Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2015 1000 Stories Zinfandel ($18)

I’ve had my eyes on this one for a while now. It differentiates itself by noting on the front label that it is “Bourbon Barrel Aged.” Aging wines in oak barrels is common, but I’ve not seen a wine aged in Bourbon barrels.

So, I was actually a bit hesitant. I’m not into gimmicky wines. And, I certainly don’t need a Bourbon-flavored wine.

This 1000 Stories Zinfandel is aged in new and used Bourbon barrels. But, don’t let that dissuade you. The barrels do not impart a big or smoky flavor. Actually, I found this Zinfandel on the fruity side.

So, the back label states that the Bourbon barrels impart “…charred vanilla, dried herbs and a hint of caramel.” Just what you’d expect from an oak barrel.

If the “Bourbon Barrel Aged” 1000 Stories Zinfandel has not been on your list, give it a try. It’s a worthy Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week with its attainability and affordability. Cheers!

The Factors that Make a Wine More Capable of Bottle Aging

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We've now worked our way through how a wine gets its flavor - from the grape, the skins, seeds and stems, fermentation, barrel aging and last time we touched on bottle aging. There we learned that most wines are not meant for long-term bottle aging. But, what does make a bottle of wine age worthy?

It may seem obvious, but the color and the type of grape are very important. Red wines are best at bottle aging because of their natural tannin from the grape skin, seeds and stem as well as from barrel aging. This is most common in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.  White wines generally don't age well and should be consumed young.

The vintage, or the year the grapes were grown, can significantly affect a wine's ability to age well. The balance of tannin and acid in a particular year may lend the resulting wine to better aging prospects.

Where the wine is from can also affect its ability to age. There are key regions, such as Bordeaux France and Napa California that produce very age-worthy grapes.

And finally, storage conditions are also key. Wines must be stored in cool conditions (~58 degrees F) and away from light.  Even a great wine will quickly be damaged by heat and light.

Next time, we'll take a look at specific regions and wines for their age worthiness. You may be surprised by some of the guidelines. Until then, Cheers!

 

Wine Flavors from Barrel Aging - Part 2

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Last time we learned that aging wine in barrels can impart flavors ranging from none, in older 'neutral' barrels, to subtle hints of vanilla, or bolder flavors of chocolate and smokiness, depending on the barrels age and the degree to which its inside was toasted.

But, barrel aging can also affect a wine’s flavor in a very different way. And, that has to do with a very important component of air, namely oxygen.

Originally, wood barrels were used as a means of transporting wines over great distances. It was somewhat accidentally discovered during this transportation process, that the longer the wine was inside the barrels, the more the wines would change in character - in a positive way.  

This was partially due to the wine’s flavor being directly affected by long-term contact with the wood’s surface.  But, it was also discovered that wood, by its very nature, allows microscopic amounts of air to pass through the barrel and to the wine inside. This minimal exposure of wine to oxygen was found to soften the fruit flavors of the wines and create other flavor notes.

This, quite accidentally, began the practice of aging wine in wood barrels, notably oak.  Today, red wines will typically see a minimum of one to two years of aging in oak barrels before being bottled.

And, we’ll take a look at bottle aging next time. Until then,  Cheers!

 

 

Ever Wonder How Many Grapes it Takes to Make a Bottle of Wine?

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Last time we took a look at a wine fun-fact about a butt of wine and learned that it is a measure approximately equal to two standard barrels.

So, here's some more wine fun-facts about the amount of grapes used in producing wine.

When you look out at a vineyard, it's easy to imagine that the grapes produced in that vineyard will make "a ton" of wine. Well, one ton of grapes results in a little more than two barrels of wine! 

One barrel of wine equals:

  • 60 gallons
  • 25 cases
  • 300 bottles

Stating it the other way around, to produce one bottle of wine it takes about 2.8 pounds of grapes or approximately four clusters.

So, there you go. A few more wine fun-facts.  Maybe not as interesting as last week's butt of wine, but I hope this helps to put some things into perspective. Cheers!

How Much is a Buttload of Wine?

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It may seem like a funny or pointless question, but there's a real answer!  So, here's a wine fun-fact.

The butt is a measure of liquid volume equaling two hogsheads.  That may not be of much help. So, in terms that we all understand, a butt of wine is approximately 126 gallons. That's compared to a standard wine barrel that contains about 60 gallons. So, technically, a buttload of wine is roughly two standard barrels.

And, just so you know, a butt of wine is also called a pipe. Who knew? Cheers!