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Skip the sales pitch at the wine store and restaurant with this video, which explains the different tastes of white wine.
Tags:The Tastes of White Wine,education 2000,white wine tasting,wine acidity,wine alcohol,wine facts,wine flavor terms,wine flavors,wine tannin,wine tasting
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The Tastes of White Wine
We are going to begin tasting the wine by doing just what we have learned so far, swirling and sniffing. We are going to put a good amount of wine in our mouths and we want to roll all over our tongue. This can look a little silly, but when you are tasting wine, that is okay.
You are going to try to analyze the sensations that we talked about earlier. The acidity on the sides of the tongue, tannin if there is any on the back of the tongue, sweetness which will be on the tip of the tongue and alcohol which will be on the back of the throat.
What we are looking for is balance. Is there too much acidity and not enough fruit? Is there too much alcohol and not enough fruit? Is there too much tannin and not enough fruit? It is the balance that we are looking for and the intensity of the fruit flavor that ultimately determine whether we like the wine or not.
A quick word about spitting, if you are going to be tasting more that six wines, it is a good idea. Just a little bit of alcohol in each of these glasses is enough to make you lose concentration. Absolutely make you relaxed and make the conversation easier, but it will make it hard to concentrate on tasting the wines.
I am thinking about the acidity and the acidity of Pinot Grigio is quite high. This is because it comes from a northern climate where the grapes do not get the chance to fully ripen. Less ripe grapes have less sugar. Less sugar translates into less alcohol. Less ripe grapes also have less flavor and aroma particles. So when I am tasting a Pinot Grigio, I am thinking of those aromas that we talked about earlier, the white flower and the minerals and I am thinking about its acidity. As we are rolling the wine across our tongue, we are paying attention to the level of acidity, is it high, low or medium? The sweetness is it present or is it high, low or medium? We use the same words over and over again to make it easy.
One thing we have not touched on yet is body. Body is a word that we use for the weight of the wine in our mouths. Body is both the combination of alcohol and fruit concentrate. We refer to wine as light, medium or full-bodied. And the easy way to think about is if you ever consumed milk, is to think about skim milk, whole milk and heavy cream. Those will be your light, medium and full. When we are looking for acidity, we are looking for balance, but we are looking is it high, low or medium.
This wine has high acidity. The next thing that we are going to look at is tannin. White wines typically do not have any tannin because it is found in the skin of the grapes where all the color is. As you can see by the light color, there probably is not going to be tannin in the wine. White wines do not typically ferment or aged or are not usually made in contact to the grapes’ skins, so that is why they are lighter in color. Red wine sit on the grape skins for a longer time and they absorb more color. That is where the tannin is, in the skin of the grape.
One of the things people always say about wine is that it smells sweet. You cannot actually a sugar, but you can taste it and a lot people think that when they smell something sweet that it tastes sweet. The way to determine whether the wine is actually sweet or whether you just think it is sweet is to put the wine in your mouth and pinch your nose closed. This will stop the aroma from going into your olfactory bulb and will not allow you to make a determination based on aroma. It will only be able to tell you if the tip of your tongue is dancing with the sugar. If there is no sensation, there is no sugar. So a lot of the times, when we smell something sweet, we think that it is sweet when really it is dry.
Pino Grigio has an intense aroma, very easy to smell. So we talked about intensity as being penetrating or light, medium or full. This one happens to have a very full aroma, very easy to smell, you do not inhale deeply in order to get its full smell.
The Sauvignon Blanc, which comes from California. Has an aroma of citrus and when we taste it, it is quite high in acidity. In fact the acidity seems to be the thing that lingers on and on. Again, no tannin and no sweetness. The white ones we are tasting today also are all dry. They have no sugar in them. Alcohol in a grape that comes from a cooler climate, less ripe and less sugar will make lower alcohol. Again, these are no low alcohol wines, but you are talking about something between 12% and 13.5%. It does not sound like a widespread, but when you taste the wines, you really can tell the difference.
Again the weight. Pinot Grigio light-bodied, Sauvignon Blanc, medium-bodied. Let us taste the Chardonnay. Again, aroma and flavors of apples and the oak really come to the front. Sort of like a crème brulee or vanilla. The acidity is there, but it is not as quietly as prominent as it was in the first two wines. There is a heaviness or fullness of the fruit that I can feel in my mouth. This is a sensation that most people like about Chardonnay, that and the oak aromas.
So here, we have three white wines completely different, Pinot Grigio, light-bodied, medium to high in acidity but with lower alcohol and lower flavor. Then we have Sauvignon Blanc. It is your medium wine. Medium in color, medium in alcohol, high in acidity though and that is very important. High acidity wines are wines that match very well with food. And then we have our Chardonnay. Chardonnay is typically low to medium in acid. It is very soft.
Acidity, alcohol, tannin if it is there and sweetness are all the components that make wine have a lovely balance and complexity. It is that in combination with the fruit that give the wine the perfect flavor. The key to enjoying wine is experimentation. Today we tasted just three white wines and there are literally hundreds available. Using the skills you have acquired today, learning about color and aroma and taste, you can decide which one is for you.
I advise you to go down and buy a few bottles of the same type and have a little tasting with your friends. This can be a lot of fun. Open a couple of bottles pour them out side by side and run through the steps we have done today. Look at the color. Smell the wines. Taste the wines. Think about the acidity. Think about the sweetness. Think about the alcohol and the body. Have some fun with it. It is after all a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend an evening.