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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wine Tasting At First Sight

Looking at a glass of wine poured in a clear glass against a white background your eyes will tell you much about a wine's personality. It can reveal a wine's age, character and drinkability. 
Color is extracted from pigmented skins of grapes during the process of fermentation. A cab's skin is thick and highly colored where as the lightly colored pinot noir gets it's color from the staining of the fermentation juice as the alchemy of fermentation evolves. Rose wines are created by fermenting the juice in contact with the skins for shorter periods of time while white wines are produced by simply fermenting the juice.

White wines that are pale, bright, clear and luminous with reflections of green show very young wines like reisling, savignon blanc or pinot grigio. The juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks and are often best enjoyed young (as whites mature in bottle, they gain color). The longer they are bottled they do not retain it's freshness and will not be as light and bright as it was when it was first bottled. 
Pinot grigio and reislings are usually grown in cooler climates such as Germany, Northern Italy, and California. White wines that show deeper golden colors are usually fuller bodied examples of wine from warmer climates such as Australia, Southern France and Southern California. If the wine is fermented in oak casks, this gives them more extracted color, viscosity and power. 
Chardonnay is the grape that most often portrays this style and is a more "muscular" example of white wine. 
By swirling the wine and observing the "legs" that cling to the sides of the glass you can see this more clearly.

Bright light cherry red colored wines usually accent a see-through clarity that reveals subtle fruit forward flavor. French Beaujolais is produced from the gamay grape, pinot noir from the same named grape from New Zealand and chianti from Tuscany's sangiovese grape will have a delicate body and restrained character.  They are best enjoyed within three years of the vintage date. Its all about the ripe fruit accenting cherries cranberries and strawberries without the impact of oak. 
Darker black or blue berry-colored wines with shades of purple usually indicate highly extracted styles which ,if immature, can be opaque. Usually produced from highly pigmented grapes with thick skins, such as cabernet sauvignon from Bordeaux France or Northern California. Shiraz from Australia and some California zinfandels from California can be very dark when first bottled. As they mature in bottle they slowly become lighter and reflect more of a garnet ruby hue. These wines are very age worthy.