Wine 101

What are the characteristics of a great red wine?

Red wines are a fuller-bodied and more robust counterpart to white wines. Higher in tannins and often aged in oak barrels, red wines have a much stronger array of flavors and characteristics than do white wines.

Specific flavors and aromas vary from wine to wine, depending on the varietal and production method employed. Overall, red wines should exhibit darker fruit, such, such as cherry, currant, blueberry, and blackberry. Also, earthy, smoky, spicy aromas, such as smoke, leather, tobacco, coffee, anise, clove, and chocolate may be present.

These fuller-developed qualities of red wines are closely tied into how they are produced: red wine grapes are pressed, and then fermented along with the skins and stems, allowing tannins, colorings, and phenolyc compounds to work their way into the fermented juices. Additionally, the aging red wines undergo in oak barrels will also impart qualities directly from the wood of the barrels. Aromas, flavors, and woody/earthy qualities, such as vanilla, smoke, toast, and tar, can be linked with the specific type of oak and barrel toast used in barrel-aged red wines.

In terms of overall presence, red wines may be robust, boisterous, and full of life. Look for pronounced and “forward” qualities in good red wines, which can explain how a red wine can be described as “chewy” or even “meaty”, and which also explains how their qualities makes them such a good match for heavier fare, such as red meats and spicy seafood dishes.

Depending on the type of red wine and its age, the finish and aftertaste should be long and elegant, sticking around in the back of the palette for a while before diminishing. Tasting a red wine should end with a balanced finish, hinting at the initial aromas you tasted prior to sampling, and which leaves you salivating for another sip!

All in all, look for wines that have a full, fruity flavor and aroma, chewy mouthfeel, and lingering finish.

November 17, 2017 / by / in
What are the primary aromas and flavors of Oregon wine?

The following are descriptions of the primary aromas and flavors associated with some of Oregon’s different wines. These differences are due to the nature of each kind of grape, as well as how the resulting wine is fermented, blended, and aged.

White Wine Aromas and Flavors

Chardonnay: Apple, apricot, banana, butterscotch, grapefruit, honey,
lemon, melon, mint, peach, pear, pineapple, smoke, tropical fruit, vanilla, and

Chenin Blanc: Apple blossom, chamomile, chalk, cream, guava, lemon, melon, peach,
pineapple, red apple, and vanilla.

Gewürztraminer: Apple, apricot, cinnamon, grapefruit, honeysuckle, lime, melon,
mint, nutmeg, orange, peach, pear, pepper, and pine.

Muscat: Almond, apricot, earthiness, grape, lemon, orange blossom, pepper,
petrol, spice, and toffee.

Riesling: Apricot, asphalt, cream, earthiness, geranium, green apple,
honeysuckle, licorice, nectarine, peach, petrol, rose, and smoke.

Sauvignon Blanc: Apple, apricot, hay, honey, grapefruit, grass, lemon, lime,
melon, pear, smoke, and straw.

Sémillon: Apricot, beeswax, cinnamon, cream, fig, floral, honey, melon,
peach, pear, lanolin, and vanilla.

Viognier: Floral, lemon, honeysuckle, and nectarine.

Red Wine Aromas and Flavors

Cabernet Sauvignon: Black currant, blackberry, cherry, chocolate, coffee, green
olive, licorice, mint, molasses, nuts, plum, raspberry, smoke, and tobacco.

Gamay: Cinnamon, cloves, cranberry, jasmine, raspberry, rose petal,
strawberry, and violets.

Grenache: Berry jam, cinnamon, pepper, prune, rose petal, soy, tea,
and violets.

Merlot: Cherry, black currant, blackberry, mint, nuts, orange, plum, raspberry,
smoke, and tobacco.

Pinot Noir: Cherry, citrus, cranberry, ginger, raspberry, strawberry, plum,
rose, spice, and smoke.

Sangiovese: Blackberry, cherry, cinnamon, coffee, dried flowers, pepper, plum,
raspberry, smoke, tar, and vanilla.

Syrah: Anise, black currant, blackberry, chocolate, cinnamon, earthiness,
oak, pepper, plum, prune, raspberry, smoke, and toast.

Zinfandel: Black currant, black pepper, blackberry, cherry, chocolate, cloves,
earthiness, lavender, plum, raspberry, and spice.

November 17, 2017 / by / in
Can wine bottles be reused?

Depending on who is recycling the wine bottle, and what its new use will be, the answer is most definitely yes!

Oregon wineries participate in recycling programs, and can have used bottles shipped straight from the winery to be recycled.

Home winemakers will take used, empty wine bottles, rinse and sterilize them, and then use them for bottling their own homemade wines.

End consumers can use wine bottles for many other things as well: vases, candles, decorations, and lamps.

Finally, everyone can help an old bottle find new use, by recycling it. Many Oregon cities have progressive recycling programs, and will gladly accept used, clear and colored bottles.

November 17, 2017 / by / in
Why do some bottles have dimples in the bottom?

A dimple in the bottom of a wine bottle is known as a ‘punt’. There have been numerous reasons offered explaning how the use of punts came about:

1. The angle of a punt allows sediment in a wine bottle to settle down into a tight space around the base, preventing the sediment from being disturbed and released back into the wine as it is poured into a glass.

2. A punt makes it easier to hold a wine bottle – as well as pour from it – with one hand: One holds the wine bottle from the base, placing the thumb into the middle of the punt, and firmly gripping the back side of the bottle with the remaining four fingers.

3. Punts create a stable surface on which to stand a wine bottle. Historically, when flat-bottomed bottles were hand-blown or produced with early casts, they would sometimes result in deformities or bumps on the bottom – which would prevent the bottle from standing up straight, and make it prone to tip over. With the use of a punt, wine bottles could have a stable, circular base on which to stand – and any deformities found in the center of the base would be ‘pushed’ up into the punt, where they would be hidden from view, as well as prevented from upsetting the bottle.

4. Punts add strength to the base of larger bottles, especially champagne-style bottles which hold wine under pressure. A solid, thicker base, with greater surface area with which to handle the force from the wine, ensures the bottle will not burst from the pressure.

5. Punts add style and flair to a bottle’s design. The punt adds a sleek rounded shape to the overall composition of the bottle.

Punts do appear to serve many purposes. Perhaps most importantly, they stand out in your mind, and make you curious to learn more about them, which is why you chose to read this article!

November 17, 2017 / by / in
What is Botrytis cinerea? How does it benefit a wine?

Botrytis cinerea is a type of mold that occurs on the outer skins of grapes late near harvest time, if climate and humidity conditions are just right.

Botrytis cinerea is also referred to as “noble rot”, and causes grapes to lose water, increasing the concentration of their natural sugars. While most molds and pests could damage a wine crop, Botrytis has the opposite effect. It is desired and hoped for by winemakers who would like to produce sweet, dessert-style wines.

It is through the presence of Botrytis that that many sweet, late harvest wines are produced.

November 17, 2017 / by / in
What is the palate?

The palate refers to your mouth, specifically, your tongue. The experience of tasting a wine and noting its flavors, mouthfeel, viscosity, aromas, and finish, are all made possible with your palate.

Tasting multiple wines in a short period of time can overload your senses, in which case your palate may become fatigued, making it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between the subtler differences of similar wines.

November 17, 2017 / by / in
What is more important to note when tasting wines: aromas or flavors?

It is important to note both aromas and flavors — as the two are closely linked — though the nose is far more acute than the tongue at detecting what it is you are consuming when you taste wines.

The tongue detects four primary flavors: sweet, salt, bitter, and sour. Every flavor you experience can be derived down to a combination of those four components.

The nose, on the other hand, is capable of detecting several thousand separate types of scents, so it is able to identify much finer variations in aromas.

After tasting multiple wines in one setting, your tongue may become fatigued. This can make it extremely difficult to identify the flavors of a wine. The nose, on the other hand, seems capable of lasting much longer than the tongue. Therefore, when tasting wines, not only is the nose relied upon more for its acuteness, but also its endurance.

November 17, 2017 / by / in
What are tannins? Where do they come from?

Tannins are naturally occurring compounds (also called polyphenols) found in many plants, including grapes, woods, and teas. With regards to grapes, tannins are produced in the skins.

Red wines contain much higher amounts of tannins than white wines. This is due to three primary reasons:

1. Red wine grapes contain higher levels of tannins in their skins than do white wine grapes.

2. During the red wine fermentation process, skins are left on the grape to ferment with the rest of the grape, causing more tannins to be released from the grape skins into the red wine.

3. Following fermentation, red wines are matured in oak barrels. During this process, additional tannins from the oak are released into the wine.

Tannins are believed to contain potent antioxidants, capable of lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels, along with many other health-related benefits.

Some people have a serious sensitivity – even an allergy – to tannins. For some, consuming tannins can lead to a migraine headache.

November 17, 2017 / by / in
What kinds of questions should I ask the winemaker or tasting room staff when talking with them about their wines?

Here are a few of the many questions you might consider asking when you arrive at a winery:

  • What kinds of varietals are grown at this winery?
  • What have been the best vintages?
  • What is the winery’s average yield of harvest grapes per acre?
  • Which wines are aged in barrels? How long are the wines aged before being bottled?
  • What is the winery’s volume of production?

After reading through this Web site, you should be able to come up with some of your own questions to ask. Approaching a winery’s staff with these kinds of questions is one way of demonstrating interest in the winery’s business, and not simply its wine.

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