Archive for June 13, 2015
The Legacy of Bob Marley
It’s been a while since I stopped posting new stuff.A friend of the blog, Beth Kelly, managed to wake me up proposing me an interesting article of hers to share with.Beth’s article is about Bob Marley’s remarkable cultural influence and commercialization of his profile.
I’m still not sure if I’ll post fresh goodies regularly,but I’ll try to fix some requested links and we see…
The Legacy of Bob Marley
Bob Marley’s legacy as a musician is unquestionable. He has become a touchstone of the musical world for performers and listeners alike, and has influenced many popular singers and musicians of today. However, there is a much more commercial side to his legacy, one that he would not have look favorably upon. In the years since his death, numerous products featuring his likeness have been released, and his heirs have traded heavily off of his fame and status as a musical icon to make a great deal of money – going against much of what Marley himself actually stood for.
Bob Marley was born and raised in Jamaica, where the island’s musical traditions heavily influenced his unique style of reggae songwriting. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, his fame as a musician grew, making him by far the most popular and influential reggae artist of any generation. During this time period, Marley also became an icon of the counterculture movement, in part due to his famous consumption of marijuana as a spiritual practice in line with his Rastafarian faith. It was this faith which also led him to decide not to make a last will and testament, out of concern for the possibility that his estate would become too commercialized and capitalist. Marley was diagnosed with melanoma in 1977, and died of the disease due to widespread metastasis in 1981.
In spite of his best efforts, Marley’s estate and legacy became a hugely profitable and commercial brand. While it cannot be denied that Marley made a great deal of money from his music during his own lifetime, it was always his viewpoint that he was simply doing what he loved to do, and that the money was never the point of it. In fact, today, the royalties from the hit song “No Woman No Cry” still go directly to a soup kitchen in Jamaica. He was a strong proponent of the idea that money could not buy happiness, and was known for never changing his music to make it more commercially appealing. In fact, Marley’s last words to his son, Ziggy, who recently performed his own and his father’s music on DTV’s Guitar Center Sessions (see here), were, “Money can’t buy life.” The widespread branding of everything from posters to a personalized brand of Bob Marley marijuana that can be seen in the market today is far out of line with Marley’s vision and beliefs, and would never have occurred during his lifetime.
In a broader context, Marley, in this regard, is part of a larger group of 1960s counterculture icons and ideals that have been distorted for profit. Such commercialization can be seen in everything from the immense profits made off of the legacy of the Woodstock festival to the wide array of merchandise, much of which is based on the classic counterculture film Easy Rider, available today.
On a brighter note, Marley’s music and ideals have, however, influenced many of the musical icons of today. Despite the fact that commercialization has become the norm in modern music, many musicians and artists themselves hold to Marley’s belief in music as a creation based on love of creating. In fact, modern pop music, especially that from more independent artists and labels, commonly uses this as a lyrical theme. Marley’s influence can be found in artists as widespread as The Fugees, Rihanna, Jazmine Sullivan, Naz, and many many more.
Bob Marley is unquestionably one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His legacy, however commercialized it may have become since his death, still stands strong. In 2015, which is both the 33rd anniversary of his tragic death and would mark his 70th birthday if he were still alive, his influence on music and culture is just as strong as ever.
For those interested of an in-depth biography can check out this nice ebook of Timothy White called “Catch a fire”.
Many red and white wines taste dry (as in “not sweet”) but do contain small to moderate amounts of sugar. The question is, how much? And, is there some way to identify wines with or without residual sugar?
This article is a followup response to Sugar in Wine, The Great Misunderstanding. Many readers asked for a more detailed explanation in terms of calories and tips.
How much sugar is in wine?
Wines range from 0 to about 220 grams per liter sugar, depending on the style. Dry wines can contain up to about 10 grams of sugar per bottle but still taste dry.
- Bone Dry <1 cal per glass
- Dry 0-6 cal per glass
- Off-Dry 6–21 cal per glass
- Sweet 21–72 cal per glass
- Very Sweet 72–130 cal per glass
The terms above are non-official and simply show a common range in still wines. Currently, most countries (including the US) aren’t required to label actual sweetness levels in wine.
Where Does Sugar in Wine Come From?
The sugar in wine is called residual sugar or RS. RS doesn’t come from corn syrup or granulated sugar like you might think, it primarily comes from the fruit sugars in wine grapes (fructose and glucose). Of course, there are a few instances where cheap wine producers will use sugar or grape concentrate to sweeten a wine–all the more reason to seek out quality!
How come some wines are dry and some are sweet? Basically, when winemaking happens, yeast eats sugar and makes ethanol (alcohol) as a by-product. A dry wine is when the yeast eats all the sugars and a sweet wine is when the yeast is stopped (usually by chilling the fermentation) before it eats all the sugars. This is why some sweet wines have less alcohol that dry wines. A great example of this is German Riesling, which usually have about 8–9% ABV when sweet and 10–11% ABV when dry.
Sugar in Wine Chart
How Does One Determine the Residual Sugar in Wine?
The most accurate way to identify sweetness in wine is to look for a tech sheet about the wine in question. Many producers offer the technical notes on each vintage of their wine as a courtesy. RS is usually displayed in 1 of three ways: in grams/Liter, in grams/100ml, or as a percentage.
Why we suck at tasting residual sugar in wine
Exact levels of residual sugar are actually quite difficult to taste with our “naked tongue.” Even highly trained wine tasters often have trouble identifying RS in wine–but you can learn with practice. The main reason we can’t taste sweetness that well is because other traits in the wine, including the acidity level and tannin, distort our sensitivity to sweetness.
You can test this oddity yourself by tasting plain sugar and then tasting the same portion while biting into a lemon. The acidity will cancel out all or most of the sweetness on your tongue.
- Alta Vista Classic Malbec (2013): 2.8 g/L
- Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel: 3.4 g/L
- Menage a Trois California Red: 12 g/L
- Yellow Tail Shiraz: 12 g/L
- Apothic Red: 15 g/L
- Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz: 57 g/L
What if there’s no information about a wine?
If you can’t find a technical sheet, or if the RS is not listed, here are a few tips:
- Cheap wine usually has residual sugar. It’s safe to assume that most affordable (sub-$10) wines from the US contain some residual sugar, perhaps anywhere from 2–15 g/L. There are, of course, excellent exceptions to this rule so look for more information first.
- Buy better wine. If you spend a little more on a bottle of wine, say around $15–20, producers tend to feature less residual sugar (if any at all). Grapes are higher quality so the wines don’t need sweetness to taste fruity.
- Drink less. Even at 15 g/L RS, a wine will only add about 7.5 sugar calories. Like with all things, your best bet might just be moderation.
- It’s reassuring to know that many premium wines (that taste dry) generally feature less sugar.
- A little sugar in wine isn’t a bad thing, so don’t go on a sugar witch hunt before tasting the difference! Many wine drinkers actually prefer a little residual sugar in their red wine because of the richness, complexity and body sugar adds to wine… but just a touch!
This guide will help you create and host your own wine tasting party including tips on planning, choosing wines, serving food, and ultimately making your get-together a great success.
How to Host a Wine Tasting Party
A wine tasting gives people the rare opportunity to compare and contrast wines with one another. Everyone will learn a lot about wine, including their own preferences.
- Choose a selection of 4–6 wines that have a common theme
- Enough wine glasses for each guest to taste 2 wines side-by-side
- Serve wines in a well-lit room without too many distractions
A note on odors: Keep the tasting area as neutral smelling as possible–A wine will taste like bacon if the room smells of it.
Wine tastings that have a common theme are more educational and entertaining. Also, creating a theme will help you plan smarter. A wine tasting theme will focus on choosing the exact wines for your tasting. Here are a couple of classic themes to get you started:
- A single wine from 2 regions (e.g. Malbec from Argentina vs France)
- A blind comparison of cheap vs. expensive wines
- A single wine from the same region by different producers
- A single wine from different vintages
Check out a few more wine tasting themes for inspiration.
How much wine to serve?
A standard tasting pour is about half the size of a regular serving, at around 2–3 ounces (75–90 ml), and a bottle of wine contains about 10 taste servings. You might decide to have a little leftover just in case. For a party of 8–10 plan on buying 2 bottles of each wine.
- Wine Opener
- Identical Wine Glasses
- Wine Tasting Placemat (download)
Setting Up The Tasting
Before guests arrive you’ll want to set aside some time to prepare your space. First of all, decant any bold red wines that need air. Then set the table, organize your appetizer display and, finally, get your aperitif wine ready (your party’s “ice breaker” wine) as your guests start to arrive.
- Rent glassware: If you’re hosting for more people than you have glasses, definitely rent glassware. Wines glasses rent for about $1–3 (depending on the quality) and you don’t even have to wash them. It will save you time, stress, and the headache of clean up.
- Start Simple: Professional wine tastings rarely include more than crackers (as a palate cleanser) along with a spitoon and a bottle of water. If they do offer food, it’s usually in the form of a self-serve appetizer station.
- Easy Appetizers: Choose appetizers that are single-serve and easy to hold and eat with a napkin. Four easy-to-prep foods come to mind: cheese, fresh fruit, bread and cured meats.
- Start With an Aperitif: It seems odd to serve wine before a wine tasting, but it makes sense. Just a splash of some sparkling wine or a simple wine cocktail will relax your guests and get them into the spirit of the tasting. They also will be less inclined to hover over you while you’re getting everything ready.
- Stagger Wine Service: If you stagger pouring the wines into 15 minute intervals, people will take longer to analyze and get involved taking notes about each wine.
- Wine Info Print-Outs: Print out the technical information of each wine (usually available on the producer’s website). This info will come in very handy during the tasting when people start asking questions. And believe me, they will.
More drinking ideas
Need more inspiration? Here are 13 experiential dinner party ideas.
Wine Dinner Party Ideas
This is an in-depth article for geeks with an itch for the nitty gritty details of wine. If you’re one who is as described, you’ve certainly come across wine technical data before. So, what can we learn by looking at wine tech sheets?
This topic is actually profoundly deep as you can observe in the sources below, but the basics can be grasped by anyone–that is to say, anyone who wants to know them!
Most of us experts will agree that technical data doesn’t define the quality of a wine, but it can help you understand a particular wine, especially when comparing different vintages.
Understanding Wine Tech Sheets
- ACIDITY: The acidity level tells us the concentration of acids present in wine. 2 g/l is very low acidity and the wine will taste flat and 10 g/l is high and very sour. Typically wines range between 4 and 8.
- pH: The pH level tells us how intense the acids taste. The relationship is inverse so the lower the pH number, the more intense the acids present in the wine will taste. The number is logarithmic, so a pH of 3 has 10 times more acidity than a pH of 4.
- ABV: This is the percentage of alcohol in wine. Most wines range from 10–15% alcohol although there are several specialty wines, such as Moscato d’Asti (very low) or Port (very high), at the extremities. You can check out a cool infographic on alcohol in wine for more information.
- Aging/Maturation: This tells us the methodology the winemaker’s use to age the wines, including whether wines were aged in oak and for how long. Some will also tell us the type of oak (French, Hungarian or American) and how new they are (new vs. used or “neutral”). Aging wine is more common with red wines than white wines.
- Malolactic Fermentation (MLF): The answer is usually a “yes” or a “no,” and it tells us whether or not the winemaker chose to convert a tart-tasting acid, malic acid, into a smoother, creamier-tasting acid called lactic acid. Nearly all red wines undergo MLF, and much less so for white wines. A white wine that commonly undergoes MLF is Chardonnay.
- RS: This stands for Residual Sugar and is the measure of sweetness in wine. Typically, wines with less than 10 g/L are considered dry. Many dry wines have none at all. Check out this chart that compares wine sweetness.
- Brix: This is a measurement of the percentage of sugar in the grape juice at harvest. So, 24 Brix is 24% sweetness. Brix tells us how ripe and sweet the grapes were when they were picked.
Acidity vs pH in Wine
We talk a lot about the acidity of wine on the blog more as a reference to how acidic a wine tastes which, as it happens, is sometimes in reference to pH versus total acidity. The topic is actually quite complex (if you want to get into it, see sources below). Fortunately, Dr. Waterhouse at UC Davis has a beautiful explanation:
“The basic difference is intensity vs amount. pH is an intensity type of measure, while TA is a quantity. An example of this type is hot water. The intensity is the temperature and the amount would be the volume. So, sourness in the mouth is related to both, just as a sensation of heat in the mouth would be related to the temperature of hot water and the amount. Within a reasonable range, the sensation of heat depends on both. In wine, the TA over its normal range is typically more powerful than pH, but at the extremes pH does have an effect.
For instance CA wines are usually in a small range of pH, say 3.5-3.9, with TA’s’ near 6 g/L (tartaric acid equivalent). If the TA is 8, the wine will taste quite tart, and it is 4, the wine will taste quite flat. On the other hand, with a constant TA of 6, it will take change to about 3.3 or lower for a wine to taste distinctly tart, and at 3.0 it will surely be sour!!”Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, Professor of Enology, UC Davis
Aging wine changes numerous phenolic qualities of a wine, particularly the taste and quality of tannin, which is why red wines tend to receive more aging than white wines. On the same note, white wines are typically made to highlight their floral aromas and acidity (ahem… “tartness”), and these traits are reduced with aging.
- Stainless Steel Aging: Stainless steel tanks are essentially anaerobic chambers that inhibit the ingress of oxygen into a wine. Stainless steel tanks (as well as inert concrete) are used to preserve acidity and floral flavors, which is why they are popular with white wines including Chablis (unoaked Chardonnay) and Sauvignon Blanc. Stainless steel and concrete are also used on bold tannic red wines to smooth-out tannins while maintaining the wine’s floral aromas and acidity. A good example of this would be a Cru Rhône (such as Vacqueyras) or Châteauneuf-du-Pape red wine which often use a blend of neutral oak-aged and tank-aged wines for balance.
- Oak Aging: Oak barrels, on the other hand, are porous vessels that slowly allow the ingress of oxygen into the wine, reducing the harsh taste of tannin. Besides the effects of oxygen, oak aging is used for several other purposes:
- New oak (especially toasted oak barrels) impart flavor compounds including Diacetyl and Vanillan which add buttery, caramelly, chocolatey and vanilla-y flavors to wine. The smaller the barrel used in aging, the more oak flavors are added.
- Oak barrels are usually when MLF occurs.
- Wines slowly evaporate while aging in porous oak (a process called the “Angel’s Share”) and the remaining wine will have a higher alcohol level; making it taste richer.
How Wine Making Processes Affect Wine
Six winemaking processes and how they affect the taste of wine.
Relationship between Total acidity and pH. UC Davis
More information about acidity in wine. Missouri Grape & Wine Institute
A fun way to look at Petite Sirah with tech sheets by Twisted Oak
Detailed information about how oak aging affects wine. Iowa State University
The only way to see what wines you like with which foods is to hold your own tasting dinner.
“Forget everything you ever learned about food pairing and go back to the basics”
You can try this simple dinner pairing at home, it will illuminate how different wines affect the taste of food–based on your personal taste! This experiment uses 4 wines (a white, red, sparkling and sweet wine) and 8 specific foods. It’s time to forget everything you ever learned about food pairing and go back to the basics!
Food and Wine Pairing Experiment
6 Primary Tastes
Umami refers to our tongue’s receptivity to glutamates, such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Since MSG has a (undeservedly) bad reputation, the Japanese term, Umami, has become widely accepted. Umami can be found naturally in many foods. Famously in seaweed and soy sauce, but also in tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, cold cuts and meats in general.
Setting Up Your Food Pairing Experiment
To demonstrate the power of food and wine pairing, you will need to put together 8 food items, 2 sauces, and a selection of 4 wines.
The following food items should be prepared very basically so that their primary taste component (e.g. “salty”) is highlighted. The 2 additional taste sensations of Picante (spicy) and Green are optional, but very useful to include!
- Salty – Potato Chips store bought works fine, but make sure they’re plain salted.
- Sour – Vinegar a simple red wine vinegar salad
- Bitter – Walnuts a staple at wine tastings
- Fatty – Brie
- Sweet – Jelly jelly on baked Brie for dessert
- Umami – Steak plain with two sauces, a red wine reduction and a béarnaise
- Green – Spinach sautéed, buttered, and salted
- Picante – Hot Sauce to dip potato chips in
The wines selected for this dinner included a Malbec, a Chardonnay, a sparkling wine (to demonstrate fizziness) and a dessert wine (late harvest Chenin Blanc). Just as you could pick any foods you want to taste with, the choice of wines is completely up to you. These were all chosen because they are well known and likely to be found in most restaurants (except maybe the dessert wine–an Auslese Riesling or other sweet white will work too).
Putting Your Pairing Experiment into Action
With all of the food items assembled on one plate, except for the dessert, the tasting is conducted by trying each of the foods with each of the wines. If you want to really remember what works with what, write it down as you go. Determine if the combination is better, worse, neutral or in between (1 to 5 for how well it goes).
- Take a small bite of each food separately, chew, and then sip a little of one wine before swallowing
- Rate pairings as you go, or take notes, perhaps using a scale of 1 to 5 scale (1 = poor, 5 = great)
- Repeat process until all tastes have been paired with all wines
- Next, try multiple food-item combinations based on your best wine pairings
- Drink and be merry!
Remember that there is no such thing as a right answer, and everyone will have different opinions on what works best. That said, I have done this tasting enough times to have a consensus on a general answer to which wine pairs with which food.
Keep in mind, that switching back and forth from all of the different wines and flavors will skew your preferences due to palate fatigue. In other words, this is not scientific or the last word on food and wine pairings, but it is a great deal of fun, and eye opening!
The Red Wine Dilemma
While there are a huge variety of red wine styles, for a wine like Malbec with this tasting the results are inevitably surprising. For most people the red goes with almost nothing, except the plain meat and the meat with the red wine reduction sauce. With the sour, buttery béarnaise sauce it is pretty universally reviled. Red wine with meat may work with the right sauce, but woe to those who try to live by this rule.
Also surprising is how few people like the Brie with the red wine. Wine and cheese is about as classic as it comes, but does the combination work as well as you think it does? Cheese coats your mouth making it easier to like bad wines, but it doesn’t often seem to improve the wine you are drinking with it.
Vinegar is thought to kill red wine, and for some it does. For others though, the sour of the vinegar makes the wine taste sweeter, slightly improving it. It all has to do with how strong the vinegar tastes to you (your threshold for sour). Spinach, also, is not the flavor murdering vegetable it is often thought to be, rather the combination is usually seen as neutral. You might want to try artichokes in place of the spinach.
The red wine was unsurprisingly awful with the jelly, but you may want to try dark chocolate some time. Walnuts were a step below neutral as was Picante. The potato chips were almost always considered neutral. Good to know for party snacks.
So-So White Wines
I would argue that there are more food friendly white wines than Chardonnay, but its ubiquity gains it a place in this tasting. The Chard never shined, but it was better than neutral with the salty chips. It was amazingly bad with the Picante, and it was better with the béarnaise sauce than the red wine. Yes you can serve white with steak, if you have the right sauce. No one liked it with the jelly either. For everything else it was more or less neutral, cleansing the palate if nothing else.
Universal Love for Sparkling Wine
The chef in me loves to prepare a full seven course meal accompanied by a different sparkling wine with each course. It works great because of the range of styles, from sweet to bone dry, from the clean flavors of a young simple bubbly, to the caramel and toast of the great top of the line offerings. It also works great because, in all the years of doing this food and wine paring dinner, it has rarely scored below a neutral for any combination, for any taster.
Salty, sweet, and vegetable all get top scores, while bitter and the meat with both sauces are better than neutral. The steak, without sauce, still gets a solid neutral as do the salad and the Brie. In fact, there is only one kind of wine that seems to universally go better with food than sparkling.
Outstanding Scores for Sweet Wine
Pairing a dessert wine with a food that is sweeter than it is, is not a great idea, so the jelly really does not go with the wine. Only the steak with the red wine reduction sauce got a neutral. Every other single thing got the top rating, everything, for everyone. This is the result that surprises most people, and the result that has led me to often write about the pleasures of sweeter wines.
There are some food and wine combinations that I really love, but few are universal. The fact that the wines with residual sugar, the sparkling and dessert wine, did so well is not really all that unexpected, given that sugar makes most things taste better. What is the real surprise is how rarely any other combination wows anyone. Basic wines with basic foods often have the blessing of not interfering with each other. On a daily basis, that is usually good enough.
What this all proves is what I have said more time than I could count when I was a wine steward. The best combination is food and wines that you love individually. If they happen to improve with each other, that is a bonus, and one worth remembering.
Pair Wine with Food Everyday
See the advanced food & wine pairing chart to match wines with different ingredients and preparation methods.
French White Wines
France is the origin place of many of the world’s most popular white wines including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. However, due to the way the French label their wines, it’s often hard to identify what exactly what wine is in the bottle.
In this article we’ll identify the primary white wines of France, how they taste (because they taste different than their American counterparts), and provide you with common ways French white wines are labeled.
French Chardonnay Tastes & Styles There are two primary styles of Chardonnay that produce very different tasting wines. One of them was made famous by a region called Chablis (“sha-blee”) in Burgundy and is traditionally unoaked. Expect these French Chardonnays to be very dry, light-bodied, and minerally with flavors of lime, lemon, starfruit, and subtle notes of spring blossoms and chalk. The other style was made famous by the region of Côte de Beaune in Burgundy and is traditionally oaked. Expect these wines to be dry and full-bodied with flavors of yellow apple, lemon curd, vanilla, hazelnut, and subtle notes of mushroom and crème fraîche.
Regional Notes Chardonnay originated in the region of Burgundy, where it’s the primary white grape of Bourgogne Blanc and Chablis. Burgundy is a moderately cool area and is famous for a leaner and lighter style of Chardonnay. Besides Burgundy, Chardonnay also grows plentifully in Champagne (where it is used in their sparkling wines), the Loire valley (where it’s lean like Chablis) and along the French Riviera in Languedoc-Roussillon (where it is fruity and somewhat pineapple-y).
French Sauvignon Blanc Taste & Styles French Sauvignon Blanc is most commonly a bone-dry, lean, and light-bodied white wine with flavors of grass, green pear, honeydew melon, grapefruit, white peach, and subtle notes of slate-like minerals. There is one region in Bordeaux however, called Pessac-Leognan that is known for also producing an oaked style of Sauvignon Blanc–well worth exploring,–that is dry and medium-bodied, with flavors of grapefruit, white peach, sage, fresh bread, and subtle notes of butter. Finally, Sauvignon Blanc is blended with Sémillon to make a sweet white wine which you can read about in the notes below on Sémillon.
Regional Notes Sauvignon Blanc originated around Bordeaux and the Loire Valley of France. The majority of French Sauvignon Blanc wines come from the Loire valley where you will find the wines of Sancerre, Touraine and Pouilly-Fumé (among others). In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc is an important blending grape in Bordeaux Blanc where it is also commonly labeled as Graves, Entre-Deux-Mers and Pessac-Leognan. Finally, the French Riviera in Languedoc-Roussillon grows great value Sauvignon Blanc labeled as “Pays d’Oc.”
French Sémillon Taste & Styles French Sémillon grows in Bordeaux, France and is almost always blended with a little Sauvignon Blanc. There are 2 primary styles of Sémillon. The most famous style is a rare sweet dessert white wine made famous by the region of Sauternes in Bordeaux. Expect these sweet white wines to have flavors of apricot, ginger, honey, citrus zest and subtle notes of jasmine and marmalade. The other style of Sémillon blend from Bordeaux is a dry, light-bodied white wine with notes of lemon, grapefruit, gooseberry, honeysuckle flowers and grass.
Regional Notes Sémillon is thought to have originated in Bordeaux. The dry style of Sémillon is commonly labeled as Bordeaux Blanc, Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves, Pessac-Leognan and Côtes de Bordeaux. The sweet style of Sémillon is commonly labeled as Sauternes, Barsac, Cérons, Cadillac, Loupiac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont.
Muscadet Taste Muscadet is the name of the region in the Loire Valley where a unique-to-France wine grape, Melon de Bourgogne, is grown. Muscadet wines are very light-bodied, dry, lean, and somewhat salty with flavors of lime, quince, green mango, sea shell, brine, and with subtle notes of lager and yeast. Because of their savory, light character, Muscadet is a striking wine-alternative to an ice-cold beer!
Regional Notes Melon de Bourgogne only grows in the Loire Valley and mostly in the Western Loire close to the Atlantic Ocean. There are two primary regions, Muscadet and Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine, and the latter tends to produce the highest quality wines.
French Chenin Blanc Taste & Styles French Chenin Blanc is available primarily in 3 styles: a dry wine, a sweet wine, and a sparkling wine. The dry style of Chenin Blanc is light-bodied, with aromas of white peach, honeysuckle and lime and flavors of lemon, chamomile, green pear, citrus blossoms and sometimes subtle notes of salted butter. The sweet style of Chenin Blanc is medium- to full-bodied with flavors of peach, apricot, orange blossom, honey, marzipan and ginger. Finally, the sparkling style ranges in sweetness but it typically dry with flavors of citrus blossom, white peach, lemon peel, and subtle notes of cream and yeast.
Regional Notes Within the Loire there are several sub-regions that specialize in Chenin Blanc. The most commonly available regional names are Vouvray, Saumur, Anjou, Savennières, Montlouis-sur-Loire and Coteaux du Layon.
French Muscat Blanc Taste French Muscat Blanc (the same grape that goes into Italian Moscato) is a medium- to full-bodied, sweet dessert wine with flavors of mandarin orange, pink lady apple, peach, perfume, honeysuckle and subtle notes of nutmeg and vanilla bean. Occasionally, you’ll find Muscat Blanc blended into the white wines of Pays d’Oc, where it adds floral perfume-y aromas.
Regional Notes Muscat Blanc grows in the South of France along the Riviera in the Languedoc-Roussillon and within the Rhône Valley. The two wines of Muscat Blanc are Muscat de Rivesaltes in Roussillon and Muscat de Beaumes de Venise in the Rhône valley. Typically, the Rhône version of this wine lighter-bodied than the one from Languedoc-Roussillon
French Viognier Taste French Viognier ranges in taste from dry to off-dry (e.g. “a little bit sweet”) and has a subtle oiliness with flavors of tangerine, rose water, pineapple, almond and subtle notes of anise, white pepper, and beeswax.
Regional Notes Viognier is thought to have originated in the Northern Rhône valley, where it grows alongside Syrah and is often blended in small amounts to Syrah wines to add floral character and smoothness. It is very hard to find in the Rhône, where it is primarily labeled as Condrieu. It also grows in abundance in the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is often blended with other grapes, such as Chardonnay and often labeled with the name of the variety. You can also find it blended with other grapes labeled as Minervois Blanc, and Roussillon Blanc.
There are 3 white wines that grow in the Alsace region of France (next to Germany) that are also good to know about and they are:
In Alsace, Riesling is produced in a dry style with flavors of lime, green apple, citrus zest, pink grapefruit and subtle notes of thai sweet basil and white pepper.
French Gewürztraminer has a more sweet taste with subtle oiliness and flavors of lychee, rose, tangerine, potpourri, cinnamon and subtle notes of tarragon and incense smoke.
Alsatian Pinot Gris is more towards the sweet side with notes of peach, apricot, honey, baked apple, ruby-red grapefruit and subtle notes of orange zest and smoke.
The white wines listed above are popular and thus, often command a higher price. There are however many other white wines of France to explore that are under-the-radar, delicious, and often available for less than $10 a bottle. Sound interesting? Here are a few worth knowing:
- Ugni Blanc
- (aka Trebbiano) This grape is the most important wine grape of Cognac and Armagnac brandy but also makes fabulous, dry, lean white wines with a citrus zest quality.
- This grape grows primarily in the under-valued region of South West France (often labeled as Côtes de Gascogne) and is used primarily for Armagnac brandy. It tastes very similar to Sauvignon Blanc often with more touches of passion fruit.
- Picpoul de Pinet
- (aka Folle Blanche) This wine is found in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and produces very lean, minerally white wines similar to Muscadet that are known as “lip stingers.”
- Grenache Blanc
- The white version of Grenache (aka Garnacha) that grows mostly in the South of France from the Rhône to Roussillon (next to Spain). Grenache Blanc is often blended with other grapes and is loved for it’s dry, lemony flavors and beeswax-like texture.
- Gros Manseng
- This wine is found mostly in South West France and produces both dry and sweet wines (labeled as Jurancon and Jurancon Sec) that taste of tropical fruit with lime zest. They are amazing.
- The “other white” of Bourgogne that’s rarely talked about because it’s very unlike Chardonnay! Aligote is dry and lean with notes of minerals, saline and a spicy finish.
Rosé Wine Taste ….Διαθέτουμε και δεύτερο ροζέ με καταπληκτικά αρώματα (βιολογικό, δύο ποικιλιών: Ξινόμαυρο και Syrah)
Pink wine happily spans the colorspace between red and white wine, in a way, rosé is more like a state of mind.
Rosé happens when the skins of red grapes touch wine for only a short time. Where some red wines ferment for weeks at a time on red grape skins, rosé wines are stained red for just a few hours. The winemaker has complete control over the color of the wine, and removes the red grape skins (the source of the red pigment) when the wine reaches the perfect color. As you can imagine, nearly any red wine grape (from Cabernet Sauvignon to Syrah) can be used to make rosé wine, however there are several common styles and grapes that are preferred for rosé.
Rosé Wine Taste
The primary flavors of rosé wine are red fruit, flowers, citrus, and melon, with a pleasant crunchy green flavor on the finish similar to celery or rhubarb. Of course, depending on the type of grape the rosé wine is made with will greatly vary the flavor. For example, a deeply-colored Italian Aglianico rosé–rosé is called “Rosato” in Italy,– will offer up cherry and orange zest flavors, and a pale-colored Grenache rosé from Provence in France will taste of honeydew melon, lemon and celery.
How is Rosé Wine Made
The maceration method is when red wine grapes are let to rest, or macerate, in the juice for a period of time and afterward the entire batch of juice is finished into a rosé wine. The maceration method is the probably the most common type of rosé we see available and is used in regions like Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon, France where rosé is as important as red or white wine.
Saignée or “Bled” Method
The Saignée (“San-yay”) method is when during the first few hours of making a red wine, some of the juice is bled off and put into a new vat to make rosé. This method is very common in wine regions that make fine red wines such as Napa and Sonoma. The purpose of bleeding off the juice not only produces a lovely rosé but it also concentrates the red wines’ intensity. Saignée wines are pretty rare, due to the production method and often will make up only about 10% or less, of a winery’s production.
The blending method is when a little bit of red wine is added to a vat of white wine to make rosé. It doesn’t take much red wine to dye a white wine pink, so usually these wines will have up to 5% or so, of a red wine added. This method is very uncommon with still rosé wines but happens much more in sparkling wine regions such as Champagne. An example of a very fine wine made with this technique is Ruinart’s rosé Champagne, which is primarily Chardonnay with a smidgen of red Pinot Noir blended in.
Common Rosé Wines to Know
Find out about the common styles of rosé wine–from dry to sweet.
Styles of Rose Wine
Από το Wine-searcher
Emilia-Romagna is a rich, fertile region of northern Italy, and one of the country’s most prolific wine regions – more than 136,000 acres (55,000ha) were under vine in 2010. At 150 miles (240km) wide, it spans almost the entire width of the northern Italian peninsula, sandwiched between Tuscany to the south, Lombardy and Veneto to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Nine miles of Liguria is all that separates Emilia-Romagna from the Ligurian Sea, and uniqueness as the only Italian region with both an east and a west coast.
Beautiful Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna’s viticultural heritage dates back as far as the seventh century BC, ranking it among the older of Italy’s wine regions. Vines were introduced here by the Etruscans and later adopted by the Romans, who used the Via Aemilia road (after which the region is named) to transport wine between its cities. The vine varieties used here for many centuries were of the Vitis labrusca species rather than the Vitis vinifera used around the world today; Emilia-Romagna’s famous Lambrusco varieties are derived from the Vitis labrusca species.
Today, about 15% of wine produced in Emilia-Romagna falls under the region’s 20 or so DOC titles, and only a tiny fraction under its two DOCGs (Albana di Romagna and Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto). This is much higher than Italy’s prolific southern regions such as Puglia and Sicily, where that figure is closer to 4%, yet much lower than in Veneto, where 25% of all wine is DOC quality or higher.
The region’s geographical diversity is significant, and plays an important part in creating the various terroirs found here. In the west the rolling hills and Apennine peaks give way to the lower-lying plains east of Parma, Modena and Bologna, and beyond that the coastal plains of the Ferrara province, where a notable portion of the land lies just below sea level. The river Po flows west to east across all these features, marking the region’s northern border and linking the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea.
Emilia-Romagna’s wine production is divided evenly between whites and reds, the dominant vine varieties being Malvasia and Lambrusco (both in their various forms), Trebbiano, Barbera, Bonarda and of course Sangiovese. A large percentage of these grapes are used to produce sparkling wines, either frizzante or spumante, of which the most notable are from the five Lambrusco DOCs: Salamino di Santa Croce, di Sorbara, Grasparossa di Castelvetra, Modena and Reggiano. Despite its wide portfolio of well-known Italian and international varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Blanco and Cabernet Sauvignon are used both in varietal wines and blends), Emilia-Romagna’s uniqueness comes from its rare local DOC wines. Examples of this are red Cagnina di Romagna and white Pagadebit di Romagna.
Last updated 06-Jan-2015 by Wine-Searcher Staff