wine tasting

  • Winespeak: Color

    July 2, 2015 15:48

    Posts this month focus on what I call Winespeak which are terms that sometimes are obvious in meaning and others are not. Today’s word is color.

    In the beginning, as the berries develop, they are the same color: green. As they develop color, called veraison, the green pea colored berries turn either purple for red wine grapes or a golden or yellow color for white wine grapes. Color of wine is the first thing you notice when it is poured into your glass. When it is a white wine you have a color spectrum of light yellow to golden brown (this would be leaning toward an older wine). When it is a red you can go from light garnet to deep purple to brownish edged red (also an aged wine). It all depends on the varietal and aging-whether oak or time in the bottle.

    White wines often are pale yellow with a tinge of green, just a tinge. As some wines are aged you’ll have a deeper hue of dark gold. Do you know why the wine is so clear? Or have you ever had a cloudy glass of wine? Fining and filtering help clarify the wine so it is clear in your glass. Note: not every winemaker filters wine so educate yourself! The mainstream wines typically are filtered but ask your local winemaker about the process.

    Red wines run the gamut of light garnet (think Pinot Noir) to deep purple (Petite Sirah) and many shades in between. As they age, so does the color. Some of the wines from the 1970s I have tried are in the reddish-brown stage. A great way to really see the tones and color of wine is to hold a piece of white paper behind the glass and tilt it away to see the rim of the liquid. Here the background helps to define the color even more.

    Enjoy the wine color spectrum as you enjoy your glass of Chardonnay or Zinfandel over the weekend. A toast to red and white wine with a splash in my Dino!

    Glasses of red and white wine

  • Wine + Julie: In a relationship

    March 9, 2015 16:49

    This revelation should come as no surprise to many of you. I enjoy wine. I know it is a funny thing to admit here, in a winery blog, after all. It must have begun long ago when I would play in the vineyards during harvest and taste the grapes, see wine included at dinnertime, experience the camaraderie in sharing with friends and family on holidays and Sundays. My passion for wine developed over the years-after spending 30 of them working for my family’s winery it seems I have it in my DNA. Perhaps it is from focusing on our wine over this long period where my perspective was broadened and my palate sharpened. My life of wine led to trying ‘Other People’s Wine’ or OPW as Ed and I like to say. It also led to being adventurous in my scope-trying varietals or appellations I had never heard of before (I’ll admit I had a brief fling with Paso Rhone blends not too long ago). I have shared before how much I love Champagne and other sparkling beverages and will continue my search for the next delicious glass of red, white, or rosé. I think of it all as an adventure and a very fun side of my career. How many people do you know who taste wine at all times of the day or night? Hmmm, which wine will I choose this evening? Dear friends gave us a bottle of Chardonnay to try and tonight it will be enjoyed!

    Sharing my passion for Pedroncelli (it’s all in the hands) at a sales meeting in Chicago last week for Louis Glunz Wines.

    Julie at Glunz Wines

  • Stave yourself

    March 5, 2015 16:53

    Barrel tasting, a term which has been around since barrels were invented, refers to tasting wines throughout their time in barrel. Each year we participate in an event that features hundreds of wines thieved out of the barrel for educational purposes. We believe you, the taster, will gain a better understanding of what goes on with the wine as it ages. Many of us will either feature the 2013 or 2014 vintages depending on the winery (we’ll be thieving our 2013 Merlot) and a younger vintage will display some rougher mouthfeel because the tannins in the wine haven’t been tamed by time. If you read some of my blog posts from January I discussed the importance of oxygen in aging. A little bit over the year or so in barrel will soften the wine and make it more appealing-ready to drink. Bottle aging helps too because again that bit of oxygen exchange also takes place and softens the wine even further. Some questions to ask as you stand at the barrel talking to the winemaker or cellar master might be: What type of oak do you use? How many vintages do you use your barrels? What do you prefer when ordering your barrels, medium or light toast? How long has this wine aged or how long will you age the wine? You get up close and personal with the wine process. There is nothing more personal than having the winemaker thief a sample of his or her pride and joy for you to taste. I’ll be there at the barrel during the weekend-stop by and we’ll discuss the finer points of toast, wood and aging.

    Barrel Tasting

  • Swirl it, sniff it, taste it, dump it.

    March 3, 2015 16:57

    Tasting rooms come in all shapes and sizes. There are a bunch, a big bunch, of wines to try. It seems a bit overwhelming at first. My advice is to plan ahead as much as possible-even if it is a day trip. With hundreds of choices, you can narrow it down to a few like appellation or varietal, white or red wine, organic or sustainable. The list goes on. Have fun with it because the last thing I want you to do is take wine too seriously. We believe wine is made to be shared with friends and family-and taking home a bottle that you enjoyed in order to share with them is the best part of the experience. About the video: the Wine Road, a marketing organization for northern Sonoma County wineries, produces some great videos involving their events, winemaker tips, inside information on vineyards and today’s subject: wine tasting tips. If you plan on visiting the wine country to find some great wine I think you’ll find this a fun way to guide your wine tasting experience. And at 1:23 you’ll see my husband Ed who shares one of his tasting tips. And like Robert says—no cologne! Now where is my Dino cup…I’m ready for a taste of wine.

    Check out the Wine Road video here.

  • OTBN-What are you saving it for?

    February 27, 2015 17:01

    Ed and I have collected wines here and there during our 25 years of marriage. I hesitate to open some of them because, in some cases, we waited too long. There are great memories associated with several of these bottles, others in our collection were given as gifts, some I don’t remember where they came from. It is a gamble I’ll be taking come this Saturday, the official Open That Bottle Night. Whatever the case, the wonderful thing about opening a cellar jewel is memories like who you were with, where you were or who gave it to you. Think of opening an aged or old bottle of wine as an adventure in taste. You’re not really sure what you’ll find but you may be rewarded with a gem! Don’t be afraid to open your bottle but have a back-up in case it has become like Elvis and left the building. I’ll be with my family enjoying a bottle of 1977 Cabernet Sauvignon, toasting the memory of my uncle John and celebrating his winemaking legacy.

    For guidelines click here

    We opened this bottle at Bern's Steakhouse in Florida a couple of years ago.

    1968 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Aging Wine: The Good, Bad and Ugly

    February 24, 2015 17:05

    The Good: (From 2013) "I just wanted to share my experience with you. I am stuck in a bit of an aftermath from the recent snow, so I have not been able to restock in the last week. I have been dipping into the cellar reserve (and found) the 1994 Three Vineyards “Special Vineyard Selection” Cab. Needless to say, it has endured the years and poured most perfectly into my glass before I affirmed the reason I bought it in the first place." Blogger’s note: Great news! Our wines have the structure to age gracefully.

    The Bad: (From 2003) "My parents are moving after more than 30 years. We found a bottle of 1973 Pedroncelli Zinfandel that had been in their cellar since they bought it. I wanted to know if that much age is good for your zinfandel. Or from 2004: "I found this bottle of wine, 1976 Pedroncelli Zinfandel, on my trash route. I was just wondering how much this bottle of wine would be worth." Blogger’s note: Sometimes we lose out because we waited too long. I usually suggest a Zinfandel be consumed 5-8 years after release especially if you like the fruit component.

    The Ugly: (From 2011) "I received as a gift a bottle of your 1993 (!) Primavera Mista Original White Wine Blend and it has many suspended particles in it. It looks like the cork may have deteriorated. Otherwise it looks to be OK. Can you please tell me if this wine is still expected to be OK and if so how best for me to remove the particles in it to try it?" (From 2005) "We got the bottle of 1975 Pinot Noir out of our wine storage. The neck/cork was protected by the old lead foil. The big disappointment, the cork had rotted, and was soft, soggy, moldy and the wine ruined. The 4-5 tiny pin prick holes on the top of the foil showed no sign of wine leakage and the bottle appeared full." Blogger’s note: you win some and you lose some. These were total losses in the quality category. Some white wines are not made to age and other times there are closure failures.

    The moral of the story? Open those bottles before they go bad. I’ll have a couple of more stories on Thursday and a special announcement of what bottle I’ll be opening! Open That Bottle Night: February 28.

    1985 Cabernet Sauvignon


  • Bottle Closure

    February 19, 2015 17:10

    Many of you are familiar with the subject of closures for wine bottles, especially if you have ever tried to open a stelvin cap as if it were a cork (I admit it fooled me once). As far back as the 1950s we bottled gallons and half gallons with screw caps and fifths (now 750ml) using both cork and screw cap. While these closures have come a long way in both quality and style how does using either one affect wine as it ages? It has to do with oxidation. Cork allows the important but minuscule amount of oxygen to interact with the wine and, as it ages, it softens becoming a more complex wine. Screw caps also allow a bit of oxygen but much less and we believe they deliver a fresher version of the wine-by slowing the oxygen exchange. The mechanics so to speak of a red wine that has been aged develops a more pleasant texture because tannins soften and fruit becomes more balanced. We bottle all but one red wine with cork. Our, meant to be consumed early because it is made in a lighter, softer style, has no need for extra time in the bottle. Five others (4 white wines, 1 rosé) are bottled with screw caps. These wines are made in a style where we encourage you to drink them soon after bottling. An interesting case in point: a month ago I tasted our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and was pleasantly surprised to see the wine had not oxidized (it remained a lovely straw color), the bouquet had lost most of the fruit which is the core of our style but all in all it was a very pleasant glass of white wine. This is not always the case-too much oxygen and aging will turn some white wines brown and funky, definitely not to be enjoyed. I feel each of us needs to do a bit of sleuthing about the wines we feel needs to age and those which should be opened in a month, year or two after purchase. I found a great article by Andrew Waterhouse, professor of Enology at UC Davis, who has more to say about natural and synthetic closures. Check your cellar, cache or wine rack for wines you may want to open now or continue to age. We’ll continue the discussion next week as we head toward Open That Bottle Night on February 28-what will be in your glass?

    Read Dr. Waterhouse's article here

    Bottles shot

  • Cellar Jewels

    February 17, 2015 17:16

    One of the fun parts of my desk job is receiving an email message or two every month about a wine someone has found or opened after it spent 20-30-40 years aging away. Here is one of the recent posts, read it and then I’ll discuss the finer points of aging red wine. From Robert Fakundiny, “On Monday I popped one of my two remaining bottles of your 1974 Cab. What a delight!  The cork broke in two but was still clean and dry on the end. I double decanted it and filtered the dregs. It opened with a good cab nose, was purple with a garnet tinge, still had some fruit, and acid and body were still there, even some tannins. (I bought them from the winery and carted them home on the plane, wrapped in a box of clothes. You could still do things like that back then.) Last night I had the rest. It had lost some of its charm by then. The fruit had fled. I suggest consuming the whole bottle within a few hours of opening, especially with knowledgeable friends. Thank you for those old, great cabs that were made in the "old" style. Now the only question is: when do I open the other?”

    Thank you Robert for sending not only your experience of tasting the wine but a photo as well. I figure he bought this wine in 1977 or 1978. We had aged it for two years, first in a redwood tank and then oak barrels. It also received a full year of bottle aging before release. Robert took it home and stored his cache, opening a bottle every now and again. As you can tell by his comments this wine is slipping just a bit but notice his comments about acid, tannin, a bit of fruit that frankly wafts away minute by minute, urging one to open, decant and immediately, without pause, drink the wine. 40 year old Cabernets aren’t for the faint-hearted, their characteristics are completely different because of the length of time aging it. Our style, which Robert refers to as ‘old’, is one of the reasons the wine is still enjoyable. I must note that not everyone is so lucky when it comes to opening a wine which has decades in the cellar-sometimes the cork has deteriorated and allowed too much oxygen and has leaked thereby spoiling the wine. There are also wines that have had to overcome great odds, being stored in a garage where temperatures fluctuate beyond the preferred constant environment of 55 degrees or so. And to answer his question of when to open his last bottle? Soon, very soon because the risk of aging it much longer will outlast the drink-ability of this 40 year old Cab. A toast as we work our way to Open That Bottle Night the last Saturday of this month-what are you waiting for?

     For more about OTBN click here.

    1974 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Wine Science! Part 3

    February 10, 2015 17:27

    Tasting rooms are one of the best places to try wines from many different areas and varietals. How many times have you been on vacation, traveled to wine country, and came away with quite a few bottles of wine? I have and sometimes when I get back I wonder ‘what was I thinking’ because, in my case,  many of them are dessert wines. For some reason whenever I taste a one of these at the end of the line-up it is the wine I buy, and now I have quite a nice cellar of 20 year old sweet wines. The whole experience led me to enjoy a wine I don’t normally buy. This video on the psychology of wine is a great discussion on how we taste wine in different situations:  a candlelit restaurant (or well-designed tasting room), listening to what someone else finds in the wine, knowledge of the cost of the wine, what the label looks like, which brand, whether familiar or unknown, is in our glass. Our experience and assumptions inform the taste of the wine. I like the part in the video that talks about what a friend or stranger finds in the wine-and suddenly you too find the ‘earthiness’ as stated in the example. Yesterday Ed said he could taste a certain floral characteristic in the red blend we were tasting in our office. And just as suddenly the aroma of narcissus wafted out of the glass-but I hadn’t identified it before he said something. What about the price of a wine? Is a $5 wine worse than a $45 wine-especially if you enjoy the taste of the $5 version. Imagine you would then have 9 times the fun if you are prefer the lower priced wine. If you are a wine lover like me look for how the psychology of wine affects you-it may be as subliminal as the preferring one label over another or subconsciously finding the fruit aspect that a friend picks up in their glass of wine. I see you are becoming thirsty, very thirsty, for a glass of Pedroncelli Zinfandel…

    Psychology of Wine video.

  • Wine Science! Part 2

    February 5, 2015 17:31

    A few years ago a friend was over at our house and was enjoying some of our Cabernet Sauvignon-he read the back label for more information and came across the descriptor “red cherries” in the tasting notes. He asked if cherries had been added to the wine at some point along the way. He was new to wine tasting so I assured him that no cherries were used in the production of the wine and it was a description used by the winemaker to describe the fruit characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Which opens up another form of thought we’ll explore in a future blog post: what sets Cabernet, for instance, apart from Merlot or Zinfandel for that matter. But I digress. You’ve heard that a wine begins in the vineyard-from the type of growing season to how late you leave the grapes on the vine-they all come into play when we talk about the flavors in wine. How about throwing in oak barrel aging? Then you have another layer of flavor or, as I like to say, complexity. This video does a great job (thanks Dr. Sacks at Cornell University) of explaining the science behind the flavors we smell and taste in wine. And I completely agree with him when he says to ‘add your two cents’ when it comes to describing the wine you are trying-it is after all your palate and your tasting experience which is coming into play! When you enjoy your glass of wine tonight, may you taste the monoterpenes!

    Out of the bottle: Wine Flavor