As I sat there drinking lukewarm rosè from Trader Joe’s, it hit me — the people of Eugene want to know what I think about local fine wine. I know you might be thinking, why should we care about the opinion of a man that turned 21 a month ago and chooses his wine based on the best price to alcohol percentage ratio? To that I will say one thing: the Trader Joe’s wine tasting person once told me that my palate was “above average.” Do with that what you will.
On the morning of Feb. 27, I strolled into the tasting room of Oregon Wine LAB ready to taste some wine and catch a buzz before my psychology exam in two hours. Wooden picnic tables basking in the spring sun, appetizing smells wafting from Eugene’s top-rated food truck and a wall covered in wine bottles; I knew exactly where I would be racking up an excessive bar tab in the void Taylor’s has left. I was met by Cassie Mitchell, the tasting room manager and my mentor for the next two hours. While most of my fellow classmates were diligently studying for their upcoming finals, I was swirling, smelling and tasting so that I could provide Eugene's most under-qualified guide to wine.
William Rose 2018 Müller-Thurgau: $18/bottle
Perfect To Drink When: You walk into Cottage Market. Ruth looks at you and says, “Back for another pack of seltzers?” As you reach for your third pack of White Claws this week, you realize that it’s time for a change. You’re better than this.
Your seltzer replacement is here and it comes in the shape of a $18 bottle of dry white wine. With notes of passionfruit, peach, white tea and fresh pressed apple, this wine goes down faster than Taylor’s without a liquor license. Cassie described this wine as one that would “go really well with Thanksgiving dinner. Pairs well with sage, thyme and other spices you might see for a fall dinner.” William Rose Wines are produced at the Oregon Wine Lab and the grapes come from all over Oregon.
Crew Work 2016 Pinot Noir: $30/bottle
Perfect To Drink When: Your midterm paper grade just came back and you got an A. Who cares that you’re thousands of dollars in debt and failing two classes; just tonight you want to feel like royalty. This Pinot Noir is here to help.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “This is supposed to be for college students. We can’t afford $30 wine!” College life isn’t an easy one. Between the instant ramen, sleepless nights and rainy bike rides, we deserve to treat ourselves every now and then. A rich, full-bodied wine with hints of cherry, Cassie described this wine as best with “a pizza and night of The Bachelorette.” I love pizza and I guess I’m going to have to start loving The Bachelorette if it means I can drink this more often.
Trella 2016 Gewürztraminer: $26/bottle
Perfect To Drink When: You haven’t seen sunlight in two weeks. Your shoes and backpack haven’t been dry since October of last year. You’re pissed off and this wine is here to take the edge off.
Pairing best with spicy Thai and Asian dishes, as well as hot wings and barbeque dishes, this white wine is there to help in the spiciest of times. Trella Vineyards describes this wine as “a floral delight of Lychee fruit, apple, guava, and mint with a long cinnamon apple finish.” For those who are wondering, it’s pronounced guh-voorts-trah-mee-ner.
In Conclusion: When I woke up the morning of Feb. 27 I was a wine tasting beginner, but when my head hit the pillow that night I was on my way to being an established wine sommelier. With the Oregon Wine LAB offering five customizable wine tastings for only $12, drinking fine wine isn’t as privileged as it once may have seemed. Gone are the days where you chose your wine by the coolest label.