Month: September 2012

Is it Dry?

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I often hear people say, “I don’t like red wines, because I don’t like dry wines.” The term dry is a very commonly misused word when talking about wines. The appropriate definition for a dry wine is that it does not have any perceptible sugar. Very often people think of high tannin in a wine as being dry. Not so. Bubbles, whites, and reds can all be fermented dry-meaning no residual sugar is left. I completely understand the confusion between tannin and dry wine because tannin “dries” out your tongue. So logically it makes perfect sense to confuse the two. But now you know! If you aren’t a fan of tannin found in big reds like Cabernet sauvignon and Cabernet franc, now you will be able to articulate that at the wine shop. Just ask for a red with softer/ milder tannins (such as Pinot Noir). Or if you like sweeter whites, just say that you prefer a white on the sweeter side (think Moscato, or late harvest Reisling). Leave the Dry out of it, he gets such a bad rap.
I just felt the need to clarify this commonly misused wine definition.

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A Red and White from Loire Valley

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In Old World Wine we are working our way through France. How bad can going to class be when you know you are going to drink French wine? Yesterday we drank Alsace and the Loire Valley and I was most impressed with two wine from the Loire. The first was a Pascal Jolivet Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc varietal) from 2010. It is around $25. It was pale in color intensity but packed a punch with compexity. It was aromatic with hints of white pepper, green bell pepper, grapefruit, heavy minerality, wet stones, and grass. The taste matched the nose but with slightly less intensity on the palate. This wine was delicious. So complex. So beautiful and crisp.

The red varietal that I loved was Les Pensees de Pallus Chinon. (Cabrenet Franc varietal) It was a red/garnet aromatic wine that had lots of pepper, minerality, raspberry, tobacco, currant jam, dark berries, smoke, and even rhubarb on the nose. On the palate there was berries, tobacco, spice, rhubarb, and pomegranate. Wow. So complex and delightful.

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It’s official.  I bought rubber boots.  And I got to release my inner farm girl.  Or at least that’s how it felt today.

Today was my first day going up to Creekside Cellars for Enology class.  It was so fun!  We de-stemmed and barrelled Malbec grapes today.  It was so interesting to see how the whole process works.  It happened to be a gorgeous day to spend the afternoon outside in Evergreen.

When the class arrived we tested the Brix levels on Michelle’s Chardonnay.  It tested at about 21 Brix today, and she hopes to ferment it to just below zero.  Then we got to taste the Chard, which was super juicy and tropical.

Next, it was all hands on deck de-stemming the Malbec.  We rotated through to the different duties that Michelle had us doing.  It was a really exciting day.

What Kind of Wine Do You Like?

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I get this question a lot from people.  My first response is usually, “I just like wine.”  It’s true, I like bubbles, sweet and dry whites, big reds, and dessert wines.  I am just a fan of fermented grape juice I guess. My dream meal would include all of these wines paired accordingly.

I am so excited for my wine classes this semester.  I am taking Wines of the Old World and Enology.

I am also very lucky to be attending school at Metropolitan State University of Denver that has a state-of-the-art tasting room.  This place is legit.  It has South facing windows with all natural light, each student has a sink and a special light on the desks to better see color and clarity in the wine, the tasting room also has it’s own ventilation system as not to skew aroma detection.  I am so lucky to get to taste wine in this environment!

If you are serious about learning about wine, then you HAVE to taste!  You can print off a tasting worksheet online that will help you keep tabs on what you have tasted.  These sheets will walk you through the process of tasting wine including: color, clarity, aroma, flavor, tannin, acid, sugar, and finish.  It is a good idea to research or guess on a food pairing on these sheets too.  It helps you focus and think of wine in a new way.

The most important part of these tasting sheets are writing the label, vintage, and grape varietal.  This way you can never forget the name of the wine you try that rocks your world!  Taking pictures of labels from your phone is a great idea too.  There are many helpful apps available for iphone and Droid as well.