Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sweet Wine or Dry Wine? Dry Wine or Sweet Wine?

SEVEN!  We have talked about wine for SEVEN different posts without even tasting it yet..that seems sorta criminal doesn't it?  I mean it's almost rude of me to make you wait that long to taste wine.  However, it's a good thing I promise.  Your primary senses have now been prepped.  You've visualized and breathed in the scent of the wine and through those acts, you know so much.  You've learnt about how old the wine is, you've prepped for what flavors may present, you may even know the type of grape.  You're ready to dive in.

When we taste wine- take a small sip and let it sit on your tongue for just a couple of seconds and it will settle naturally in your mouth, then swallow.  Under 5 seconds for all of it.  Every time, that first sip of wine gets me.  My mouth lights up- it immediately reacts to acidity, to alcohol, to the body, to the tannins and to the flavors that are ever present.  Wine has so many different facets to showcase, your mouth has to play catch up a bit.  We allow it time to catch up by taking it piece by piece- starting with the age old - dry or sweet. 

When we're talking about a dry wine or a sweet wine, at its core, we are talking about how much residual sugar is left in the wine from the grapes that made it. You remember those grapes- similar to the ones you snack on- sweet and bursting with flavor.  Well when you convert the right types of grapes to wine yeast eats the sugar in the grapes and makes alcohol.  Sometimes a winemaker might stop this process a little early and that leaves what we know as "residual sugar".  You'll taste this sugar in the wine and, depending on how much is left behind, you might end up with an off dry, semi sweet or sweet wine.  

Now here's the thing- we want to be mindful of this residual sugar when pairing food with wine.  As a general rule of thumb- always try to match a wine and food so that, if necessary, the wine has more sugar than the dish does.  If your food has more sugar to it than your wine, you may risk making that wine taste bitter or harshly astringent.  

So if you're having a meal with very little sugar- which would account for many of our roasted chickens, salads, sandwiches, soups etc, than the driest of wines will do, but say you prepare lamb with a cherry glaze- you'll want to pair a wine with that with a bit of sweetness to it.  Wines grown in warmer climates, and those Rieslings are great for having a perfect range of sweetness to them.  The other key pairing note?  Spicy food LOVES a sweeter wine!

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