Ever Wonder? - What's that Stuff at the Bottom of Your Wine Glass?

wine-sediment.jpg

Have you ever taken that last sip of wine only to find a nasty surprise either at the bottom of your glass or in your mouth? Sediment! It can be a very unpleasant discovery. But, luckily, it’s nothing to be worried about.

Sediment is a natural bi-product of the wine making process.

Wines are made from the juice of grapes. And, the skins of the grapes. And the seeds. And sometimes the stems. So, there are actually a lot of solids that are involved in wine making. That’s why, in some cases, you get some ugly particles in your wine glass.

It doesn’t just happen with red wines. White wines are susceptible too.

There’s a lot of chemistry involved in for formation of various types of sediment in wine. But, keeping it simple, these solids in your glass are mostly filtered out at the winery and are just microscopic when they leave the winery in the bottle.

But, age and temperature then act upon these microscopic particles to form the stuff you see in your wine glass.

Next time, I’ll get into a bit more detail on this topic. But, for now, don’t worry. This sediment is not harmful to consume. Cheers!

How to Deal with Highly Tannic Wines

Red+Wine+in+Decanter.jpg

Last time we learned that some red wines can make your mouth feel dry due to the natural tannin in the wine that comes from the grape’s skin, seeds and stems. But, if you don’t care for highly tannic wines, there are some things you can do.

The tannins in a red wine will ‘soften’ with age. A young wine may be highly tannic but after several years of aging, the tannins will naturally become less harsh. So, aging is one option.

But, a lot of people don’t buy wines to stick away. They want to drink them now. So, there are other options if you pull the cork and realize the wine is a bit too tannic.

One option is to expose the wine to air. And, just pulling the cork and letting the opened bottle sit for a while isn’t sufficient. You’ll need to decant the wine. And you don’t need to have a fancy crystal decanter to do this. Really, any vessel will work. But, the key is to allow the wine to get as much exposure to air as possible. That’s why decanters, such as the one shown in the image, are large and have wide bottoms. Once an entire bottle of wine is poured into this type of decanter, it only fills the base. This gives the wine a large surface area that is exposed to air. For really tannic wines, they may need one to two hours in the decanter before they begin to soften. But remember, a decanter won’t turn a bad wine into a good one. It will just take a good wine and soften it up a bit.

Another method of helping soften harsh tannins is by aerating the wine. And this starts by just pouring the wine from the bottle to a decanter. Or, there are plenty of aerators that can be purchased that immediately mix air with the wine as it is poured whether directly into the wine glass or into a decanter.

Finally, if you are dealing with a highly tannic wine, pairing it with fatty or creamy foods will really help. That’s why wine and cheese work so well together. Just as pairing a nice steak is a natural with red wine.

So, don’t let that dry-mouth, astringent sensation scare you away from red wines. They can be some of the best there are. Cheers!

Ever Wonder? Why Do Red Wines Make Your Mouth Dry But White Wines Don't?

Glasses of Red and White Wine.jpg

Have you ever taken a sip of red wine and noticed that your mouth feels dry or dusty? Almost that ‘cotton-mouth’ feel? Well, that is a sensation that is associated with red wine. Some red wines.

The dry sensation is due to the wine being astringent and its effect on the tissue in your mouth. Some people have also described the sensation as making their mouth pucker.

The culprits that causes this drying sensation in your mouth are actually chemical compounds (phenolics) that naturally occur in tannin. And in wine, these tannins come from the grape’s skin, the seeds and the stems.

Now, this is where we get to why red wines dry out your mouth but white wines don’t. White wines actually do contain low levels of tannin, but red wines contain a whole lot more tannin. That’s because the process used in making red wines involves leaving the grape skins, seeds and stems in the juice of the grape while in white wines, they are immediately removed.

But, not all red wines have the same levels of tannin. Pinot Noir is a varietal that has low to medium tannin. A Malbec is going to have medium tannin, while Merlot is going to have medium-high tannin. Then we get to the high tannin wines — Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Tannat. What about Cabernet Sauvignon? Well, although you think of a Cab as having high astringency, it’s typically in the medium-high category.

So, tannin just naturally gets introduced during the wine making process. But, there are ways to deal with highly tannic wines. And, we’ll get to those next time. Until then, “Cheers!”

Do You Know Limnio?

Limnio Grapes.jpg

I always enjoy it when someone asks me a wine question that I don't know the answer to. It gives me another opportunity to learn. So, when I was recently asked if I was familiar with Limnio (LIM-nee-oh) I said no and started to do some research.

Limnio is a grape that is indigenous to Greece. Apparently, it was originally from the Greek island of Lemnos and history seems to indicate that it's been around for more than 2000 years.

The Limnio grape produces a red wine that is still being made today. Although little or no Limnio is grown on the island of Lemnos, it is being grown in other parts of Greece.

When made as a varietal, it produces a dry red wine that is full-bodied and can be quite high in alcohol. It is also described as being very herbaceous.

But, it seems that Limnio is more commonly blended with other red wines, often Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and Petite Sirah. My research even found purely Greek red blends that include Aghiorgitiko and Xynomavro with the Limnio (which gives me two more unique grapes to research!).

So, now that I know a bit about Limnio, I'm curious to try it.  I'll be on the lookout for the varietal or a blend. According to the person that asked me about it, the blend is quite good! Cheers!

 

Thanksgiving - Give a Red Wine a Try

thanksgivingdinner_wine.jpeg

The common belief is that a white wine should be served with the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.  And, with a white meat, a white wine would be the appropriate pairing. But, there is probably more on your plate than a piece of white-meat turkey.

Along with that serving of turkey, which may include dark meat, you’ll probably have a generous helping of a rich gravy along with stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and a bunch of other rich sides.  If this is the case, then a white wine will get lost among all those other big flavors. 

Some red wine options include:

  • Beaujolais - Light, dry and fresh with fruity flavors. And you can serve it chilled.
  • Pinot Noir - A light bodied red with flavors of cherry, raspberry and strawberry. In the French wine section at your store, this is called a red Burgundy. And this too can be served slightly chilled.
  • Carignan - This red wine is a bit higher in tannins and acid, and has flavors of dark and black fruits, pepper, licorice, and spicy, savory aromas.
  • Rhône Blends - Rhône wines focus on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grapes, producing medium-bodied blends.
  • Zinfandel - This medium bodied red wine can really work with a Thanksgiving meal. It has characteristics that include plummy, jammy flavors with spicy or peppery notes.

Avoid highly tannic red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah which can get lost in the presence of all the fruit, sugar, and salt on the Thanksgiving table.

But, as always, ensure that you drink what you like. That's most important. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Cheers!