Wine 101: No Seeds, No Stems, No Sticks

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Courtesy of Seed Wines © 2015 Seed Wine

If you can formulate an opinion on women then you can do the same with wine.  

Like women, there are a notable elements in wine that you either notice immediately or learn about after smelling and/or swirling them around in your mouth for a few seconds.What makes wine, wine is very similar to what makes a woman a woman. A number of variables combining together to create something amazing or a train wreck. Either way you’re already too curious to look away.Most men are familiar with a theory called the “triangle of perfection” when it comes to what would make the perfect girlfriend. It’s the combination of intelligent, sane and beautiful. As we all know, most women have one or two points of the triangle but very few hit the holy trinity. For a wine it gets a little bit more complex and you have five different attributes that come together to create something intoxicatingly perfect.

Acid: Acid and sugar are inversely related (state schoolers – this means if one goes up the other goes down). As a grape ripens it’s sugar content increases and therefore… it’s acid decreases. Too much acid and the enamel will be corroded from your teeth, too much sugar and the wine will taste like candy. So viticulturists have the task of deciding when to harvest a grape that has ripened but not over ripened.
Why you give a shit: Acid gives you a reference for tasting fruit flavors. Think of a homemade lemonade, if you have too much acid you’re going to end up with an undrinkable and shitty tasting final result. Also, acid helps keep wine from going bad during the aging process. This also means that if you have a highly acidic wine then you will be able to age it longer than a wine with low acidity.

Alcohol: Aside from alcohol being the genesis for intoxication, alcohol plays a major part in structuring the flavors and the weight of the body of wine. More alcohol means bigger body whereas less alcohol means less of a body. The body style of wine typically comes in three categories: heavy, medium and light.
Think of a big bodied wine as the female whose presence seems to fill all your senses at the same time… You can fill in the blank for the other two categories.
Why you give a shit: Alcohol is what makes wine wine. It is the point of creation, it dictates the body and give you the courage to go talk to the girl with the tramp-stamp who you’ve been exchanging glances with from across the bar.

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Dryness / Sweetness:  Both these terms refer to the sugar content in a wine. When wine is being made alcohol is created when the sugars in the grapes are turned into ethanol by yeasts in the fermentation process. So, the longer the fermentation period, the less amount of sugar will be present in the final product. Inversely, when a grape’s fermentation is short there will be more sugar in the final product and yes, you will be able to taste the difference.
Why you give a shit: This is important to know because some wines are allowed to ferment for longer than others giving the final result a different taste. Even if you can’t pick up alcohol level, acidity or any fruit flavors you will be able to assess the sweetness.
Please note that dryness and sweetness exist on different ends of a spectrum, there is middle ground but they will never be both dry and sweet.

Fruitness: Pretty self explanatory but for all you state schoolers… Fruitness is the expression of fruit like characteristics within a wine. It is a general term and can be broken down into specific fruit flavors once you know what you’re looking for in a glass of wine.
Why you give a shit: Isolating flavors in wine is fun. It’s all subject and most people are totally full of shit when it comes to flavors but it’s a good thing to look up the vintners tasting notes (flavors) when you drink a bottle. It will help you distinguishing the notes, the power of suggestion is everything when starting out. Make sure your source of suggesting isn’t talking out or their ass.

Tannin: “No seeds, no stems, no sticks / some of that real sticky-icky-icky”
Da fuq is tannin? Grape vines develop tannins for protection and preservation. Mostly tannins are found on grape’s skin and seeds and since red wines are fermented with their skins and seeds, the tannins become part of the wine. This being said, not every type of grape has the same amount of naturally occurring tannins. This difference is noticeable by trying different types of wine, for example a nebbiolo from Italy will have more tannins than a pinot noir from Oregon. Tannins can be assessed on a spectrum, high to low. A highly tannic wine could taste almost bitter and leave your mouth feeling dry whereas a low tannin wine would be without the bitterness or astringent drying aspect.
Why you give a shit: Tannins are elemental in red wines. They create a structure and frame the other aspects of the wine.

*Special thank you to Seed Wines for your contributions and support.

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