Jul 12, 2012

Smells good, funny flavour but!

Most people can fairly easily define the look or color of wine as it’s easy to say its yellow’y or redish or pupleish or its bright or dull (no not like that wacky cousin). There is, wow could read the paper thru this or it’s like bloody ink! The area of aromas and taste are definite game changers for most as the number of terms start to multiply and are seemingly quite often evasive.
There are a number of different terms that are used to define flavor in wine. As you swirl the wine in your glass all the aromas (smell Koala smell) are released and as you inhale through your nose with vigor a myriad of little chemical compositions give your smell meter a bunch of triggers that are reminders of things you have smelled before. Nice things like licorice or cherry or peach and sometimes smells that are less likely to make you salivate like dust or wet blanket or forest floor. The list is almost as long as the things you have smelled and according to some scientific research from somewhere, we can’t remember, from 5-10,000 smells.
Now when it comes to taste well some say “we” don’t have any. Oh wait that’s another story.
Taste is fairly simple if you are to believe the experts. The standard current belief is that the tongue can only really taste four flavors - salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. There is also a fifth flavor that some can taste, "umami", which is related to MSG. What wanker came up with that term? Now with taste there are still a lot to be noticed or detected. Things like tannin'sacidity and residual sugar and perhaps alcohol, are things that you not so much taste but detect. These four things do not have specific flavor per se but they meld together to offer impressions in intensity and complexity, soft or firm, light or heavy, crisp or creamy, sweet or dry, but not necessarily true flavors like fruit or spice.As you continue to sip if it’s a red wine you may start to notice some fruit flavors like – berry, plum, prune or fig; perhaps some spice – pepper, clove, cinnamon, or maybe a woody flavor like oak, cedar, or a detectable smokiness. If you are sipping a white wine you may taste apple, pear, tropical or citrus fruits, or the taste may be more floral in nature or consist of honey, butter, herbs or a bit of cut grass. There is one thing to remember here though as to try to detect any of these smell's and flavors is that you perceive things a bit different to everyone else. We all are tuned a little different so we may or may not detect every thing that the pro's do. 

The difference between serious wine drinkers and serious wine tasters is the focus and systematic approach to tasting wine with an objective description of what they taste. Kiwi and Koala try to be somewhat systematic (open, pour drink, pour, drink start again) but perhaps not as systematic as some.
The serving temperature of wine is quite important if you are to get access to the aromas and flavors hidden within. So, red wines approximately between 60-65 degrees, and white wines between 45-55 degrees. Some veritals have needs outside these basic ranges and so check with the expert for that particular bottle. If you live in a house that is around 70 degrees, maybe put it in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving it, this is a red wine. And if you have had a white wine in the fridge for a couple of hours, maybe pull it out 10-15 minutes before you serve it. Below are small sampling of the basic descriptive terms used to describe wine that begin with the letter ‘B’, courtesy of wikipedia.

  • Baked : A wine with a high alcohol content that gives the perception of stewed or baked fruit flavors. May indicate a wine from grapes that were exposed to the heat of the sun after harvesting.
  • Balanced : A wine that incorporates all its main components—tannins, acid, sweetness, and alcohol—in a manner where no one single component stands out.
  • Barnyard : A generally more negative term than "farmyard" used to describe certain off flavors in wine, often caused by the bacteria brettanomyces.
  • Big : A wine with intense flavor, or high in alcohol.
  • Biscuity : A wine descriptor often associated with Pinot noir dominated-Champagne. It is sense of yeasty or bread dough aroma and flavors.
  • Bite : A firm and distinctive perception of tannins or acidity. This can be a positive or negative attribute depending on whether the overall perception of the wine is balanced.
  • Bitter : An unpleasant perception of tannins.
  • Blowzy : An exaggerated fruity aroma. Commonly associated with lower quality fruity wines.
  • Body : The sense of alcohol in the wine and the sense of feeling in the mouth.
  • Bouquet : The layers of smells and aromas perceived in a wine.
  • Bright : When describing the visual appearance of the wine, it refers to high clarity, very low levels of suspended solids. When describing fruit flavors, it refers to noticeable acidity and vivid intensity.
  • Buttery : A wine that has gone through malolactic fermentation and has a rich, creamy mouthfeel with flavors reminiscent of butter.

Those are but the tip of the iceberg but you get the picture. For a few giggles we will soon give you a list of some of the more strange and unusual descriptions.
So learn and remember some of these terms and enjoy ‘talkin poncy’ with your mates next time you taste!

To happy tasting!

Kiwi & Koala


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