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Facts About The Famous Red Wine Grapes Around The Globe



Syrah (or Shiraz)




(Sah-ra or Shi-raz) Syrah and shiraz are two names for the same variety. Europe vintners only use the name syrah.



Food pairings: meat (steak, beef, wild game, stews, etc.)

Districts: syrah excels in California, in Australia, and in France’s Rhone Valley.


Typical taste in varietal wine: aromas and flavors of wild black fruit (such as blackcurrant), with overtones of black pepper spice and roasting meat. The abundance of fruit sensations is often complemented by warm alcohol and gripping tannins.

Toffee notes if present come not from the fruit but from the wine having rested in oak barrels.


The shiraz variety gives hearty, spicy reds. While shiraz is used to produce many average wines it can produce some of the world’s finest, deepest, and darkest reds with intense flavors and excellent longevity. You’ll discover Syrahs of value and elegance by reading my reviews of French wines.









(Mare-lo) Easy to drink. The softness of Merlot has made it an "introducing" wine for new red-wine drinkers.



Food pairings: any will do.


Districts: a key player in the Bordeaux blend, merlot is now also grown in Italy, Romania, California, Washington State, Chile, Australia, etc. It is the fourth wine grape variety in terms of coverage worldwide (after sultanine blanche, airen blanc, and grenache noir).



Typical taste in varietal wine: typical scents include blackcherry, plums and herbal flavors. The texture is round but a middle palate gap is common. The Merlot type of wine is less tannic (rough) than Cabernet Sauvignon.







Cabernet sauvignon

(Ca-burr-nay so-veen-yaw)




Widely accepted as one of the world’s best varieties. Cabernet sauvignon is often blended with cabernet franc and merlot. It usually undergoes oak treatment.


Food pairings: best with simply prepared red meat.


Districts: cabernet sauvignon is planted wherever red wine grapes grow except in the Northern fringes such as Germany. It is part of the great red Médoc wines of France, and among the finest reds in Australia, California and Chile.


Typical taste in varietal wine: full-bodied, but firm and gripping when young.


With age, polyphenols polymerize: the grip fades away. The rich currant qualities of the Cabernet Sauvignon wine change to that of pencil box. Bell pepper notes remain.

Another article deals with the health benefits of polyphenols.

Vanilla notes if present come not from the fruit but from the oak treatment. They increase review ratings but may overwhelm the varietal taste.









Food pairings: all types of meat-based meals, foie gras. Argentine Malbec suits Mexican, Cajun, and Indian dishes, if you insist on having wine with such meals.




Districts: malbec has its origins in the French Bordeaux region. It is grown as côt in the Loire Valley and auxerrois in Cahors. Malbec has also been recognized as médoc noir or pressac again in France. Malbec is widely grown in Argentina, where it is the most popular red grape variety. It is also available in Chile, in Australia, and in the cooler regions of California.



Typical taste in varietal wine: malbec’s characteristics vary greatly depending on where it is grown and how it is transformed. Generally it produces an easy-drinking style, well colored wine that tastes of plums, berries, and spice.

Malbec is often blended with other varieties such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot to make Bordeaux style wines. Malbec and some such blends may present some health benefits.



Pinot noir

(Pee-know na-wahr)




One of the noblest red wine grapes. Pinot noir is difficult to grow, rarely blended, with no roughness.



Food pairings: excellent with grilled salmon, chicken, lamb and Japanese dishes (notably sushi rolls).


Districts: makes the great reds of Burgundy (from Bourgogne, France), and good wines from Austria, California, Oregon, and New Zealand.



Typical taste in varietal wine: very unlike Cabernet Sauvignon. The structure is delicate and fresh. The tannins are very soft; this is related to the low level of polyphenols. The aromatics are very fruity (cherry, strawberry, plum), often with notes of tea-leaf, damp earth, or worn leather.



Yet pinot noir is very transparent to the place where it is grown. The staggering range of wines produced makes it pointless to define which personality is the best expression of the variety.










Perhaps the world’s most versatile wine grape, making everything from blush wine (White Zinfandel), to rich, heavy reds.



Food pairings: very much depends on the freshness/heaviness of the wine; tomato-sauce pasta, pizza, and grilled and barbecued meats.



Districts: mainly found in California, zinfandel originates from Italy (where it is called primitivo).


Typical taste in varietal wine: often a zesty flavor with berry and pepper.









Food pairings: a good choice for Italian and other Mediterranean-style cuisines.


Districts: sangiovese produces the Chiantis of Italy’s Tuscany region and, of late, good wines from California.



Typical taste in varietal wine: the primary style is medium-bodied with fresh berry and plum flavors.









Not as popular as Merlot but with similar attributes.


Food pairings: barbera wines are versatile: they match many dishes, including tomato sauces.



Districts: another classic red of Italian origin. Widespread in California.



Typical taste in varietal wine: juicy black cherry and plum fruit, a silky texture and excellent acidity. You may wish to read tasting notes of Barberas at La Spinetta.







Wine Flavors



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Featured Topic:

The Basic Of Wine Tasting



Learning ways to taste wines is an uncomplicated adventure that will grow your appreciation for both wines and winemakers. Look, odor, taste - beginning with your basic senses and broadening from there you will learn ways to taste wines like the pros in no time! You can smell thousands of unique fragrances, but your taste understanding is restricted to salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It is the combination of smell and taste that allows you to discern taste.


The process:


Look: Check out the Color and Clarity.

Pour a glass of wine into an appropriate wine glass. Take an excellent appearance at the wine. Tilt the glass away from you and examine out the color of the wine from the rim edges to the middle of the glass (it's handy to have a white background - either paper, napkin or a white table linen).


If it's a red wine is the color maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick or even brownish? If it's a white wine is it clear, light yellow, straw-like, light green, golden, amber or brown in look?


Is the wine watery or dark, translucent or nontransparent, dull or dazzling, cloudy or clear? An older red wine will typically have more orange tints on the edges of color than younger red wines. Older white wines are darker, than more youthful white wines when comparing the very same varietal at different ages.


Smell: Our sense of odor is important in effectively evaluating a glass of wine.

To obtain a good impression of your wine's fragrance, swirl your glass for a solid 10-12 seconds (this assists vaporize a few of the wine's alcohol and launch more of its natural scents) and then take a fast whiff to acquire an impression.


Do you smell oak, berry, flowers, vanilla or citrus? A wine's scent is an outstanding indicator of its quality and special characteristics. Swirl the wine and let the aromas mix and mingle, and smell once again.


Taste: Lastly, take a taste.

Start with a little sip and let it roll around your mouth. There are 3 stages of taste: the Attack phase, the Evolution phase and the Finish.


The Attack Phase, is the initial impression that the wine makes on your palate. The Attack is consisted of 4 pieces of the wine puzzle: alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and recurring sugar. These 4 puzzle pieces display preliminary experiences on the taste buds. Ideally these components will be well-balanced one piece will not be more popular than the others. These 4 pieces do not display a specific taste per se, they blend together to provide impressions in intensity and intricacy, soft or firm, light or heavy, crisp or creamy, sweet or dry, however not necessarily true flavors like fruit or spice.


The Evolution Phase is next, likewise called the mid-palate or middle range phase, this is the wine's real taste on the taste buds. In this phase you are planning to discern the taste profile of the wine. If it's a red wine you might begin keeping in mind fruit-- berry, plum, prune or fig; maybe some spice-- pepper, clove, cinnamon, or perhaps a woody taste like oak, cedar, or a detectable smokiness. If you are in the Evolution Phase of a white wine you may taste apple, pear, tropical or citrus fruits, or the taste may be more floral in nature or include honey, butter, herbs or a little bit of earthiness.


The Finish is properly labeled as the last stage. The wine's finish is the length of time the flavor impression lasts after it is swallowed. This is where the wine culminates, where the aftertaste enters into play. Did it last numerous seconds? Was it light-bodied (like the weight of water), medium-bodied (comparable in weight to milk) or full-bodied (like the consistency of cream)? Can you taste the residue of the wine on the back of your mouth and throat? Do you desire another sip or was the wine too bitter at the end? What was your last taste impression-- fruit, butter, oak? Does the taste persist or is it brief?


After you have actually taken the time to taste your wine, you may wish to record your impressions. Did you like the wine overall? Was it sweet, sour or bitter? How was the wine's level of acidity? Was it well balanced? Does it taste better with cheese, bread or a heavy meal? Will you buy it again? If so, jot the wine's name, manufacturer and vintage year down for future reference.






Have you ever questioned why wine smells (and tastes) like virtually every fruit in the book, except for grapes? Or how a wine can smell like vanilla, taste like cherries and finish like satin?


Welcome to the world of stereoisomers. Do not stress if high school chemistry wasn't your thing, stereoisomers are simply various setups of the very same chemical substance. Stay with me. For example, two typical fragrances in California Chardonnay are apple and butter, you'll hear plenty about "big, buttery Chardonnay." So has the winemaker included butter or a dash of apple juice to the fermentation mix? No. Aside from the true fruit wines, like strawberry wine or cherry wine, that are floating around the market, traditional wine is made exclusively from grapes. That's it.


Wine Flavor Factors:

So where are these other aromas, flavors and in some cases off the wall descriptions coming from? The easy response is fermentation. In the fermentation process the yeast eats the grape sugar and transforms it to alcohol and while doing so actually thousands of different, complicated chemical compounds are also formed.


It is these ubiquitous substances that handle similar molecular plans to familiar scents that our nose and brain can classify - i.e. apple, butter, cherry and the like.


Wine Flavor: Apple

When it comes to apple and Chardonnay - Chards that have actually gone through malolactic fermentation the procedure generally takes the tart malic acid (think green apple) compounds that formed throughout fermentation and softens them to a lactic acid (think milk) which can give the wine a creamy mouthfeel, yet still keeps the apple-like fragrances.


Wine Flavor: Butter

Now the butter and Chardonnay connection stems from a substance called diacetyl, which is a standard by-product of the fermentation procedure. This very same substance can be found in your spice cabinet. Just open a bottle of synthetic butter and take a whiff - there you'll discover your own variation of diacetyl and an unforgettably, strong butter aroma. If you have actually never ever had a chance to determine "buttery notes" on a Chardonnay, put an oaked Chardonnay in a glass, offer it a swirl and stick your nose in the glass. Attempt to bypass the other scents screaming for your interest and focus, focus, focus in on the diacetyl. If you don't get it in the beginning pass, then take another whiff of your fake butter and after that swirl and sniff the Chardonnay once again. Remarkably enough, you'll likewise often taste this smell on the finish of the Chardonnay when you ingest. Try - individuals are amazed out how they are able to single out this well-known element of lots of Chardonnays with this simple workout.


Wine Flavor: Berry

Similar to the fermentation process kicked out chemical compounds that were stereoisomers to apple, the very same occurs for an assortment of red or dark berries and red wine fermentation. If the grapes are grown in cooler climates the berry fragrances and subsequent tastes will be tighter like that of cranberry or currant. Warmer grapes display richer red fruit, think strawberry and big, juicy blackberries.


Wine Flavor: Vanilla

Vanilla is a byproduct of oak aging. The enduring relationship in between oak and wine is worth examining, particularly since oak barrels have been utilized in wine fermentation and barrel aging for centuries. Oak is made use of rather like a "seasoning" to add flavor and taste buds appeal to a wine. Oak offers flavor and aromatic assistance to the wine, while including richer, fuller impressions and complexity. On the nose, oak's main impacts have the tendency to accentuate scents that center around the spice rack, with clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and "allspice" being typical fragrances derived from a wine's time invested in oak. On the taste buds, oak's impact turns towards the abundant flavors of caramel, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, smoke, tea, mocha, toffee and butter.If you are interested in doing a different wine tasting to discern the presence or lack of oak for yourself, then take a look at the Oak and Wine Component Tasting.


Wine Flavors: A function of Scent?

Keep in mind from elementary school that your tastebuds can really only taste for feelings: sweet, bitter, sour and salt. Yet your nose can determine countless individual aromas, which in turn enables you to taste numerous food taste nuances. That is why it is so important to actually swirl your wine in the glass, take a deep whiff in and then take a sip, hold it in your mouth for a couple of seconds so that the liquid can meeting all of your different tastebuds for a total imagine of what the wine has to provide.


Common White Wine Flavors:

When you consider white wines, consider white or lighter-fleshed fruit. The most common fragrances and tastes that you can anticipate in white wine varietals include: apple, pear, citrus, tropical, peach, apricot, melon, kiwi, banana, mango, pineapple, warm florals, butter and typically you'll observe more level of acidity on the palate with white wines.


Common Red Wine Flavors:

Just as you thought about lighter fruits with white wines, you'll wish to move to darker fruit for red wine profiles. The most typical fragrances and tastes for red wine varietals include: cherry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, plum, raisin, fig and numerous floral tones, spices and you'll frequently notice more tannins in the red wine category.


How Climate Affects Wine Flavors

It's obvious that environment influences every vintage, every year, but it likewise plays an important role in the advancement of the specific grape clusters and their innate flavor profiles. For example, a wine's design will be entirely various depending on where it was grown. Take a Cabernet Sauvignon for instance, one grown in a cooler region and one grown in a warm bright, location. What occurs to the grapes? In the cooler locations the Cab grapes will frequently display tart, tight flavors like that of red cherries or currants; nevertheless, grapes grown in warmer climates present juicer fruit, like that of plums, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries as a direct result of ripeness levels based on sun direct exposure.






It's an insurance claim that has appeared in almost every wine magazine, on almost every food and drink website and has actually been gone over in nearly every wine tasting room: "Even sommeliers can't inform the difference between cheap and costly wine."


No matter the number of times this phrase has been repeated, is it the fact?


Experienced sommeliers who explore intensive blind-tasting practice gradually typically find that it is extremely possible to taste the distinction between inexpensive and expensive bottles. Tasting skills and assessment may be enhanced substantially with experience, indicating that blind-tasting for quality elements is rather possible.


Further, there can be a considerable relationship between cost and quality, however it takes thoughtful practice for the lover or sommelier to determine those specifications in a blind tasting format.


Obviously there is likewise the debate of just how much individual preference comes into play when identifying how "good" a wine is.


Nevertheless, one can still train the taste buds to get the qualities of expensive wines, even if a certain bottle is not a personal favourite.



Distinguishing Features of High-quality Wine

To really taste-- and best value-- a fantastic bottle of expensive wine, search for these three objective qualities in every glass.



Top quality wines have more intricacy than low-quality, bulk wines. When drinking an inexpensive bottle, you might just be able to find a single taste. Due to the fact that a top quality wine is more complex, you should be able to identify several fragrances and tastes in a single sip.



Higher-end wines shoot for balance. Balance in fruit, sugar levels, level of acidity and tannin. When a wine is balanced these 4 parts are harmonious. Wines that operate on the cheaper-side, tend to accent one part more than others, frequently it's the fruit. An inexpensive wine typically has insufficient or too much of a certain flavor.


Consider the proportion of the tastes when you sample a wine. None of the important flavors-- like the oak or the fruit-- ought to be too subtle or too overwhelming. A bottle with the proper percentages of flavors makes for a healthy, higher-quality wine.



When drinking a top quality wine, you must be able to really plainly determine how intense the wine smells. Greater intensity indicates you can get various notes with more clarity. The more layers of fragrance that you are able to pick up, likely the more intricate the wine is likely to be. Be on the lookout for oak's significant influence, which frequently includes character and interest along with the main fruit elements.



The taste buds and surface of the wine need to cohere with and develop from exactly what the nose assured. A wine has integrity if your experience of it corresponds from beginning to end.



A wine is "typical" of its kind if it shows the important characteristics of its grape and regional appellation. Untypical wines might disappoint cups hoping for a specific varietal experience.


For the most insightful tasting experience, it is also advised to attempt more than one wine at a time, by separating them in side-by-side comparison. Possibly take a series of three Chardonnays from various regions (California, Australia, and Burgundy for instance) and compare and contrast the wines' acidity, sugar, fruit and total balance. Determining natural fragrances and flavor attributes typically becomes most clear when we have a reference point.


Finally: The more you taste, the better you become!