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Posted by J Overstreet

You have probably been around someone who uses crazy words to describe their wine. If you drink enough wine, you may be one of those people. So why do we use these terms? Wine descriptors help us put words to our wine. Imagine if someone were to ask you to describe what an apple tastes like. What would you say? It taste like an apple! The only way to describe the apple would be to come up with similarities or comparisons. When someone says a glass of wine tastes like black cherry, plum, dark chocolate and spice you can hear the words and know exactly what they mean when you drink the wine.

So let’s break down some of those crazy descriptors:

Chewy/Furry – a wine has a ton of tannin and dries out your mouth so much that you almost feel like chewing; your mouth is dry to the point of being completely void of moisture and feels furry

Cigar/Cigar Box – usually found in refined red wines, the smell/flavor of tobacco or tobacco leaves like a cigar; when it is slightly sweeter and has cedar wood and smoke, that is cigar box

Creamy – white wine or sparkling wine fermented or aged in oak that takes on a creamy feel in your mouth; the term buttery is also used (can be due to Malolactic fermentation)

Grassy – it is no coincidence when you put your nose in a glass of sauvignon blanc you smell freshly mowed grass, that aroma in the wine shares the same chemical compound found in the smell of mowed grass

Green Pepper – some grapes carry the same savory aroma compound (pyrazines) as a bell pepper, especially Bordeaux origin grapes like sauvignon blanc and cabernet franc; the smell and taste will be similar to a cut bell pepper

Jammy – thick, cooked berry taste, smell and sometimes feel in the mouth often used to describe grenache, shiraz, and zinfandel

Leather – found in quality red wine because of tannin present in grape skins, seeds and oak barrels; tannins are also used to tan leather; smell and/or lick your belt or purse, you’ll get the idea

Toast – aroma due to wine being aged in toasted oak barrels; not bread toast, more like barely burnt caramel

(originally published in The Crab Cracker Magazine, June 30, 2016)

Your avatar
Loy • 07/15/2016 at 05:27PM • Like 1

Nice article - can't wait to go in the next wine tour and test all the descriptors! :)

Your avatar
J Overstreet • 07/20/2016 at 12:50PM • Like

Glad you enjoyed the article. Hope it opens your mind to exploring options of taste, just takes a bit of concentration

I have lived on Camano Island for two years and enjoyed every minute of it but alas my time here has come to an end. My family and I are packing up and moving to California where I hope to enjoy a little warmer weather and new adventures in wine and whatever else life has to offer. If you would like to keep in touch, please feel free to follow along on my social media outlets:

Blog: www.deepredcellar.com (a post every week or two on wine knowledge, stories, etc. - much like you've seen on here)

Instagram: www.instagram.com/deepredcellar (daily wine-centric pictures and info.)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/deepredcellar

Facebook: www.facebook.com/deepredcellar

How can it be that summer is over! Kids are well into school, the days are shorter…and white wines are once again forgotten until next spring.

I have little prejudice when it comes to wine but I tend to drink white wine mostly during the warm months when the sun is shining and a chilled, crisp white is the perfect patio sipper.

So goodbye Chardonnay - I realize you’re the world’s most popular white grape variety but you can be fairly neutral. I mean you’re sometimes used as a blending grape! Time to move on from your green apple, pear, pineapple and mango aromas even though you can be deliciously full bodied with buttery nuances and toasty notes when aged in oak barrels.

So long Sauvignon Blanc - Let’s face it, some people have never really cared for your aromas of grass and green pepper. I will remember you more for your grapefruit, melon and gooseberry. Oh, and the fact that you pair so well with so many foods.

Farewell Riesling – I’m guessing not as many people drink you even though we are in Washington the Riesling producing wonderland, and you pair perfectly with spicy food. Your aromas of peach, nectarine, apricot, honeysuckle and jasmine will be missed.

Arrivederci Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris – I know, I know, your name means gray and it seems appropriate for you to be around for the impending gray skies but the weather will be too cold to enjoy your delicate, light bodied character. We’ve had enough of your aromas of apple, lemon, peach and minerals. And you’re just too confusing being the same grape variety from different origins.

WAIT! There is no way I can go on hiatus until spring to enjoy these beauties again. In fact, I may drink a Riesling at my favorite Thai restaurant tonight!

Your avatar
Tess • 10/10/2016 at 10:50PM • Like

Looking forward to the reds!

Your avatar
J Overstreet • 10/19/2016 at 01:42PM • Like 1

Tess, remember with those reds, the higher the alcohol content, the warmer you will feel...at least temporarily in your throat. :)

Have you ever wondered about the shapes of wine bottles? Are they shaped differently for a reason or is it just random artistry? As is often the case in wine, tradition is the major player for the different bottle shapes. There are four main types:

Bordeaux bottles have high shoulders with straight sides for wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. The high shoulders were created to help trap sediment due to prominent tannins in most of these wines.
These bottles are made of thick glass with a high punt (indentation on the bottom of the bottle).

Burgundy bottles are tall and wide with sloping shoulders for wines like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chablis and Pinot Gris. Much like Bordeaux bottles, these are made of thick glass. Purportedly, Burgundy bottles were the first to be created and the sloping shoulders made for easy stacking as well as achievability for glass blowers.

Champagne bottles are wide with low shoulders for wines like Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco. These bottles were created out of necessity due to the pressure inside the bottles (roughly 70-90 psi). They are made of thick glass, have a high punt and low shoulders to contain the immense pressure inside the bottles. By the way, the thick corks and cages securing them are no mistake either.

German/Alsatian bottles are narrow and tall with gentle sloping shoulders for wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer. The slender shape and lighter weight of these bottles were made for convenient stowing on ships during their voyage along trade routes in the early years.

Hopefully this bit of trivia may make shopping easier - especially the next time you and your fellow wine shopper are both trying to spot that last bottle of Bordeaux!

Your avatar
Amy • 09/29/2016 at 10:50PM • Like

Interesting and informative, thanks!

Your avatar
J Overstreet • 10/02/2016 at 05:46PM • Like

Thank you Amy. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

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