"All the best places to go (and wine's to drink) in the city of Bordeaux"
Bordeaux is often referred to as "petite Paris" by the locals who advise visitors to explore it best by foot or by bicycle.
Bordeaux, described by many visitors and locals as a "petite Paris", is everything you'd think France would be: beautiful, historic, and drenched in fantastic wine. With wine tourism hitting all time peaks, now is the time to slip in under the wire and go on a Bordeaux wine adventure of a lifetime!
When visiting Bordeaux, it's easy to take most areas of the city. Try out the Hotel de la Presse in Bordeaux city center for a nice central location in the middle of tons of shopping and restaurants. If you’re not already a trained sommelier, you’ll want to take a wine class at L’Ecole Du Vin, taught in both French and English every day except Sundays and bank holidays. You’ll learn exactly which grapes are grown locally, the history of the region (which is amazing!) and will learn about the scents you will experience when tasting wines. The class is thorough and will help you fully appreciate the complex blends offered in the region.
Since you’ll want to absorb at least the basics of the extensive local history, make sure you take a guided tour around the city, whether by bike, foot, Tramway, or double decker tour bus. The city is over 2000 years old and you can visit pre-Roman remains, medieval gatehouses, cobbled streets, and houses from the time of Marie Antoinette.
You’ll feel famished after walking around the extremely pedestrian and bike friendly city, so stopping at The Dubern Restaurant for some deliciously fresh fish, vegetables, and local Abatilles sparkling water is a must. For dinner, you should try the well loved Le Petite Commerce near the church of Saint Pierre. The restaurant is reportedly the best seafood in Bordeaux and is housed in a lovely old building that opens to the street. It’s constantly packed, so make a reservation.
So come on, dreamers! Make those dreams a reality and get yourselves to Bordeaux for a city centered wine adventure and some amazing food!
The Wine Adventure Guide: 8 Unforgettable Wine Trips
Prefer your wine trips out in the great wide open? Pairing a wine with the outdoors can enliven more than just our taste buds!
A jaw-dropping view, the fresh scent from the woods, or the sound of a gentle wave can be just as satisfying as a scrumptious vino.
Fortunately, many of the world’s vineyards are located in areas of great natural beauty.
Let’s go on an adventure and explore 8 regions that can help you appreciate both Mother Nature and Dionysius.
The mountains of Yosemite National Park. By Mathieu Olivares.
Rock Climbing and Old Vine Wine in the Sierra Foothills
The Best Wine Tools
From beginner to professional, the right wine tools make for the best drinking experience.
Picture yourself overlooking a majestic valley of giant sequoia trees, enormous granite rock formations, and serene waterfalls. All while savoring a glass of rich, raspberry-scented Zinfandel.
What to Do: A wine trip to the Sierra Foothills may require some pre-trip pushups, since Yosemite National Park offers some of the world’s best rock-climbing sites.
If lifting wine glasses is the extent of your upper body strength, you can try a variety of other activities like hiking, biking, or fishing.
What to Drink: In 19th century the Sierra Foothills was the heart of the California gold rush. Italian and Spanish immigrants settled there hoping to strike it rich.
And with them came vines from their homelands that are still producing wines today, making them well over a hundred years old.
After you’re done with rock climbing, you can enjoy the black cherry and strawberry tones of an Italian Barbera or the plum and cedar notes of a Tempranillo. Or give in to the bold style of Zinfandel: the star of the region.
One of the many waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. By David Kovalenko.
Waterfalls and Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley
Ahh, Pinot Noir: the heartbreak grape, the iron fist in a velvet glove, the exquisite one. This grape can make us stand still in silent reverence, similar to the way you feel when surrounded by the roaring sound of Oregon’s waterfalls.
What to Do: In the northern part of Oregon’s Willamette Valley you can listen to thundering rapids at the Silver Falls State Park.
Silver Falls is home to a 35-mile system of trails that includes the Trail of Ten Falls: one of which is 177 feet tall. Just imagine the intense sound!
What to Drink: There are few places on the planet that can grow Pinot Noir quite like the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Cranberry and earthy flavors have earned them a seat at the table among the Pinot pros of Burgundy.
But Willamette doesn’t stop there. Their Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are also producing excellent wine, not to mention some yummy sparklers.
The sun setting over Valle de Guadalupe. By Ernesto Chavez.
Surf and Savor in the Valle de Guadalupe
It’s all about the sea, sun, and Chenin with this great wine trip in the Western end of Mexico.
What to Do: Whether you’re riding the waves from above or searching for creatures below, Guadalupe Island has that cliche-yet-still-irresistible crystalline blue water.
Want to share the water with something larger than life? Get in a boat and do some whale-watching! Or even book a swim with the sharks, if you dare.
What to Drink: The Valle de Guadalupe wine region is starting to earn a reputation as the Napa Valley of Mexico. This means rich, bold, fruit-forward wines.
But you should look for one distinction in your glass during this wine trip: a stony-saline minerality from the influence of the ocean. Grapes run the gamut of Cabernet to Nebbiolo, and Chenin Blanc to Muscat.
Try a Nebbiolo while you’re here. The skins are so much thicker in Mexico that it gives this grape a dark, inky, purple color not normally seen in the world of wine. (Some even believe it’s actually Barbera mistaken as Nebbiolo!) Wines taste of dark cherry and blackberry notes that remind you of Grammy’s best jar of jam. It’s not uncommon to get dark chocolate and coffee hints as well.
The “mezcla” or blends are also a fun way to explore Mexican wines because Cabernet Sauvignon is usually the base but the blending partners can be anything from Tempranillo to Grenache, these aren’t your usual Meritage markers. This makes for some uniquely Mexican-styled, intense red wines.
If lighter fare from the sea is on the menu, try the vinos espumosos (sparklers), or one of the still whites. The tart citrus flavors and oceanic minerality make them perfect for fish tacos.
The picturesque Bay of Fundy. By Zug Zwang.
Tidal Bore Rafting and Tidal Bay Wine in the Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is home to the largest tidal surges on the planet. Plus, let’s not forget its burgeoning wine region called the Annapolis Valley.
What to Do: The rush of the world’s highest tides causes a roller coaster of waves that can measure up to 4 metres (13 feet) high. Why not jump in a boat and ride that swell? Just make sure you hold on tight.
What to Drink: Tidal Bay is North America’s only appellation wine. “Appellation” is a term given to wine regions made with a specific set of grapes and follow defined regulations: think Champagne and Chianti.
Tidal Bay is an invigorating white wine blend of predominantly Seyval, L’Acadie, Geisenheim, and Vidal. The high acidity in the wines make them excellent for the local seafood plucked from the Atlantic Ocean, picture the wines being like the squeeze of lemon you add to your seafood feast.
You can also expect to find flavors of tart green apples, candied lime notes, and a distinct sea spray minerality in the wines.
Vineyards near Okanagan Lake. By Keith Ewing.
Skiing and Sipping in the Okanagan Valley
What to Do: Just an hour away from Okanagan Valley is the Big White Ski Resort. It’s made its name on Champagne powder: snow so soft and fluffy it feels like you are skiing through bubbles.
Not a ski bunny? No problem. Just channel your inner Canadian nice guy and get at the other winter activities of dog-sledding, ice-wall climbing, and skating.
What to Drink: The reds from the southern part of the valley are robust and full of dark chocolate aromas, just like the wines from Washington. This is due to a shared desert-like climate.
There may be a border between them, but the Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Okanagan Valley is just the ticket if Columbia Valley is already your go to.
Hot air balloons high over Cappadocia, Turkey. By Alex Azabache.
Float above the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
Unless wine alongside the words “fairy chimneys” or “hot air balloons” don’t fill you with a childlike sense of wonder, then don’t miss this magical region found in the central part of Turkey.
What to Do: Fairy chimneys are the name given to Cappadocia’s incredible natural rock formations. They’re best enjoyed from the sky and the quiet tranquility of a hot air balloon.
This peaceful adventure will make you think you are exploring a new universe. Although it’s not recommended for those fearful of heights.
What to Drink: This area has excellent diurnal shifts (aka hot days and cool nights) which the native grapes love. Try Okuzgozu and find flavors of dark red fruits, eucalyptus, and baking spices.
Check out Kalecik Karasi for candied red fruit notes. And the local white grape Emir comes in both sparkling and still format with an apple, pineapple, and citrus fruit profile.
The stars over Tasmania. By Ken Cheung.
Stargazing and Sparkling Wine in Tasmania
Mainland Australia is great, but we wanted to highlight the wine trip opportunities available on the island of Tasmania as an alternative to its better-known regions.
What to Do: The oldest and largest concentration of Australian wineries are located on the northern coast in the Tamar Valley region. Fortunately, this is near the iconic Cradle Mountain: a must for the ‘Gram.
With 20 National Parks to choose from you can kayak, hike, hang glide or simply sit and stare up at the stars.
What to Drink: You may think Shiraz is synonymous with all of Australia. But on Tasmania, the cooler climate and the grapes have more in common with Champagne than the rest of Oz.
Crisp, refreshing bubbles or tart, elegant Chardonnay are the region’s signature. You can even try a comparison and see if the Pinot Noir here can compete with Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
The Škocjan Cave in Slovenia. By Traveling Otter.
Caving and Orange Wine in Goriška Brda
Slovenia has mountains to hike and outstanding viewscapes. But it’s also got well-made traditional wines from familiar faces like Chardonnay and Cabernet.
What to Do: The Škocjan Cave system was first written about by Posidonius of Apamea in the 2nd century B.C. Today, the explored length of the caves is 6.2 km and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Check out your echo, admire the stalactites, or follow the Reka River to where it disappears underground before reappearing in Monfalcone, Italy.
What to Drink: Pronounced “Go-Resh-Ka Bird-a,” this is the newest cool kid on the wine region block. Which is convenient, as it’s right on the border with Italy’s Friuli region.
You can even find an overlap of varieties like Rebula (known in Italy as Ribolla), and Malvazija (aka Malvasia).
This region is also a great place to learn all about the natural wine movement and how orange wine gets the nutty, honey, fruit rind profile.
Plan the Wine Trip Adventure of a Lifetime
Like standing on a mountaintop, a well made wine can bring about a sensation of awesomeness.
If you can get both experiences in one wine trip, then why not seek that out? There’s always time to research and plan before your next big adventure.
Have you explored any of these regions? What are some favorite wine adventures you’ve been on?
The Best Wine Tools
From beginner to professional, the right wine tools make for the best drinking experience.
Good wine is one of life's greatest pleasures. Whether you are a novice or a connoisseur, interested in simply sipping or expertly analyzing, enjoying a glass of wine can be a sublime experience.
Unfortunately, many people find wine and how to choose, serve, and describe it more intimidating than enjoyable. The very scope of the topic seems daunting. But never fear -- you don't have to take a class to appreciate the subtleties of fine wine.
Still, as with many things in life, a little knowledge goes a long way. Just as a musical performance is enhanced by knowledge of the composer or the piece, a bottle of wine is more enjoyable if you know something about it. Learn to taste the story in the wine, and you can transcend the intimidation.
To appreciate wine as something more than mere drink, all you'll need is conscious, deliberate awareness. Let's face it: It makes little sense to pay the premium for wines of character only to swallow them unconsciously. Each wine has a personality waiting to be discovered: You just need to decide whether you like it.
This is a very personal endeavor. Responses to wine are as individual as fingerprints. An aroma or flavor that is pleasing to you may not be so to another. The trick is translating your preferences into words. Accomplish this, and you will add new dimensions to your enjoyment of wine.
So, how to begin? You begin by understanding what's in your glass, tasting what's in your glass, and evaluating what's in your glass. Sampling wine and recording your impressions is an effective (and festive!) way to gain confidence choosing and evaluating wine. In this article, you will learn about all the aspects of wine and wine tasting. You will learn about the various varieties of wine and how they are made, as well as how to taste and appreciate wine.
In many ways, beginning a quest for wine knowledge is like entering a whole new world: a new language to learn, new techniques to master, and so many wonderful selections of wine to sample. Enjoy the journey!
As you set out to explore the world of wine, you might feel unsure about how to begin. Should you take a class? Join a wine-tasting group? Visit a winery? Buy a variety of wines and start sampling? There's not one set rule you must follow rather, think of it as having unlimited choices! The following tips may help you find your way:
Find a guide. Every new journey benefits from the presence of an experienced guide. Whether you're exploring a mountain landscape, the wildlife of a faraway land, or the ins and outs of wine, an experienced guide can be your key to discovering hidden gems and expanding the horizons of your knowledge. You might try your local wine merchant, a wine-bar operator, a knowledgeable bartender, a wine educator, or even a friend who knows more about wine than you do.
Hit the books. This might seem like an obvious step, the wealth of available information can be a little overwhelming to even the most eager wine connoisseur. With books, magazines, newsletters, and Web sites offering opinions, evaluations, criticisms, and historical perspectives on everything from winemakers and vineyards to wineries and growing regions, you should have no trouble establishing a foundation for learning.
Learn the language. Consider subscribing to a wine magazine (or two or three). Filled with pages of wine reviews, a good wine magazine offers a leisurely opportunity to learn the language of wine. Merchants' newsletters and offering catalogs are also good sources for building a wine vocabulary and learning about particular styles of wine and growing regions. What's more, these sales materials are usually mailed out free of charge, so arrange to receive several, including those from merchants beyond your hometown. By developing a rich wine vocabulary early on, you'll find it easier to express your impressions and preferences.
Taste as often as opportunity allows. This is the enjoyable part! There's no substitute for tasting, tasting, and more tasting. Try more than one wine at a time for the sake of comparison. Add a few friends to the mix for a truly festive time!
Treat yourself to good wine. The most vivid and memorable attributes of a varietal (a wine made from a specific grape variety, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay), a growing region, or a vintage are most easily discovered in wines of high quality. So, taste the best you can afford. That way, you'll get a more distinctive palate (or taste) memory. Occasionally splurge on a truly great wine: It's an excellent way to reward yourself!
Experiment with the unfamiliar. Life is too short to restrict yourself to the "vanilla" and "chocolate" of the wine world: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Take advantage of an opportunity to taste a wine you've never heard of. You may decide you don't like it, or it may prove delightful, opening up an entirely new avenue of wine exploration. Either way, you've added another dimension to your wine adventures.
Express yourself. It's difficult to know how or where to start describing a wine. And though it seems easy enough to sip and swirl the wine to judge its flavors, this can be a fleeting experience, one that may not add much to your taste memory in the long run. For this reason, it's a good idea to take some brief notes while you are sampling a wine, even if you never look at them again. The act of translating your instincts into words challenges you to make judgments and resolve uncertainties.
Enjoy yourself. Learning about wine should never be frustrating. After all, the goal here is to increase your enjoyment of wine.
Be patient. No one becomes an authority in a day, a week, or even a month. Knowledge comes with experience, and experience is only gained with time and patience. And there's always something new under the sun, even for the experts. Fortunately, the journey is as sweet as the destination.
Whatever you seek to learn, which wine to serve with dinner, the differences between Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, how to read a wine label, techniques for wine tasting, the first step of your journey starts here.
It's All About the Grapes
If you've ever glanced at a restaurant wine list or browsed the wine aisle of the grocery store, you know there are a lot of different kinds of wine out there. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Several hundred grape varieties are used to make the world's wines, resulting in different flavors, personalities, and qualities. The sheer variety can make choosing just one bottle a bit overwhelming, especially when they all look so enticing. Then again, isn't it fun to consider the possibilities?
Although many kinds of grapes are used to make wine, only a fraction (the classic or noble grape varieties) produce truly superior wines. For red wine, noble grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah for white, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. Other noteworthy though less extraordinary grape varieties include such reds as Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel and such whites as Gewurztraminer, various types of Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Semillon, and Viognier.
A varietal wine is made primarily or exclusively from one grape variety. The minimum required percentage of the named grape is regulated by law and differs from country to country (or from state to state in the United States). California law, for example, requires that a varietal wine contain at least 75 percent of the grape named on the label. So a California Merlot must be at least 75 percent Merlot grapes, and a California Chardonnay must be at least 75 percent Chardonnay grapes.
In the "New World," essentially the United States, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, most wines are named for the grapes from which they are produced. However, wines from "Old World" countries like France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain are usually named for the region in which the grapes were produced. So, a California wine made from Chardonnay grapes is labeled Chardonnay, but a French wine made from Chardonnay grapes might be called Chablis or Mersault (among other names), depending on the growing area.
If you are relatively new to the world of wine, it's best to explore the principal varietal wines first. Because these wines have a stronger flavor "personality" than those of lesser, more obscure varietals, they're more likely to make a lasting impression on your palate.
As you taste, keep in mind that wine grapes are products of the soil and climate of the vineyard in which they are grown the same grapes can produce two wines that taste completely different it all depends on where each vineyard is located. Viticulture practices (the way the vines are tended and how much fruit they are allowed to produce), the vines' age, the winemaker's skill and philosophy, and winery equipment also enter into the equation.
There are a lot of different wines out there to taste, and keeping them straight in your head can be difficult. In the next few sections we will explain the different varieties of wine in terms of taste and where in the world the grapes are grown. We'll begin on the next page with white wines.
Often, the first clues about a wine come from its label. Unless you have the opportunity to taste before you buy, you'll have to answer all your questions about the wine (what variety of grapes it was made from, what vintage it is, what winery produced it) simply from the information on the label.
At First Glance
As the saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover. But can you judge a wine by its label? It's tempting to choose a wine with an eye-catching label. The label seems to give the wine a personality -- all those colors and graphics beckon invitingly from the shelf, clamoring for your attention. And the sheer number of wines available, even at the local grocery store, is enough to reduce anyone to eeny-meeny-miney-moe. Imagine if choosing a quality wine were as simple as liking the label!
Although there is no guarantee that you will like a wine if you like the design of a label, you may be able to determine whether you'll enjoy the wine from the information on the label. Wine labels come in all shapes and sizes, some with a bare minimum of information, others with a wealth of data that explore virtually every aspect of the wine. Most labels fall somewhere in between. Learning to read the label can give you some indication of what to expect from the wine, just as the plot summary on a book jacket can help you decide if you'll enjoy the story within.
A Closer Look
At the very least, a close examination of the label will reveal the name of the wine and where the grapes came from. The label may also include information about when the grapes were harvested, the identity of the person or company behind the wine, the wine's alcohol content, and the bottle's net contents. Some of this information appears on the label facing the consumer, but most wines also have a "back label," which should be read as well.
Wineries must submit their labels to a government agency to ensure that they meet certain legal requirements. That's good news for anyone trying to learn more about a wine. Simply look to the label for answers to the following questions:
Who made the wine?
This is the most important piece of information on the label, because the quality of the wine depends to a great extent on the reputation of the winery. The better wineries also have a distinctive style, making the selection process much easier.
The label (usually the back label) also indicates the extent of the producer's connection with the wine. The highest designation is "grown, produced, and bottled by," which guarantees that the winery named on the label grew the grapes and produced and bottled the wine, making it a complete estate wine. If the label reads "produced and bottled by," the named winery crushed the grapes and made the wine. However, if the wine was fermented elsewhere, the phrase on the label may say "cellared and bottled by." The phrase "made and bottled by" reveals that the winery used grapes it crushed, along with wine that was fermented elsewhere.
What kind of wine is it?
If the name of a grape variety appears on the label, the wine was made entirely or predominately from that grape. When two or more grape varieties are listed, the wine is a blend of those grapes. Sometimes, however (as is the case with most Old-World wines), a growing region or appellation of origin is listed instead of a grape variety. In this case, it is still possible to determine which grape varieties were used -- it just takes a little more work on your part. You'll need to know, for example, that Chianti is made from Italian Sangiovese grapes, and Puligny-Montrachet is made from French Chardonnay grapes. Some people believe that naming a growing region can actually be more informative than naming a grape variety, because different growing regions have different soil, climate, and viticulture practices--all of which can alter the taste of a wine.
A proprietary or fanciful name, such as "Insignia" or "Opus One," may not be informative if you are unfamiliar with the wine. In such a case, the back label might provide more information. If a wine is labeled "Meritage," it must be a blend of two or more of the traditional Bordeaux varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cabernet Franc.
Where were the grapes grown?
The growing area or appellation noted on the label provides the source of the grapes used to make the wine. It might be as broad as an entire state or region, such as California or Burgundy, in which case the grapes came from two or more growing areas within the borders of the state or region. More specific appellations include a county or subregion a growing area within a county or subregion, such as Napa Valley (within Napa County) and a subappellation within a larger one, such as Oakville (an area within Napa Valley). An even more specific designation is the name of the vineyard within the appellation. As a rule, the more specific the designation of where the grapes were grown, the higher the quality of the wine.
How old is the wine?
The vintage date tells you the year in which the grapes used to make the wine were harvested. If no vintage date appears on the label or neckband, the wine was made from mixed vintages. Vintage can be a very important piece of information, or it can mean relatively little. Just as the same variety of grapes grown in two different regions can produce wines that taste different, so too can the year the grapes were grown affect the quality of the wine they produce. Weather conditions, such as rainfall amounts, temperature highs and lows, can affect how well the grapes grow and, consequently, how a wine tastes. However, because weather patterns don't differ as dramatically in some parts of the world as in others, the vintage date may mean very little for certain wines. It can be difficult to sort it all out. Luckily, wine publications do it for you, analyzing vintages on a qualitative basis. This information can be a handy shopping tool, especially when purchasing expensive wines.
How is the wine different from other wines?
Some special designations refer to production techniques that distinguish the wine from others, such as barrel fermented or unfiltered, which will make the wine more attractive depending on the consumer's personal preference. Other terms, such as reserve, private reserve, special selection, barrel select, old vines, and estate bottled, indicate a qualitative distinction. In some cases, a special designation has no legal definition it means whatever the winery wants it to mean. A prime example is reserve, which has a legal definition in parts of Europe but none in the United States. The term implies that the wine meets higher standards for ripeness or aging, and this might be true for a wine so labeled, justifying its higher price tag. However, because use of the term is not regulated everywhere, wineries may put "reserve" on the label simply as a marketing ploy. The winery's reputation should provide some guide as to whether the designation is meaningful.
On American wines, use of the term estate bottled is legally restricted. This phrase indicates that the wine was bottled where it was made and the grapes for the wine came either from the winery's own vineyard or a vineyard on which the winery has a long lease. For French wines, chateau- or domaine-bottled means the same thing. Look for the phrase mis en bouteille au chateau on a Bordeaux wine and mis en bouteille au domaine on a Burgundy wine.
What's the wine's alcohol content?
This is usually stated as a percentage by volume, such as 12. 5 percent by volume. In general, the higher the percentage of alcohol, the stronger the wine.
How much wine is in the bottle?
The quantity is usually given in milliliters. A standard bottle is 750 ml, which is about 25 fluid ounces. A magnum, the equivalent of two standard bottles, is 1. 5 ml. European wines may indicate quantity in centiliters a standard bottle is 75 cl. The quantity indication is usually on the back label of an American wine but on the front label of a French wine.
Examples of both an American label and a French label are provided below:
Best Home Wine Making Books For Beginners
If you’ve been thinking about making your own wine but not sure where to start, my suggestion to you is to get a good wine making book. There are many excellent wine making books that cover everything from making good ole country-style wines to making wines from fresh grapes.
Which of these books is best for you really depends on the kind of wine you are interested in making and whether you want to make it from fresh fruits or from wine making concentrates. With that in mind, here a breakdown of books on wine making at home, based on the kind of wine you want to make:
I’M INTERESTED IN FRUIT WINES. . .
One of my all-time favorite wine making books for making fruit wines is, The Art Of Making Wine. It has a lot of good recipes for making wines from fresh blackberries, raspberries, apricots, apples and more. It also goes through the wine making process in fine detail.
The book First Steps In Winemaking also fits into this category. It explains how to make wine in plain English. This wine making book has many good fruit wine recipes as well as some of the more exotic wine recipes such as elderflower wine and sugar beet wine.
I’M INTERESTED IN GRAPE WINES. . .
A great book the covers the basic aspects of making wine from fresh grapes is Guidelines To Practical Winemaking. It details all the procedures required to make your own wine from any type of wine grape.
If you think you would like to grow your own grapes as well as ferment them, then the book From Vines To Wines is an ideal wine making book. The first half covers the establishment and maintenance of your own backyard vineyard, everything form planting to picking. The second half of the book details the process of making wine from those grapes.
I’M INTERESTED IN USING WINE CONCENTRATES. . .
All the wine making juices we offer come with very specific directions on how to make them. In all sincerity, a book is not necessary. However, if I were to recommend a book to some wanting to make wine with these juices it would be 101 Wine Kit Tips. This book has a lot of wonderful ideas on how to make the wine making process easier and more enjoyable for the beginner.
OTHER WINE MAKING BOOKS…
We have many other wine making books on various aspects of wine making at home. From mead making to wood working projects for making wine equipment. Also don’t forget, a book makes a wonderful gift for Christmas.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.
How to Taste Wine
Now for the fun part: tasting! Essentially, wine tasting can be broken down into four easy steps: look, swirl, smell, and sip. Each step helps you fully take in all of the nuances of a wine by focusing your attention on each individual component – clarity, aromas, taste, and flavor profiles – so you can determine if the wine is balanced or off, delicious or mediocre. Just like learning to play piano or ride a bike, practice makes perfect with wine tasting, so grab a glass and follow these simple steps to taste wine like a pro!
Before you taste, tip the glass at an angle to get a good look the color of the wine. Check out the opacity, determining whether it appears clear or cloudy. A lot of clues are buried in the appearance of a wine, like varietal and age, but unless you’re blind tasting then you don’t need to spend too much time on this step. Just know that lighter white wines will be pale in color and full-bodied whites will take on more rich, golden tones. As for reds, lighter hued wines you can easily see through tend to be more light-bodied while deeper, dark hued wines indicate a fuller body.
Swirl & Smell
A little known fact about tasting wine is that your nose is the key to your palate. It’s true that a large amount of your satisfaction in a wine comes from smelling it before you take a sip. The smell of a wine can be delicate or strong, pleasant or unappealing, but before you dive in, be sure to swirl the wine a bit to bring out the aromas. This aerates the wine by adding oxygen to it, letting it “breathe” so it opens up and reveals the goods. So swirl away, then stick your nose into the glass and take a big whiff. What do you smell? Fruit, earth, dried herbs, sulfur? Certain grapes and certain places will have unique smells, while production techniques can impart additional aromas, as well. These can be broken down into categories:
Primary Aromas: These are grape-derived aromas and include dominant fruity, herbal, and floral notes.
Secondary Aromas: These aromas are background aromas that come from the winemaking practices, like fermentation techniques. Think buttered brioche, cheese rind, nutty characteristics, or yeast-like aromas.
Tertiary Aromas: These come from aging, whether from oak or in the bottle, and include notes of vanilla, coconut, baking spices, roasted nuts, tobacco, cigar box, and leather.
Look for aromas that smell like wine (fruit, earth&hellip) instead of something funky, the latter of which could mean the wine isn’t in good condition. A few indicators that the wine is off include the smell of must or wet cardboard, barnyard/wet horse, rancid butter, matchsticks, and mothballs. Some of these flaws could be the result of a problem with winemaking, while others are caused by improper handling and storage.
After you’ve sniffed the wine a bit, it’s time to take a sip. There’s no standard practice when it comes to tasting, but professionals usually roll the wine around in the mouth and suck in some air at the same time to let the wine hit all areas of the tongue. However you want to do it, start to take note of the way the wine hits your tastebuds.
Sweet: Is the wine sweet from residual sugar left after fermentation or is it perceived as sweet from the fruit flavors?
Acidic: Does it taste acidic? Acidity makes your mouth water, like a tart lemon or cranberry, which tends to make the wine seem refreshing and zesty. Too much acidity can taste harsh, like your teeth are being stripped of enamel, while not enough acidity will make the wine seem flabby in the mouth.
Bitter: Does the wine dry out your mouth like oversteeped tea? That’s the result of tannins, which can be derived from the grape skins, seeds, and stems or from extended aging in oak. Tannins can be a good thing, depending on the wine, providing structure and shelf life.
Body: Body is the general feel of the wine in the mouth. Body fills your mouth with weight or viscosity – think skim milk versus whole milk for light-bodied compared to full-bodied wine. Generally speaking, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tannin, and the more rich the wine is, the fuller the body.
Length: How long do the flavors and/or textures of the wine linger on your palate? Does it have a lengthy finish or does it fall short immediately after you swallow?
Now that you’ve looked, swirled, sniffed, and sipped a few times, it’s time to evaluate the overall impression of the wine. This is when you’ll be able to differentiate good wine from great wine. Does it seem balanced, with each nuance gracefully integrating together, or does one thing overpower everything else?
Whether or not the wine fits into the textbook “balanced” category, the most important question to ask yourself when tasting: is the wine enjoyable? In the end, that’s really all that matters.
How do you buy wine futures?
Traditionally, the en primeur system allowed producers to free up valuable storage space and finance the harvest before it was released. It also gave wine drinkers a chance to buy at attractive prices.
When it comes to purchasing en primeur in Bordeaux, a very traditional hierarchy exists. The top chateaus, via courtiers (who act as messengers), sell to négociants who supply wine merchants and importers. For the average consumer, the entry point is most likely one of the latter two. Wines are released in tranches, the French word for “slice.”
“The first tranche is often only sold to people who brought in previous years or commit to buying in bad vintages too, and the second tranche will be at a higher price,” says Smith.
To secure rare wines is another reason to invest in en primeur, particularly in Burgundy, where production can be minuscule. This scarcity, however, brings limitations of its own.
“Wines from good producers are highly allocated, so unless you are already on a list with a certain wine merchant and have a history of buying a specific wine, the likelihood of getting top collectable wines for the first time is slim,” says Kick. “Also, as more markets are opening up, allocations are becoming smaller, which contributes to greater prices.”
When buying en primeur wine in the UK, the biggest market for the Bordeaux campaign, it’s important to note the prices paid are “In Bond.” Taxes are applied when or if physical delivery is made.
The District of Pomerol
Like a breath of fresh air, the Bordeaux district of Pomerol has avoided the complicated classification process. Wine labels will simply indicate "Appellation Pomerol Controlée." Merlot serves as the region's dominant grape varietal, producing wines with softer tannins, more forward fruit and ready to enjoy earlier than their Cab cousins. Pomerol is Bordeaux's smallest wine-growing region, with production just over 5 million bottles. The most famous resident of Pomerol is Chateau Petrus, the celebrated maker of one of Bordeaux's most expensive red wines.
The Pecorino grape is named for the sheep who wander the vineyards in Italy’s Abruzzo and Marche regions. It’s less common outside of the country, but it can be “amazingly complex,” says Dave Herman, a bartender in Durham, North Carolina.
This Pecorino from organic winemaker Centorame is made with grapes sourced from small estate vineyards. “It has fruit, citrus, minerality,” he says. “It’s just a lovely, crisp table white.”
Average price: $42 for a five-liter box.
Key Producers, Brands, and Buying Tips
Bordeaux wines are widely available, with a good selection of red Bordeaux blends appearing at wine stores, supermarkets, and liquor stores everywhere. Bottles can be found ranging from $15 on up, with high-quality bottles available at about $30. Certain years are known for better quality vintages than others, with 2009, 2010, and 2016 producing especially excellent grapes.
When trying to decide what Bordeaux blend to buy, these winemakers are easy to find and produce consistently good bottles of red. If you can't find Bordeaux, look for a cabernet or merlot red wine blend.