Where do the different flavors in wine come from?

March 17th, 2010 by caseyc Leave a reply »

grape_vineWe all know that dry wines and sweet wines alike have different characteristics, qualities and tastes. And we know that as you cook with wine, you boil away the alcohol and water, amplifying the flavors and making the differences more pronounced. This makes it important to understand how these flavors will affect your cooking.

But where do these flavors come from? How do different wines end up having different flavors?

Essentially, wine gets its flavors from three different areas: Terroir, Grape Varietal and Winemaking Decisions.

Let’s explore each of these in a bit more depth.

Terroir

This is everything about where the grapes grow, including soil, climate and farming practices. You’ll find wines from certain regions end up having distinct flavors. A famous example of this are qualities such as “minerality” in a wine.


Varietal

Unlike terroir, however, the grape varietal of your wine will have a big impact on the flavors in your meal. Different grapes have different flavors/qualities and they also behave differently in fermentation. For example, Muscat grapes can be sweet, low acid, intensely aromatic and hearty. Cabernet grapes can be thick, drying and rich. Sauvingnon Blanc grapes can be lemony, acidic, crisp and sharp. And these differences will have a direct impact on the flavors wine imparts in your cooking.

Winemaking Decisions

The decisions made when making the wine also have a huge impact on the flavors imparted when cooking with a wine. Here, the winemaker decides things like which yeast or which malolactic strain she will choose to ferment her wine (the yeast is what turns the sugar into alcohol and the malolactic strain is what gives Chardonnay its “buttery” qualities). She also decides things like how long to leave the grape skins in contact with the fermenting juice (determining flavor intensity and color), how much sweetness the wine will have, whether she will age the wine in oak barrels (another huge flavor changer) and a whole host of other decisions about the wine’s final flavors.

This is why you can’t just simply choose a “Cabernet” or a “Chardonnay” to cook with. Each winemaker’s take on how a wine should be can be dramatically different. Chardonnays can be oaky, or crisp and acidic, or fat and buttery. Cabernets can be heavily oaked, or tannic/drying, or acidic – or they can be restrained and soft, sweet and round.

Conclusion:

You just never know how an individual wine will taste. And this is why ACADEMIE wines are such a great choice for your cooking. Unless you’ve tasted every dry red wine on the shelf, it’s hard to know which will have the most complementary flavors for your meal. Our wines are blended and balanced with quality wines sourced from California’s premier wine regions specifically for your cooking. As you cook with our wines, pour yourself a glass and think of the flavors our wines lend to your cooking. After all, you should never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. And with ACADEMIE, it’s never been easier to do just that!

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