samba music greeted the visitors as they navigated around Rodin’s somber Burghers of Calais in search of a different kind of art. They had come to attend Fermented Spain: Wine, Cheese, and Ham, one of a series of culinary […]

2009 José Peñin Tasting: Should Spanish Wine Producers Push Their Latest Vintage?

Evey year, as well as releasing his guide to the wines of Spain, José Peñin puts on a tasting of the top wines (those that got 94 points or more) in Madrid. Like so many tastings of this type (large room, producers behind tables, indecipherable layout, and too many people) the pointers for those attending remains the same: turn up early (to avoid the hordes), taste all the best stuff first (before it runs out), know what you want to taste (this prevents you from running about like a mouse trying to find cheese in a behavioural science experiment) and avoid any woman ostentatiously dressed (her perfume will lay any subtle aromas to waste like napalm over lemongrass) – I […]

Respite During the Storm: Catavino’s 2nd National Geographic Expedition

Some of you might remember last year, when we took part in a portion of a Lindblad Expedition from the north coast of Spain around the coast of Galicia to Porto, and finally disembarking in Lisbon. 5 days and nights filled with food, wine, culture and lazing on a boat ship, with fine seas and sunny skys. Obviously, our experience carved out much of our expectations for this year’s trip, but little did we know that the seas can turn for the worst. This year, fall weather brought with it a considerable amount of rain, which create “swells” – a word that has zero relationship to a happy, “swell” of a time. With Gabriella looking a fine shade of pea […]

Rioja, Please Tell Me Who You Are and How I Define You!

Having just arrived back from the Grandes de la Rioja Wine tasting this past week in Logroño, I’m still a bit befuddled as to how one might define Rioja. When I first started in wine, I was told by many a mentor that Rioja was a region of dried out wines that were over-oaked. The truly exciting wines were from the innovative wine makers working to re-integrate the fruit. When I eventually arrive in Spain, for obvious reasons, I braced myself for wines that were aggressive and lacking character. And although these wines still do exist, I discovered they are fading into the distance. I also realized that mentors can be wrong. Wines from Rioja can be extraordinarily light and […]