Wine is made in basically the same way across the board. But you might be surprised by how many different things a wine maker can do to change the taste of each specific wine. You say you like the flavor of oak in a Chardonnay, or the smoky, peppery flavor in a Cabernet Franc… well those flavors come from outside influences and from the grape respectively. Sometimes it is the flavor of the grape that shines through, sometimes it is the government controlled regulations that are being followed and sometimes it is the way the wine maker has chosen to make a particular wine. Either way vinification (wine-making process) is never as random as it seems.
There is a local winery here in Raleigh called Chatham Hill Winery. The outside looks more like an attorney’s office, but they’ve certainly made the inside look beautiful. When you walk in there is a huge bar and to the left many tables to sit and relax. I like this winery because it’s small and was a great place for me to start a while back. They give you a tasting and tour of the wine being made. If you do have a winery near you, I definitely suggest going just to learn and see how wine is made on a small or large scale.
So the title is “random”-ification because I wanted to jump around a little bit. Suppose I could have just grabbed a trampoline, but it wouldn’t fit in my room! There are four things in particular that I wanted to touch on with this entry: vinification, fermentation, types of tasting and the random wines I’ve tasted lately.
Vinification I’ve already touched on. It is the process of making wine and all processes are different. The skins can be left with the crushed grapes longer, wine can be aged in barrels or stainless steel drums, juices can be added at the end, sugars can be left unconverted and so on. In order to understand further vinification processes, lets jump to fermentation.
A mathematical equation to remember – sugar + yeast = alcohol + CO2. Wine is made when all the sugar has been converted to alcohol and the alcohol kills all the yeast. This is starting to sound like a behind-the-back slasher movie in the making. (Or at least one that Daniel Craig can get behind…. Oh, I’m kidding I’m sure Aliens vs. Cowboys is going to be a stellar film.) If you’re wondering what happens to the Carbon Dioxide, it floats up to heaven like an angel, unless you’re making a sparkling wine, then it stays and makes any kind of wine angelic.
Next in this random jumble of information there are different types of tastings. I only mention this in case you were hoping to do a wine party of your own, where it might be fun to choose wines that work with these types (and to be able to tell your guests that). There is horizontal tasting [tasting wines from the same vintage], vertical tasting [tasting wines from different vintages], blind tasting [tasters don’t know anything about the wine] and semi-blind tasting [the taster knows limited information about the wine].
Finally, the only way to learn more about wine is to try every different kind that you can. I learned my whole basic knowledge of wine simply by going to so many different kinds of tastings. How are you to pick out the flavor of a Cabernet Franc in a red blend if you’ve never had 100% Cabernet Franc? How are you to know that German Rieslings are more acidic than American Rieslings? How are you to know that you don’t really like a wine’s oakiness if you’ve never tasted one without oak aging? Well the easy answer, you can’t know. There is no way for you to know, if you haven’t tried it. There are some jerks out there that will go to a tasting and act like they know everything, possibly making all of us feel inadequate. The problem, they are there for the same reason, to learn more! In the end, we all get wine – cause for a smile and another taste!
The Randos – (Random Wines I’ve tasted lately)
2007 Bonterra Vineyards, Zinfandel, Mendocino (Organic) – (plum, blackberry, astringent, hint of pepper) 2 Feet.
2007 La Gramiere, Grenache/Syrah, Castillon du Gard – (black pepper and clove, full-bodied, dark fruit bouquet and raisin) 2 Feet.
2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, B&G, Syrah/Grenache, Rhone Valley – (spicy and bold with flavors of plum, smooth from beginning to end) 1 Foot.
2009 Don Miquel Gascon, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina – (dark cherry, blueberry and blackberry with a hint of mocha, lots of tannin) 2 Feet.
2007 Kavaklidere, Emir/Narince/Semillion/Sultaniye, Cankaya – (similar to a Riesling with more acidity, apricot and grapefruit flavors, light in body) 2 Feet.
2006 Torbreck Barossa, The Struie, Shiraz, Australia – (another fruit filled red, blackberry, raspberry, coats the tongue, smooth) 1 Foot.
2009 Cuma Organic, Torrontes, Argentina – (reminiscent of Pinot Grigio with citrusy sweet flavors and a hint of grapefruit, a bright wine that opens up to mineral and herbal flavors in the aftertaste) 2 Feet.
Every time I have a glass of wine I try to choose something I’ve never heard of before. Some of these were random purchases, others gifts and others just chosen from a wine list for the funky name. Don’t worry; I still try to pair accordingly.
If you are new to the blog, the “feet” thing came along as a way to rate wine. The problem with rating wine for me is that I like them all and I can usually find something good about each. Other than it being a hilarious way to rate wine, it really isn’t a terrific indicator. How about if I taste a really bad one, I’ll just tell you? Ok, it’s settled.
Ps. I learned the 2005 is a wonderful vintage across the world for wines. Anything 2005 will be good.
Next Wine Tasting opportunity:
* Great Grapes Wine Festival in Cary (4/16) – Tickets $20 – 11am – 7pm
* Grove Winery, Wine & Song Concert Series (4/15) – $Free.99 – 6pm – 930pm (Gibsonville)
* Mother’s Day (5/8) at Chatham Hills Winery in Raleigh – Free for you and your momma – 1pm – 5pm