Ever gone on a blind date and wondered where that person had been all your life? Ever see that person again and known they were exactly what you remembered - and somehow even better? I first stumbled upon the red grape varietal Cinsault (said: Sin - So?) in its birthday suit (that is, 100% of it in one single bottle, all on its own, not playing just one part in the production) at a grand tasting event last Fall. It's rare to see this varietal doing its own dance; more likely it's one of many blended into wines from the South of France... one of those grapes you always hear about but are never fully sure what it contributes to the bigger picture. I mean, you can always turn to the Wine Pros to get the skinny, but I like to find these things out for myself, allow my own taste buds to take a grape for a test drive.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure I'd ever (in the U.S.) have the opportunity to taste Cinsault all on its own. When I saw the '07 Dom. des Terres Falmet Cinsault* on the tasting menu last fall, well, be still my heart! It was a blind date I was willing to go on. Back then, I found the nose to be absolutely lovely, offering ripe strawberry fruit and a gently rustic and lightly spiced character I could only describe in my notes as "baking spices" (the cinnamons, nutmegs, et. al. of the world). The texture was alluring, wrapping my tounge in flavors I wanted to taste again and again to fully decipher and appreciate. We decided to bring the wine into the store, in part because it was outstanding (for a great price) and in part because they really are so rarely bottled on their own. Definitely something fun to talk about with interested wine seekers and foodies.

What with the cold weather here in Boston of late, I've been on a mission for wines that really blanket my tongue and offer layer after layer of satisfaction. I want full. I want mouthfilling. I want more than quaffable, one-note wines to intrigue me (it's too darn cold for this Phoenix girl living in New England to step outside everyday for a bit of adventure!). All the better if these wines come in a rare package. So I grabbed a bottle from the rack a couple of days ago to re-sample. After all, wines at a tasting are "work". Wines at home are more often for "fun" - and have a greater context for appreciation.

The Falmet hit it out of the park again. I bought the shop's last bottle last night (it's on back order...) just to ensure I'd have back-up what with more hazardous weather likely before I can say W-I-N-E! This is an example of the benefit of trying varietals you may never have heard of (really) before. It is also an example of a superb wine experience I - in my pre-wine industry days - would never have sought without the trustworthy help of a Sommelier (at a restaurant) or a wine shop's buyer.

In the New Year, I hope one of your resolutions is to  step outside your usual wine-drinking/buying box, and try something new. Even if you are an avid consumer and know your stuff, there is a LOT of juice on the market. Go on a blind date! Be enamored - or remember how great your other flings have been. In the coming weeks, I'll do my best to find some more intriguing winter finds and share them with you.

What blind (wine) date(s) have you been on? Was it a do-over or a never-do-again?

*The Wine Lover review is solid (and I found their food pairing entertaining given my initial notes), but describes the 2006 vintage, not the 07 currently available.