Wine: Have a flight

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From the April 18, 2013 edition

Wine flights: They might seem fancy and indulgent, but there’s also a lot to be learned within those three (or five) tiny glasses — plus, the tiny glasses are just plain fun.

Beginner wine drinkers can get a sense of the wines they like and don’t without wasting a full glass or bottle. Connoisseurs can explore the wines of Burgundy or detect differences between varietals.

“Especially if they're willing to try a flight of wine they're not familiar with, they get pretty excited when they find something they like,” said Janine Aquino, of the Short North’s Camelot Cellars. Flights are a focus on the menu there, where chardonnay, cabernet, “Italian full-body red wine” and red and white “fun fruit” flights are most popular.

What’s proper wine-flight form? Take a sip of each first and evaluate them back-to-back, Aquino said; then, jump around however you’d like.

Combining a few different wines in order of light- to fuller-bodied is the basic formula for planning a flight, Aquino said. While that’s best done by an expert, it’s possible to pull off by yourself (tiny glasses optional).

Stick with a varietal you’d like to explore instead of taking on a whole region of different wines. Consult labels or talk to the wine-shop staffer to figure out how best to order them, then settle in — perhaps with some friends — and sip away.

For my three-part chardonnay flight, I started with the un-oaked 2011 Novellum ($12 at Hausfrau Haven) from France. The flavors were bright and lemony, with some minerality and none of the fuller-mouthfeel I’d find later.

Eve ($9), a 2011 chardonnay from Washington, had a bit more of that buttery taste this wine is known for and was crisp, like a Granny Smith apple (but I think the bottle art was swaying me).

The 2011 Joseph Drouhin Macon-Village chardonnay ($11) came through for the finish with the most buttery, fullest-bodied flavor that was still slightly fruity.

Having three seemingly similar wines in rapid succession? As eye-opening as it is enjoyable.souriers ed ss or bottleba sense of the five) tiny glasses -- plus,