Articles about Wine
There are three methods that may be used to make sparkling wine. These methods are: the Transfer Method, Charmat Bulk process and Methode Champenoise. Methode Champenoise is the most labor-intensive and costly of these.
Before we get into how sparkling wines are made, we should first make a distinction between sparkling wine and champagne. Champagne is sparkling wine, but sparkling wine is not necessarily champagne. True champagne is produced in the Champagne region of France by using the Methode Champenoise and is produced from a high quality grape. In many circles in the United States, the term “champagne” has become a general term to include any sparkling wine. These are frequently made from inferior grapes through bulk processing and are often sweetened to mask their inferior quality. They are not true Champagnes.
Sparkling wines are made from both white and red grape varieties. The quality of the fruit is critical to the outcome of the finished product. In the Champagne region of France, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier are used. But in other internationally recognized sparkling regions, like Asti, other varieties such as Muscat Blanco may be used. The grapes are harvested earlier than those picked for still (table) wine. There are several reasons for this early harvesting. One reason is to obtain a lower alcohol level in the cuvee (wine made from the initial fermentation, also called “base” wine). During the fermenting process the sugar is converted to alcohol, therefore the lower the sugar content of the grapes, the lower the alcohol content of the finished product. The reason for the lower alcohol content in the base wine is that the wine will go through another fermentation process that will increase the alcohol level. Another reason for harvesting grapes while at a lower sugar level is to produce a higher total acidity and lower pH rating. This adds longevity and crispness to the wine.
Now lets take a look at the three different methods vintners may use to make sparkling wines. Methode Champenoise is a more labor-intensive and expensive method than the other two methods of producing sparkling wine. After harvesting the fruit, the juice is pressed and put into containers for the first fermentation. These containers are either stainless steel vats or oak barrels. When the first fermentation is complete, various lots of wine are blended together to produce an assemblage (the final blend of varieties for the finished wine). Then a mixture of yeast and sugar, called a triage, is added to the base wine. The wine is bottled with a small plastic cup that fits in the neck of the bottle and collects any sediment. This small plastic cup is called a “bidule” The second fermentation takes place in the bottle and due to the sugar and yeast being added, alcohol and carbon dioxide are produced. Due to carbon dioxide formation and pressures up to 90 pounds per square inch, bottles for Champagne and sparkling wine must be thicker than regular wine bottles. During the second fermentation, temperature plays an important role. Cooler temperatures produce finer bubbles. Once the second fermentation is complete, dead yeast cells begin to break down and form a sediment in the wine. This process is called autolysis. The winemaker decides how long to allow for the autolysis process and this in turn has an impact on the final taste of the wine. The sediment must then be removed without losing the carbon dioxide and sparkle. The first step in doing this is riddling or remuage. In years past, this was done by inserting the neck of the wine bottle into a rack, called a pupitres, that would hold it at a 45 degree angle so the dead yeast cells would settle into the neck where the bidule was attached. Then every few days, a trained person, called a remuer, would give each of the bottles a quick shake and increase the angle of the bottles until they were eventually positioned completely downward, thereby collecting all the sediment in the neck. Today, the riddling process is automated. Next the sediment is removed by disgorgement. This is where the bottle is placed neck down in an icy brine to freeze the sediment into a solid plug. The cap is then removed and the pressure inside the bottle causes the frozen sediment to be expelled. Then a “dosage” is added. This dosage is a small amount of wine mixed with sugar and sometime brandy and it determines the sweetness or dryness of the sparkling wine. The bottle is then corked and secured with a wire hood.
The Transfer Method of making sparkling wine is similar to the Methode Champenoise except that instead of riddling to remove the sediment, the wine is transferred to a pressurized tank where the sediment is filtered. It is then bottled, corked and secured with a wire hood in preparation for sale to the public.
The Charmat Bulk Process is the quickest and least expensive method of making sparkling wine. With this process, instead of the wine going through the second fermentation in the bottle, the base wine is placed in a temperature-controlled, pressurized tank to which sugar and yeast is added. The secondary fermentation takes place in this tank without the release of any carbon dioxide. This tank acts like a very large bottle. Once the fermenting is complete, the wine is filtered under counter pressure and bottled using a counter-pressure filler. Because the wine has not spent the same amount of time in contact with the carbon dioxide, the bubbles tend to be larger and dissipate more quickly.
About The Author
Marcia Parks is a wine-reviewer and author of wine-related articles. You can read her wine reviews by visiting: http://www.wine-reviewer.com.
Australia s wine industry has boomed in the past ten years. Employers have had to triple their staff numbers to cope with the demand for Aussie wine. Considering the lower average national population of Australia, compared to say the United States or even South Africa, 30,000 (2001) workers is pretty high.
One of the main reasons for the demand on this skillful industry is that it has won an international reputation for quality and value. Australian wines have won many highly sought after international awards and labels and many innovative Australian winemakers are sought internationally for their wine making expertise.
Wine regions throughout Australia have continually had high ratings especially over the past four years. Most of these regions and especially the East and South coasts (New South Wales and Victoria) are averaging 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Second to the brilliant winemakers, and a close second, is the great climates / weather that certain regions have for cultivating vines.
Wine is very much a part of the Australian way of life, closely associated with both business and leisure. Wine consumption is often linked to the country’s outdoor-oriented lifestyle as well as to the cosmopolitan urban way of life of the bulk of the Australian population.
Australia exports more wine than that that is sold domestically. Out of a total of approximately 919 million litres bottled, 516.5 million litres is exported. The largest export market has been the United Kingdom and second has been the United States.
Researchers from the University College London have come up with a few very interesting facts. They found that drinking alcohol (including wine), even in small amounts, might be associated with higher cognitive ability, especially for women. You would be silly not to have a drop every night!
About the Author
That little piece of bark (yes, cork is bark harvested from a kind of oak tree) is the focus of much controversy among today’s winemakers. Here at Ross Valley Winery, we think there is something more to the discussion than the substitution of cork by alternative closures as a quality issue.
Proponents of alternative closures beat the drum of TCA, triclorolaminisol, the chemical produced by certain molds that give “corked” wine its wet cardboard smell. Some say as much as 8% of all wine is infested with this disgusting smell, but I personally think that figure is grossly overstated and being used as a “fact” to drive wineries toward other closures. I have been making wine commercially at the Ross Valley Winery since 1987, have pulled countless corks here in the tasting room or at home and have smelled each one of them. I can count the “corked” wines on one hand. It simply is not a problem for this winery. What is true is that some people are much more sensitive to the smell than others, so I have a small bottle of TCA on hand here if you feel you’d like to educate your nose palate to the smell. You’ll never forget it.
I believe the popularity of say, plastic substitutes or even screw top closures is based in money and is a decision made by the corporate controller, who, as wineries look more and more like refineries, is responsible for assuring the corporation’s financial quality.
A decent 1 3/4″ cork cost about 30 cents. If you buy 100,000 of them, the price doesn’t drop significantly. . I just got off the telephone having received a quote for the same sized cork at 11.8 cents each. Twenty cents difference doesn’t seem like much, unless you are bottling twenty million bottles; then the difference would pay plenty of hungry stockholders. And if you bought 20 million artificial closures, youd get an extremely good price; all the manufacturer has to do is turn on the extruder. Meanwhile it takes that 25 year old cork tree 7-9 years to develop a new bark to be made into corks for Ross Valley Winery’s merlot or cabernet.
And even though “The Ross Valley Winery” prints very nicely on plastic closures, the closure is part of the aesthetic and tradition of the entire product. And wine is anything, it’s traditional.I say that when Chateau Petrus starts using artificial closures, so will I. Meanwhile, I’ll stick with natural cork.
About the Author
Paul Kreider, who made his first wine in 1975, is the owner and winemaker of the Ross Valley Winery in San Anselmo, California. Since 1987, with notable success, his small Marin County bonded winery has specialized in transforming modest lots of unique grapes into vineyard-designated wines, each with its own individual character and particular personality. Check our website at www.rossvalleywinery.com.
What is wine?
Wine has been made for centuries from just a two simple ingredients: yeast and grape juice. Actually, just about any fruit juice can be used, but by far the majority of all wine is made from the juice of the grape.
How is wine made?
Yeast is the magical ingredient that turns grape juice into wine. Interestingly enough, there is actually wild yeast spores in the air and all that is really needed to make wine is an open container of grape juice and time. The result however, would probably not be the most palatable of beverages.
There are numerous strains of yeasts and the types used to make wine have been cultured just for this purpose. Well anyway, yeast is a living organism that feeds off of sugars in the grape juice in a process called fermentation.
During fermentation, yeast spores will reproduce exponentially until all of the fermentable sugars have been consumed. During this fermentation process, the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The yeast will also impart a taste to the finished wine depending on various factors such as the strain of yeast used, the temperature during fermentation and other factors.
Once all of the fermentable sugars have been consumed, the yeast will fall to the bottom of the container. The wine is removed from the container, leaving the yeast, and is trasferred to another container to mature while waiting to be bottled.
Of course, this whole process has been extremely simplified for a general understanding.
How does wine get its color?
You probably know that there are green grapes and black grapes and different grapes are used to make different wines.
What you might not know is that almost all grape juice (even from the black grapes) is basically colorless to golden in color.
The way a wine gets its color is by letting the skins soak in the juice during fermentation. You can actually make white wine from black grapes by not letting the skins stay in contact with the juice. Champagne is one of the most famous examples.
If the skins are left in the wine for only a short amount of time, a rose (or blush) will be made. If they are left for an extended amount of time, a dark red wine will be the result.
What gives each wine its taste?
Even though there are very few ingredients, there are many things which influence the taste of wine. First of all, there are many varieties of grapes. Each grape variety will produce different flavors, aromas, and even textures.
In addition, the soil and climate where the grapes are grown drastically affect these variables.
Not only that, but the wine maker can control various things by the technique, temperature and yeast used during fermentation. Other variables such as fermenting or storing in oak barrels will also affect the taste.
Never fear, with all of these factors considered even the most avid wine drinker would ever be able to experience all of the different varieties of wine on the market today. Let the treasure hunting begin!
What is tannin?
Tannin is a substance in wine that causes a firm, mouth-drying feeling in your mouth. It is extracted from the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes so red wines will contain more tannin than whites.
White wines will get a degree of tannin when oak barrels are used for fermentation or aging. Eat just the skins of grapes or drink strongly brewed, unsweetened tea for a good idea of what tannin feels like in your mouth.
What are sulfites?
By law, almost all wine made in the United States will have Contains Sulfites on the label. This is because about very small percentage of asthma sufferers can be extremely sensitive to sulfites.
Sulfites or sulfur dioxide is a compound occurring naturally during the fermentation process. Sometimes, though a wine maker will add a little more because of its antibacterial and preservative qualities. White wines have more sulfites than red wines because they need more protection.
Author of the www.2BASNOB.com website about the enjoyment of coffee, tea, wine and beer.
Keeping a wine bottle sealed is probably the most important factor when it comes to maintaining a good wine.
A cork is essential, as it keeps oxygen out of the wine bottle. If a bottle of wine is not airtight then it may become oxidized and undrinkable
Traditionally, the only corks worth considering were those actually made of cork. Recently, however, many wine experts have recognized that cork may actually cause more problems than it solves.
Cork, due to its malleable nature may have imperfections; these can result in the seal of the bottle not being as airtight as it could be and the wine being spoilt. In an attempt to avoid this problem, modern cork manufacturers may treat the cork with a chemical called TVA. Unfortunately, this chemical can cause the wine to taste and smell a little damp and musty.
Having said this, cork is able to expand to fully fill the neck of the bottle, which therefore, still makes it the preferred option for special wines that need to be stored, over a long period of time.
Plastic corks are becoming increasing popular, of late. One of the main problems associated with traditional corks is that the wine becomes ‘corked’. Plastic corks prevent this occurring. Great! I hear you say. However, there can be minor irritations with plastic corks. A plastic cork can sometimes be difficult to extract from the bottle and virtually impossible to fit back into a half drunk bottle.
Another recent development is the widespread use of screw-top bottles. Until recently, this type of seal was used for only the cheapest of wines. Wine producers across the globe are now recognizing the benefits that screw tops provide. This type of seal ensures that wine is kept fresh; there is no chance of the wine becoming ‘corked’ and the bottle can be easily resealed. In reality, the only reason that screw tops are not more popular is because of the ingrained snobbery associated with this method of sealing a bottle.
No matter which type of cork you choose, it is important that you are able to recognize whether the wine has been properly sealed or not. A useful test is to see whether the top of the cork is level with the top of the bottle; if it isn’t, then that particular bottle of wine is probably best avoided.
If a traditional cork breaks when you are removing it – don’t panic! Use a corkscrew to attempt to ‘dig out’ the remaining cork. If this fails, simply push the remains of the cork down into the bottle. Contrary to popular belief, this will not destroy the wine’s flavor. You may have to fish out a few bits of cork, but the taste of the wine should remain unaffected. However, you’d be wise to finish the whole bottle, under these circumstances!
When choosing your wine, base your decision on the wine itself and not the type of cork. Resist the temptation to be a cork snob; a screw top bottle may just give you a pleasant surprise
About the Author
Since Neil Best first pondered the question, Who made the first wine anyway? he’s been recording his findings at Good Glug. Find about your favorite wine regions, wine recipes, and speciality wines along with how it’s made and how best to store it for maximum enjoyment
Living the Good Life by Jim Bogaty owner Veramar Vineyard
The case of the wine cellar or a dozen wines for all times
It s cheaper by the dozen, for an everyday wine cellar, all you need are strong shelves, a cool spot and 12 bottles (one case) of wine. Always keep a bottle of sparkling wine and a bottle of white ready to drink in the refrig. Between that and the 10 in the rack, you ll have a case that is ready just in case .
dozen any time wines – 3 Whites and 3 Reds
Three bottles each of Cabernet Franc (Cab-er-nay Fronc) and Chardonnay (Shard-don-a) or Pinot Grigio (Pee-no-Gree-gee-oh). Great all-purpose wines for almost any occasion. These should be simple Virginia wines you’d be just as happy drinking with a weekday dinner. Others- For whites, a Seyval Blanc (Say-voll-Blonc), Viognier (Vee-on-yea) or a Chardonnay is a good choice; if it doesn’t have too much oak, it pairs with everything and works in any sauce. For red, a Virginia Cabernet Franc or Chambourcin (Sham-boor-san) are versatile to cook with and easy to drink.
Like that Virginia Gold Medal Chardonnay or Viognier you ve been dying to try.
Riesling (Reez-ling) or a soft white blend like Veramar Tres Blanc that goes wonderfully with Asian flavours or other ethnic spicy foods.
A heritage blend or as we say here in Virginia, Meritage , an interesting Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon and Merlot blend that makes a red Bordeaux for a great pasta wine.
Wine for that night you feel like plopping a steak on the grill. This can be full-bodied Cabernet or a Norton, –or whatever chewy red you like with red meat.
Ice, late harvest or dessert wine
Virginia has some excellent wines in this area, the late harvest Vidal Blanc (Vee-doll-Blonc) works great.
Brut (Broot) a sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Usually dry.
One goes in the fridge for a spur-of-the-moment celebration.
Now, that’s a case you can solve. The beautiful part is you get to have wine on demand, and you only need to replenish, as your stash gets low and most Virginia wineries offer a discounts on a case- cheaper by the dozen. Cheers!
When it comes to making alcoholic beverages at home, wine making and home brewing is considered sort of a ‘niche’ market. You either know how to do it or you don’t! This is very hard to believe as wine making and home brewing has been going on for thousands of years. Just recently it was confirmed that wine making was invented in Cyprus rather than western Europe. As we still discover the facts about the history, what about the present? Why is wine making and home brewing such a ‘taboo’ subject if you may? Is it because of the ‘legal’ aspects involved with alcohol in general? Or it just sounds messy and confusing, something we should all leave to the professionals alone?
I’ve been involved with wine making and home brewing for about two years now and I’ve found it to be one of the most ‘quiet’ form of entertainment (Yes its actually that fun!). It’s one of those things that people do, but don’t talk about it, at least not to strangers of the genre. Lets now get into a little bit of detail on the difference between wine making and home brewing.
Wine making (As it sounds) is about wine making only. The most basic ones are red wine and white wine. Their are many type of kits you can buy and even get special sub-level kits that go right down to the exact type of wine (chardonnay for example).
Home Brewing refers to ‘brewing’ beer and is slightly more complicated as it involves more ingredients. Most common are hops and barley and the fermentation time varies when compared to conventional wine making. I guess that only depends on the type of kit you are using.
Besides the fun factor, other reasons to home brew or home wine making would be price (Make bottles of wine for less than $0.25 cents), more control of taste, and of course the freshness. To get started, I recommend to take a walk to your local library and read books on wine making and home brewing. You can also join online forums or how about a stroll to your local home brewing store. Their just be local wine clubs that you can visit for free wine tasting! That’s a good way to get started if you ask me!
Everyone has their own unique reason as wine making and home brewing is just like any other hobby. You can share it with your friends, and you do it because you simply enjoy it!
About the Author
June Beezy is the CEO / Inventor of the Home Boooze Kit
The French Wine Laws
The production of wine in France is tightly controlled by two organisations. The Instituit National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO). This body succeeded the Comite’ National des Appellations d’Origine after World War II and controls the hierachy of French quality wines. The other is the Service de Repression des Fraudes, which is responsible for seeing that the very complicated laws on wine production are carried out. On the French domestic market, every bottle carries a capsule conge’, or capsule with the government seal on it showing that the relevant tax has been paid. It also shows the wine’s quality status.
France has two grades of QWPSR;
Appellation Controlee and Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure,
and two of Table Wine;
Vin de Pays and Vin de Table.
Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AC or AOC)
This is the highest level that a French wine can attain. Though the requirements may vary widely from one region to another, they are the most tightly defined and the following point will always feature.
Areas of Production – the boundaries of which are based on the composition of the soil.
Grape varieties permitted – the principal being that in the words of an earlier decree, these should be ‘hallowed by local, local and established custom’.
Viticultural practices – planting distances, pruning methods and general handling of the vine.
The maximum permitted yield per hectare.
Vinification methods, including ageing.
The minimum alcoholic degree in the wine which must be achieved without must-enrichment.
Within each region there is a laid down hierarchy of appellations which, in general are geographical based. The more specific the geographic description, the higher the appellation, and the stricter the regualtions. In some areas an individual vineyard may be eligible for several ACs of different quality levels.
Some regional and district appellations have the right to the additional qualification superieur e.g. Bordeaux Superieur, Macon Superieur. These wines simply have an extra half or full degree of alcohol compared with the equivalent basic appellation.
Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure (VDQS)
This classification was established in 1949 as a stepping stone to Appellation Controlee, and many wine originally classified as VDQS have subsequently moved to the higher level.
The laws cover the same ground as for AC wines but are often less stringent on yields and grape varieties. In on aspect, however, the VDQS laws were initially stricter. The right to the VDQS label was only granted after an official tasting. Now this requirement has been extended to AC wines as well.
About the Author
WineDirect.uk.net Offer an extensive range of quality wine gifts, featuring wines from around the world. Beautifully presented in wooden gift boxes.
More information about French Wine can be found at http://www.winedirect.uk.net/french-wine-laws.asp
One of the great joys of wine is being able to select a bottle from your own cellar, perhaps one that you’ve been storing for some years, draw the cork and enjoy it with friends. You can marvel at the changes brought on by maturity and, as a bonus, you can brag about the price you paid and congratulate yourself on picking up such a bargain!
However, wine is an ever-changing thing and how it is stored will directly affect how quickly and how well it ages!
Storing wine is very simple …
It requires a constant temperature, humidity, darkness, stillness and a well-ventilated and clean environment.
The first essential is to create a storage environment that provides the basics of stable temperature, no light and no vibration.
In general terms 4″ (100mm) of polystyrene is the equivalent to 3 ft (1 meter) of ground. So if you’re trying to decide between an above ground construction and an underground cavern, you must be prepared to dig deep for the latter.
Your cupboard, indoor space or your outdoor construction must be well shaded, well insulated and with the minimum of air movement in and out.
The objective is to provide stored wines with a constant temperature of between 50 F and 59 F (10 C 15 C.
Seasonal changes in temperature will not harm your wine, although fluctuations greater than one degree a week should be avoided.
Wines subjected to temperatures over 77 F (25 C) are in grave danger of rapid deterioration.
Wines stored in less than ideal conditions will age at speeds quite different to those envisaged by winemakers when they offer suggested storage times. A hygro thermometer will provide you with accurate information as to both the temperature and humidity ranges within your cellar.
A well-constructed above ground cellar or a well dug underground cellar will require the minimum of additional temperature control although your climate or the position of your cellar may necessitate the use of a cooling device that will provide complete temperature stability.
Another alternative is a temperature controlled wine cabinet. Some of these can hold up to 800 bottles but note that some manufacturers’ suggested bottle capacity can be misleading and the racks may be smaller than you require. Champagne bottles are larger than Riesling bottles!
Regard assembled wine as your best cooling block. A high density of wine bottles will reduce wine temperature fluctuations.
Consider keeping your long-term wines in a professional storage facility if your cellar cannot conform to the optimum temperature ranges.
A dry atmosphere is an enemy of the natural cork seal. A natural cork is compressed and forced into the bottle as a 100% natural seal.
Low humidity combined with a defective cork results in the wine moving out of the bottle (increasing ullage) and air naturally moving into the bottle.
Moderate humidity is important to keep the cork in good resilient condition and prevent it shrinking. Screw capped bottles do not require humidity.
Excessive humidity will not harm the wine but can cause the labels to go moldy. The ideal humidity for your cellar is 70%, however anywhere between 50 80% is acceptable.
Light will prematurely age a bottle of wine. Clear bottles are most susceptible to this problem, but ultraviolet light will penetrate even dark colored glass.
Ultraviolet light will damage wine by causing the degradation of the otherwise stable organic compounds, especially the tannins found in wine. These organic compounds contribute to the aroma, flavor and structure of the wine. Without them your wine would appear flat and thin.
So exposure to ultraviolet light results in unfavorable and irreversible changes in your wine.
Sparkling wines require extra care as they are more sensitive to light than other wines.
Lay it down!
Store your wine bottles horizontally so the wine is in contact with the cork. This will keep the cork wet. If the cork dries out and shrinks it will let air get to your wine. Store it with the label facing up. This will help in three ways:
You can easily see what the wine is. You don’t need to disturb the bottle to see what you’ve got in your cellar.
The sediment will form on the opposite side to the label and make it easier to see.
The label is less likely to suffer damage. If you’re storing wine as an investment, a damaged label will reduce the value.
Follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to creating a cellar where your wine will age to perfection and a cellar that will be the envy of your friends!
About the Author
Chris Miley is the creator of the very popular ebook “How To Build Your Own Wine Cellar” which includes instructions for building your own basement wine cellar plus many other wine storage ideas for your home from a cupboard under the stairs to a temperature controlled wine cabinet. Click here http://www.winecellarsecrets.com to find out how YOU can have the perfect wine cellar!
Wine Tasting Component I: Look
The first step you have to undertake in wine tasting is visual.
1. Fill up the glass up to 1/3 of its volume; never fill it more than half;
2. Hold the glass by the stem. Initially you may find this too pretentious but there are good reasons for it:
а) by doing it this way you can actually observe the wine in it;
b) this will keep your fingerprints off the bowl;
в) the heat from your palm will not change the temperature of the wine.
There s a good saying by one of the greatest French wine lovers, Emil Painot: Offer someone a glass of wine and you can immediately tell whether he/she is a connoisseur by the way they hold the glass. Even though you may not think of yourself as a connoisseur, you could still learn how to hold the wine glass.
3. Focus on the color intensity and the transparency of the liquid.
a) the color of the wine, and more specifically its nuances, are best observed on a white background.
б) the wine s intensity is best judged by holding the glass without slanting it and looking at the liquid from above;
4. Next comes the swirling of the glass. This can also seem too pretentious or even dangerous if you have a full glass or a white top. But this movement is important since it prepares you for the next step in wine tasting the Taste. The easiest way to swirl the glass is to place it on a table or other even surface, and to swirl your hand while holding the glass by the stem. Swirl hard and have the wine almost touch the rim of the glass. Then stop. The wine leaves tiny traces with irregular shapes on the inside of the glass. Some experts then read them with as much zeal as coffee-tellers. The truth is however, that they are just an indicator for the quality of the wine the more alcohol a wine has, the more wine traces it forms.
What does the color of the wine tell us? The wine s color tells us many things about its character.
First, the color shows the grape variety. Let s take two popular varieties as examples cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. Cabernet s grapes are smaller, with a thicker and darker skin than those of pinot noir. As a result, the color of wines made from cabernet sauvignon is usually described as violet to dark while the color of wines made from pinot noir is associated with ruby.
Second, the color is influenced by the climatic conditions. A hot summer and dry fall result in ripe grapes, with a dark, intense color. A cold summer and rainy fall will produce undeveloped grapes with a lighter color.
Third, wine-making practices also have an influence on the color of wine. For red wine, the grapes are fermented with the skin. Since the coloring agents are in the grape skin, and not in the juice, the longer the process of maceration, i.e. the longer the skin stays with the juice, the darker the wine color will be.
Fourth, the process of wine aging also has an influence on the color of wine. The young red wines are rich in coloring agents and that makes their color denser and fuller. In the course of time chemical reactions take place in the bottle and a sediment is formed at the bottom. The wine s color gets lighter and is often described as brick or amber.
Let s go through an example: you pour yourself a glass of red wine and after carefully observing it, you notice a full granite color, good density, and not so good transparency. What conclusions can you draw?
Well, you can safely say that the wine is:
– from cabernet sauvignon grapes;
– from a Southern region;
– relatively young;
– from a good yield;
– that the wine-maker has gone for a good long maceration.
If you know the wine, compare what you know with what you see: maybe the wine has a very full color and the yield has been bad this speaks of a good wine-making technique; or maybe the wine is too pale for its age this speaks for undeveloped grape or poor wine-making technique.
Wine Tasting Component II: Smell
The second wine tasting component is smelling and inhaling the wine s aroma.
Concentrate as much as you can and smell the wine, swirl the glass, and smell once again.
The stronger the aromas, the stronger the impression. Most of the wines, especially the more delicate and the older ones develop their aromas only after being walked around the glass.
There is no consensus as to the exact technique of whiffing. Some say do two or three quick whiffs, others prefer one single deep whiff.
The goal of whiffing is to inhale the aroma as deeply as possible so that it gets into contact with our sensory nerve and hence, with the part of the brain that is responsible for registering, storing, and deciphering sensations. The spot where that takes place is extremely sensitive: a cold or an allergy might completely block even the most intense aromas. With enough practice and concentration, you ll learn how to extract the maximum from different aromas and how to interpret them.
The vivid connoisseurs love to concoct different aromas. Dark chocolate! says one. No, that s more like pepper, claims another. Tea leaves, tobacco, and mushrooms, adds third. Are they joking??
Probably we don t quite realize it but nowadays we are exposed to so many different smells that we find it difficult to find words to describe all the complex aromas that a glass of wine can offer.
Like color, a wine s aroma can tell us a lot about its character, origin, and its history. Since our sense of taste is limited to only 4 categories (sweet, sour, bitter, and salt), the wine s aroma is the most informative part of our sensory experience. So take your time, sit back and contemplate the aroma! Like the perfume of a loved one or the smell of freshly baked bread, a wine s aroma can evoke memories of times and places that we cherish.
Wine Tasting Component III: Taste
This is the best part of wine-tasting. You might be enchanted by wine s sparkling color or mesmerized by its aroma but it s actually drinking the wine that the whole thing is about.
Maybe you are thinking that drinking is the easiest part after all we start drinking from a glass from a very young age and we keep practicing for a lifetime. However, there s a real difference between just swallowing liquid and conscious tasting. Here, just like in all good things in life, the difference is in the right technique. The appropriate technique can make sure we get the best out of the whole experience.
1. Still under the influence of the aromas you ve inhaled in step II, take a sip of the wine. Don t make it too big or too small. You need just enough to walk the wine in your mouth and not have to swallow it just yet. Let wine uncover its secrets. For reference, you may keep good wine in your mouth for 10 15 seconds, sometimes even more.
2. Walk the wine very well in your mouth, ensuring it touches each part of it. This is important because our tongue, palate, the inside of the mouth and our throat each detect different aspects of the wine.
For many years, it was believed that the tongue has different areas each of which is sensitive to a particular taste sweet for the tip of the tongue, sour for the sides, bitter for the back and salty for the whole tongue. Today we know that all the tastes can be felt with the whole tongue, only there s a blind spot in the middle of it which is not sensitive to any taste.
Another important step in wine tasting is being able to tell one s impressions of the wine. Astringent , elegant , fruity , flat , young are only a few words of the wine vocabulary you ll need to amass.
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