Friday, November 18, 2016

Is There Bacon In My Wine?

Alright- so you’ve picked out some scents.  You sniffed the wine, you pushed past the “Wine” smell, and you recognized some fruits or flowers or savory scents in your glass.  The next thing to look at is are those smells fresh or manipulated?   How the scents present themselves will tell you if the wine is aging.  So let’s take a closer look. 

If you smelled lemon- is it a fresh lemon that you’d use to squeeze into your tea, or is it a lemon curd or jam?  Is it candied zest?  If you smelled apples- is it the smell of a fresh apple you just bit into as a healthy snack to keep that doctor away?  Or is it a baked apple or a bruised apple?  If you smelled flowers- are those flowers in a bouquet or dried? Are you getting baking spices?  Smoked wood?  Cedar box?  The more mature the scents are, the older the wine is getting.  

So earlier we talked about how when wines age we talked about how their colors change- the vibrant blues or the fresh greens fade and are replaced with ruby or straw yellow, as that is happening, at the very same time, their scents are also changing.  When wines are young, their scents are ripe and smell young.  You’ll get those awesome lemon or green apple- fresh fruits .  However as those wines start to develop in the bottle, and get a little older, those scents change too.  This is where you might start smelling things like candied lemon peel, or apple butter, bruised apple, peach jam, raisins, dried flowers, or even more savory scents like cedar box, or smoked meats.  

My general rule of thumb is if the fruits or flowers smell like they have been manipulated in some way (baked, candied, jammed) the aging process has begun.  The older the wine gets, the more those fruit scents will lessen and the more savory scents will appear.  Its a fascinating process to observe.    

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Introduction to Smelling Wine- What ARE We Looking For?

OK!  We’ve swirled our wine, we’ve watched the pretty rhythm of the rotating liquid, and we did so without spilling it on ourselves, our neighbor or the table!  Or….not- either way- that wine has gotten some fresh air in it and that means we start smelling.  The color of wine tells us so much, but the real personality of the wine comes out through the nose.  The scents that rise out of the glass alert you to what is waiting for you- is it a simple or complex wine?  Savory or sweet palette, showing age or maintaining freshness?  Smelling a wine always starts to open my mind up to the possibilities- what to pair it with, how will it develop the longer it sits out, should I be looking for another bottle?  

Here’s the deal- smelling wine is like the Tinder of wine tasting- it lets you know just enough to let you know if you want to know more.  

Here’s the first note- when you’re starting to smell wine, start sniffing as soon as you stop swirling and start to lift the glass towards your nose.  How close does that glass get to your nose when you start to smell the aromas?  Is it shy or extroverted?  Does it jump out of the glass and rush to meet you, or do you need to coax it out of the bottom of the glass, asking it to share it’s story?  Every varietal has it’s own DNA, and that make up will allow it to either be unreserved in its scent, rising out of the glass powerfully, and some have low intensity, and you need to really work to get the smell.  

Every wine has it’s own personality.  

Then concentrate on what scents are present.  “Wine” is the most common answer here- yup I get that.  Take another smell though.  Every wine is comprised of a variety of other scents- fruits, flowers, herbs, vegetables, savory things like cedar box or smoked meats, general smells like earth, or wet rocks, or damp forest…all of these scents appear in wine and we just need to use our noses to narrow them down.  

This may be one of the most interesting facets of wine though- so I urge you not to breeze past it.  You know how I waxed on about how every wine tells a story?  Every wine tells you all about where it came from, what the soil and the climate was like there, what the weather did in that particular year, and the efforts of the farmer.  Every single scent that you can smell in that glass contributes to the story.  Dig in- do you smell citrus fruits?  What about apples- green or red?  Plums?  Blackberries?  Strawberries?  Maybe white flowers or lavender?  Dried fruits? Black pepper?  

Training your nose to pick out these scents isn’t easy- believe me.  Here’s the big trick though- ready for it?  Next time you’re in your local grocery store, or at a farmers market- smell the produce.  Smell the herbs.  Smell the flowers.  Smelling is free- you may look a little weird- but do it anyway.  Then when you smell your next glass of wine- try to narrow in on the different sections of the store.  It’ll help you to narrow down the flavors.

As you get more comfortable with smelling wine, you’ll start to recognize more and more about the wine from the nose, and next time we’ll talk more about what some of those scents mean.  However, for now, smell your wine and allow it to introduce itself to you- swipe left or right but at least you’ll have a little more information to help with the decision.  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Give That Glass a Swirl! Why We Swirl Wine

Ahhhh the swirl. Gently rotating your glass with a modest pour of wine in it so it rises and falls around the sides of the's a little hypnotizing to watch.  I won't lie to you- I love the swirl.  Yes it looks rather pretentious when you're out, but man it does an important job, fast.  And, lets face it, it's fun.  
So the main reason we swirl wine is to aerate it.  If you really think about it your wine has been a little cooped up.  Let's assume that you have a recent vintage- perhaps even just a year or two old.  In the grand scheme of things, that would be deemed a young wine.  However, that means though that for a year or two, at least, that wine has been contained in that bottle.  It's been sealed in, trapped.  So when you free it from the confines of its enclosure- well, its gotta stretch its legs.  Think about when you get off an airplane after a long flight and standing has never felt as good as those first few steps. Swirling your glass, letting air in, it mimics that sensation.  It gives your wine a chance to breathe.  That air you add to the glass is allowing the wine to open, and letting its flavors shine.  

   Swirling doesn't need to be done with too much gusto, a simple rotation will get the wine going.  The big secret is that this can easily be done in two ways- either holding the glass in the air, watching the wine catch the light, or doing so with the base firmly planted on the table.   Sometimes, with red wine, that's the safer choice unless you're feeling like your dry cleaning bill has been a bit low lately.

No matter which way you choose to swirl - always do so.  Allow that wine to breathe, stretch its legs, and makes it ready for your consumption.  


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