Wine Tasting January 2006
Outline • Evaluating and describing wine • How wine is made • Grape varieties • Wine-growing regions • Resources
Evaluating Wine – Objective Qualities • Varietal character • How well a wine presents the aromas and flavors inherent to the grapes from which it was made • Integration • How well all the components of wine are balanced and complementary to each other • Expressiveness • Well-defined and clearly projected aromas and flavors • Complexity • That indescribable something that makes wine more art than beverage • Connectedness • The cultural connection a wine has to the place it was grown
Components of Wine • Alcohol • Comes from fermentation; affects body, texture, aroma, & flavor • May be sensed as a “hot” smell or burning sensation in the nose • Acidity • Comes from natural acid in the grape; may be sensed as tartness • Wines lacking acidity taste dull, flat or flabby and do not age well • Tannin • Comes from seeds, skins and stems; adds “backbone” and “character” to the wine; is a natural preservative • In overabundance, wine tastes harsh or bitter • Fruitiness • Propensity of wine to display fruity aromas and flavors • Sugar (sweetness/dryness) • Depends on how much of the grape’s original sugar content was converted to alcohol • Not the same as fruitiness!
Evaluating Wine • Smell • Taste • Sight
Evaluating Wine - Smell • Much of taste is smell, so getting a good whiff is important • Aerate the wine by swirling it in the glass • Stick your nose in the glass and inhale • Called the nose, aroma, or bouquet • Aroma traditionally refers to grape-associated smells • Bouquet refers to other smells (e.g. oak, vanilla, nutty or buttery)
Evaluating Wine - Taste • Initial taste • The first impression of a wine on your tongue • Take a sip, don’t swallow yet • Taste • Swirl the wine around in your mouth, draw in some air • Evaluate body & texture as well as flavor and balance • Aftertaste • The flavors and aromas that last after swallowing the wine • Evaluate length of finish (the longer the better) as well as flavor • Spit or Swallow…?
Evaluating Wine • Body • Light, medium, or full? (think about the difference between skim milk, whole milk, and cream) • Texture • How does the wine feel in your mouth (e.g. soft, sharp, smooth)? • If you had to describe the wine as a fabric, what would it be? • Flavor • What specific components can you taste? It may help to run through lists of choices. • Balance • Is the wine overwhelmed by any components (alcohol, acidity, tannin, fruitiness, sugar)? • Length • How long do the flavors and aromas linger after swallowing?
Evaluating Wine - Sight • Color • Hold glass down & at 45 degree angle against a white backdrop • Is a clue to age (whites darken, reds lighten w/ age) • Is not a clue to flavor intensity • For white wines, also look for clarity • Legs • Swirl the wine in the glass & note viscosity of droplets which form & run down glass • Indicates body & possibly alcohol content and/or sweetness
Making White Wine • Grapes are picked • Grapes are crushed (stems may or may not be removed) • Grapes are pressed, skins removed, and placed in tank • Yeast may be added, and fermentation begins
Making White Wine (cont.) • When fermentation ends, wine may be left in contact with lees (spent yeast) • Wine is racked • Possibly cold stabilized • Possibly put into barrels to age • Possibly filtered • Wine is bottled
Making Red Wine • Grapes are picked • Grapes are crushed (stems may or may not be removed) • Grapes, juice, skins and seeds are put in a tank • Yeast may be added, and fermentation begins
Making Red Wines (cont.) • “Cap” is pushed down • Wine is drained (first run) and then pressed (first press) off skins after fermentation ends • Wine is put in barrels to age • Periodically racked • Possibly filtered • Wine is bottled
Oak • Oak • Used in fermentation, aging, both, or neither • Provides vanilla and oak(!) flavors
Advances in Winemaking • Stainless steel tanks • Screw top?
White Wine Grapes • Chardonnay • Chenin Blanc • Riesling • Sauvignon Blanc • Semillon • Other: Viognier, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, Muscat
Red Wine Grapes • Cabernet Sauvignon • Merlot • Pinot Noir • Syrah/Shiraz • Other: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Malbec, Pinotage, Gamay
Major Growing Regions • France: Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc, Loire, Provence, Rhone • Germany: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheingau, Pfalz, Rheinhessen • Italy: Piedmont, Tuscany, The Veneto • Spain: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Jerez, Penedes, Rias Baixas • Portugal • Austria, Hungary • Greece • North America: California, New York, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Virginia • South America: Chile, Argentina • Australia, New Zealand • South Africa
Resources • http://www.thewinedoctor.com/ • http://www.tasting-wine.com • The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil
White Wine: Chardonnay • Originally and most famously from Burgundy in France as Chablis. Also grown in most wine producing countries world wide. • Blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to produce Champagne • AKA:Feinburgunder and Morillon or Aubaine, Auvernat, Beaunois, Epinette Blanche, Petite Sainte-Marie Melon Blanc and Weisser Clevner Flavors: fresh, fruity, melon, peach, oak, flinty, very dry, lemon, nutty, hint of tropical fruit, and buttery
White Wine: Sémillon • botrytis cinera, or "noble rot". • Sweet or dry • Tempered by Sauvignon Blanc which add acidity and liveliness wines. • Found all over the world but especially in Bordeaux in France and the Hunter Valley in Australia • Forms heavy bunches that can reach high alcohol levels. Flavors: lemony, beeswax, lanolin or banana, buxom, full-blown wine of generous proportions
White Wine: Sauvignon Blanc • Geography: France, New World, especially New Zealand. • Often mixed with Sémillon in dry and sweet wines of Bordeaux. • Californian winemakers tend to minimise the tart, crisp characteristics of European Sauvignon Blanc by ensuring that the grapes are very ripe before harvesting and then ageing them in new oak • Chile produces softer styles. • and fruitier and fig-like. Flavors: Sharp, tangy, gooseberry, smoky grassy, crisp, light, nettles, elderflower asparagus and cat pee.
White Wine: Chenin Blanc • Home is the Loire Valley in France. Also grown often in the US. • Sometimes affected by ''Noble Rot,'' and used for making dessert style wines • Mainly used as a varietal grape (not mixed) • A.K.A. Pineau de la Loire and Blanc d'Anjou Flavors: Possesses extraordinary flavour, with contrasts of honey, guava, quince with hints of light floral fruitiness. Highly acidic. Light, fruity, unoaked to rich
Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon • Famous for its hardiness • Grows extremely easily, therefore needs to be pruned quite severely and hedged during the summer months • Grown everywhere but expecially in Bordeaux • Often mixed with Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. • Ages really well. Flavors: distinctive blackcurranty flavor mint, cedar, truffles, plums, full-bodied, and tannin. “Brash”
Red Wine: Merlot • Grown mainly in Southern France, North East Italy, Eastern Europe and New World, especially California. • Used to soften Cabernet Sauvignon based wines • Subtle, soft and velvety. Lower in tannic bitterness higher in alcohol, and faster to mature than Cabernet Sauvignon • Ages very well Flavors: Juicy, fruity flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, mint, complex texture, Purple, and full- bodied
Red Wine: Pinot Noir • Home is Burgundy, France. • Does not travel well. Outside Burgundy, with a few exceptions, lacks colour and depth. There are some successful Californian Pinot Noirs. • Varies from complex and silky to plain and insipid • Used (without skins) as a white ingredient in Champagne • Also known as Spätburgunder in Germany and Pinot Nero in Italy Flavors: Predominantly raspberry & strawberry, with a hint of game
Red Wine: Syrah/Shiraz • This grape is grown in France and California as Syrah wine, and in Australia as Shiraz. In France, it is associated with the Rhone Valley and Hermitage red wines. • Although used for blending in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is capable of fine quality wine as a varietal Flavors: minerally, blueberry, Intense, rich, tannic, velvety (texture) spicy, Intense and complex sweet fruit flavored, particularly blackberry and raspberry, with a peppery overtone. At its best in full-bodied, intense, deep colored wines