The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines

By Friday, August 31, 2012 Permalink

by James Flewellen

Like white wines, the aromas of reds can similarly be broken up into ‘fruity’ and ‘non-fruity’ categories. Rather than a fruit ‘spectrum’, however, I tend to think of red wines in terms of red fruit and black fruit. Some of the lighter, more ethereal red wines have notes of redcurrant, cranberry, raspberry and strawberry, while in fuller-bodied wines you’ll often find luscious blackcurrant, blackberry and damson. Some wines, notably Pinot Noir can straddle the red fruit-black fruit divide, while I often find cherry and red plum notes specifically in Italian varietals.

I mentioned that with white wines, the position of the wine’s aroma profile along a ‘spectrum’ can indicate the ripeness of the fruit, and thus the climate in which the vine has grown. There is an analogue with red wines, where wine from cooler climes may smell (and taste) more of tart, fresher fruit while wine from wamer places will have notes of ripe, jammy or even baked fruit. Think of the subtle notes of fresh raspberries versus the heady aroma of a pot of homemade raspberry jam on the boil. Grapes from very hot places can have yield wines with dried fruit notes such as raisin, prune or date.

Some fruit aromas found in red wine

It’s perhaps worth mentioning here, that other than flavouring added by maturation in oak barrels, the flavours and aromas in wine come entirely from the fermentation of grapes. Grapes are not so far removed from other fruits on the evolutionary tree that it should come as no surprise that we might find some of the same chemicals in grapes as we do in apples, cherries or blackberries. Over millennia humans have domesticated the vine and carried out a series of genetic selections to bring forward different characteristics in what we now term different ‘varieties’ of the vine.

On the whole, red wines are more suited to oak ageing than whites. Thus we’ll often get the characteristic vanilla or coconut notes from wines that have seen, respectively, new French or American oak. More red wines will be aged in what is termed ‘old oak’ or ‘second use’ barrels. These are barrels that have already been used for one vintage and have thus imparted most of their bright, toast and vanilla aromas to a previous wine. Their effect on a subsequent wine is thus more subtle, and in such wines you’ll often find aromas of nuts — hazelnuts and walnuts are the two I find more commonly — and also coffee, mocha and chocolate.

Image Copyright James Flewellen. All Rights Reserved.

French oak barrels used for maturing red wine in Bordeaux.

Red wines too have a broad spectrum of non-fruit aromas. Wine writers and critics have come up with all sorts of interesting descriptors to attempt to communicate these sensations to their readers, and although they may sound rather rude, they are in fact (usually) complimentary. Some that spring to mind are farmyard, wet wool, horse manure, charcoal, ash and earth.

Spices too are a rich vein to tap for red wine aroma descriptions. Licorice, anise, Chinese five-star, pepper – both white and freshly ground black, juniper, cloves, nutmeg to name a few.

Some red wines have a herbaceous aspect to their aroma profile. Cabernet Sauvignon from a relatively cool climate famously has a note of ‘green bell pepper’. Cabernet Franc can smell grassy and leafy while Pinot Noir can bring forth hints of mushroom or autumnal leaves. Others still have floral aromas.

The most interesting wines will smell of many things; the aroma will swirl, morph and change over time in the glass; with bottle age, even more aromas come to the fore while other recede into the background. And of course different people will notice different things in the same glass of wine. Smell is a very powerful  trigger for memory — which perhaps explains some of the more poetic descriptions for wine aromas. The great thing is that there are no wrong answers — nobody else has your olfactory sense nor your memories top draw upon. What can be frustrating to begin with is not to have the right vocabulary for describing what you smell. The best way to solve this is to buy some fruit, or some flowers, or some spices and just smell them! It might seem a bit mad but surely, not to notice what your wine smells like is to miss out on at least half the fun!

__________________

James Flewellen is The Rambling Epicure wine columnist. James is a biophysicist at the University of Oxford. Originally from New Zealand, the huge range of wine James discovered in Europe spurred his interest in all things vinous. He became involved in the University’s Blind Wine Tasting Society and has recently completed a two-year term as its President. During this time he represented the University in a number of domestic and international wine tasting competitions, winning several awards. He is currently completing the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits. James has a passion for wine communication and education and runs the Oxford Wine Blog and the Oxford Wine Academy.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Simon Says: Daily Food Quote, August 31, 2012

By Friday, August 31, 2012 Permalink

by Simón de Swaan

Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.–Julia Child


Julia Child was an American chef, author, and television personality. She is best known for bringing French cuisine to the American public with her début cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her subsequent television programs, the most notable of which was The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Part 6 on Fermentation: Sauerkraut Success

By Friday, August 31, 2012 Permalink

Part 6 on Fermentation: Sauerkraut Success

by Diana Zahuranec

I filled two scalloped blue bowls with homemade sauerkraut and kimchi, sat down, and taste-tested.

I was hesitant, but I was encouraged by the lack of mold.

Kimchi wanna-be and sauerkraut

After two weeks of pushing down the bottles that weighed on my sauerkraut and “kimchi” (which was not actually kimchi, but will be referred to as such because that’s what I wanted it to be), I balanced the heavy, full bowls of vegetables on a flimsy, plastic tray and carried them to the kitchen counter.

I removed the bottles filled with water, the plates, and then the bags (why all this? Here’s why in Step-by-step Fermentation). I began to pour the mix into large containers of what once held 1 kg of yogurt, but I stopped when I lost too much liquid.

I assumed that the liquid of fermented vegetables contains all the healthy nutrients  that can be found in the vegetables themselves. I didn’t want to lose that, although I remain baffled as to what I could do with it, and haven’t found great sources backing up my Water-From-Fermented-Vegetables-Is-Healthy Theory (yet).

So I stuck my hand in and scooped it all out, pouring the liquid over top at the end. The liquids also help to preserve the vegetables when you store them in the refrigerator, and many say that the flavor improves as the fermentation slowly continues. And another reason to save the water: use a bit mixed in with the brine the next time you ferment vegetables, helping to jump-start the fermentation process.

According to Nourishing Days, ferments with 1-2% salt content will store for 4 to 9 months.

I filled two of those yogurt containers and some glass jars, or about roughly 13 cups of sauerkraut and kimchi from almost the same amount of vegetables. I had read that the vegetables will shrink as they lose their water, but the before:after ratio was nearly the same.

Success! They were both delicious. There was not a hint of rot. In fact, although many sources claim that it’s highly probable that you’ll lose some of your batch – especially a small one, like mine – due to air or uneven fermentation, I lost no more than a few shreds of cabbage.

Both were crunchy and flavorful. The pure cabbage had a more delicate flavor, and a bit of lactic acid tang. When I made the brine, I also added a teaspoon or two of yogurt whey to help . Sauerkraut naturally has a  lactic acid flavor, so I’m curious to see if fermented vegetables without added whey would give off that taste as strongly. Fermentation Project Number 2?

The kimchi was spicy from the chili pepper flakes and chopped hot peppers I added, and the mix of vegetable textures was delightful. The tastes all ran together – a carrot didn’t taste much different from a chard stem. And the chard stems were tougher than I wanted; but on second thought, it’s great that everything retained its crunchy structure. Mushy vegetables can be the result of not adding enough salt; I also read on Nourishing Days that tannins keep the structure of the vegetables intact, so you may be able to add grape leaves, for example, to retain crunch.

And now I’ll admit that I tentatively drank the fermented water, out of curiosity and refusal to waste something healthy. Its flavor wasn’t offensive, just mostly salty. I decided it might be healthier to forgo the salt than to absorb the other nutrients in there. And drinking fermented water just doesn’t sound very appetizing.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Food Art: Spicy Indian Custard and Well-loved Board, food photography by Prerna Singh

By Wednesday, August 29, 2012 Permalink

Prerna Singh runs the award-winning food blog Indian Simmer, which was a finalist in the prestigious Saveur Best Food Blogs this year. Her photos are at the same time sophisticated and rustic, giving a natural yet polished look to the simplest of foods. She grew up in India, but now lives in the U.S. with her husband and daughter.

Prerna uses a Canon 50mm f1.4 lens and photographs in natural light, occasionally using reflectors.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Simon Says: Daily Food Quote, August 28, 2012

By Tuesday, August 28, 2012 Permalink

by Simón de Swaan

Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.–Craig Claiborne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craig Claiborne was an American restaurant critic, food journalist and book author. A long-time food editor and restaurant critic for The New York Times, he was also the author of numerous cookbooks and an autobiography.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Food Art: Vineyards in B&W 2, by Rosa Mayland

By Tuesday, August 28, 2012 Permalink

Rosa Mayland is part of The Rambling Epicure staff and author of the column “Rosa’s Musings.” This is the second in a series of her black and white photos of vineyards.

You can more of her work on her blog, Rosa’s Yummy Yums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Switzerland: Take a Gourmet Walk in the Vineyards of Mont-sur-Rolle

By Monday, August 27, 2012 Permalink

by Jonell Galloway

Discover the various wine grape varieties and wines of Mont-sur-Rolle at the Caveau de Mont-sur-Rolle on September 1st, 2012. This is a great introductory wine course to Vaud wine.

The walk makes for a lovely daytime family outing. The 5-kilometer walk through the vineyards includes 9 stops at different grand cru wineries. Wine tastings are given by the actual wine maker, with explanations about the method and technique used. It is an easy walk, so children can even come along. The discovery tour starts every 15 minutes, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to reserve a traditional Swiss dinner and make it a gourmet walk, you must reserve ahead. Adults 60 CHF, children 25 CHF.

Departure

From 10.30 a.m. in front of the Caveau des Vignerons
Address: Route du Coeur de la Côte, 1185 Mont-sur-Rolle

Festivities

From 12 p.m. at Domaine de Bellevue
Musical entertainment
Snacks and refreshments
Wine tasted on sale

 Contact Tania de Wateville by email at montbenay@gmail.com or by phone 41 (0)79 363 48 59.

 

 

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Simon Says: Daily Food Quote, August 27, 2012

By Monday, August 27, 2012 Permalink

A world devoid of tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato ketchup and tomato paste is hard to visualize. Could the tin and processed food industries have got where they have without the benefit of the tomato compounds which colour, flavour, thicken and conceal so many deficiencies? How did the Italians eat spaghetti before the advent of the tomato? Was there such a thing as tomato-less Neapolitan pizza?–Elizabeth David (1913-1992), An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, 1984

 

Elizabeth David was a British cookbook writer who, on her return from “exile” in Egypt after WW2, decided that action had to be taken with regard to the quality of food in Britain. She was outright hostile to second-rate cooking and the use of frozen, canned and out-of-season ingredients, and is, in many people’s mind, a precursor of the concept of Slow Food. In any case, she was a primary mover in bringing true traditional home cooking using quality ingredients back into the mainstream in Britain.

All her books are listed here, and most are still available at Book Depository or other online independent booksellers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in white wines

By Monday, August 27, 2012 Permalink

by James Flewellen

For me, the greatest tragedy of having a cold is not hours spent in bed when I could be out doing something ‘productive’. Rather, it’s losing my sense of smell with a blocked nose: food simply doesn’t taste the same!

Just like food, the aroma of a wine is very important to our overall perception, and enjoyment, of it. We smell a wine without even trying when we go to drink it. Our taste buds are immediately informed about what to expect and we unconsciously assess the flavour of a wine based on whether it lives up to how it smelled. We even have smell sensors that can be reached from inside our mouth. These are especially triggered by wine, whose alcoholic content helps lift the aroma molecules to reach these sensors even after we swallow. Wine can be such a complex beverage, it’s a shame not to experience fully everything it has to offer, which is why you’ll see wine geeks swirling a glass of fine wine and sticking their noses in endlessly, before even taking a sip!

Image Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

When pairing food and wine think also about complimenting the aromas of each. The stone fruit and honey aromas of this Tokaji paired very well with an apricot tarte tatin.

Given the density of aroma molecules found in a wine and a human’s comparatively poor sense of smell, it can sometimes be a challenge identifying what it is we’re actually smelling in a wine. This is no bad thing — if you can immediately name a single thing a wine smells like, it’s a sign that it’s not particularly complex or interesting wine.

To help simplify things I like to break up the aromas I might be getting in a wine into different categories. Firstly I focus on the ‘fruit’ aspect of the bouquet. Does the wine smell ‘fruity’ or is the nose (wine term for ‘aroma’) dominated by non-fruit aromas? Or perhaps they are both there in equal measure. If fruity, what sort of fruits?

For white wines, I tend to think of a ‘fruit spectrum’. At one end of the scale we have cool climate fruits, such as apples, pears, lemon and grapefruit. We move through to stone fruit — peaches, apricots — and then to tropical fruits — for instance pineapple, guava, mango. This ‘spectrum’ is an indication of the ripeness of the grapes and can give us a clue as to the climate in which the grapes are grown. To generalise, the more towards the tropical end of the spectrum, the warmer the climate.

Part of the ‘fruit spectrum’.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, and some wines have distinct aromas of certain fruits — Gewurztraminer typically smells of lychee for instance. It’s interesting to note that very few wines actually smell of ‘grapes’. Perhaps this reflects the reduced variation in table grapes we have available to us in a globalised, homogenised food market — most of the table grapes I’ve seen in supermarkets around the world are Thompson Seedless. Although there is of course the argument that if grapes are fine enough to be made into wine, why would you waste them on a table! Wines made from Muscat are one exception to this rule, and are often described as having a ‘grapey’ aroma.

As far as non-fruit aromas go, we can have vegetal or herbaceous aromas — Sauvignon Blanc is often described as smelling of gooseberry and nettle, or even tomato leaf. Shelled peas, grass and hay are all terms I’ve used more than once too. Wines can smell musty or animally too, which is not always a pejorative term. Loire Chenin Blanc can have an intriguing aroma commonly referred to as ‘wet wool’! And of course we have flowers. Muscat smells of orange blossom; Chablis can be reminiscent of lilies. If you know your flowers you’ll be able to discover all sorts of comparisons with wine.Image Copyright. All Rights Reserved

You’ll often hear the term ‘minerality’ thrown about in wine descriptions. Minerality is more commonly used to describe a component of taste, and exactly what it means is a matter than is hotly debated. As far as aromas go, some wines do have a sort of chemical smell such as flint, gunpowder, kerosene, petrol or wet asphalt. Again, these are not always used in a negative way. The most complex wines will have elements from all categories in varying degrees and over the course of a meal or tasting different aspects of the bouquet will come to the fore, while others will recede in prominence as your nose gets used to smelling them.

The final aspect of the nose of a white wine may be the presence of oak. If a wine has been aged in new French oak, you may expect aromas of vanilla, butter, nuts, spices, or even freshly sawn planks — if the wine is very young. American oak has a more lifted, slightly confected aroma often described as coconut, but also as white chocolate.

As you’re picking up, wine is a complex concerto of hundreds of aromatic compounds. As humans, we’re lucky enough to be able to smell even some of the, though it can take practice to identify what exactly we smell. As with everything though, it is simply a matter of starting to pay attention to what we’re smelling, both in and out of the glass.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Using your nose: Aromas in red wines | No category

Food Poetry: Tomato Pies, 25 cents

By Tuesday, August 21, 2012 Permalink

by Grace Cavalieri

Tomato pies are what we called them, those days,
before Pizza came in,
at my Grandmother’s restaurant,
in Trenton New Jersey.
My grandfather is rolling meatballs
in the back. He studied to be a priest in Sicily but
saved his sister Maggie from marrying a bad guy
by coming to America.
Uncle Joey is rolling dough and spooning sauce.
Uncle Joey, is always scrubbed clean,
sobered up, in a white starched shirt, after
cops delivered him home just hours before.
The waitresses are helping
themselves to handfuls of cash out of the drawer,
playing the numbers with Moon Mullin
and Shad, sent in from Broad Street. 1942,
tomato pies with cheese, 25 cents.
With anchovies, large, 50 cents.
A whole dinner is 60 cents (before 6pm.)
How the soldiers, bussed in from Fort Dix,
would stand outside all the way down Warren Street,
waiting for this new taste treat,
young guys in uniform,
lined up and laughing, learning Italian,
before being shipped out to fight the last great war.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries