Thank you so much to everyone that commented on our last post, a little favour.
The response was amazing and all your comments will really help to tailor our upcoming, exclusive experience.
We thought we’d give you a little bit of information to help when ordering and buying wines. Hopefully this little bit of knowledge may go some way to giving you all a little more confidence.
Sweetness refers to the level of residual sugar that is left in the wine after the making process. A wine that is considered dry has had all of it’s sugars converted to alcohol during fermentation. Sweet wines will have a higher level of residual sugars left in order to create a sweeter taste.
This can get a little tricky as each persons sensitivity to sweetness is different. You may have a dry wine that has spent some time in oak that some people may be able to pick up caramel notes from. This could give the impression of a slight level of sweetness in what is actually a dry wine. A common mis-conception with sweet wine is the good old Riesling. We have had plenty of guests turn their nose up because they’re used to some really sweet ones. We however tend to use quite dry variations to complement savoury dishes.
The acidity of a wine is an important part of the quality and taste of a wine. It adds a sharpness to the wine and can most commonly be identified by a tingle on the side of the tongue and a mouthwatering after taste. When we talk about a well balanced wine we refer to a wine that has acidity, sweetness and tannin in perfect harmony. If you taste a wine that makes your mouth pucker like you just licked a lemon you may want to consider a slightly high quality option.
We often use wines in the restaurant with slightly higher acid profiles, not to the level of a lemon, to complement a rich dish. If Scott creates something that has quite a lot of butter in it we use the acidity of the wine to create that mouthwatering effect. This will help cleanse the guests mouth ready to get the full taste of the next mouthful.
Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol that adds bitterness, astringency and complexity to a wine. You can expect to find most tannins in red wines although if a white wine has spent time in Oak it may have picked up some tannin. Be careful not to confuse tannin with the sweetness of the wine as tannin can be known to give a dry feeling to your mouth.
We often serve a wine high in tannin with a rich, red meat main course. This is because the tannins actually work with the meat proteins helping them break down and almost tenderise the meat further. Another lovely side effect of this interaction of meat and protein is the roasted flavour that comes from it enhancing a stunning piece of meat.
The alcohol level in the wine will greatly effect it’s character, body and ultimately it’s classification. The higher alcohol wines tend to be fortified or dessert wines with the lower options more table wines.
The alcohol content will also effect the feel of the wine when it’s in your mouth. A lower alcohol content will feel lighter, more towards that of water. A higher alcohol content will create more viscosity in the wine leading the wine coating your mouth and giving a longer finish. The alcohol content also helps us decide how to match to the food. We don’t want a high alcohol wine with a very light fish dish as it would totally over power the dish.
The body of the wine gives us a little snap shot of the wine. It reflects the grape used, the growing conditions and the production methods. A really easy way to describe the body of wine would be to think in terms of milk. A light wine would be like skimmed milk, very light. A medium body would be like whole milk and a full bodied wine would be like cream. You may even get that creamy feeling from a full bodied wine like a really good chardonnay.
Again we certainly take the body into account when matching with food. You wouldn’t want something light bodied like a Pinot Noir with a buttery steak as the wine is likely to get lost in the food.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short snippet into the main characteristics of wine. Wine is such a massive subject and this isn’t even the tip of the Iceberg. I would love to hear your comments and questions so please leave them below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.