Wine Sight Characteristics.
Wine experts around the world will tell you that there is much more to evaluating a wine than its taste. At the most basic level there are three areas of wine evaluation in a wine tasting. Sight, Scent and Flavor characteristics in wine are all areas that a wine expert will be paying attention to. We will start with wine sight characteristics and in future articles we will get into wine nose and taste.
An astonishing amount of information can be determined about a wine just from looking at it.
There are a lot of factors in the sight. The clarity, color, concentration, rim variation and whether there is gas or sediment present in the wine are all clues as to what you can expect from the wine before you even smell or taste it.
When you are looking at the clarity of a wine, it is fairly easy to tell if the wine is clear, medium clear or cloudy without getting too much into the crossover. Clarity allows you to assess whether the wine was filtered or not. This does not necessarily indicate the quality of the wine. There are debates as to whether or not filtering the wine diminishes the flavors. That is really a matter of opinion and a decision that you will have to make for yourself as you become a wine expert yourself.
After you have assessed the clarity, take a look at the color of the wine. Color can tell you both the possible intensity, and the age of the wine. When looking at white wines you’ll find that the colors start out light and clear, become richer yellows and golds until they become brown; the opposite is true for red. Red wines begin purple and become lighter as they age, moving through ruby, garnet and eventually brick and orange. The reason for the wine colors aging differently is that as white wines oxidize they tend to darken. Imagine an apple slice left on the counter for several hours; the slice darkens as it’s exposed to oxygen. Red wines lighten because the color and tannin (something that will be touched on later) literally fall out of the wine and produce the grainy sediment that can accumulate on the bottom of bottles and occasionally, when you get the last pour, end up in the bottom of your glass.
With color comes concentration. It’s fairly simple to determine the concentration of the wine. If it is an inky purple color, then the wine has a high concentration; the rule also applies for whites with gold having a high concentration. Conversely, low concentration whites have almost no color and reds have a very light ruby color. Again, the concentration of the wine can be an indication of the amount of flavor in the wine. There are always exceptions, but it can be used as a general rule; the lighter the wine color the more effusive it will be.
Think wine and what’s the first image that comes to mind? That’s right. Miles and miles of rolling, lush vineyards of France and Italy and blue, sunny skies. Few are aware that the Roman Empire was responsible for popularising the concept of growing grapes and setting up vineyards outside Italy. A concept that was immediately picked up by its neighbouring countries like Spain, Portugal, Germany, and France.
In addition to Italy and France, today, there are many other regions in the world that are equally renowned for wine production, in terms of quantity and quality.
Let’s take a journey through the top 8 wine producing regions of the world:
1. France. Wine has been synonymous with France since ancient times. This European country has long been one of the most famous wine countries in the world for centuries. It has something to do with region’s soil and climate that is ideal for the cultivation of grapes. Without doubt, the Loire Valley holds the distinction for being the most fertile wine-producing region of France. From the Loire Valley come the world-famous white wines, particularly the Sauvignon Blanc, and some great fruity reds as well.
2. Bordeaux, France. Bordeaux is known the world over for its famed red wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The celebrated Alsace wine route is a must-see on the itinerary of every die-hard wine lover. The Alsace region boasts a wide range of wines: Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Tokay Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, and Muscat d’Alsace.
3. Tuscany, Italy. Italy has given to the world some of the most loved wines of all times, such as Chianti. It boasts of some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Tuscany, in central Italy, is the birthplace of the world-famous Chianti wine, and is also known for being one of the world’s top producers of fine quality red wines. Not surprisingly, grape cultivation and wine brewing has been integral to the Tuscan civilization for almost three millenniums. It was the famous 19th century Italian wine entrepreneur, Bettino Ricasoli, who popularised the most famous wine of all- the Chianti.
Summertime crock pot recipes, you may ask? But the crock pot is only used for “cold-weather meals” such as stews, roasts, and other hearty stick-to-your-ribs type meals. Wrong! This fabulous kitchen appliance has truly received a seasonal stereotype and sits in many kitchen cupboards all summer long. Bring it back to your kitchen counter during the summer; there are so many benefits and fabulous light summertime meals that can be prepared in the slow cooker!
Most people already know how wonderful crockpot cooking is; throw a few ingredients in a pot, turn it on, and come back eight hours later to a wonderful home cooked meal. We also know that cheaper cuts of meat turn out tender and juicy because they’re cooked with moist heat over long periods of time. It is perfect for the busy homemaker, the office mom, the busy dad, the work-at-home mom, anyone who has anything to do during the day and is tired by dinnertime, not wanting to spend countless hours preparing dinner for their family. But crock pot cooking is also perfect for the summertime.
Where I live, we have humid, hot, sticky summers where the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven or fire up my gas stove, much less spend time standing around them preparing meals! During the summer I don’t crave meals like chicken and dumplings, lasagna, beef stew, or pork roast. I want light meals with little or no preparation so I’m not standing in a hot kitchen getting even warmer and stickier. So, I use my crock pot! Out of any of the cooking devices in your kitchen, it sets off very little heat and can allow you to put everything into the slow cooker in the morning (when your kitchen is cool) and spoon it up at dinnertime (when your kitchen is not).
Knowing the basics of how to properly store your wine is critical to enjoying it, regardless or whether your preference is for red, white or sparkling wines. If you’re not careful about the way you store it and you simply leave it atop your fridge for a year or more, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when that special day comes to open and enjoy it.
Even though wines are perishable, if you know how and what do to with regards to storing it, you can actually help to enhance its’ quality over time, improving everything from its’ nose, flavor, texture and overall body and complexity. It really is worth getting it right.
The first step is knowing how long you plan to store your wine.
There are two basic categories to consider here; short term and long term, depending on the initial quality of the wine. For your less expensive, every-day type of drinking wines, storage might only be a matter of a couple of months (or maybe as much as 6 months to a year). For your more prized, expensive wines, storage could be as long as a few decades!
Proper Wine Storage Conditions:
Regardless of the quality of the wine or whether you’re planning short term storage or long term, the most important thing to keep in mind is to always store your bottles horizontally. By doing so, you ensure that the cork stays moistened and will not dry out, leading to spoiling of the wine.
You should also ensure that the wine can ‘rest peacefully’, where ever you choose to store it. In other words, you don’t want them on top of something that consistently moves a lot, like on top of a large appliance (fridge or washer, for example). from a subway) should be avoided.
Another reason you wouldn’t want to store your wine on top of a large appliance is because you want to keep the surrounding temperature consistent. The ideal temperature for wine is about 55 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore you want to keep them in a place where there is minimal temperature variations (NOT in the garage), or if there are variations, that they occur slowly and gradually. For example, the general temperature inside your home will probably vary from summer to winter, but not drastically, and it happens over time, not over night.