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This week’s winners are; Patti Earling, Jeremy Rhodes, and Jennifer we’ll have wine when you visit next time.
WineGuyMike™ received some very good questions this week, thanks to my fans for thinking of topics that help us to learn about wine together.
Jeremy Rhodes says I’ve got one! Q.Cellaring is one thing that I just don’t understand that much. I’m looking to buy a bottle of wine for my sister’s 10 year anniversary. I want to buy last years vintage (2009, the year she was married) and cellar it until her anniversary. How do I know which wines would be amazing to drink in 9 years? Prost!
A. Okay Jeremy let me take a realistic approach to this question, which is a great one by the way. Today 90% of all wines made are crafted in such a way that they are meant to be consumed within one year. There are most definitely certain wine types and vintages that are better choices for cellaring. The producer of the wine is actually the best resource to consult when it comes to finding out the optimal length of cellaring for individual wines.
Here are a few things that do need to be considered for a wine that is worthy of being cellared:
Tannin – this is a natural substance that acts as a preservative in wines. It comes from the grape stems, skins, and pips of the grape. Wines that are aged in oak also have tannin infused into the wine, this not only imparts nuances of oak and a mild sweetness or vanilla into the wine it also allows for the wines to age properly.
The weather plays a very important role in the quality of wines from year to year or as we say in the wine world “vintage”. The better the weather in a given year the more likely the wine from that vintage will be good.
The color and grape type are also significant when it comes to aging a wine. Red wines have more natural tannin than a white grape, that is why you generally do not see white wines being laid down for any length of time. A grape, like Cabernet Sauvignon, naturally has more tannin than other types, like Pinot Noir, will be a much better candidate for cellaring.
As I mentioned earlier a better vintage of wine will be well balanced in terms of fruit, acid, and tannin and as a result will age well. Terrior, the complex combination of soil, climate, exposition and local tradition that define wines also contributes to a wines ability to age well.
Winemaking plays a huge role in wines ability to age. How long was the wine in contact with its skins during fermentation? Was the wine aged in oak which impart tannins that allow the wine to be cellared longer. Proper storage conditions also play a significant role in allowing wine the opportunity to age well.
In summary I would like to quote Maya from the movie Sideways, one of my favorites. “I like to think about the life of wine, how it is a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing. How the sun was shining, if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it is an old wine how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And if it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity, that is until it peaks, like your’61. And then it begins its steady inevitable decline.”
So at the end of the day what wines are a good bet to cellar and save for those extremely significant occasions:
Great producers of California Cabernets and great Chateaux of Bordeaux.
Jeremy would also like to know; what does WineGuyMike™ like to drink when the temperatures drop below freezing! The answer Jeremy is great Cabernet from California at the hand of a master winemaker. Thank you for asking, Cheers to you.
Q. Jennifer Miler asks; I have heard this question a few times over the years – when someone has a baby giving a bottle of wine that the kid can open when they get older…21 (of course). What are some good wines to purchase to be held for a long time ? One of my friends had a collection like this – each year on his birthday, he opened another bottle his parents friends gave him as a baby…it was really cool.
A. Jennifer please see the previous answer in response to Jeremy’s question as a great deal of that answer applies to your question as well. The following information would consider the fact that the wines we are discussing came from the best producers of wine.
California Chardonnay 3-8+ years
French White Burgundies 2-10+ years
German Riesling 3-30+ years
French Sauternes 3-30+ years
Bordeaux Chateaux 5-30+ years
California Cabernet 3-15+ years
California Zinfandel 5-15+ years
California Merlot 2-10+ years
California, Oregon Pinot Noirs 2-5+ years
Barolo and Barbaresco 5-25+ years
Brunello di Montalcino 3-15+ years
Chianti Classico Riservas 3-10+ years
Argentine Malbec 3-15+ years
Spainish Riojas Gran Riservas 5-20+ years
Hermitage Shiraz 5-25+ years
French Red Burgundy 3-8+ years
Vintage Ports 10-40+ years
Q. Patti Earling asks; we are hosting a Christmas party for 30 people; some avid wine drinkers some non-wine lovers. Is there a moderately priced vino that compliments a traditional ham dinner and might appeal to both groups?
A. Patti thank you for your question. There are a number of varietals or wine types that would pair well with the Ham you’re serving for your Christmas party. Let’s take a look at the varietals I will be recommending.
Light Bodied Wines
Riesling one of the prominent white wine grapes, a pure Riesling is complex yet delicate. Some Rieslings are just pretenders made from inferior grapes, the Grey Rieslings, and Sylvaner Rieslings. A Riesling will be light, medium dry, fruity, a mild citrus flavor, with a mellow floral aroma.
Gewurztraminer wine is spicy, fruity, floral, and herbal. This is a dry, earthy, aromatic wine that is genuinely refreshing.
Pinot Noir is the medium bodied grape variety of red burgundian wines; it can produce wines that are incredible. When aged in oak, it should have sweetness reminiscent of raspberries, with undertones of vegetation and chocolate. The wine can stand up to aging for many years. Pinot Noir at its best will be smooth, full of flavor, and a beautiful bouquet.
Gamey Beaujolais a wine from France that is made to be drunk very young, right after bottling. This is a light bodied red that has very little tannin and is low in alcohol content. It is a fruity red wine that has berry overtones and is light bodied.
Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape. It is very crisp, acidic, high in alcohol content, yet is smooth and full bodied. This grape exhibits slight spiciness, hint of honey, and slight fruitiness and is dry. This can be a very special wine, such as Vouvray, an excellent wine exhibiting many different styles.
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris as it is commonly referred to is a very dry wine. Some characteristics of this wine are a slightly fruity and mild spiciness.
Viognier is a grape from the Rhone valley in France is also making a name for itself in California. Viognier is a very dry, delicate wine with floral aromas and apricot overtones.
Medium Bodied Wines
Sangiovese or Chianti, probably the most well known of Italian wines(at least that holds true in the United States). This grape is also the major contributor for many other fantastic Italian reds. This spicy medium bodied red also exhibits cherry and raspberry flavors.
Shiraz or Syrah is a big powerful full bodied wine, also known as Shiraz in Australia. Supple, smooth, rich with well manered mellow tannins describes the syrah wines. Flavor wise Syrah can be slightly spicy, fruity like black cherries, or some may have a deep nutty flavoring.
Merlot wine type or varietal is great to drink with or without food. It tends to be soft, smooth, and very fruit forward. Winemakers the world over are creating rich style merlots that are wines full of cherry and oak flavors. This is a medium bodied wine.
Full Bodied Wine
Chardonnay is one of the most complex white wines, thanks to winemaking techniques, and the grapes ability to draw flavor from the nutrients and minerals in the soil. Chardonnay is aged in new oak barrels, old oak barrels, and steel barrels, all producing varying nuances in the wines. New barrels produce the strongest oaking, old barrels have a slight oak influence, while the steel has no oakiness. This dry wine is rich, bold, and full of fruitiness, vanilla and a certain toastiness, just to name a few characteristics. Complexity is the word that best suits Chardonnay.
WineGuyMike’s recommendations for your party:
- Tariquet 2009 Chenin Blanc Chardonnay Blend – This wine marries the finesse of Chenin Blanc (75%) with the elegance and structure of Chardonnay (25%). This complex wine displays delicious floral notes, as well as exotic fruit and vanilla
- Georges duBoeuf Beaujolais – Villages – This Beaujolais-Villages displays a deep, luminous cherry color, red with bluish tints. The bouquet offers ripe red fruit character, suggesting strawberry and black currant, with a touch of cinnamon. Velvet-like in the mouth, with soft tannins, it is well-balanced and complete. A wine which lends itself to all occasions, from the apéritif to the cheese board
This wine list receives The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©
How to “taste” your Christmas wines
Now let’s get on with tasting the wine. Here is a simple process for basic wine tasting I call the 5 sssss’s:
- Swirl – with your glass on the table or in your hand move the glass so the wine moves in a circular motion in your glass
- Smell – stick your nose in the glass and think about the different aromas’ that you are able to discern
- Sight – hold the wine up toward light, what does it look like, color, viscosity, what do the individual streams of wine dribbling down the side of the glass look like
- Swill – take a small sip, pucker your lips and gently breath in
- Spit or Swallow – if you have a bucket spit, if not swallow
- What is your sense of the wine in your mouth
- What does the wine taste like
- What does the wine feel like in your mouth
- How does your mouth perceive the wine, all up front, in the middle, more in the back of your mouth
- Is there a lingering after taste
- This is where the brain, mouth, and eyes come together as one
- Your description of what your nose, mouth, and eyes just experienced
- How would you describe this, remember there is no right or wrong description this is your subjective experience
- Try the food now and think about how you would now describe the wine
WineGuyMike’s Wine Lingo
Astringent – This refers to a drying sensation in the mouth that may make you pucker. It is common in young full bodied red wines such as a Cabernet or a Zinfandel. This is caused by high tannin content in the wine. Tannin is a tactile sensation, not a taste.
Balance – this term is one that would refer to a harmony of fruit, tannin, acid, and alcohol. There may be a nuance of fruit in a wine but it would not be so overwhelming that it would be out of balance or harmony when considering the other characteristics of a wine.
Cheesemonger – this term refers to someone who sells cheese, in this case a specialist or purveyor of artisanal cheeses.
Crisp – Fresh, Bright, Young, and Slightly Acidic. Wine Types are Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and Chablis
Grassy – Refers to Herbal Characteristics often associated with Sauvignon Blanc
Meritage – pronounced just like “Heritage”, is a proprietary term used to denote red and white Bordeaux-style wines without infringing on the Bordeaux region’s legally protected designation of origin. Winemakers must license the Meritage trademark from its owner, the California-based Meritage Alliance. Member wineries are found principally in the United States, though increasingly elsewhere.
Oaky – A reference to a nuance in a wine resulting from wooden oak barrels that wines are aged in. This term is common to Chardonnay’s and Cabernet wines.
Rose´ - “pinkish”(French). Depending on the grapes and winemakers style the wines can be colored from vivid orange to nearly a purple hue.
Terroir is a French term for the notion that the complex combination of soil, climate, exposition and local tradition define the style of wine, a taste of the earth.
Velvety – This term characterizes a wines texture. This term would be used with a wine that has a rich and supple mouth feel.
Wine Tasting Flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.
Match the words that you think make sense; these words are descriptors for wine:
Bright = Flinty an epiphany in your mouth
Rich = Subtle mellow, smooth, decadent, just easy and fulfilling
Lively = Crisp the wine is refreshing, a zing, literally comes to life in your mouth
Intense = Juicy big, bold, forward just tastes like fruit you could bite into
Velvety = Aromatic sexy, goes down like silk, fills the room with its aroma