One of our favourite wine games is ‘Wine Options’, a multi-choice quiz on a bottle served blind. We enjoy it whether we get the answers right or wrong, as we learn from the process. It’s too easy to overthink when playing, and the best approach is to focus on the taste of the wine and not get too far ahead of yourself. Having played the game for decades, you’d think I would know better, but I fell into the old trap of ‘playing the person’ rather than ‘playing the wine’.
The wine in question was a 2011 Ascheri Barolo ‘Pisapola’, and it was served to us by Jol-Vino. I know that Jol-Vino has a love of good European wines, sometimes with a nod to Italy, and other times to Spain. So, poured into our glasses, it was rather faded in colour, showing garnet red with bricking. It smelt sweet and dried herbal, with earth and tar, and was pretty juicy on palate with an underlay of fine-grained tannins, and not too much acidity. The earthiness and leathery nature grew in in depth with time, while all the while remaining sweet-tasting. Aha – Spanish to me! SWMBO went Italy, and she was right. I know Jol-Vino loves Sangiovese. So leather, and ignoring tar, I thought Central Italy. Nah, it was north-west Italy. Classical Nebbiolo, if I had listened to the wine. I know that Jol-Vino has access to older wines. So I went 2005. It was 2011, and now I know I should have taken into account the fruit sweetness. The wine is a modern expression, totally correct, and attractive in today’s world. SWMBO got all the questions right. I did not. She played the wine. I played the person.