Learn to Wine Taste with Jelly Bellys

How do you learn to discern flavors and aroma in wine?  For those who want to increase their ability to identify a wine when they put it under their nose or take that first taste, this can be an issue.  Not all of us have the time to take professional wine tasting classes.  It will shock the pros out there when I make the following statement:  there are some short cuts.  Consider the Jelly Belly approach, for example.

The first time I heard about the use of Jelly Bellies to educate wine lovers was during a discussion with Kristi Snyder, one of my favorite and very talented sommeliers, who happens to work at Lone Eagle Grille, Hyatt Regency, Incline Village.  Kristi works with groups of executives and others who are at convocations at the Hyatt to provide some relief in the heavy-duty education process.  Her wine tasting classes make liberal use of Jelly Bellies!

The basics of a Jelly Belly wine exercise is that you taste the individual Jelly Belly beans first, in order to understand the different flavors associated with certain wine varietals.  Then, if you put all of the Jelly Belly flavors in your mouth at the same time, and chew them together, you can come close to the taste experience of the wine varietal itself.

Here are some classic combinations of Jelly Belly beans that emulate the basics of certain wine varietals. Go to a store that has a good range of Jelly Belly beans, and put the “glass of wine” together yourself.   Or drive to the factory in Fairfield for a fun family day.  Kids can go on the tour, you can hand-pick the beans!

 Pinot Grigio:  Lemon Lime, Lemon Drop, Pink Grapefruit, Tangerine, Peach, Juicy Pear

Riesling:  Peach, Juicy Pear, Green Apple, Cantaloupe, Pink Grapefruit, Tangerine

Cabernet Sauvignon:   Blackberry (2), Very Cherry, Raspberry, Plum, Dr. Pepper

Malbec:  Blueberry, Plum, Raspberry (2), Very Cherry, French Vanilla

Chardonnay:  Pineapple, Mango, Juicy Pear, Pink Grapefruit, Peach, French Vanilla, Chocolate

Merlot:  French Vanilla, Toasted Marshmallow, Chocolate, Very Cherry, Plum, Raspberry, Strawberry, Dr. Pepper

Sauvignon Blanc:  Lemon Lime, Pink Grapefruit, Tangerine, Mango, Peach, Juicy Pear

Pinot Noir:  Very Cherry (2), Raspberry, Strawberry, Plum, Pink Grapefruit, Cappuccino

Zinfandel (red):  French Vanilla, Chocolate, Very Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Dr. Pepper, Blackberry, Plum

Don’t want to hand pick the Jelly Belly beans, but thinking of doing a Jelly Belly wine tasting at home with friends?  Check out  http://www.jellybeanwinebar.com .  There are more than 40 varietal kits offered there!   

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