Friday, April 16, 2010

Wine Terminology

The top ten most commonly used wine terms, according to

The intensity and character of the aroma can be assessed with nearly any descriptive adjective. (eg: from "appley" to "raisiny", "fresh" to "tired", etc.). Usually refers to the particular smell of the grape variety. The word "bouquet" is usually restricted to describing the aroma of a cellar-aged bottled wine.

Denotes harmonious balance of wine elements - (ie: no individual part is dominant). Acid balances the sweetness; fruit balances against oak and tannin content; alcohol is balanced against acidity and flavor. Wine not in balance may be acidic, cloying, flat or harsh etc.

Crisp (Whites)
Wine has pronounced but pleasing tartness, acidity. Fresh, young and eager, begs to be drunk. Generally used to describe white wines only, especially those of Muscadet de Sevres et Maine from the Loire region of France.

Term used to describe the taste left in the mouth after swallowing the wine. Both character and length of the aftertaste are part of the total evaluation. May be harsh, hot, soft and lingering, short, smooth, tannic, or nonexistent.

Used for any quality that refers to the body and richness of a wine made from good, ripe grapes. A fruity wine has an "appley", "berrylike" or herbaceous character. "Fruitiness" usually implies a little extra sweetness.

Smooth / Soft (Velvety)
Generally has low acid/tannin content. Also describes wines with low alcohol content. Consequently has little impact on the palate.

Almost a synonym for "peppery". Implies a softer, more rounded flavor nuance however.

The flavor plan, so to speak. Suggests completeness of the wine, all parts there. Term needs a modifier in order to mean something - (eg: "brawny" etc).

Tannins (Reds)
A naturally occurring substance in grapeskins, seeds and stems. Is primarily responsible for the basic "bitter" component in wines. Acts as a natural preservative, helping the development and, in the right proportion, balance of the wine. It is considered a fault when present in excess.

Refers to the basic sensations detectable by the human tongue. Current scientific opinion defines these as "sweet", "salty", "sour", "bitter" and "MSG" (Monosodium Glutamate) flavors all registered by the tongue taste receptors. The traditional view of the tongue having four distinct surface zones to register those tastes has recently been revised by a report of new research discoveries.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Something New

We have a couple newly released wines that are in need of an introduction...
2006 Petit Verdot "Synnove" - Back and better than ever! Petit Verdot is a Bordeaux varietal, usually used as a blending grape for its deep color and tannin structure. It is also pretty phenomenal as a 100% single varietal wine. The color is dark garnet with a violet hue, and the aroma is full of ripe dark fruit and earthy spiciness. Flavors of currant and plum are highlighted by well-balanced oak, tannin and acidity. This wine is unfined and unfiltered. Only 225 cases produced. $22/bottle.

Food Pairing: Beef Brisket Pot Roast


One 4-pound beef brisket with a 1/3 inch  layer of fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic gloves, smashed
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
2 rosemary sprigs
2 small dried red chilies
2 cups dry red wine
One 14-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, drained
3 cups chicken broth


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the brisket, fat side down, and cook over moderately high heat until richly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the brisket, fat side up, to a roasting pan.

Add the garlic, onions, carrots and celery to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, rosemary and chilies and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the wine and boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture over and around the brisket.

Add the broth to the skillet and bring to a simmer over high heat. Pour the broth around the brisket. Cover the roasting pan with foil, transfer to the oven and braise until the brisket is very tender, about 3 hours. Transfer the brisket to a platter and cover with foil.

Strain the contents of the roasting pan through a coarse strainer and set over a large saucepan, pushing the vegetables through as much as possible. Boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 3 1/4 cups, about 20 minutes.; season with salt and pepper. Carve the brisket into small slices. Pour some of the sauce over the brisket to keep it moist and serve, passing the rest of the sauce around the table.

Serve with buttered egg noodles.

2006 Capriccio Italien - Welcome back our luscious Super Tuscan blend. It is named after Tchaikovsky's composition of the same name, written over 125 years ago (Listen here). Our first, and only previous vintage of this wine was in 2001. It is now back by popular demand, and better than ever.

Known as a "Super Tuscan", this wine is an enticing blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The aroma is pretty, with essence of rose petals and minerals leading into a tart cherry and toasted vanilla mouth feel. We recommend decanting for a few hours. Only 122 cases produced. $34/bottle.

Food Pairing: Balsamic and Rosemary-Marinated
Florentine Steak


1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped rosemary
One 3-pound porterhouse steak, about 4 inches thick
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground peppercorns


In a sturdy resealable plastic bag, combine the vinegar with 1/2 cup of the olive oil and the rosemary. Add the steak, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight, turning the bag several times. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bring the steak to room temp. Heat a grill pan. Remove the steak from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Rub the side with the remaining 2 tbs. of olive oil. Grill over moderately high heat until nicely charred on the top and bottom, about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer the steak to a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, until a thermometer registers 125 degrees.

Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.