Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Quick Note on Tasting Notes

For most wine drinkers, tasting notes can offer an accurate summary as to what is inside the bottle. Descriptors of the more fundamental aspects— body, tannin structure, and acidity—account for the majority of what makes up a wine’s general style. However, a great deal of emphasis is placed on listing subtle hints of flavor and other, more nuanced characteristics—qualities which have far less bearing on whether we will actually enjoy the wine. One is far more likely to hear “this Sauvignon Blanc is too acidic,” than “this has too much grapefruit. I prefer more nectarine.”

So why do wine enthusiasts and professionals tend to rattle off names of obscure fruits, spices and minerals when assembling tasting notes? Because specificity of flavor does matter. In part, because we are fascinated by the many ways a grape’s varietal character can be expressed. And in the tasting room, this helps distinguish our wine from the dozens of others our guests have tasted throughout the day.

But it also matters because smelling and tasting wine can be the most satisfying way to exercise our sense memory. For example, you may find the fruity aromas that jump from the glass difficult to pick out individually, but your brain is screaming “Fruit Loops!” This is a valid tasting note! Or perhaps you smell something that reminds you of yet another wine you have tasted in the past. You have just confirmed your knowledge of a common thread that exists throughout Malbec, for example. In either case, you have worked your memory muscle and sharpened your understanding of wine in the process.

Ultimately, the road to fully understanding wine is unending. But the more we forge connections concerning smell and taste, the larger our network of reference points, and the more it all makes sense. Just like with art or music, the beauty is in the details. No need to spend hours dissecting it, but pay attention, and you may discover something amazing!

Check out 12x75's "7 Word Wine Review" for a neverending list of short and sweet (or dry) tasting notes and add your own when tasting your next bottle of Peju.
#7wordwinereview | Fine Wine Blog | 12 x

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Time to Relax: Some Thoughts on Rosé

Put on your rose-colored glasses, because as the weather grows warmer, my refrigerator gets pinker. An easy-drinking, fun-loving wine, rosé begs to be simply enjoyed. That said, rosé is no doubt misunderstood, undervalued even, and I think it deserves better. Take the word “rosé” for instance—a bit more complex than we realize. In French, it is quite common to turn any noun or adjective into a past-tense verb, should the situation call for it. The word “rose” without the accent simply means “pink”. But add that tiny, but powerful little dash above the ‘e’ and the word denotes something slightly different. The wine is not just pink in color…it has been pinked! The term sounds slightly less elegant in English—and sort of makes it seem like we bonked the wine over the head with a splash of color. But in a sense, we did. Making rosé involves a unique process in which the juice is held in contact with the skins and seeds for only a short period of time.

If wines are people, rosé is the free-wheeling, rebellious teenage cousin of the lot (hehe). To start out, it behaves the traditional, expected way—but just as it begins to develop into a grown-up Syrah or Pinot Noir or Grenache, it is racked off, and its journey to serious red-dom stops short, remaining forever in adolescence. Skip the lengthy maceration, malolactic fermentation, and the barrel or bottle aging. This sucker wants to be in a glass, partying by the pool, now! And you have to admire its haste. Winemaking is always a process, but rosé represents the instant gratification we all crave this time of year. Produced relatively quickly, and drunk young, it is the ultimate ephemeral pleasure.
So if you’re wary of its unfashionable reputation, don’t be. Perform a little experiment by setting up a tasting with your friends and let the results unfold. No need for paper bags or pages of notes—just see which one is a hit. As they say, “The best bottle is the first one emptied!”