Westchester Homemade Wine Center
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Wine is the linchpin of civilization

"Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water."
 W.C. Fields
According to Wikipedia, "The importance that viticulture had in ancient Greek society can be seen in a quote from the Greek historian Thucydides: "the peoples of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the wine". H. Johnson Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 35-46 Simon and Schuster 1989 ISBN 1671687026


Tasting your wine
The Wine Master, Carmine Corelli, believes that drinking wine is about relaxing and enjoying your wine with all your senses. OK, not hearing, although you can listen to the wine as you pour it! Or, turn on your favorite music.

We humans have about 10,000 taste buds in our mouths and according to scientists, our gustatory system allows us to distinguish only five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savory). So how do we taste the subtle differences in wine? This is where our other senses come in.

S
ight: the color depends on the type of wine, whether it is clear or cloudy, transparent or opaque. For example, a young red wine is usually bright raspberry in color with hints of reddish-brown. A more mature red wine may be darker, leaning to mahogany and brick color. When you swirl your wine, look along the sides of the glass to see the legs (streaks) rolling down; this tells you abo
ut the body of the wine.

Smell: the purpose of swirling the wine is not only to look at the color and legs, but it also aerates the wine while releasing vapors which evaporate from the sides of the glass so you can smell the wine, aka, its bouquet. After swirling, tilt the glass, stick your nose into it and take a good whiff. Does it smell flowery or fruity? Or does it smell spicy or woody? Or does it smell like tar or dirty socks? We know smell and taste are intimately linked, just think about the last time you had a cold and had trouble smelling. Did your favorite foods taste the same as usual?

Touch & Taste: take a slurp of the wine if you are in appropriate company to slurp! You want to take some air in with the wine to aerate it some more and release flavors and aromas as you swish it around your mouth. Feel the texture of the wine on your tongue; is it thin and watery or viscous? Then move the wine from front to back and then side to side in your mouth, before you swallow. Why do you move the wine around your tongue? Although you detect all tastes in all locations on your tongue, there does seem to be some variation in sensitivity which is why the myth that each taste is localized on your tongue persists. So your tongue may be more sensitive to sweetness at the tip, saltiness behind that, acidity behind that and bitterness at the back.

You have used four of your five senses to taste your wine. Put it all together in your head, experience the aftertaste and imagine the adventure you had with your wine. Remember the grapes, the smell of the macerate, the taste and aroma of the fermenting juice that you put into the oak barrel, the taste and aroma when you racked the wine and then again when you bottled it. And now you can begin to taste the real personality of this barrel of wine. Since each barrel has its own personality a different barrel with the same grape in the same year will more than likely taste different! And of course the same type of grape will be different from year to year.

Tasting Terminology What do those tasting words really mean? What does it mean when a wine tastes woody? What does wood taste like? Do I want to drink wine that tastes like wood? You may ask can wine really taste like skunk? And if the answer is yes, why would I want to drink such a wine? A wine will have a combination of tastes, with some flavors more prominent than others and it is this combination that makes each wine taste so different! Here is some tasting terminology and what they mean.

Fruity: Berry (currant [aka cassis], strawberry, blackberry, raspberry), Citrus (grapefruit and lemon), Tree Fruit (peach, apple, cherry, apricot), Tropical Fruit (pineapple, melon, banana), Dried Fruit (prune, raisins, fig, strawberry jam)

Nutty: Walnut, Hazelnut, Almond

Floral: Orange blossom, Rose, Violet, Geranium

Spicy: Cloves, Black pepper, Licorice, Anise

Vegetable: Fresh Vegetable (cut grass, bell pepper, eucalyptus, mint), Cooked Vegetable (green beans, asparagus, olives [green/black], artichoke), Dried Vegetables (hay, straw, tea, tobacco)

Caramelized: Honey, Butterscotch, Butter, Soy sauce, Chocolate, Molasses

Woodsy: Coffee, Vanilla, Cedar, Oak, Smoky, Burnt toast, Char

Earthy: Moldy cork, Dusty, Musty/Mildew, Mushroom

Pungent: Menthol, Alcohol

Chemical: Petroleum (tar, plastic, kerosene, diesel), Sulfur (rubber, garlic, skunk, cabbage, burnt match, wet wool, wet dog), Paper/Wet cardboard, Vinegar, Soap, Fish

Microbial: Yeast, Sauerkraut, Sweat, Horsey