by Rick Riozza

Welcome back my friends to the wine that never ends; we’re so glad you could attend—come inside, come inside. Yeah—we’re talking about enjoying some wonderful light refreshing Chardonnay at your local wine bar, per my last article’s invite to “interact” and taste the wines. I’m already getting fun feedback by enthusiastic quaffers who have hit the wine bar circuit.

If you want to catch up with my past article on charming Chardonnay, or any of my previous articles, you can visit and click on Archives to find the Vino Voice column.

There are a lot of great wine venues in our valley—of which I recommended three—that I’ll be at tasting and commenting on for my next article. Come out and join the tastings! Love to hear your comments. The Wine Bar In Old Town, 78015 Main St., La Quinta 760. 564.2201; at LQ Wines and Craft Beer Shop, 46520 Washington St., La Quinta 760.771.8466; and at 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro, 73101 Hwy 111, Palm Desert, 760.837.9600.

It’s interesting—when we drink wine, we’re primarily aware of its flavor and aroma, but there’s a lot more going on with that swallow. Namely, the vino is not getting the attention of all that it offers. Too much going on!: deep conversations, business deals, video games, heated arguments(boo!), and heated romance(yay!).

A good wine gets you in the game to experience and enjoy both the bold and the subtle. And that bottle staring you in the face is in need of a sensitive and interested drinker. Are you in? With just a little practice one can really appreciate what “tasting wine” is all about, and, go on to confidently share your likes and dislikes.

Ultimately wine is about your pleasure. The most important standard of taste is yours. Wine experts cannot tell you what you like.

A good starting point is to learn the right tasting technique. I know—you’re thinking, Hey! I know how to taste—tell me something I don’t know. A full sensory perception includes viewing the wine’s color as it swirls in the glass, sniffing while swirling, smelling the “nose” and “bouquet” from the glass, and then taking a good mouthful, swishing the wine in the mouth to expose all the taste buds arrayed on the tongue. After swallowing the wine, take the time to enjoy its “finish”—the lasting remnants of flavor that can appreciably linger.

By sampling an assortment of wines, you will quickly form preferences and discover which wines please you and which don’t. In the midst of our wine bar’s “light and refreshing Chardonnay tasting”, you’ll see that the color of an “unoaked” wine is a much lighter shade of pale yellow because the stainless steel vats do not impart anything to the wine, as opposed to the oak barrels which bring a deeper color from the wood and showcase tasty flavors of vanilla, butter, butterscotch, banana, cinnamon, coconut, and smoke. In steel, the juice of the Chardonnay grape is more citrusy, fruity, crisp, lean and so refreshing when served chilled. Ummmm!

In the game of wine, we continue to appreciate and learn from almost every good bottle we drink. We are engaged and we keep coming back for more. But enough reading about it, let’s enjoy a glass!
See you at the wine bar. CHEERS!

Rick Riozza is the desert’s sommelier-about-town entertaining at private and corporate wine tastings and events. He can be reached at

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