Wine 101 Presented by Alphonse DiMino Wine Director Passport Wine & Spirits
Philosophy of Wine • Wine is about the discovery • Be open minded!! • Don’t be intimidated • Wine is about sharing • Wine is about appreciation • Wine enriches your soul • Wine is FUN!!!!!!
What is Wine? • Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentationof grape juice. Wine has a rich history dating back to around 6000 BC and is thought to have originated in areas now within the borders of Georgia and Iran. Wine probably appeared in Europe at about 4500 BC in what is now Bulgaria and Greece, and was very common in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Wine has also played an important role in religion throughout history. The Greek god Dionysos and the Roman equivalent Bacchus represented wine, and the drink is also used in Christian and Jewish ceremonies such as the Eucharist and Kiddush.
What is Wine? • Fermentation • Sugar+Yeast=Alcohol+Carbon Dioxide (CO2) • Grapes • Vitis vinifera (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) • Vitis labrusca ( Concord, Niagara, Catawba) • Hybrids= vitis vinifera x vitis labrusca (Baco Noir, Seveal Blanc)
Where is wine made? • Grapes require specific growing conditions • Major Factors • Geography • Growing season= Frost free days • Number of days of sunlight • Soils • Drainage, Nutrients • Climate • Sunlight, temperature, rainfall
How To Taste And Evaluate Wine • Appearance • Smell • Taste • Final Impressions
Appearance • Clarity: Is the wine bright and healthy looking or is it hazy or cloudy? If a wine is cloudy, it may be due to disturbed sediment in older wines or it may be the result of refermentation in the bottle—a big problem!! • Intensity: Is the color deep or pale? • Color: Helps Identify • Age • Grape Varieties • Aged in Wood? • Other: When a glass is swirled, little ‘rivulets’ may form on the side of the glass. These are known as “tears” or “legs” and are an indicator of higher alcohol.
Smell “The Nose” • Average person can identify over 2000 scents, wine has over 200. • Aroma=Smell of the grapes • Bouquet=Total smell of wine • Smell helps identify • Age • Faults • Varietal
Taste “The Palette” • The five tastes: Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty, and Unami • Contrary to popular understanding that different tastes map to different areas of the tongue, taste qualities are found in all areas of the tongue, although some regions are more sensitive than others. • The original "tongue map" was based on a mistranslation by Harvard psychologist Edwin G. Boring of a German paper that was written in 1901. Varying sensitivity to all tastes occurs across the whole tongue and indeed to other regions of the mouth where there are taste buds (epiglottis, soft palate).
What do we detect when tasting? • Flavors (These help indentify Varietal) • Primary Flavors (Come from the grapes, fruit flavors) • Secondary Flavors (Come from vinification, example, oak) • Tertiary Flavors (Come from bottle aging) • Dryness/Sweetness:This will be the first sensation as the wine hits the mouth, as sweetness • Acidity:Acidity is detectable at the sides of the tongue, which will start to ‘water’ when the acidity is pronounced. Wines lacking acidity are said to be flabby and weak. • Tannin:Important in red wines and white wines that have spent some time in oak. Tannins have a drying sensation on the gums and teeth—an overly tannic wine will make you feel as though you licked pavement! Tannins can be underripe and green or ripe and more integrated. When noting the tannin level, indicate whether low, medium or high level, but also try to describe the quality: integrated, green, velvety, whatnot. • Weight/Body (Mouthfeel):Not unrelated to alcohol, as there is a direct correlation between these two structural elements. Think of the difference between low-fat milk, whole milk, and heavy cream. How does the wine feel in your mouth? Such as smoothness and texture. • Alcohol:Difficult to detect on the palate, alcohol is often felt as weightier body and mouthfeel. Out of balance, high alcohol is felt as a slight burn in the finish. Wine Lingo “Hot” • Faults
Wine Faults • Corked Taint: Smells of must and damp rags, subdues and more greatly affects the flavor of the wine. People have different levels of sensivity to cork taint, some recognize the fault more readily. • Oxidation: An oxidized wine has notes of burnt caramel (Madeira-like) and can be quite brown in color. • Brettanomyces (Brett): Causes a mousy, barnyard odor, quite unpleasant in larger doses (although some find small doses and its aromas pleasing). Usually indicates poor hygiene in the cellar. • Volatile acidity (VA): Noticeable by aromas of nail polish and vinegar, caused by acetic acid and oxygen. • Excessive Sulphur Dioxide: Noticeable by aromas of burnt matches, often found in cheaper wines
Final Impressions • Balance: In determining quality of a wine it is important to note the balance between the structural elements and flavors and aromas. Be specific. • Development: How is the wine drinking? Are the tannins harsh and needing maturation time? Is all the fruit gone? Has the acidity lost its perk? Or all the components just right? Every wine has a youthful, peak, and tired phase in its life—and most wines aren’t meant to age at age. With experience and lots of tasting, this component becomes easier to detect. • Concentration: Is the wine tightly knit and taut with a definite center, or do all the structural components bobble around loosely on the palate? Are the flavors dilute or tightly packed. Note that serious, age-worthy reds may need some unwinding time in a decanter before serving, and if closed in flavors and aromas, are often described as ‘tight’. • Complexity: Is the wine display one-dimensional fruit alone or is it layered and evolving in the glass? Obviously a higher quality wine will keep a wine taster intrigued and coming back for more tastes, and perhaps more bottles. • Overall Quality: The final conclusion of a wine’s quality is based on all these elements, but it is also based on a familiarity with the classic characteristics of a given grape or wine, known as a benchmark. This is the most difficult component of wine analysis, as it pulls from all levels and areas of your wine knowledge. It is important to base quality on your tasting observations, NOT on your personal preferences for a style or type of wine.