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What does the term "olfactory" refer to?

The term "olfactory" (pronounced äl-fak-ter-e), refers to the sense of smell. Your nose is a key instrument for judging wine. It is used to explore three major facets: intensity, aroma and bouquet. Wine odors originate from three major sources: fruit, vilification and aging. In future editions of The Wine Press, we will explore these elements in further depth.

True or False. White Zinfandel is a blush wine made from a different grape variety than red Zinfandel.

False. First of all, white Zinfandel is not a grape variety. It is a white wine made from Zinfandel grapes. In the late 70's and throughout the 80's, as jug-wine consumer preferences shifted to less sweet wines, white Zinfandel filled the demand. Wineries found they could make more money selling the white version only several months after harvest, instead of barrel aging a red Zinfandel for 2-3 years before releasing it for sale. (Editors note: Gold Medal Wine Club will never, ever, feature a white Zinfandel!)

What is meant by "toasting" a wine barrel?

"Toasting" a wine barrel is not raising a glass and drinking to it's health! Rather, "toasting" is a French technique used to make new barrels for aging wine. In making a new barrel the wood staves used for the sides, are heated over a wood chip fire to make the planks more pliable to shape. The surface of the wood heats up, caramelizing the carbohydrates, much like roasting a marshmallow. It is this firing or toasting effect that imparts a special flavor to the wine.

Originally published in our Gold Club's The Wine Press, Wine Wizard, Rosenblum Cellars edition featured in 1993.