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What is Pinotage?

Pinotage is a red grape varietal that was created in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University. Perold was attempting to combine the best qualities of the robust Cinsault grape (also known as Hermitage) with Pinot Noir, hence the name Pinotage. The wine is known for its smoky, bramble and earthy flavors with notes of tropical fruit.

Why is swirling your glass and essential part of wine tasting?

Esters T (aromatic compounds) are released when swirling (aerating) a glass of wine. Since wines haven’t had much, if any, contact with oxygen since put into bottle, just opening the bottle and letting it sit for a few minutes will not allow enough air into the wine to let it breathe. Swirling the wine will introduce more air molecules into the wine, which captures aroma molecules and carries them up to the nose.

What is the color of red wine primarily determined by?

The color of red wine is primarily determined by the length of time grapes remain in contact with their skins during fermentation. Deep red wines (like Cabernet Sauvignon) have had extensive contact with their grape skins, while white wines and most rose wines are made from red grapes that had only minimal contact with their grape skins during winemaking.

Originally published in The Wine Press' Wine Wizard, Vina Robles Winery edition featured in 2009.