Thursday, February 17, 2011

Grape To Glass

Understanding the types of grapes used in wine and their characteristics is vital for any relevant knowledge of wine. Apart from white and black grapes, varietals come from two main families.
Vitis Vinifera, which is dominant in Europe, and Vitis Labrusca, which is native to Canada and the eastern United States.V. Vinifera is cultivated on every continent except for Antarctica.
In the 17th Century, North America formed hybrids with native species from the Vitus gene to combat an insect pest called phylloxera which was known to wipe out entire vegetation.

 The factors that affect wine flavor are the variety or varieties of grape used, the location where the grapes are grown (appellation), the treatment of those vineyards and skills used to manage them and of course equipment and techniques used by the winemaker.Different varieties of grape have differing aroma and flavor characteristics known as Varietal character.
Arguably, the types of grape used is the dominant factor in wine flavor.
If you were to take any World Famous Vineyard, or even an entire Appellation, plant it with a different variety and the wine from there would become unrecognizable.
There are over 5,000 varieties of wine grapes. Below are some of the main types:
This is a fresh, fruity grape grown in Burgundy, Champagne, California, Australia, and South Africa. Chardonnay wine tends to taste like fruits - melon, peach, etc. - and also many have an oaky flavor. It is one of the most popular and easiest to grow white grapes - it buds early, grows easily and has high ripeness levels.
Gewurztraminer; The first part of the name literally means "spicy" in German, the second part Traminer is the region of Germany where the grape was first founded. It has a floral taste with nutty tones. Gewurztraminer is also grown in Italy, California, Canada and Australia.
Riesling: Not just a dessert wine-grape, Riesling can produce dry crisp and fruity wine as well honeyed, musky flavours in warmer climate or when left longer on the vine. Riesling wine is native to Germany, and is also used in France, Australia, California, and many other countries . The Finger Lakes region of New York are well known for their Rieslings.

Sauvignon Blanc: This grape is grown primarily in California and France. It has a grassy flavor and makes a crisp, light wine. Fairly floral on the nose, would accompany citric dishes with chicken, fish and sea food.

Muscat; This is a very grapey-tasting grape that doesn't ripen easily. There are various varieties of Muscat - Muscat Blanc, Moscato from Italy, Muscat of Alexandria, and Muscadel. Moscato is the grape used for Asti Spumanti, the sparkling wine from Italy.
Vidal Blanc: Vidal is mostly grown in the northeast US, and is very hearty. It does well in late harvest sweet wines, as well as in ice wines. Vidal can adjust to many temperatures and yield higher then most grape types.
Auxerrois: Also known as Malbec or Cot, Auxerrois creates a neutral wine, fruity and soft. It is mainly grown in Luxembourg and Canada. In Alsace it is often blended with the pinot blanc grape.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon wines are made from these grapes. On the vine they are red, small, and tough. The wines tend to taste like blackberries and cedar. Bordeaux uses the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, usually mixed in with Merlot.
These grapes are also grown widely in California and Australia. The grape contains a lot of tannin, which leads to a good red wine when properly aged.
Cabernet Franc: A "parent" of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Cabernet Franc is used mainly in Bordeaux. It is also used in the Loire Valley, where it is called Breton. Other names include Bouchy, Bouchet, Gros Bouchet and Veron. Cabernet Franc is mostly used as an additive to blend with other grapes.

Gamay: This is the grape famous used in Beaujolais Nouveau wine, from France. It is often drunk young in as in these light fruity reds. various types of Gamay are used in the US and Canada often in Blends.

Merlot: This is an early ripening grape, with gentle flavors of cherry, honey, and sometimes mint. It has less tannin than some of its red cousins. Merlot wine is a major blending component of most Bordeaux wines. It's grown in France, Italy, Australia, US, Canada, and California.

Pinot Noir: These grapes are softer and earlier ripening than Cabernet grapes
, and are very sensitive to conditions. Used often in red wines, they are also used (without skins) as a white ingredient in Champagne. Pinot Noir wine is made in Burgundy, and also Australia, California, Oregon, Italy and Germany. Pinot Noirs from the Niagara region contain the highest amounts of resveratrol.
Syrah /Shiraz: This grape is grown in France and California as Syrah wine, and in Australia as Shiraz. In France, it is associated with the Rhone Valley and Hermitage red wines. Syrah tends towards a minerally, blueberry, or sometimes spicy and peppery type of flavor. Not to be confused with Petite Sirah which is an entirely different grape.

A grape plays a large roll in the flavour of a wine but what about the proper consumption method?
For reserve wines please decant for 1-3 hours before enjoying, you can also use an Aerator if you do not think that you will drink a full bottle. There are many types of stemware so you must be careful when selecting a glass to pour you wine into. Burgundy reds usually have a larger bowl for maximum aeration and swirling. Glasses that narrow towards the mouth are meant to send the wine to specific taste buds before your stomach gets to fully appreciate it. The newest technology to the stemware group is the new breathable technology which claims to be a thinner glass and allow air to travel to the wine faster and easier.
You can pick up any stemware at a Home Sense, Sears or Ikea at a reasonable price but the wineries are going to have the latest and the greatest fads for consuming wine as long as you can afford to pay a little more then you usually would for a glass.

                                                        ~Wine a bit - You’ll feel better~

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