We tend to drink our white wines cold and our reds room temp. Serving a wine too cold suppresses its fruit flavour and exaggerates oak character and tannin. Serving it too warm exaggerates alcohol but softens tannin – A good rule of thumb is 15 to 18 degrees for reds ( room temperature) and eight to 12 degrees for whites (moderately chilled).
Letting wine breathe releases all of its flavours, but it doesn’t happen if you simply draw the cork and let the bottle stand. You must aerate the wine, which is best achieved by decanting – pouring it into another container leave for approx 10 to 20 minutes depending on the age of wine.
Swirling wine in the glass is not just an affect – it helps you smell it better. Swirling coats the inside of the wine glass with liquid which increases the surface area, giving off more aroma.
Grapes and wine share flavour compounds with various herbs, spices, vegetables and other fruit and organic matter. This is why tasters use terms such as ‘peach,’ ‘vanilla’ and ‘chocolate or liquorice’ to describe wine.
Grape varieties do not determine sweetness: winemakers do. Any grape can be made into sweet or dry wine, Full Bodied, or light.
The juice of most wine grapes is clear. Red wines are fermented with their skins in order to extract colour for up to 7 days. The longer they stay together the deeper the colour.
A relatively small proportion of wine produced every year improves with age: mostly full-bodied reds, rich sweet whites, fortified and a few dry whites, usually premium quality age in barrel reds will improve with age.
The use of wine barrels (especially oak barrels) to store and age wine is a centuries old tradition (and solution). Wine aged in oak barrels is enhanced with the addition of vanilla and oak overtones. Wooden Wine Barrels also allow for a small amount of evaporation of the contents during the aging period Each of these forests produces wood with distinctive characteristics involving tightness of the wood grain as well as the amount of oak flavors that are imparted to the wine. Tight grained wood tends to impart the Oak characteristics (vanilla, spice and butter flavors) much more slowly than wood with looser grain.
This is wine that you will keep for more than 6 months before consumption. A good storage location for wine is generally dark, is free of vibration, has some humidity and has a low stable temperature. Keep the bottles stored so that:
Most reds average alcohol at 13.5% to 14.5 % whites will average from 10% to 12% a big red full bodied wine could rise to 15 % plus.
Most wine bottles have a punt – the indent on the bottom. The earliest bottles were more stable upright if they were punted than if they had a flat base; and the punt collects the sediment in old reds and makes decanting and pouring easier.
A corked wine is one that has been tainted by an undesirable chemical compound in the cork – the main one is trichloroanisole or TCA. It has nothing to do with fragments of broken cork – a common misconception.
Wine is a very natural substance compared to other alcoholic drinks. Australian winemakers ARE NOT ALLOWED to add water, sugar or alcohol to table wines.
If wine was a living thing, it would spoil. Winemakers don’t want live microbes active in wine.
South Australia is our biggest wine producing and most famous state. Famous wine regions are Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Adelaide Hills.
Our most popular grape is Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The way grapes are grown (viticulture) and how they are subsequently made into wine (vinification) are the two main factors that effect quality in wine.
Viticulture – common sense practices like keeping the vine disease free makes a difference to the quality of the fruit and ultimately the wine. Harvesting only the ripest grapes and then delivering them quickly to the winery to limit oxidization also helps.
Yield is very important, this is how many grapes are grown per hectare of land;
Vinification – grapes must be made into wine as soon after they have been picked as possible because contact with air causes oxidization, which spoils their flavour. Understanding the effects of air, as well as temperature control during fermentation have been breakthroughs in modern winemaking techniques. This knowledge has raised the overall quality of wine today.
It is very difficult to assess the quality of wine just by reading the label. Quality is assessed best by tasting.
Acidity – Sensed on the sides of the tongue – can taste almost citric. It occurs naturally in grapes and is important to balance sweetness. White wines have more acidity than red wines.
Tannin – Tasted at the back of the tongue and tastes bitter like a strong cup of tea. Also has a drying effect on the gums. It comes from the pips and skins of the grapes and from oak ageing. It is mainly found in red wines.
Alcohol – Felt at the back of the throat, giving a warming sensation. The higher the level of sugar in the grapes before fermentation, the higher potential alcohol the wine will have, i.e. hotter countries tend to produce wines higher in alcohol. You can also see this from the ‘legs’ left on the sides of the glass.
Length – ‘Length’ is how long you can taste the wine once you have swallowed (or spat it out). It gives an indication of quality. The longer the length, the higher the quality.
Body – Weight and fullness of wine on the palate.
Balance – When all of the wine’s component parts (e.g. sweetness, acidity, tannins) blend together. This is a sign of quality. This can take time. A wine is mature when it has achieved optimal balance.