What Do You Smell When You Smell Wine?

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Wine is often described as having aromas of fruits, flowers and spices. But, what do you smell when you smell wine?

The most common response from those just starting to like wine is “It smells like wine.” Well, that’s a good start. But, there’s so much more.

The best place to start is with red wines. They have the biggest aromas. And, you need to do a lot of sniffing.

Start by gently swirling the wine around in a bowl-shaped wine glass. This can significantly enhance the aromas in the glass. Then, don’t be afraid to stick your nose into the glass. You don’t need to take a deep breath, just inhale. Give the glass another swirl and take a second sniff.

Now, this is where you have to open up your imagination a bit and think of other things that could have similar aromas. With red wines it’s easy to start with the black fruits. Do you possibly smell Boysenberry, Black Cherry, Plum or Blackberry? Think of the fruits themselves or maybe the smell of jams and jelly. How about Fig, Date or Raisin? In the lighter red wines, you may get a bit of Cranberry, Strawberry, or Cherry.

You’ll need to be patient with yourself and give yourself lots of time and plenty of experience. And, if you’re in an environment where you can smell lots of different wines you’ll be able to compare and contrast the aromas.

Your nose actually plays a very important role in how you taste something. We’ll get into that a bit more next time. For now, happy sniffing and sipping! Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc

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2018 Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc ($19)

This Sauvignon Blanc from Kalfu is from the Las Terrazas vineyard in Leyda Valley, Chile.

Leyda Valley is a sub-region of the San Antonio Valley wine region in Chile, just 55 miles west of the Chilean capital, Santiago. This region by the Pacific Ocean produces bright, vibrant wines. And, this Sauvignon Blanc is a fine example.

Kalfu means ‘blue’ in the language of the Mapuche, the indigenous inhabitants of Chile, and for the Mapuche, Kalfu is synonymous with the magnificent Pacific Ocean that boarders Chile’s western coastline.  A coastline blessed with an exceptional cool climate, constant refreshing breezes and early morning fogs that lead to a slow, steady ripening period for grapes, helping to create balanced, elegant wines. 

This 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Kalfu is fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh fruit flavors. It was then fermented and aged on lees for three months to further enhance it flavors. But this Sauvignon Blanc takes the middle of the road with nice bright fruit, but not overly so. You get nice gentle flavors of grapefruit and lime with just a hint of minerality. And, it’s got nice moderate acidity without being harsh. Its finish is light, long and refreshing.

This is an elegant Sauvignon Blanc from Chile that definitely fits the mold of a Behind the Cork™ wine. Look for this one! Cheers!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White Communications

Wine: Decanting versus Aerating?

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While catching up on some recent reading, I came across an article looking at wine decanting versus aerating. The bottom line presented in the article was that older wines should be decanted and young wines should be aerated. This caused me to pause.

Both of these methods allow a wine to have further exposure to oxygen that typically helps a wine to release any undesirable odors and, more importantly, to help soften the tannins in a red wine.

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But, what caused my pause is that older red wines typically have softer tannins just from the aging process. And, an older wine is usually a bit more delicate and can quickly loose its character, or go flabby, if decanted.

Young red wines often have bigger, bolder tannin and benefit the most from decanting. Sometimes for hours.

So, my advice would be a bit different than the article. If you are dealing with a young red wine whose tannins are too bold, I’d recommend pouring it into a decanter. Then, re-sample periodically. Usually after an hour or two, the decanting process has calmed the tannins and you’ll find a noticeable positive difference.

If you are dealing with an older bottle of red wine, I’d recommend trying it immediately out of the bottle. If you detect something odd or the tannins are still too bold, then pour it into a decanter (being especially careful to avoid pouring any sediment into the decanter) and give it 10 to 15 minutes. Then, re-try the wine.

As for an aerator, they are fun pouring accessories, and the do add a bit of oxygen to the wine during the pouring process. But, for really giving a wine some breathing space, give it some time in a broad-based decanter. Cheers!


Behind the Cork™ - Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir

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2017 Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir ($19)

This Pinot Noir from Kalfu is from the Leyda Valley in Chile.

Leyda Valley is a sub-region of the San Antonio Valley wine region in Chile, just 55 miles west of the Chilean capital, Santiago. This region by the Pacific Ocean produces bright, vibrant wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Kalfu means ‘blue’ in the language of the Mapuche, the indigenous inhabitants of Chile, and for the Mapuche, Kalfu is synonymous with the magnificent Pacific Ocean that boarders Chile’s western coastline.  A coastline blessed with an exceptional cool climate, constant refreshing breezes and early morning fogs that lead to a slow, steady ripening period for grapes, helping to create balanced, elegant wines. 

This Kalfu Pinot Noir is pale ruby in color, has very soft and delicate aromas and bright red fruit flavors on the pallet. It finishes very easy with some notable acidity.

This 100% Pinot Noir is aged for 12 months in French oak with 10% in new barrels, 20% in second use barrels and the remaining 70% in third and fourth use barrels. This oak adds some wonder earthy character to the bright cherry, cranberry and raspberry flavors.

Kalfu winemaker, Alejandro Galaz, is an advocate for Chile’s cool climate wine regions. “From the vineyard to the bottle, producing cool climate wines can be challenging, but I enjoy a challenge – always striving to produce wines that are a sincere expression of elegance, distinction and subtlety of the grape varietal.

I’m a huge fan of Pinot Noir and this one stands up well against the competition. And, at this price, it’s a perfect example of an attainable, affordable Behind the Cork™ wine of the week. You won’t be disappointed with this wonderful offering from Chile.


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White Communications

Ever Wonder - What is Jug Wine?

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While strolling through the wine section of my local grocery store, I was asked “Do you know what Jug Wine is?” My attention was drawn to a sign above the shelves that identified the section as “Jug Wine.”

My first reaction was to state that it’s cheap bulk wine. But, the immediate follow-on question that I got was “What type of wine is it?” I had to shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t really know. Probably some blend of grapes.” Turns out, both of my responses were correct.

You’ll find that these jug wines are commonly sold as “Burgundy” for the red ones or “Chablis” for the white ones. These are trademark name of their wine brands and definitely not French wines. In France, red wines from Burgundy are made from Pinot Noir and wines from Chablis are made from Chardonnay. Some makers of the jug wines go so far as to call them “Reserve” which is just a bit of a stretch since that term is not regulated in the U.S.

So I did a little digging and learned, for example, that Gallo's Hearty Burgundy is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Teroldego and Zinfandel, while Carlo Rossi Burgundy is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Ruby Cabernet and Syrah.

Another blending wine is Barbera. In California, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Barbera was one of the most successful grapes being grown in the Central Valley, where it became a major blending component in jug wines. Unfortunately, Barbera still gets a bad rap because of this. Yet, it’s one of my favorite varietal wines, especially from the Amador and El Dorado Counties of California.

So, yes, jug wine is inexpensive bulk wine that’s a blend of different grapes. And, it’s very popular as a table wine in the U.S. So, enjoy! Cheers!