Archive for the ‘Wine Wizard-Questions & Answers’ Category
Friday, August 26th, 2011
Many wine tasters confuse the taste sensations of sweet and fruity, and those who DO get it, often find it difficult to explain the difference. So, how do you do it?
One way to tell the difference is practicing with a glass of tea. Taste a sip of tea on its own, and you’ll find it to be bone dry, and perhaps even a bit tannic (that astringent sensation on your tongue). Now, add a squeeze of lemon to the tea and taste it again. The tea is still dry, but there is now a fruity (citrus) component from the lemon. Next add sugar or honey to the tea, and taste it a third time – you should find it to taste both fruity AND sweet.
If you want to try this experiment with wine, practice by tasting a Sauvignon Blanc next to a Riesling. The Sauvignon Blanc will offer tropical, citrus, “fruity” flavors, while the Riesling, which typically has more residual sugar (the amount of sugar remaining in wine after fermentation), will help you differentiate what “sweet” is.
Another way to determine if a wine is sweet, is by taking a look at the alcohol content. During the wine making process, the natural sugar in grape juice converts to alcohol. Higher alcohol wines typically produce a drier style because more of the sugar in the grapes is converted to alcohol. Low alcohol wines (under 12%) are usually sweeter.
Try some of these tests and see if you can tell the difference!
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
1. Why is Pinot Noir considered a finicky grape?
2. What are the principal wine grapes grown in the French Champagne region?
3. What determines the varying sweetness levels in Champagne?
1. Pinot Noir is different from many other varietals in that it is especially difficult to grow, it’s sensitive to soil types, weather, moisture, and sun, and it bruises easily, which often requires hand harvesting. The thin skin of Pinot makes it especially fragile and tricky for winemakers to handle and work with, which explains its “high-maintenance” reputation. What this translates to for the consumer is that it is difficult to make good quality Pinot Noir, and its even more challenging to make good quality Pinot Noir that is also affordable.
2. The principal wine grapes grown in the Champagne region include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. These three varieties share certain characteristics such as early ripening, speed of maturation, musts that are high in sugar content, and lifted bouquets of great finesse. When blended together for Champagne sparkling wines, Chardonnay gives life, acidity, freshness and aging potential; Pinot Noir adds depth, complexity, backbone, strength and fullness, and Pinot Meunier is desired for its hardiness and its forward development, making it very useful for non-vintage blends.
3. The dosage (or amount of sugar) added after the second fermentation and aging determines the sweetness level of Champagne. Here are the guidelines for following the Champagne sweetness levels from driest to sweetest: Brut (dry), Extra Dry (semidry), Sec (semisweet), and Demi-sec (sweet). It’s recommended to serve Bruts and Extra Dry as aperitifs, or throughout the meal, whiles Secs and Demi-secs pair best with desserts. Cheers!
Thursday, August 5th, 2010
The Wine Wizard is at it again! Think you know your stuff when it comes to wine? This month we’re focusing on your barrel know-how… How much do you know about those lovely vats that are such an integral part of the wine making process? Check out these fun facts about oak barrels, then be sure to spread the word and impress your friends with how much you know!
1. When were oak barrels first used for the storage and aging of wine?
2. How much wine evaporates from an oak barrel in one year?
3. What specifications must oak trees meet in order to produce wine barrels?
1. The use of oak has been prevalent in wine-making for at least two millenia, first coming into widespread use during the Roman Empire. In time, winemakers discovered that beyond just storage convenience that wine kept oak in barrels took on properties that improved the wine by making it softer and in some cases better tasting. Robert Mondavi is credited with expanding the knowledge of winemakers in the United States about he different types of oak and barrel styles through his experimentation in the 1960′s and 1970′s.
2. The porous nature of an oak barrel allows some levels of evaporation and the oxygenation to occur in wine, but typically not at levels that would cause spoilage. In a year, the typical 59-gallon barrel can lose anywhere from 5.5 to 6.5 gallons of wine through evaporation. This is actually a good thing, allowing the wine to further concentrate its flavor and aroma compounds.
3. The oak trees used for constructing barrels are usually between 80 and 120 years old prior to harvesting, with the ideal conditions being a cool climate in a dense forest region that gives the trees opportunity to mature slowly and develop a tighter grain. Typically, one tree can provide enough wood for only two 59 gallon oak barrels. The trees are harvested in the winter months when there is less sap in the trunk.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010
Think you know your stuff when it comes to wine? Test yourself! Our Wine Wizard questions are here to help you learn a bit more about the industry you love. Read below, then impress your friends with all of your wine know-how!
1. What is a grape clone?
2. If the name of a vineyard appears on a wine label, what percentage of the grapes used to make the wine must come from that vineyard?
3. What are the benefits of maceration in red wine making?
1. Clones are terms for naturally occurring genetic subtypes within the same grape variety. In other words, not all Cabernet grapevines are exactly alike. Many grapevines evolve and mutate based on their surroundings and the differences in the flavor profile can range from being very pronounced to extremely difficult to differentiate. Clones have historically been traded between different wine regions throughout the world, allowing growers to take advantage of these evolutions to experiment with new flavors in different areas.
2. Under U.S. wine laws, if the name of a vineyard appears on the wine label, at least 95% of the grapes used to make the wine must come from that vineyard.
3. Maceration is the process where tannins, coloring agents, and flavor compounds are leached from the grape skins, seeds, and stems. The process can help bring out many flavors in the wine that would otherwise be lacking. It can enhance the body and mouthfeel for many wines, as well as strengthen the color. Greater extraction can add to the complexity and life expectancy of the wine by developing more complex tannins that will soften over a longer period of time.
Monday, June 14th, 2010
Its time to put your wine knowledge to the test, or maybe just learn a few things! Take a look at our wine trivia questions below and help increase your wine knowledge!
1. What is riddling? *Hint – think Champagne!
2. Which grape variety is used in Beaujolais wines? *Hint – think France.
3. What is the most commonly planted grape in the world? *Hint – it is probably NOT the first wine you thought of!
1. Riddling is one step of the Champagne-making process in which the bottles are placed in racks, holding them at a 45-degree angle with the cork pointed down. Every few days, the bottles are turned gradually, pushing the sediment toward the neck of the bottle. The angle increases for 6-8 weeks until the bottle is pointed straight down. At this point, the sediment can be removed and the bottle re-corked, finishing the wine making process.
2. Beaujolais wines are made from 100 percent Gamay grapes. The wine’s style is typically light and fruity, and meant to be consumed young. Beaujolias can even be served chilled. Typically a very affordable wine, Beaujolais wines are among the best-selling wines from Burgundy in the United States.
3. Surprisingly, the most popular grape planted isn’t the Cabernet Sauvignon or even Chardonnay. Airen (eye-rhen), a white grape originating in Spain, covers almost a million acres worldwide and is currently the most planted grape in the world.