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Ever wonder what the wine world is doing when they look at their wine glass so intently? When they press their entire glass up to their face breathe in? How about when they take a sip of wine and slurp really hard?
If you love wine as much as I do, you want to get the most out of your wine drinking experience. Below I break down why wine connoisseurs do what they do to understand wine. Learn how to taste like the experts by following these 4 easy steps.
Look down into the glass, then hold it up to the light, then tilt it to its side against a white background. This will ensure you get the view from all angles.
Look down into the glass and get a sense for its density and saturation.
Looking against the light will show you impurities or sediment in the wine. This will show you how clear it is or if there is sediment or cork in the wine.
Tilt the glass away from you preferably with a white background to really tell the contrast. Notice the outside edges of the wine to the body of the wine in the middle of the glass. How would you describe the color of your wine without using the words red, white or blush? Try more descriptive words. Dark or dull? Clear or cloudy?
Tilting the wine glass and looking at the color will indicate its age and weight. A thinner or lighter wine will have a watery edge. An older wine will have a dark yellow or brown color for a white and rusty brick or orange color for a red. Older reds tend to have a burnt orange around the edges. Older whites are darker than younger whites.
Swirl and look again.
My favorite part! (Apart from drinking the wine)
Really swirl your glass. This will open up the wine and its flavors will stand out. Swirl it about 10 times. (Try swirling it while the stem is on the table or flat surface if you are afraid of spilling it everywhere!)
Look at those legs! (My dad once wanted to create a wine label that was just a women’s legs from behind. She would be wearing short blue jean shorts and red heals… mom said no. But this was an attempt to have a play on the wine vocabulary, “legs.” Nice try, Dad!)
You are looking for the wine dripping down the inside of the glass. Is it thick or watery? Do the legs disappear quickly or slowly fade away?
Good wine legs are thicker and consist of wines with higher alcohol content or residual sugar content. This translates as bolder and deeper wines.
After your wine is swirled hover your face over the top of the wine glass and deeply inhale. Take a few short breaths. And comprehend what you have just inhaled.
What do you smell? Earthy? Fruity? Floral? The nose of the wine is a great way to get to know your wine.
Primary Smell: You will smell the fruit itself. This may be earthy, floral, or fruity. This is the smell of the actual grape. Really comprehend this smell.
Secondary: What’s next? Oak? Smoke? Roasted Nuts? Butter? This smell comes from the wine making process. Influenced by the wine maker and not the grape itself. Oak is a popular smell that is easy to point out in a wine. The oak addition is added in the fermentation process.
Tertiary: The older the wine the more aromatic the lingering smell will be. These are usually bolder or deep smells like cacao or coffee. Earthy smells usually linger at the end as well, look for fresh soil or mushroom smells. Or you may be drinking a youthful wine that was fermented in a steel tank. “Fruit forward” smells usually indicate a youthful wine with little to no lingering smell.
Sniff your forearm if you are overloaded with aromas. Not kidding!
Finally! If you really want to impress your friends, try sucking on the wine as though you are drinking it through a straw. (Maybe don’t do this on a first date.) The benefit of doing this is to circulate the wine throughout your entire mouth while aerating the wine at the same time.
When describing your wine keep it broad. Nobody is expecting you to taste a wine and describe the frontal notes as “ripe raspberries harvested on a Sunday morning grown on the south side of a hill.” To avoid frustration try to find simple characteristics you know. There are thousands of different qualities you can taste in wine, but keep it simple. For simplistic characteristics that apply to all wines look for salty, sweet or bitter.
Attack: Your first sip will hit you with alcohol content, tannin levels, or residual sugar. What hits you right when you taste? Is it heavy? Crisp? Sweet? Dry?
Comprehend: How does the wine taste on your palate? This is the middle phase. This is where a lot of the berry flavors come out or spices. This is where you might taste the oaky flavor or floral flavors. Honey, herbs, or butter for example.
Texture: Heavier textures are due to higher alcohol content. Tannins give you that sand paper feeling on your tongue. Light, Medium or full body of the wine.
Aftertaste: How long does the wine linger? How long is the wine with you? Did the wine have a good balance? How did you like the wine? Acidity? Well balanced?
Take note of the vintage, the taste will continue to change year to year! If you really like this bottle you might want to buy one or two. You may never get this opportunity again!
We had a chocolate pairing event where the chocolate glasses were the finale and my tasters got to take them home. Needless to say they made a statement and people enjoyed the festivity of chocolate dripping down the sides of the glass. I am curious to try this with strawberry or white chocolate. Maybe layering on top of dark chocolate would be fun. There are a ton of ways to have fun with this!
February is about chocolate and wine. (Or at least I think so!) So when I came across this idea of chocolate rimmed wine glasses, it was a must do. I was a little nervous the chocolate was going to get everywhere and it was going to be a disaster. However, with a little bit of patience I knocked out a whole fridge of glasses in under an hour!
Dipping glasses was such an easy and fun project. Anybody can do this easily at home.
Find a dark chocolate. You want to prevent the chocolate from looking thin or transparent on the glass. The darker the better! I held the wine glasses in the chocolate for about 15 seconds before flipping them upright. This was to make sure plenty of chocolate collected on the rim, making for a more dramatic drip.
The consistency is key, you will go through a few glasses getting the consistency right. I ended up putting my metal mixing bowl on top of a pan of boiling water to keep it thin enough to dip, but thick enough to be dark at the top. You need to act fast, if you let the chocolate mixture sit out it will get hard and then your consistency will be off. Keep working with it and you will know when the mixture is right.
Immediately after dipping the glasses I put them in the refrigerator. The chocolate quickly hardened and did not continue to drip more down the sides. I kept them in the refrigerator until I served them. You want to prevent the chocolate from getting warm and sticky.
After you use them just put in the dishwasher! Chocolate washes right off.
- 8 ounces of Dark Chocolate
- 1 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
- 10 Wine Glasses
Play around with the ratios. If it seems too thick, add more cream. Too thin? Add more chocolate. It will take a few extra minutes, but you will get the hang of it. Also, I could have done more than 10 wine glasses with the mixture, but it is good to have extra chocolate so you can test a few.
- Simmer the heavy whipping cream
- Pour whipping cream over chocolate and mix until smooth
- Dip the glasses into the mixture
- Refrigerate until ready to serve
I have been a member of the "Rosé Year Round Club" for quite some time now. We have introduced our dry rosé, Zinthiana, to our tasting room and I am ecstatic. I quite literally drank the juice a few years ago and have been on the rosé wagon ever since.
Zinthiana Rosé satisfies the best of both red and white worlds. Our rosé holds the fruitiness of a red wine and a the acidity of a white. Needless to say, I am so in love with this bottle of Zinthiana. The flavor is just as beautiful as its lush rosé color.
Look at the beautiful glow! This truly is a wonderful artisan wine.
It is a large bulbous grape and very juicy. Zinthiana is a cross between Zinfandel and Norton and bred to have the characteristics of both its bold parents.
Currently we are growing it on two different trellising systems, VSP and High Wire. We have lucked out as it is a heavy producer with the ability to hang on the vine well into the fall. We have grown this grape for 7 years and it shows a lot of promise for producing in Kentucky!
One could make their Zinthiana as a deep bold red wine. However, we chose to make our Zinthiana as one would produce a white wine, which creates an interesting complex rosé. Zinthiana is more of a table wine grape. For example, it is wine that you can make and have it ready to drink in six to nine months. Therefore, you do not have to barrel age it.
As far as the rosé goes, it is a really light juice. The decision to not ferment it on the skins was made at the crush pad. The color was light and pretty and our wine maker made the decision to go ahead press it off the skins to make it the rosé we know today.
There is a lot of character and zing experienced with our Zinthiana. Very fruit forward and has enough acid in it to give it strength at the end, thus a light tannic finish.
Though vegetables and a green salad pair lovely with Zinthiana, do not let the light pink color fool you. There is a wide variety of heavier foods that balance well with our rosé: barbecue, grilled pork, sausage, charcuterie just to name a few!
If you are looking to entertain, serve our dry rosé with deliciously rich cheeses on your charcuterie board. Salty and cheesy mixed with dry rosé is a beautiful combination. One I am willing to try often!
For those who prefer white wine, but feel the need to only drink red in the winter. This blog post is for you. Below I explore the options of deep bold whites that have a little more warming alcohol and a place on your winter tablescape. The winter season has a vast variety of winter whites and we will dive into how versatile they actually are. Never have the winter woos for white wine again!
This was the lineup! You see I snuck in a dry rose. :)
So many wine glasses!
I recently led a Winter Whites Course at The Peach House where we explored just a few out of the many options for white wines in the winter months. What a great crew of kind people willing to learn a little more about the broad hobby of wine.
We teamed up with Equus Run Vineyards and featured some of their dry whites at our class. The lineup below is the order in which we tasted. All of the wines were 12% alcohol content or higher, had a higher acidity level, and of course leaned toward the dry side.
Equus Run's Sauvignon Blanc was truly delightful! I was so excited with the balance of this wine where it is light and refreshing, but dry at the same time. This was the lightest wine out of the winter lineup, but it still held its dry nature and paired with our heavier cheese selection. Generally with Sauvignon Blanc, you will expect a clean dry white with aromas anywhere from citrus to fresh cut grass. When pairing with food, remember that Sauvignon Blanc is a very food-friendly varietal.
Qualities: Pleasant Nose; Slightly Fruity; Smooth Finish; Great Balance!
Cheese Pairings: Drunken Goat (a hard goat cheese with a rind); Asiago; Chevre; Gruyere; Muenster
Food Pairings: Veggies; Shrimp; Mussels; Oysters; Savory Salads; Poultry
When choosing winter whites, Cabernet Dore was a no brainer. This about as bold and dry as the white wines come! (Check out the Cabernet Dore 101 Blog Post) Cabernet Dore holds an undeniable complexity you notice right away. I paired this wine with a creamy gouda cheese and honey. The creaminess coats the tongue and completely balances out the acidic nature of Cabernet Dore. When adding the honey it gave a beautiful balance of savory and sweet within the cheese itself! My tasters loved how gouda with honey paired with the Cabernet Dore, the combination mellowed each other out making for a beautiful combination.
Qualities: Pleasant Nose; Tart at First; Slightly Fruity; Dry; Smooth Aftertaste
Cheese Pairings: Gouda; Goat Cheese; Feta; Ricotta; Mozzarella
Food Pairings: White Fish; Pasta; Vegetarian Dishes
I had to toss in a dry rose! I loved opening people's minds in our class on how rose can be a winter wine too! Like Cabernet Dore, Zinthiana is a voluptuous bold and dry wine. The grape itself is a dark black skinned grape that makes a dark dry red wine, but the juice makes a beautiful peach color. So, we decided to keep it a rose. (Learn more over on my other blog post: All About Zinthiana Rose) I got a kick out of pairing the boujee rose with a simple cheddar cheese. You can have so much fun pairing a dry rose with a variety of unexpected salty foods.
Qualities: Floral Nose; Dry; Slight Tart Aftertaste
Cheese Pairings: Cheddar; Provolone; Ricotta; Truffle Brie; Herbed Artisan
Food Pairings: Grilled Cheese; Barbeque; Spicy Food
With Chardonnay being the number one selling white wine in the world, we thought it would be fitting to serve this at our course. We served Equus Run's Oak Chardonnay. Out of all the wines served, I would say this wine had the fullest body. When choosing a winter chardonnay try to avoid unoaked, look more for barrel aged, buttery, or oaky wines. I paired this varietal with a havarti cheese, the buttery soft sweetness paired well with Oak Chardonnay and really balanced out the oak.
Qualities: Oaky Nose; Buttery Aftertaste; Full bodied;
Cheese Pairings: Havarti; Blue Cheese; Asiago; Gouda; Parmesan; Provolone
Food Pairing: Poultry; Pork; Seafood with heavy cream base
At the end of my class I gave a tray of assorted pairings for my guests to pair with Equus Run's Bluegrass Bubbles White Sparkling Wine, and let them decide which pairing they liked best. The tray included apples, cheddar, brie, (there was one unidentified cheese on the tray, nobody including myself knew what it was- haha. I think it was mozzarella), and chocolate. I let them play around and mix and match until they came up with their favorite pairing. My guests did a fabulous job choosing brie as the winner- and I could not agree more! The creamy brie paired beautifully with the bubbles in the sparkling wine. Creamy cheeses with high butterfat content balances out the crisp bubbles.
Qualities: Buttery Nose; Apple Notes; Crisp at tip of tongue; Rounded Aftertaste
Cheese Pairings: Brie; Baby Swiss; Chevre; Camembert
Food Pairing: Buttery Foods; Salmon; Shortbread Cookies; Tarts
White wine is not just for summer time sipping. There are so many full-bodied whites that pair beautifully with charcuterie trays and bold cheeses. It is just a matter of choosing the right one! Hopefully this gave you some ideas. I learned a lot myself!
What is better than dipping bread in olive oil? A bread dipping station!
I had so much fun putting together these concoctions, and the best part about this easy app is that you cannot go wrong with your unique mixtures. As long as you keep your spices Italian theme you can go crazy with your ingredients. The more the better in my opinion! Have extra spices out for your guests to add more if they prefer. Such an easy app, and sure to be a crowd pleaser.
|I kept it simple with three, but there are limitless options for you to experiment with.|
I prefer softer bread rather a crunchy baguette. It soaks up the oil better, and who doesn't love soft bread?
I loved my little bowls, but I would suggest using a plate or a more shallow bowl for your dips. It was hard to get the vinaigrette on my bread where it separates. (Made for a pretty picture, though!)
Of course I was sippin' while dippin'! Norton was a perfect pair. :)
Check out my simple olive oil recipes below. Notice there are not measurements. Take liberty of adding as much or little as you prefer, trust me, you really cannot go wrong! Your guests will have fun adding more as they please too. Grab a glass and dip away!
Simple Balsamic Dip
Have you tried a crisp Cabernet Doré? If not, you should! Our newest vintage has hit the shelves for only $14.99. We were immediately in love with the freshness and depth of flavor. Below I dive into the three categories that will quickly get you up to speed: Grape, Wine, and Pairing. Giving you all the knowledge on this wine, so you can impress your friends at your next dinner party. Enjoy!
Cross-bred with two red grapes, Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Doré is a white grape that makes a clear and crisp white wine. Though this may sound odd that both parents of Doré are black skinned grapes, this is not an unusual cross. Wine grapes are highly inbred, thus contain genes from many of their ancestors. Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton (again, the parents of Cabernet Doré) have a white grape parent, and together they made our white Cabernet Doré! Confused yet? This is a similar process as getting your eye color from your grandmother. It is all about recessive genes. Very interesting stuff!
The grape itself proves to grow well in regions like Kentucky, California, Missouri, and Illinois.
Designed to be enjoyed as a young wine, Cab Doré is fermented in stainless steel to preserve the youthful fruit. Cabernet Doré' holds the qualities similar to a dry Sauvignon Blanc, snappy and zesty at first, but finishes with a smoother aftertaste. It’s a vibrant creamy yellow with toasted fruit, herb and florals on the nose.
Keep it light and simple with our Cabernet Doré. Start with a light salad topped with goat cheese. Our younger vintage will pair well with a white fish, especially poached, sautéed or lightly grilled. Embrace a light pasta with this wine, particularly with a cream or seafood sauce. Avoid red meats and foods high in salt, Cab Doré pairs better with seafood and vegetarian dishes.
Now that you have taken the time to learn how-to-taste wine, the regions and grapes of the world, reading a wine label and the essentials for buying wine, it’s time to drink it!
For starters, make sure that your wine is being served at its absolute best. To do that, pay attention to these three tenets of wine service: Glassware, temperature and preservation.
Each wine has something unique to offer your senses. Most wine glasses are specifically shaped to accentuate those defining characteristics, directing wine to key areas of the tongue and nose, where they can be fully enjoyed. While wine can be savored in any glass, a glass designed for a specific wine type helps you to better experience its nuances. Outfit your house with a nice set of stems you will reap the rewards.
All wine is stored at the same temperature, regardless of its color. But reds and whites are consumed at quite different temperatures. Too often people drink white wines too cold and red wines too warm, limiting how much you can enjoy the wine. A white that’s too cold will be flavorless and a red that’s too warm is often flabby and alcoholic.
We live in an age in which sourcing wine has never been easier. Looking for a wine from Crete? The wine shop in your town will likely carry it, and if not, you can easily find a wine retailer online. It’s in the hands of the consumer to shop for the best deal or for the most elusive, rare bottle, which can often be shipped to your doorstep.
Savvy shoppers will stay on top of ever-changing wine shipping laws based on interstate policies. Some states cannot have wine shipped to them, while others have more relaxed laws.
Before you can start investing in a full collection, you’ll need to discover your palate by embracing opportunities to taste and determine what you like. When dining out with friends or at a party, be open minded! A rich Cabernet Sauvignon might woo you initially, but you may also take a liking to exoticRieslings depending on your mood. There is no better way to discover wine than by tasting everything. We have plenty of tools that will help: Best Buy Cheat Sheet, Making the Purchase and Bargain-Friendly Bordeaux will all help guide you on your path to wine bliss.
At first glance, a wine label can be confusing to those just getting started. Luckily, New World wine producers have made it easier on wine beginners by listing the grape(s) directly on the label. Old World regions have typically relied on the wine consumer to be familiar enough with the region to know, for example, that Red Burgundy is Pinot Noir.
Old World Wines might read like this:
Château Moulin de Grenet 2009 Lussac Saint-Émilion
New World wines might read like this:
Cakebread 2006 Merlot, Napa Valley
The French wine lists “Saint-Émilion,” assuming the consumer realizes that wines from Saint-Émilionare mostly Merlot. The wine from Napa, California, on the other hand, lists both the region and the grape variety. As you study more about wine, you’ll become more and more accustomed to all the wine varietals and the Old World regions that produce them.
Old World wine producers are slowly realizing that in order to compete on the global market, they need to make it easy on the consumer. But as much as times may change, a deep understanding of how to read a wine label will always be a useful skill.
You have probably heard from both friends and experts many times that any wine you like is a good wine. This is true if simply enjoying wine is your goal. You don’t have to do more than take a sip, give it a swallow and let your inner geek decide “yes” or “no.” The end.
It’s true that figuring out what you like is an important component of wine tasting, but it’s not the only component. Quickly passing judgment about a wine is not the same as truly understanding and evaluating it. If you’re tasting properly, you will be able to identify the main flavor and scent components in every wine you try; you will know the basic characteristics for all of the most important varietal grapes, and beyond that, for the blended wines from the world’s best wine-producing regions. You will also be able to quickly point out specific flaws in bad wines.