What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

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Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular red wines in the world. Learn about this iconic hybrid red wine grape varietal and its characteristics.

All You Need to Know About Orange Wine

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Red, white, and rosé are words we hear all the time when describing wine. However, orange wine is another wine term that doesn’t often get mentioned during tastings or wine discussions. Below, we dive into the world of orange wine. From what it is to how it is made, and what its characteristics are.   What is Orange Wine? You are browsing the wine list at a brand new restaurant. Underneath the familiar red wines and white wines, you see an unfamiliar category – orange wine. If you have to take a second glance to make sure your eyes aren’t deceiving you then you wouldn’t be alone.  Many are often surprised that this style of wine exists. After all, it doesn’t often get widely spoken about. However, it is certainly not a fad that will disappear anytime soon. It is the product of an ancient style of wine production.  Orange wine, also referred to as skin contact wine, is believed to have its origins in Georgia where the wine fermentation technique used to make this wine was discovered over 8000 years ago. Winemakers used clay vessels called qvevri during the fermentation process. Using harvested white grape varietals, orange wine is vinified similarly to that of red wine resulting in a golden-hue to amber colour.  While the popularity of no skin contact white wine did see this wine category left to the wayside, in the early 2000s an Italian winemaker breathed new life into this ancient winemaking technique. Since then, orange wines are being produced in numerous countries including Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, California, Greece plus many more.  Understanding Skin Contact Wine: How It’s Made As part of this ancient winemaking technique, white grapes such as Pinot Grigio are crushed and then macerated with their skins for various lengths of time. This is where the name skin contact wine comes from. The maceration process could be as little as one week or as long as a year depending on the style they want to make.  By allowing the white grape varietal’s skin to come into contact and ferment with the pressed juice, orange wine embodies characteristics that are common to both white and red wines. For example, the flavour of orange wine is similar to that of white wine. However, its texture and tannin levels show red wine tendencies.  Once the maceration and fermentation period has finished, a winemaker may choose to age the wine for longer. However, this is often left to the preferences of the individual winemaker.  Many in the wine industry are characterizing orange wine as being part of the ‘natural wine’ movement. While not all orange wine will fall under this umbrella term, there are many that can be considered as natural due to the fact that:  Its high levels of tannin can allow for less additional additives  Orange wines can often be unfiltered These wines can be produced on biodynamic vineyards using traditional winemaking methods Now that you understand how these skin-contact wines are made, let’s discuss the …

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Discovering the Gewurztraminer White Wine Grape

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Gewurztraminer is a unique white wine varietal that is cherished by wine enthusiasts all over the world. Known for its intense floral aromas and different styles, this aromatic grape is the perfect addition to any wine collection. Below, we unveil the mystery of the gewurztraminer grape including its origin, tasting notes, and more.  Origins of Gewurztraminer: A Noble Alsace Grape While many researchers are unsure of the exact origins of the gewurztraminer grape, Alsace is this grape varietal’s spiritual home. This pink-skinned grape produces an aromatic wine made in various styles, from dry to sweet.  Located along the French border with Germany, it is believed that this grape varietal was first introduced to Alsace from the Pfalz region in western Germany. Due to Alsace’s rich clay soils and dry climate, winemakers were able to produce full-bodied Gewurztraminer wines. To this day, Alsace is one of the primary regions that grow this grape varietal.  One reason why the origins of this grape is so hard to determine is the fact that its parentage is somewhat of a mystery. Modern grape vine specialists believe that gewurztraminer is one of many mutations of the ancient savagnin-traminer group, the parent of sauvignon blanc.  In fact, the English translation of gewurztraminer is “spicy traminer”. It is thought that the traminer grape mutated into Roter Traminer (a reddish grape often used in rosés) and then mutated again resulting in Gewurztraminer.  Due to its distinctive character, this grape is generally used in varietal wine rather than blended with other grape varietals. However, in Alsace, it can often be blended with either riesling or pinot gris to produce a field blend.  Gewurztraminer Wine: Tasting Notes Famous for its aromas and flavour profile, Gewurztraminer wine certainly leaves an impression on every wine taster. Its powerfully perfumey aromas make it instantly recognizable in blind taste tests. While it won’t be to everyone’s taste, this full-bodied white wine makes for a truly interesting wine tasting experience.  This wine’s primary aromas are intensely tropical and floral in nature. The first aroma that many will discern is that of lychee (considered as one of Gewurztraminer’s ‘tells’). However, you will also be able to find secondary aromas such as:  Rose petal Red grapefruit Ginger Pineapple Melon Apricot Burnt Incense On the palate, you can expect to observe moderate acidity and elevated alcohol levels. Alsace AOC Gewurztraminer wines are typically either off-dry or semi-sweet and medium-bodied. While other expressions are known for full-bodied Gewurztraminer wines that have strong fruit notes (stonefruit such as peach and apricot) and spice (cinnamon and ginger). Upon finishing, expect a bitter and oily finish on the palate.  Due to its intense aromatics and low acidity, many wine lovers find that it doesn’t have enough substance to balance out its aroma profile. Having said that, it is not a wine to be completely dismissed either. In our opinion, we think it would make an ideal addition to any enthusiast’s wine collection.  Best Gewurztraminer Food Pairing Recipes Due to this wine’s low …

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Grenache: Understanding This Underrated Red Grape Varietal

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This thin-skinned red grape varietal is an unsung hero. Most likely originating in the region of Aragón in northern Spain or on the island of Sardinia, it is now mostly grown in France (where it is known as grenache noir) and Spain (where it is called Garnacha). Below, we will introduce you to the Grenache grape including its history, regional characteristics, flavour profile, styles, and more.  Understanding Grenache’s History This underrated red grape varietal has a history as rich as its aroma profile. While it is now grown all over the world, grenache’s history primarily revolves around three regions: Aragón, Sardinia, and the Rhône  Valley.  It is believed that the first sighting of this grape varietal was in Aragón where it is called Garnacha. From there, it spread to southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region and other countries such as Sardinia under the Crown of Aragón between the 12th and 17th centuries. However, Italian researchers believe that it originated in Sardinia where it was known as cannonau and was later introduced to Spain and France.  At the beginning of the 19th century, grenache grapevines were well established on both sides of the Pyrenees and in the Southern Rhône region. This period also saw the grape being introduced to New World regions such as Australia and California. Following the devastation of the Phylloxera epidemic in the early 1900s, however, many vineyards in the Rioja region started using pest-resistant grenache vines. This ensured the prevalence of this grape throughout Spain and Europe. As a red wine grape, grenache is typically partnered with other grapes such as cinsault or syrah to produce some of the most renowned wines in the world. Making it truly deserving of its time in the spotlight.  Regional Differences: Where Is It Grown and What Are Its Characteristics? While grenache varietals have largely stayed within Europe, other variations within New World regions are also noteworthy. Below, we will take a closer look at each of the grenache-growing regions and how its characteristics and style change based on region.  France: Rhône Valley Grenache is one of the most popular red grape varietals in the southern Rhône. Produced under the Côtes du Rhône AOC, in the Rhône Valley, this grape is often used as part of blends especially with syrah. Famously known for its starring role in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, grenache from the southern Rhône Valley is known for its medium tannin level and aroma profile of herbs, tobacco, and red fruit.  Spain: Rioja The Rioja region is another popular growing region for grenache (or Garnacha). Commonly used in blended wines, this grape varietal is often added to tempranillo wines to soften tannins and add more aroma. However, many winemakers in Rioja also produce 100% grenache wines that are known for their lightened appearance and hints of fleshy fruit.  Italy: Sardinia In Sardinia, cannonau is used to produce some of the island’s full-bodied, deep-coloured red wines. Characterized by soft acidity, medium alcohol levels, beautiful red fruit flavours, and hints of white pepper this Italian grape …

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Wine Tannins: Can You Be Sensitive To Them?

Red wine is known for having high levels of wine tannins which isn’t good news if you have a wine tannin sensitivity. However, there are low-tannin wines that you can still enjoy.

Can You Have An Intolerance to Wine Tannins?  If you can’t happily sip a glass of Merlot for an evening without experiencing unpleasant side effects, then it may be an indication that you have a sensitivity to wine tannins.  Similar to other allergies, people can be just as intolerant to wine as they are to gluten, peanuts or pollen. In fact, having a sensitivity to alcohol is very common with approximately 9% of women and 5% of men experiencing it each year.  While there are many factors that can make a person have a sensitivity or intolerance to wine such as the sulfites or histamines present, other components of a wine can also cause a reaction even tannins. When it comes to wine, especially red grape varietals, having a side effect such as facial flushing or digestive issues is an indication that you may have an allergy or intolerance to wine tannins.  As tannins are a product of the skin of a grape, if intolerance is present and they are ingested the body will treat it as a foreign invader and trigger an immune response. This then causes signs of an allergen such as swollen lips, digestive and bowel issues. If you also experience these symptoms when drinking black tea or coffee, then it is a good indication sign that you have a sensitivity to tannins, as those beverages have the same grippy mouth feel as they are produced by the steeping process to extract flavour like red wine is. It is important to note that each person’s sensitivity to wine tannins can vary from very mild to severe. If you begin experiencing moderate to severe reactions after drinking a glass of red wine or black tea, make sure to consult with your physician as soon as possible.  How To Tell The Difference Between Tannic Levels Tannin is present in all wines to an extent; however, red wine is renowned for having high-tannin levels. If you do have an intolerance to wine tannins, the only way to prevent experiencing a reaction is to educate yourself on how to tell the difference between tannin levels in wine.  As you may already be aware, tannins are astringent and impart a dry feeling in the mouth. That feeling of your cheeks being sucked in and moisture evaporating on your tongue is a prime characteristic of wine tannins. The more tannins present, the more intense the mouthfeel.  Due to tannins being a naturally occurring compound, all wine will be tannic. That’s why it is hard from first glance to tell a wine’s exact tannic level. However, observing how wines are made is a good indication of what the tannin level will be.  White & rosé wine – If you have a sensitivity to tannins, sticking with a white or rosé wine is often recommended. Although tannins may still be present, they are much less noticeable than red wines. The reason for this is that most white and rosé grapes are not fermented with their …

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A Guide to Pairing Wine With Salmon

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As we are right in the middle of the typical August heatwave, many favour lighter meals such as fish or salads. One particular favourite is salmon. This luscious, fatty, meatier fish has the flavours and textures to pair with many wines, even reds.  Salmon in many ways is an extremely versatile fish. It can be served as a refreshing entree or as an equally delicious main course. For many wine lovers, their first thought is to pair this with a glass of white wine. While this is perfectly acceptable in most scenarios, there may be another wine pairing worth trying.  Below, we’ll look at the salmon wine pairings to discover the best wine to pair with this fish.   Finding a Match for Salmon: Pairing Tips to Follow Wine pairing with salmon is quite simple. Since this fatty, meaty fish is more robust than halibut or cod, it pairs beautifully with a variety of wines. Whether baked, poached, or grilled the silky pink flakes of salmon make for a delicious dish and pairing it with the right wine elevates the experience.  While white wine is an obvious choice, styles from sparkling, rosés and low-tannin red wines to can make an equally delectable pairing. The key to pairing salmon with wine is to keep the preparation method of the dish in mind. For example, if you are planning a dish of poached salmon with a creamy lemon dill sauce then it is best to complement with a richer white wine.  The pairing method of contrasting can also work well with various salmon dishes. In the case of a smoked salmon dish, one wine pairing option would be a sparkling rosé – the acidity of the wine easily cuts through the saltiness and fattiness of the fish and compliments the smoked flavour.  Focusing on either contrasting or complementing salmon with your wine pairing is a great way of ensuring that your experience is interesting and enjoyable.  Best Wines to Pair With Salmon Once your preparation method for your salmon dish has been decided, then you need to pick the right style of wine. While various white wines, and even most rosé wines, will act as a great companion for salmon dishes there are certain grape varieties that are best suited to this silky, fatty fish.   Sparkling Any traditional method sparkling wine such as Champagne, Cava, or Crémant would pair up beautifully with the richness of salmon. The rich autolytic character coupled with the high acidity of traditional method sparkling wines makes this pairing a nice gastronomic experience. White There are several white wines that can be matched well with salmon. However, we will focus on the classics below: Sauvignon Blanc A crisp Sauvignon Blanc, especially from the new world such as New Zealand or Chile, is the perfect pairing for a herb-crusted salmon in a dill butter sauce. Or if you’d like to go with an old-world Sauvignon Blanc we would recommend a crisp Sancerre. A popular method of serving salmon during the …

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Sancerre Wine: A Great French White Wine

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Sancerre, a medieval town located in the Upper Loire has become home to one of the most notable and praised examples of Sauvignon Blanc. A classic French white wine, Sancerre offers wine lovers a delectable wine experience full of grassy and herbaceous aromas along with pronounced citrus flavours. Below, we’ll guide you through the history of this white wine, its tasting profile, and much more.  The History and Origins of Sancerre Many wine enthusiasts often ask the question: “What is Sancerre?” Sancerre is both a well-known French wine region and a name for white wine. Similar to Champagne, winemakers in this region produce wines of the same name. The most famous is that of white Sancerre. Made entirely using Sauvignon Blanc grapes, it is considered the most recognizable appellation for French Sauvignon Blanc. Legends suggest that winemaking has been a tradition in the Sancerre wine region since the 15th Century. Traditionally, the two main grapevines planted here were Pinot Noir and Gamay. However, due to the region’s cooler continental climate, neither grape varietal had particular success. In the late 1800s, Sancerre plantations also fell susceptible to the Phylloxera epidemic. As a result of this epidemic, many winemakers choose to start over with Sauvignon Blanc, a grape that is better suited to cooler climates.  It wasn’t long before Sancerre’s iteration of Sauvignon Blanc became famous in Paris and across the world as a wine that paired greatly with good food and company.  Sancerre: A Tasting Profile Due to Sancerre’s terroir, this white wine offers a subtle and yet complex flavour profile that often isn’t matched by other Sauvignon Blanc. While styles can vary depending on the producer, there are core aromas and flavours that wine tasters can expect to experience from Sancerre. This light to medium-bodied white wine offers distinct mineral notes due to the region’s flinty soils. The terroir’s gravel and chalk components, on the other hand, are the influence behind the wine’s citrus and floral notes. Other common tasting notes for Sancerre white wine include:  Herbaceous, earthy: grass, chives, thyme, basil, smoke Fruit-forward: lemon, lime, pink grapefruit, green apple, poached pear Sweet (usually from oaked version which is rare): shortbread, lemon curd, brioche This multi-textured wine is often noted for being lively, lengthy and offering lip-smacking acidity. Its depth and complexity firmly place Sancerre wine as one of the ideal iterations of Sauvignon Blanc.  How Does Sancerre Compare to Other Sauvignon Blancs As you may already know, Sauvignon Blanc is cultivated in many regions across the world – from the golden coast of California all the way to New Zealand. While Sancerre is a classic example of Sauvignon Blanc that holds its own in terms of aroma and flavour, there are many other examples of great Sauvignon Blanc. One such example is Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand. This grape variety typically produces an aromatic wine high in acidity. This is true for both regions. However, where the difference lies is in the taste profile. As terroir influences …

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Rosé Wine: Best Food Pairings for This Refreshing Wine

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Rosé wine is crisp and oh so refreshing and is a popular wine choice during the summer months. One fun way to quench your summer thirst is with a vibrant and fruit-forward glass of rosé. Made with red wine grapes such as the popular varietals Grenache, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc, Sangiovese etc., this pink-hued wine is produced all over the globe. However, when it comes to selecting a rosé wine, some considerations should be kept in mind.  Rosé wine is crisp and oh so refreshing and is a popular wine choice during the summer months. One fun way to quench your summer thirst is with a vibrant and fruit-forward glass of rosé. Made with red wine grapes such as the popular varietals Grenache, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc, Sangiovese etc., this pink-hued wine is produced all over the globe. However, when it comes to selecting a rosé wine, some considerations should be kept in mind.  Below, we will guide you through the various rosé wine production methods, different styles of rosé wine, and which dishes are best paired with this delightful wine.  Understanding Rosé Wine Production Methods Rosé wine has many faces and is more interesting than one might think. Winemakers use various production methods when making rosé wine and knowing the difference between them can make a difference when determining which style you prefer more. There are four main production methods used: limited skin maceration, the “saignée method”, blending, and direct pressing.  Limited Skin Maceration Limited skin maceration is the most popular method used by winemakers during the production of rosé wine. As you may already know, maceration or skin contact after crushing is essential for all wine, except for white wine. The juice and grape skins are left to soak (macerate) until a suitable colour is achieved for the final product.  For rosé wine, the grape skins and juice come into contact for a few hours, typically between 12 and 24 hours. Both the colour and aroma intensity are heavily influenced by the length of the maceration. This is why rosé wines can vary in colour as well, spanning from light blush pink to bright deeper pink. Once maceration is complete, the juice is drawn off the grape skins and the fermentation process begins.  Saignée Method Also referred to as the ‘bleeding’ method, the saignée method is often used in the regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy.  Originally, this method was used as a way of concentrating red wine. Winemakers would vinify a red wine to standard and then during the maceration process would remove some juice. The ‘bled’ or removed juice is then separately used to produce rosé wine. Rosé wine produced using the saignée method can often be a lot richer in style.  Blending Using the blending method in the production of rosé wines is somewhat controversial, especially in the European Union. The blending of rosé wine involves the mixing of white and red wine post-fermentation which is strictly prohibited, except in the Champagne …

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