2011… wow – I can’t believe it! Where did 2010 go? Oh well… now that 2011 is here, it is time for me to get started on all of my exciting plans for this year and not dwell on last year. I know that 2011 is going to fly by just as fast so I am ready to start planning my first goal.

A couple of months ago I wrote about trying a rice wine from South Korea that was excellent. After some additional research I am anxious to try other rice wines. I’ve learned that depending on where the rice wine is from it may be called sake, takju or cheongju. So one of my goals this year is to go to a rice wine tasting or host one myself.

During my research I learned that if you are hosting a rice wine tasting, the wine should be stored in dark, dry places, similar to how you store wine. You can also purchase sparkling rice wines which are very similar to champagnes. Since rice wine is usually bottled in smaller bottles, you will want to make sure you purchase enough bottles for your party (for a tasting count on 2 ounces of each wine per person).

Glassware is quite different for a traditional rice wine tasting. Instead of wine glasses, a traditional way to serve the wine is in a small wooden box made from hinoki. Since most people do not have this style of container, ceramic cups can be used.

As with a normal wine tasting, there is an order in which to try the rice wines. Starting with a pure rice wine, one that does not have added distilled alcohols, will allow you to taste the purest form of rice wine. Then you can move on to trying rice wines that have additional alcohol or flavoring added to them. If you purchase a wine that still contains rice sediment, you should save this for your third tasting as it will overpower some rice wines.

To finish your tasting you should end with either a sparkling rice wine or a sweet dessert style rice wine. Both will pair nicely with fruit or chocolates for dessert.

So after all of my research, I am out to find some more rice wines to try. When I do, I will be sure to let you know which ones to try.

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.