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This week’s WineGuyMike™ winners are; Mickey Sogard and Aimee Ryan
Mickey asks; recently when I’m in a restaurant I’ve noticed that good wines by the glass are somewhat expensive. I would like to consider buying a bottle of wine but usually cannot finish the entire bottle, can I take the bottle home with me?
What a great question and of course I didn’t know the answer. I have friends that work in the restaurant business so I reached out to them for the real answer and here is what I came up with. This answer is predicated on our Montana State and local rules/ regulations in Missoula. These rules and regulations can vary from state to state and potentially city to city depending on where you live in the country.
In Missoula an establishment’s license to sell wine may or may not allow for off premise sales. This would determine whether or not you may take home your half finished bottle of wine. The only way you would know this as a customer is to ask before you purchase your bottle of wine if you know you may not finish the bottle during your dinner. Don’t be afraid to ask, it is much better to know right up front so you and the establishment are both in compliance.
Aimee Ryan asks; I like to drink dry, or crisp wines but I never seem to like aperitif or dessert wines. Can you recommend how I might approach these types of wines?
WineGuyMike™ sure can Aimee but let’s take a moment to generally understand these wines.
- Naturally sweet grape varietals such as Muscat, Huxelrebe, and Ortega
- Sweetness enhanced by pruning techniques – eliminating bunches of grapes on the vines to concentrate sugar and flavor
- Chaptalization – add sugar or honey prior to fermentation
- Süssreserve – add grape juice to wine after fermentation
- Ice Wine is made from grapes that remain on the vine until a temperature of -7 Celsius or 19 degrees Fahrenheit
- This dehydrates the water in the grape but the sugars and other solids remain in the juice
- If these grapes are pressed while frozen a very concentrated must is the result but a special yeast and long fermentation are required
- These wines are sweet but remain balanced due to very good acidity
- Late Harvest or Noble Rot wine is made from moldy grapes, a fungus named Botrytis cinerea. This fungus dehydrates the water from the grape and imparts nuances of Honey, and Apricot once the wines are made.
- These wines should be served alone or with food less sweet than the wine
- Whites should be slightly chilled
- Reds should be served at room temperature or ever so slightly chilled
A sweet or dessert wine that I recommend is one that I just had at an Adelsheim Vineyard tasting with Sales Manager Bill Blanchard. This is a beautiful example of a very sophisticated dessert wine that is perfectly balanced with sugar and acidity.
2008 Deglacé of Pinot Noir
Composition: 100% Pinot noir
Alcohol: 10.2% by vol
Production: 349 cases (375 ml)
Cellaring: Recommended anywhere from 5-8 years, optimal storage temperature 55-60° F
“Even with this sweet wine, we stay true to our winery philosophy that a wine’s highest use is in pairing with meals. That means retaining enough of the grapes’ natural acidity to ensure that the wine never becomes too cloying. Our Deglacé has amazing strawberry, nectarine and orange blossom flavors that should prove to be a perfect match with red berry tarts, pumpkin cheesecake, and a wide range of other desserts.”
Dave Paige, Winemaker
• Dessert wines from red-skinned grapes – especially Pinot noir – are relatively rare in the world. We produced our first Deglacé, almost as an experiment, in 2001. Initially, the wine was created for use at the end of winery dinners.
• Neither of the two ways in which dessert wines are traditionally produced – using grapes that have been desiccated by Botrytis cinerea (“noble rot”), or pressing after the grapes had frozen on the vine – would work for us. A Pinot noir producer would never want Botrytis in its vineyards (it ruins red wines), and we can’t remember a fall when a freeze came before the rains of winter.
• That year, winemaker Dave Paige selected one block of grapes to take to a freezer instead of the winery, and then followed the traditional approach to producing an ice wine. (Well, not entirely traditional. He didn’t have to do any of the work in the middle of the night.)
• Our Deglacé dessert wine has a soft pink color produced from contact with the Pinot noir skins. The residual sugars are on the low end as compared to traditional ice wines, resulting in a consistently balanced wine.
• The 2008 growing season began slowly with a cooler than normal spring for the months of March and April. Buds began to open around April 26th, giving the growing season a bit of a delayed start.
• Temperatures picked up considerably in May and the vines accelerated shoot growth, but bloom was still slightly later than normal.
• The favorable conditions surrounding bloom near the end of June continued well into August. Veraison became apparent in mid-August, followed by gorgeous ripening conditions in September.
• Hand-picking occurred on October 1 and 15, allowing the fruit to fully ripen and bask in what could be called a textbook Indian summer for Oregon.
• We used post-harvest freezing of grapes (57%) and juice (43%) to create this unusual sweet dessert wine.
• After the grapes were picked, over half were quickly trucked to a cold-storage facility and frozen. During a two-week period in early February, they were brought back to the winery in small batches and allowed to partially thaw so they could be pressed. The pressed grapes averaged 40º Brix.
• The juice component was obtained from a saignée process (bleeding off a portion of red wine after only a short period of contact with the grape skins). The saignée juice was frozen in tank to remove water and concentrate the sugars, flavors and other components that remain, bringing the Brix to 35º.
• Yeast that would allow an especially cold fermentation (which retains the maximum possible fruit esters) was added to the juice to start the six-week fermentation.
• When the wine was bottled on April 17, 2009, it carried a residual sugar level of 20%.
• Most of the grapes for this wine were grown at our Ribbon Springs Vineyard (Ribbon Ridge AVA), where we chose several blocks that have given us in past vintages the intense strawberry flavors important for this wine. Small amounts of fruit from Lia and Ellis Vineyard (Chehalem Mountains AVA) also contributed to the wine.
• These blocks were picked on October 8, 12 and 13, averaging 24° Brix.
This wine receives The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©
I have put together a list of Classic and Major red and white grape varietals to share with you so that you have something to compare when you decide to make a wine purchase. I’m going to start with the red wines.
Red wines are rich, robust, and flavorful. Tannin is foremost in creating flavor in red wines. Stems, skins, and seeds is what tannin comes from. The wine color comes from the grape skins. According to medical research drinking two four ounce glasses of red wine a day may reduce coronary disease by as much as 50 percent.
Cabernet Sauvignon – This varietal is a big, powerful red wine that is full in body, rich, and very flavorful. Cabernet sauvignon is a wine that imparts flavors of fruits, berries, currants, and plums. This wine may also exhibit slight spicy nuances.
Pinot Noir is the medium bodied grape variety of red burgundian wines; it can produce wines that are incredible. When aged in oak, it should have sweetness reminiscent of raspberries, with undertones of vegetation and chocolate. The wine can stand up to aging for many years. Pinot Noir at its best will be smooth, full of flavor, and a beautiful bouquet.
Merlot is the wine type or varietal that is great to drink with or without food. It tends to be soft, smooth, and very fruit forward. Winemakers the world over are creating rich style merlots that are wines full of cherry and oak flavors. This is a medium bodied wine.
Syrah/Shiraz is a big powerful full bodied wine, also known as Shiraz in Australia. Supple, smooth, rich with well mannered mellow tannins describes the syrah wines. Flavor wise a Syrah can be slightly spicy, fruity like black cherries, or some may have a deep nutty flavoring. Long thought of as only blending grape for cabernets or Rhone, France Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Syrah is creating a reputation of its own as a varietal.
Those were the Classic Red Grape varietals we have just learned about and now we are going to learn about the Major Red Grape varietals.
Cabernet Franc is spicier than its cousin Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc has traditionally been used as blending wine. It now is gaining popularity as its own stand alone wine type or varietal. This is a full bodied wine.
Grenache the medium bodied grape is famous for use as a blending grape in both France and Spain. Grenache is full bodied with berry flavors. It lends itself well to nice full reds or roses that produce fruity or berry like flavor.
Cinsaut is a full bodied grape used predominantly as a blending grape in France, but now being coupled with Pinot Noir and known as a Pinotage. These wines are becoming well known in Africa, Australia, and California.
Gamey Beaujolais a wine from France that is made to be drunk very young, right after bottling. This is a light bodied red that has very little tannin and is low in alcohol content. It is a fruity red wine that has berry overtones and is light bodied.
Carignan is one full bodied grape that needs a little help from its friends. Carignan is often blended and softened with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, or a handful of others. In the hands of a skilled winemaker this can be a very nice selection.
Barbera grapes like warm weather, they’re grown in Italy most predominantly but California also produces Barbera. This medium bodied wine is very fruit forward, mellow in tannin, and well rounded or soft.
Nebbiolo is the grape that is a no nonsense contender from northern Italy. California’s also working with the Nebbiolo grape. Best known for huge, robust, full bodied wines such as the Barbarescos’ and Barolos’. A big wine like this may need a decade to mature properly. These wines tend to be heavy on tannin and high in alcohol content. Aged correctly this wine will be chewy, with hints of berries, herbs, and slightly floral.
Sangiovese one word Chianti, probably the most well known of Italian wines(at least that holds true in the United States). This grape is also the major contributor for many other fantastic Italian reds. This spicy medium bodied red also exhibits cherry and raspberry flavors.
Tempranillo is the medium bodied jewel of Spain is the major player in a couple of Spains finest wines, Rioja and Ribera del Duero. This grape produces very complex wines hinting of plums, vanilla, cassis, and tobacco.
Aleatico an medium bodied Italian red variety that can produce sweet red wines, that are very aromatic wines reminiscent of Muscat and is thought by some to be a red relation of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.
Red Zinfandel is a full bodied, fruit forward, and spicy wine is one of Californias favorites, and most plentiful. Berries, cherries, tobacco, oak, and vanilla this wine seems to have it all. This grape is diverse it is used to produce White Zinfandel and is blended with many other wines.
Malbec one of Argentina’s finest! A medium bodied fruit forward, flamboyant red wine. Spicy, tannic at its best this wine can be outstanding.
Mourvedre is Spanish wine’s popularity is on the increase. Fruity, berry flavor, tannins are strong, try this full bodied wine for a little variety.
White wines can be very dry to sweet. The varietals in the very dry wine section have a higher acid content, this is what gives these wines a very crisp, very dry taste and feel. The varietals in the dry white wine section have a high acid content; this is what gives these wines a medium crisp, dry taste and feel. Varietals that are medium dry white wine have a medium acid content; this is what gives these wines a medium crisp, slightly dry, but softer taste and feel. The Sweet or Dessert wine section is a compilation of rich, sweet wines. You will find that these wines are also referred to as “Late Harvest”. These wines are left on the vine longer to enhance sugar levels in the grapes, thus increasing the alcohol content of the individual wines. The Sweet or Dessert wines are rich, sweet wines. You will find that these wines are also referred to as “Late Harvest”. These wines are left on the vine longer to enhance sugar levels in the grapes, thus increasing the alcohol content of the individual wines.
Let’s take a look at the Classic and Major varietals of white wine; very dry and dry wines have a higher acid content, this is what gives these wines a very crisp, very dry taste and feel. Medium dry white wines have a medium acid content, therefore this is what gives these wines a medium crisp, slightly dry, but yet a softer taste and feel.
Chardonnay is one of the most complex white wines, thanks to winemaking techniques, and the grapes ability to draw flavor from the nutrients and minerals in the soil. Chardonnay is aged in new oak barrels, old oak barrels, and steel barrels, all producing varying nuances in the wines. New barrels produce the strongest oaking, old barrels have a slight oak influence, while the steel has no oakiness. This dry wine is rich, bold, and full of fruitiness, vanilla and a certain toastiness, just to name a few characteristics. Complexity is the word that best suits Chardonnay.
At its best Sauvignon Blanc is a very crisp, light bodied, and very dry. They are also known as Fume´Blancs, and are well balanced with citrus and grassy overtones. Most of these wines are not fermented in oak, the high levels of acid balance well with the fruity characteristics of the wine.
The Semillon wines are typically blended with a Sauvignon Blanc. This is a dry yet complex wine with flavor from both pears and figs, also features overtones of honey. Well made this wine is very interesting.
Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape. It is very crisp, acidic, high in alcohol content, yet is smooth and full bodied. This grape exhibits slight spiciness, hint of honey, and slight fruitiness and is dry. This can be a very special wine, such as Vouvray, an excellent wine exhibiting many different styles.
Riesling is one of the prominent white wine grapes, a pure riesling is complex yet delicate. Some Rieslings are just pretenders made from inferior grapes, the Grey Rieslings, and Sylvaner Rieslings. A Riesling will be light, medium dry, fruity, a mild citrus flavor, with a mellow floral aroma.
Now we will take a look at the Major White Grape varietals.
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris as it is commonly referred to is a very dry wine. Some characteristics of this wine are a slightly fruity, and mild spiciness.
Pinot Blanc at its best this wine can make a strong statement, it can be complex and spicy with fruit and citrus flavors. This is a dry wine. Not a wine to age, drink now and enjoy this bright fruity wine.
The Gewurztraminer wine is spicy, fruity, floral, and herbal. This is a dry, earthy, aromatic wine that is genuinely refreshing.
Muscat wines have a musky, grapey flavor that is simplistic and enjoyable. It is a very versatile grape that produces delicate dry wines, rich sweet wines and fortified wines. Try one of these for your enjoyment!
Muller-Thurgau variety produces good dry wines with round, floral characteristics.
Viognier is a grape from the Rhone valley in France is also making a name for itself in California. Viognier is a very dry, delicate wine with floral aromas and apricot overtones.
Muscadet the white Melon grape produces dry wines from the Muscadet region of the Loire. Although the wines are somewhat neutral in flavour, they are well balanced. Leaving the wine on the yeast cells after fermentation, sur lie, provides extra body and character.
Trebianno is a grape that is best known as the blending grape for Chianti. It is a dry wine that is light in body, low in sugar and alcohol. This grape produces a rather neutral wine that pairs well with a wide variety of foods.
Malvasia is an important white grape variety in Central Italy where it is a minor contributor of Chianti. It produces dry, sweet, Spumante wines.
Palomino is the white grape variety that is neutral in flavor, low acidity and high yield are well suited to the process used in making sherry.
Sylvaner has a distinct dry, earthy, flinty style wine. Used almost exclusively as a blending type wine.
Aligote is a dry white Burgundian grape grown in the Cote d’Or region on less than favorable sites and consequently can produce rather thin, acidic wine.
Blush and Rose wines are produced by leaving the red grape skins in contact with the juice or by combining the red and white wines during various stages of the wine making process. This wine is light bodied and slightly sweet.
Sparkling Wines and Champagne are still wines that have been infused with carbonation. True Champagne is made in France will be noted by the capital letter “C”on the label. Other sparkling wines called Champagne will by designated as “champagne”, notice no capitalization. Three grapes are used in Champagne, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. It’s white because only the juice of the grapes are used. Pink Champagne is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins, truly a delight. M´ethode Champenoise is the true French fermentation process. The wine is fermented twice, once in an oak barrel, and the second time the wine develops carbonation in the bottle while aging a minimum of one year.
Blanc de Blancs this true French Champagne is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape. Also fermented using the M´ethode Champenoise process, producing a white Champagne.
Today’s wines use the most widely recognized rating system today, the Wine Spectator or Robert Parker rating system. The scale of ratings is as follows;
0-80 are average to good wines
81-86 are very good to above average wines.
87-100 are great to outstanding wines.
WineGuyMike’s Wine Lingo
Astringent – This refers to a drying sensation in the mouth that may make you pucker. It is common in young full bodied red wines such as a Cabernet or a Zinfandel. This is caused by high tannin content in the wine. Tannin is a tactile sensation, not a taste.
Balance – this term is one that would refer to a harmony of fruit, tannin, acid, and alcohol. There may be a nuance of fruit in a wine but it would not be so overwhelming that it would be out of balance or harmony when considering the other characteristics of a wine.
Cheesemonger – this term refers to someone who sells cheese, in this case a specialist or purveyor of artisanal cheeses.
Crisp – Fresh, Bright, Young, and Slightly Acidic. Wine Types are Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and Chablis
Grassy – Refers to Herbal Characteristics often associated with Sauvignon Blanc
Meritage – pronounced just like “Heritage”, is a proprietary term used to denote red and white Bordeaux-style wines without infringing on the Bordeaux region’s legally protected designation of origin. Winemakers must license the Meritage trademark from its owner, the California-based Meritage Alliance. Member wineries are found principally in the United States, though increasingly elsewhere.
Oaky – A reference to a nuance in a wine resulting from wooden oak barrels that wines are aged in. This term is common to Chardonnay’s and Cabernet wines.
Rose′ - “pinkish”(French). Depending on the grapes and winemakers style the wines can be colored from vivid orange to nearly a purple hue.
Terroir is a French term for the notion that the complex combination of soil, climate, exposition and local tradition define the style of wine, a taste of the earth.
Velvety – This term characterizes a wines texture. This term would be used with a wine that has a rich and supple mouth feel.
Wine Tasting Flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.
Match the words that you think make sense; these words are descriptors for wine:
Bright = Flinty an epiphany in your mouth
Rich = Subtle mellow, smooth, decadent, just easy and fulfilling
Lively = Crisp the wine is refreshing, a zing, literally comes to life in your mouth
Intense = Juicy big, bold, forward just tastes like fruit you could bite into
Velvety = Aromatic sexy, goes down like silk, fills the room with its aroma