Wine About Town

Hey Readers!

Only one more week to Thanksgiving! Can you believe it?

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to participate in a terroir driven blind tasting, so I will be posting my notes about that sometime today. Later in the week, expect some recommendations of Non Wine gifts ideas for wine lovers and foodies, and on the weekend, my favorite dessert pairing with red wine! Continue reading


National Vanilla Cupcake Day

Happy National Vanilla Cupcake Day!

Another one I can get behind. I make my own Vanilla Extract so I actually enjoy making vanilla flavored foods. Baked goods taste so much better when you use natural flavoring and whole ingredients. If you would like my Vanilla Extract recipe just ask and I will post it. It is very simple.

Do your grapes look different from my grapes?


It’s about time  we got back to some science. A while back, I challenged you to compare two gourmet chocolate bars. I’m not sure how many of you actually did it, but if you did, you should have seen a small example of how terroir effects every type of food and drink, not just wine. A question has been nagging me since the chocolate challenge, and I’m really excited to finally have the time to address it. Together we have looked into the concept of terroir, particularly in how it affects a wines composition and palate, but I’ve never taken the time to discern whether or not it impacts color in the glass.

We already know that regional geological and geographical aspects of terroir directly impact flavor and sugar concentration, so my goal is to determine if those same aspects influence the color of the final product.

A wines, including its color, is created by various chemical compounds and reactions along its way from graft to table. The primary compound responsible for the color of a wine is flavanoids which are a type of polyphenol found in the skins and seeds (otherwise known as the solids) of grapes. This compound is extracted in the maceration process prior to fermentation but immediately succeeding the initial pressing of the grapes. Just as with the sugars and minerals which make up the flavor composition of a wine, the ratio of flavanoids to water impacts the outcome of the wine. If the berries are small and have matured in periods of well-defined stress (limited access to water and vast times in high day time temperatures with cool evenings) the fruit juice concentration ratios will be ideal and the color of the wine will be rich and true to varietal. However, if the region where the vines are grown is subject to too much rain, not enough heat, or too little time on the vine, the fruit will be overly saturated with water and the juice will be pale in tone and hue.

That being said, it is obvious to me that terroir (climate and location) have a massive impact on a wines initial color.

Just within Virginia I can give you an impressive example. If you compare the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Mt. Vale Vineyard in Galax, Virginia and Barboursville Vineyard near Charlottesville, Virginia you can see the color difference impacted by the terroir. Galax has a cooler climate with a higher amount of rain, and though the vineyard recognizes that their mountain side vineyards cool climate is not appropriate to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, a notoriously complicated grape to grow, they do purchase fruit from in their immediate vicinity. The color of the Mt. Vale Cabernet Sauvignon is visibly thinner than that of Barboursville or other Monticello AVA cabernets in part due to the rain and the age of the vines. Even with strict pruning regimens to reduce leaf water potential (the leafs ability to absorb water to nourish the fruit) they simply get too much water and not enough hot days for highly concentrated phenols in the juice and skins of the fruits.

In the Monticello region, during the primary growing seasons of April to October there is a temperature differential of at least 20 degrees reaching highs in the 100’s during the peak of summer with lows potentially in the 50’s. This allows the fruit to sufficiently concentrate over night and the region receives approximately 47.7 inches of rain a year. In the Southwestern Region of Virginia there is also at least a 20 degree differential between day and night but their over all temperatures are cooler by at least 20 degrees which doesn’t provide the same ripening potential. Also, while they receive only 43 inches of rain a year they do receive significantly more snow fall than the Monticello ava.

If you were to look at these patterns on a country wide scale, comparing the reduced rain fall and stark day to night temperature differential in the desert of California to the weather patterns in the Monticello AVA of Virginia, you would estimate that California wines would have a massively more consistent and more difficult habitat resulting in more concentrated phenols and flavanoids which are responsible for color in red and white wines.


A few points I would like to note:

  • There are many ways for a viticulturist (the human in charge of the plants in the vineyard) to direct the quality of the fruit and thus the quality in the glass. Some of these include irrigation management, fertilizing, trellising, pruning, harvest time, and micro-climate management)
  • After the fruits have been harvested, there are many ways the enologist (the person responsible for fermentation, blending, and aging the wines) to direct the color and quality of the wine on the table as well. Some of these methods include barrel aging, extracting, and adding enzymes or other fruit derivatives to manually improve the color and quality during or after maceration.
  • Because of all the many methods available to improve the quality of wine derived from low quality fruit, it could be difficult to see any terroir driven effects once a wine hits the table. I do however endlessly encourage wine drinkers and other consumers to ask winemakers and wine growers questions about their processing and manufacturing.
  • Flavanoids are  found primarily in wine skins and seeds, since white wines do not spend time macerating with the skins and seeds to gain color, flavanoids do not impact white wines as much, if at all. White wine colors tend to come primarily from natural fruit juice colors, oak fermentation, and oxidation over time.

Because terroir is the cumulative impact of regional soil compositions, weather patterns, and other local affects, it is safe to assume that a red wine from Virginia would look just as different from a French wine as it would smell. Along the same lines, with all that I have learned about the terroir effect in relation to the color of vitis vinifera (wine making grapes), I can only assume these same concepts come into play with other terroir driven edibles like chocolate, coffee, and peppers. I grow more curious about the mechanics of wine making with each post that I research, so please ask me questions. As for the question of terroir, I will see if I can find some examples for Wednesday, and I will try to show you examples in wine as well! Keep an eye out for news coming this week!

Happy National Cappuccino Day

Happy National Cappuccino Day!!

I know I made fun of the food holidays just yesterday, but this is one that I can get behind. I need my Coffee on a daily basis. If I don’t get my morning fix, I practically can’t see straight for the rest of the day. Though the same could be said for my morning Yoga. Speaking of yoga, I was thinking of adding another series, a photo series, of me doing Wine Yoga. Opinions, I’d love to hear them? Yay, Nay, too self-indulgent?

Anyway, Enjoy a Cappuccino today and try to taste where your espresso comes from. If you can’t tell where its from, at least enjoy where its going! (In your belly)

Happy National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day (Well Isn’t That Specific)

Happy National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day!!!

These food holidays really crack me up. I know that wine has at least 4 “national” days that gradually become more and more specific, as if people really need a reason to drink wine aside from wanting to drink wine. Peanut butter is pretty popular too in that way, which is pretty impressive considering they don’t even allow it in most public schools anymore.

Anyway, I just wanted to bring this national holiday to your attention. I know I will be enjoying my Bittersweet Chocolate and Almonds, maybe I’ll make cookies to celebrate, or pick up some cocoa dusted roasted almonds, or perhaps even finally try my hand at making biscotti to go with my Tea!

Edit: [I was unable to find any bittersweet dark chocolate with or without almonds outside of a baking isle! I was utterly shocked, so tomorrow you may or may not get a surprise D.I.Y. on how to make chocolate covered almonds or something along those lines. Also, I had a bunch of people suggest that I was making this national holiday up so here is the link to my source for food holidays.

Thanksgiving Table Pairings

Hey All!

So in my excitement on Sunday, I forgot to actually talk about thanksgiving paired wines, which is the biggest part of fall foods. Luckily, I have plenty more recommendations for the best day of the year (IMHO)

I don’t know about your family, but mine tend to drink for the holidays. Usually my mother and I start the afternoon with some bubbly while I clean and prep the bird for roasting, moving on to some whites when the family arrives and drinking red with actual dinner finishing off with something sweet (still or bubbly) with desert. We usually have at least 8 people around for the day and everyone stays the night, so the gratuitous drinking is perfectly acceptable. This year will be different, but that is to be expected with all of the changes we have gone through in just the last 5 months. (I can’t believe its already been 5 months.)

None the less, I have some fantastic pairing suggestions for you no matter your holiday drinking style.  Continue reading