One of the most common mistakes people make when tasting wine is to confuse the fruitiness of a wine with sweetness. Sweetness in wine means only one thing; the amount of sugar left in the juice after the fermentation stops. It is referred to as residual sugar or R.S. When tasting wine, your tongue really can only taste sweet (sugar), sour (acids) and bitter (tannins). Fruitiness is the tendency of wine to taste and smell of fruit. When the fruit is sweet, like cherries or plums, tasters often mistake the fruitiness for sweetness.
The easiest way to tell if a wine is sweet or fruity is to eliminate the sense of smell. Fruit flavors are mostly aromatic, in other words you smell them much more than you taste them. Sugar is felt on the tip of the tongue. So if you smell a wine and it smells sweet and you taste a wine and it tastes sweet, pinch your nose and taste it again. A sweet wine will still taste sweet while a dry fruity wine’s sweet characteristics will be gone.
Confused? OK, let me simplify. Pinch your nose and taste. Is it sweet? Then it’s a sweet wine with R.S. Pinch again, if you don’t taste sweet, then it’s a dry wine and what you thought was sweet was just that fruit thing messing with your mind.
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The Rio Grill in the Crossroads Shopping Center in Carmel has been one of our favorite restaurants for many years. Great food (killer onion rings) and half-priced wines on Mondays have kept us going back. In 2007 Taste Morgan opened, featuring a large, comfortable tasting room with a friendly staff. Turlock native and owner, Dan Lee, features excellent wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Morgan’s own organically farmed Double L Vineyard. This year, two other tasting rooms have moved into the center.
Southern Latitudes Wines sells exclusively the wines of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Chile. If you’re not familiar with these wines this is the place you want to visit. They have daily tastings and can turn you on to some very interesting wines. The third tasting room, soon to open, is McIntyre Vineyards. Owner Steve McIntyre produces some of the best Santa Lucia Highlands chardonnay and pinot noir in the region. The McIntyre site is just across the street from Taste Morgan and a few hundred feet from Southern Latitudes Wines.
What’s on our table
Three wines, all under $12, graced our table this week; the 2013 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc, the 2012 McManis Syrah and the 2012 McManis Jamie Lynn Vineyards Barbera. We’d like to invite them back again. Cheers!