Who Put The Bop In The Bop Shoo-Bop Shoo-Bop?

or “Where Do All Those Wonderful Flavors Come From!”

Chapter Ten. Part One.
Woman with recordRegular followers of WineSnark have learned how to discern and describe the varied vagaries of vino but have you ever wondered where these peculiarities come from? Why does Syrah from the Rhone Valley taste different from Shiraz produced in Australia? (Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape variety but our spell buds perceive them differently). Where does the “butter” flavor come from in some Chardonnays? How come Cabernet Sauvignon can taste like blackberries or like vanilla? What makes Pinot Noir taste different from Pinot Gris?

The answer to these questions can be found in the science of winemaking. Now don’t roll your eyes and reach for the mouse. I realize the onus of this site is flavor and not geography, meteorology, botany or chemistry, but this stuff has everything to do with the quality of wine and it’s about time WineSnark examine the scientific foundation of these unique flavors. I promise to keep it simple and I won’t even use a periodic table, unless I need someplace to set my wine glass.

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Wine Tasting Techniques; Weight A Minute.

Ever since I started announcing these posts on Twitter I’ve had the spooky sensation that people are following me.

Chapter Three. Part Twelve.
Milk Tasting 1Analyzing wine means much more than simply identifying aromas and flavors; you must also learn to identify tactile sensations. This will help you learn what textural profile appeals to you so you can express your likes or dislikes to a salesperson when you’re shopping for wine. Take full-bodied wine for example. You might love it. Your spouse hates it. Your goldfish doesn’t care one way or the other. And what about wines that are crisp or creamy, hard or soft, regular or decaf?

Wine offers an abundance of textures but the tactile sensation we’re discussing today is weight

Okay, that’s long enough.

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Wine Tasting Techniques; How To Taste Better.

Chapter Three. Part Eleven.

Pop Rocks grape

Do you remember Pop Rocks – the 1970’s candy made of carbonated sugar granules tinted with some sort of unearthly dye and coated in polyethylene? When eaten, the outer plastic sealant dissolved and a radioactive uranium isotope was released, creating a tiny nuclear reaction in your mouth. But it was a happy nuclear reaction, filled with cheerful little explosions of flavor – just like grandma used to make.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t polyethylene or a nuclear reaction, but that’s what it felt like. You may find this hard to believe but I try to be completely honest in my writing. I also try to be 175 pounds and that’s not working out so well either.

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It’s A Matter Of Degrees.

Chapter Three, Part Ten.
calice di vino con termometroProper wine tasting technique starts with serving wine at the right temperature. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those extremists who bring a wine thermometer to a restaurant and obsess over a few degrees. I’d much rather obsess over something important like who’s picking up the check.

When wine is served too cold it will exhibit less flavor than one served at room temperature. This is good if the flavors are bad, but it’s bad if the flavors are good. What I’m saying is, cold masks both the quality and the flaws in wine. Studies have shown that people who drink wine too cold become bored and their lives soon lose meaning, usually resulting in heroin abuse or worse, a subscription to People Magazine.

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A Lesson In How To Smell Better.

Chapter Three, Part Seven.
Drink With AuthorityLate in 1993 an ENT specialist assured me that sinus surgery would not affect my sense of smell. He lied.

Months after the surgery I still couldn’t smell which was a little disconcerting since I was about to make wine sniffing my life’s work. I felt like Manny Ramirez facing Mariano Riviera in the bottom of the ninth – minus the steroids.

The surgery made my sense of smell spotty and inconsistent which made analyzing wine difficult. I had to get my schnoz back in shape so I sent it to basic training snoot camp. I’d go to a wine tasting and smell every wine in the room. When I had a snoot-full and thought about quitting I’d hear this drill sergeant in my head screaming, “Come on Carter! Gimme 50 more! You can do it ya pussy! Sniff that Beaune, smell that Pfalz!” Within a year I probably stuck my nose in 10,000 wine glasses, which wasn’t nearly as much as I stuck it in other people’s business. The work paid off and today my nose runs constantly.

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