Understanding Wine 101By
Because of modern technology in the vineyard and winery today, there is a virtual ocean of well-made wine available to us. The same kind of thing could be said about there being many good restaurants. Please keep in mind, however, that we want to be more than just a ‘good’ restaurant. We’re trying to offer “good”, interesting and unique foods. We’re also looking to serve “good”, interesting and unique wines, more and more.
There are NO shortcuts to understanding ‘good’ wine, but here are three basic levels to help you understand how we define “good” wine, how we find it, and how we taste it.
LEVEL ONE “Understanding what is ‘good’ wine”
– to me, a ‘good’ wine should smell of the earth
The first thing I tend to look for in a wine is character, a concept the French refer to as”terroir”, and a term roughly defined as “somewhere-ness”. Simply stated, terroir is about a sense of place and often manifests itself with nuances of earth, mineral and/or wet stone, as opposed to only fruit and oak. I believe many earth, mineral and wet stone qualities come from the vineyard. Fruit and oak largely comes from the grapes, oak barrels, winery, and/or winemaker.
– a ‘good’ wine should have good intensity and concentration.
Please keep in mind this has nothing to do with body, weight, showiness, boldness or oak levels. ‘Good’ wine should have good intensity and concentration… whether it is light in body or whether it is rich and full-bodied. Intensity and concentration comes from working hard in the vineyard. Too many of today’s award-winning wines are instead about high sugar ripeness.
– a ‘good’ wine should have a very even and seamless flow on the palate from beginning to end.
Too many wines today are “front-loaded” – that is, bold and showy out of the gates, and very little follow through afterwards. Others are thin and /or hollow in the middle and still others have virtually no finish.
– a ‘good’ wine should finish UN-bitter, UN-alcoholic and UN-oaky…and should be long.
Such wines, as we will see later, actually work much better with a wide range of foods.