Top Tasting Room Questions Part 2
Last time, we ranked and polled the top 10 questions asked about wine in tasting rooms everywhere and answered them in no-nonsense, easy-to-understand language with no convoluted wine-speak! We made it to number six! For the remaining top five, read on!
Top Ten Tasting Room Questions of 2011
#5 What is the varietal __________(fill in the blank with Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Grenache, Viognier, Trebiano, Tempranillo, etc.) on a bottle?
Those strange names that you see on a bottle are actual varieties of different grapes, similar to Chardonnay, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. It can be confusing because sometimes wineries do create made-up names for a blended wine that sound like a variety of grape. The only way that you can tell them apart is to know the ones you love.
A varietal is another incorrectly, overused word heard in tasting rooms. A “variety” is a specific vine or grape, while “varietal” is used to describe the grape that is in the bottle. For example: That variety of grape on the vine in the vineyard in front of me is Cabernet Sauvignon and the varietal in the bottle I am holding in my hand is a Merlot.
#4 Why am I always asked to join a wine club?
If you show interest in a winery and buy lots of wine from them, don’t be surprised if you get asked to join their wine club. When you join, you will be asked to give up your credit card information, much like a gym membership, and your card will be run throughout the year for various releases or distributions. Typically wine clubs are free to join and free to cancel and they offer discounts, free tasting, parties, and access to limited release wine, all to entice you to join. Many times, tasting room staff gets a commission for every wine club member they sign up, so the pressure can be high. The good news is that wineries are doing a great job of inventing new and creative events and offering very competitive discounts to members. The bad news is that you may end up with wine that you may not like or you may forget that your card is charged automatically until you get the bill. Wine clubs are great for wineries because they develop a core group of über fans who purchase their wines consistently. If you like a local winery, support them by joining their wine club.
#3 What is the best way to store wine?
Wine, after all, is a food product and will go bad if not stored correctly. Wine should be stored in a consistent, cool, dark place with the bottle on its side to keep the cork moist. If the cork dries out, it can shrink and air can leak into the bottle and destroy wine. Wine should be stored consistently between 55°-65°. Wines stored in decorative hallway wine racks, car trunks, coat closets, crawl spaces, top of fridges, countertops, or inside a refrigerator are not appropriate places to store wines! Wine should be stored in wine fridges that monitors humidity or in an underground cellar with few temperature swings of more than 15° either way for any length of time. If you don’t have a proper place to store wine, it is advised that you drink it up and enjoy!
#2 What is the best way to store an opened bottle of wine?
If you aren’t going to finish a bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass, and immediately cork the bottle and put it in your refrigerator. White wine should last a little longer than red wine, but after a night or two, the wine will no longer be fresh. Air pressure systems like Vac-U-Vin or Private Preserve Wine Spray seems to increase the odds of your wine staying fresher longer.
And the top tasting room question of 2011 is…
#1 Do you add special flavorings to wine like cherry, raspberry, orange, tobacco, etc.?
No. Specific flavors are not added to quality wine to achieve those notable fruit flavors. Typically, the fruit flavors you taste in wine are from the variety itself. Detectable earth and wood flavors are from oak aging. The older the wines gets, flavors tend to change from fresh fruit to more baked, stewed, or dried fruit flavors and oak and earth flavors become more dominant.