Archive for the ‘Tasting’ Category

 

Almost all table wines are vintage wines – meaning all their grapes were harvested in the same year. However, Australia, New Zealand and countries in the European Union are permitted to include a portion (15 per cent) of wine that is not from the specified vintage year.

Fortified and sparkling wines are often labelled non-vintage (NV), meaning that the grapes are blended from different vintage years in order to maintain a consistent “house style”. If you see a French Champagne labelled with a vintage year, it’s likely that the growing conditions produced such outstanding grapes that the producer was motivated to produce a single-vintage wine.

Weather conditions
So how does vintage affect the taste of wine? It’s mainly about the weather. Wine regions have their own micro-climates that influence many aspects of the grape-growing season. A good vintage year sees the right weather conditions produce a high-yielding crop, with perfectly ripe grapes that are neither too sweet nor too acidic. Creating this perfect balance of flavour is what determines a good vintage year and therefore a good – and sometimes great – quality wine that will age well.

The weather conditions during the year of ripening are important. For example, if it’s a particularly rainy season, the grapes can swell up and lose their flavour. They can also be at risk of developing fungal diseases that could potentially ruin the entire crop. Wet, rainy seasons generally produce wines with high acidity – not great for the ageing potential of the wine.

Frost is another risk factor for grape growers, especially in colder European countries. In some areas, the risk is so high that growers use heaters in the vineyards to keep their grapes warm.
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stiletto boot and mouse

 

While the empty bottles have long been gathered, the words continue to flow following the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference, which concluded just a few days ago, in Penticton, British Columbia.

The Wine Blogger’s Conference has run for six years now, and this year brought together over 200 bloggers who share their love of the ancient fare either in personal blogs or with paid gigs at magazines or newspapers. It’s an enormous networking opportunity, as well as a chance to personally meet growers and bottlers, who want to make media connections of their own, and to show appreciation.

It’s also a sign of just how much wine blogging’s combined and varied voice has grown lately. Increasingly, readers are adding what’s served up to their RSS feeds, as digital sommeliers help them figure out what wines go with life in general.

Wine bloggers are far more than individuals who toss one back then bandy about terms like “oaky” or “buttery”, “grassy” or “mellow” for the rest of us to decipher. They truly want to broaden the wine-tasting experiences of their readers, trying out perhaps lesser-known wines from around the globe, in search of unique flavors that vintners have brought forth through a variety of secretive techniques. Bloggers Peter and Nancy at Pull That Cork just recently covered their experience with wines from South Africa, while blending in a history of the wine-growing history of the Cape area.
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Today I’d love to share 8 fun tips for drinking wine!

It’s nerdy, but I like learning etiquette tips (do you?) and thought you might like to hear these fascinating wine dos and don’ts before heading out to holiday parties and romantic dinners. Below, I wrote out the tips, and the genius Gemma Correll illustrated them. Here goes…

1. Fill red wine glasses 1/3 full, white wine glasses 1/2 full, and sparkling wine 3/4 full.

 
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Chances are that at least once in your life you’ve found yourself at a restaurant, sitting next to someone who claims to know everything about wine.

They usually hold their glass up toward the light to see the color of the wine, talk about tannins, grape variety, soil quality… Of course, the most expensive wine always seems to be the best one.

But recently, several studies have shown that the price itself of a wine can actually influence its taste.

In 2001, Frederic Brochet carried out two experiments at the University of Bordeaux. In one of them, he got 54 oenology students together and had them taste a glass of red wine, and a glass of white wine. They described each wine with as many details as they could. What Brochet did not tell them was that both glasses were actually the same wine. He had simply dyed the white wine red – which did not affect its taste. In the second experiment, he asked experts to assess the quality of two bottles of red wine. One was very expensive, the other one was cheap. Once again, he had tricked them, filling both bottles with the cheap wine. So, what were the results?
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One of the most disappointing moments in life is opening up a bottle of wine and realizing that it’s spoiled. While it may seem trivial to consider such an occurrence as such a detrimental moment, you have to realize that we’re passionate about wine.

Besides, it’s embarrassing to return a bad bottle of wine at a restaurant. And, it’s frustrating when you find that perfect bottle, only to come home and discover you wasted your money. Remember, we’re talking about wine that has a default flavor profile, not ranting about wines that taste horrible. So, how exactly does a bottle of wine go bad? There are several factors that can explain so.

Oxidation

Perhaps the most common fault in wine is oxidation. This occurs when the wine is overexposed to oxygen, which is wine’s worst enemy. Oxidation will lead wine to lose it’s flavor, giving it a lifeless taste and resembling vinegar. Color will also be affected. White wines will appear darker and others will become cloudy.

Environmental Conditions

There are various environmental conditions that can ruin a bottle of wine. These can occur from the wine-making process to bottling to storage. Here’s a rundown of the most common environmental problems.

  • Tainted cork, or TCA, occurs when mold grows on a chlorine bleached cork, or even in the barrel. It creates an earthy, moldy and musty aroma that masks the wines natural fruit aromas.
  • Heat exposure, or maderized, happens when the wine is literally cooked. This is a result of in-proper storage, meaning the wine has spent an excessive amount of time above  55°F.Lightstrike can be a problem when a bottle of wine has been overexposed to UV radiation.
  • Ladybird taint can turn wine rancid when bugs, mostly beetles like ladybirds or Asian lady beetle, are harvested along with grapes.
  • Brettanomyces, or simply Brett, is simply yeast spoilage. Since this thrives on wood products, like barrels, we’ll go ahead and say that this is an environmental condition. Once a winery has been infected, it’s difficult to get rid of, since it can transfer from wood to wood. The result is a wine that tastes like a barnyard or wet dog.

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Ways to prevent this ...

Ways to prevent this …

 

In the world of wine, air is the enemy. Or more specifically, oxygen is the enemy.

Let me step back a second. Air serves a very important purpose when you’re drinking wine. Most importantly, it “opens up” a wine and helps to bring out its character. When you slosh wine from a bottle into a glass, a lot of air gets mixed in. This causes those aromatic compounds to fill the glass and makes the experience of drinking a good wine all that much better. There are decanters and aerating gadgets to speed up this process, too, if swirling’s not your thing.

But once air gets to the wine, the cat is out of the bag. While it will taste fantastic for a few hours, it will then slowly lose its fruitiness, its aroma, its body, and just about everything else. Eventually the wine will oxidize due to exposure to O2 in the air, which starts a chain reaction in the wine, forming hydrogen peroxide, then acetaldehyde, neither of which you want to be drinking a lot of. Once a wine is uncorked (or once the cork starts to fail), this process begins in earnest.

So what do you do if you want to drink a single glass of wine but not throw away the other four-fifths of the bottle? You turn to a wine preservation system. There are three main tactics to arrest oxidation, and gadgetry is available for each. They are:

1. Suck the air—including the oxygen—out of the bottle, leaving a vacuum.
2. Replace the bad air with good air; some inert gas that won’t interact with wine.
3. Form a physical barrier between the wine and the air. (You can also do this by pouring the remainder of a larger bottle of wine into a half-bottle and resealing it such that no air is left between the wine and the cork.)

Which one works best? I’ve been writing about wine for more than a decade and have tried all three of the above strategies many times over. I have developed opinions about each method, but until now I’d never done any formal, controlled testing between multiple devices. For this report, I used my informal test results as a guideline but am largely relying on this fresh, formal analysis.
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Selling commodities is difficult because people buy on emotion, or instinct if you will. Want and desire are powerful emotions that can stimulate the release of endorphins. It’s why some people are shop-a-holics. It feels good to buy. But it’s not that easy to get emotionally worked up about borax, chlorine, and salt. As an economic good, a commodity has no real differentiation, so small price differences in competing products can make huge differences in total sales.

Think about how you won’t buy gasoline at one gas station because it’s four cents cheaper around the corner. That’s a commodity. Ever buy a piece of art that way? Of course not because art’s value is in the eye of the beholder, is easily differentiated, and consequently will have wide price ranges. When art is sold, it’s sold on the artist’s reputation or the emotion the piece evokes for someone. Marketers work overtime to take commodity-like goods and then pretend they aren’t commodities by creating and building an emotional appeal around the brand.

 Take the above deodorant commercial. Did you hear mention of the product characteristics as a differentiator? Nowhere does this commercial say Old Spice is made with orange, lemon, clary sage, heliotrope, pimento berry and musk, even though those were the original Old Spice ingredients. The creative team instead focused on delivering an emotional image; something with a human connection that ties back to the product.
 
In this case in a humorous way, they are talking about sex-appeal and are really targeting women who are by far the larger purchasers of family groceries still. The subliminal note is if you get Old Spice for your husband, he will look like this …….. or maybe the message is he will ride a horse? I don’t know but I am wearing Old Spice and on a horse right now. Look at me….

 

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This list of wine terms and definitions will give you a head start at your next wine tasting. It is often helpful to carry a small notepad with you to tastings so you can jot down your impressions of wines. Develop your own list of wine terms: using your own words to describe different tastes and aromas will help you to remember and apply them.

Wine Definitions: Nose

  • Acetic Wine smells and or tastes of vinegar.
  • Aggressive Harsh tastes or impressions due to excesses of tannin, acid or alcohol.
  • Aromatic Used to describe perfumed or very distinctive aromas such as from Gewürztraminer.
  • Blackcurrant Aroma associated with Cabernet Sauvignon often referred to as cassis.
  • Body Impression in the mouth of weight and consistency mainly due to alcoholic strength and extract.
  • Bouquet Smells / aromas that develop as a wine matures.
  • Buttery Smell and flavours of butter. Sometimes seen in heavily oaked Chardonnays.
  • Caramel Taste and or smell of caramelised sugar.
  • Cardboard Smell of damp papers or cardboard.
  • Cedar Smell associated with many red wines that have been matured in oak. Similar to the smell of pencil shavings.
  • Corked Wine fault recognised by a distinctive mouldy rotting smell.
  • Crisp A marked level of acidity.
  • Ethyl Acetate Smell of solvents such as some glues or lacquers or pear drop sweets.
  • Eucalyptus A pleasant aroma sometimes found in red wines from Australia.
  • Farmyard Vegetal or animal odours.
  • Flinty Mineral aromas and flavours usually associated with dry white wines.
  • Flowery / Floral Fragrant scents like fresh flowers.
  • Geraniums Smell of geranium leaves, usually associated with excess sorbic acid.
  • Gooseberry Often used to describe the aroma of young /sauvignon Blanc.
  • Grapey Smell of grapes – often found with Muscat.
  • Herbaceous Vegetal, grassy and smell of leaves.
  • Musk Heavy waxy / vegetal aroma of mature Semillon and Sauternes.
  • Nose Bouquet or aroma.
  • Pear Drops Smell similar to nail polish remover or acetate.
  • Perfumed Fragrant

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The key to winery social media success is to stay consistent and keep up-to-date with your fans by posting comments about your winery.

 

It’s easy to open a page and be committed to it for a while, but then feeling it’s too time consuming, or getting stumped with writers block, you begin to slowly drift away and hope that the page is running itself. We previously posted a blog about a program we offer, where you can effectively spend 20 minutes a week on Facebook promoting your winery to your customers and now we have a plan to help you utilize those 20 minutes by engaging those clients with 5 Great Topics to Post to Your Facebook Page.

Post about Your Winery Production

Club and potential club members will go to your Facebook page as outsiders looking in. They’re fans of your winery and they want to know what’s happening on the inside, they’ll be curious about what you’re up to. Give them visual access to the inside of your winery by posting pictures about:

•Changes or improvements of your vineyard
•Harvest Season
•Winemaking process
•Bottling
Promote an Event
I can’t remember the last time I got an actual paper invitation in the mail. All of my invitations come electronically anymore. If you want to build wine club memberships, generate a guest list or interest to an upcoming event, or discuss a post event, upload it to Facebook. Share photos and posts of:

•A venue you’re going to that may be outside of your winery
•Internal events that are coming up
•Post internal events
•Release of a new vintage
•A special wine tasting
•A successful cooking class
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The other day I  stopped in at Wal-Mart to get some things. While checking out, a very large woman in very tight clothes came up from just outside the store and angrily told my cashier she lost her debit card after she paid. While I looked around the floor for the card the cashier said, “Yes, I remember you putting it back in an envelope” to which the woman replied, “Its not in there. I put it in the envelope but you rushed me to get out of line. You rushed me. I want to see your manager!”  ….. Are you kidding me? I had to work at holding my tongue.

What is it about the human condition that makes it so hard to accept personal responsibility? A similar version of that is the medical condition known as …. Headinthesanditosis.

Quite sometime ago I had a client come in the office to talk. Already three vintages behind the market and unable to meet financial obligations, it was time to have a direct discussion about viable solutions. She was really quite an intelligent person but before we could even get to the part where we discussed alternatives in her control like sales strategy, ranking distributors success, branding, market presence, pricing strategy, proper cost allocations, ways to use inventory to raise cash, etc., I was offered the following:

“Its not like I’m the only one with financial problems. The whole industry is suffering and not current with releases. The only problem I have is you wont give me more money.”
I had to tell her the view she held of the market was askew. We didn’t have any other clients who were three vintages behind and in fact because of our financial benchmarking database, I was able to show her just how far out of the norm she was. She was so shocked at the information (see her in shock in the picture —-> ), that rather than accept what was in front of her, she instead tried to poke holes in the database. “Wait, are there foreign wineries in there?”

What is it about the human condition that makes us stretch the bounds of credulity rather than accept it when we aren’t measuring up?

 

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