Brrr! Time for a Glass of Port!

If ever there was Port weather in the Napa Valley, this is it.  Highs in the 30s. Lows in the teens. It’s a bit warmer today –  it’s supposed to wander up into the 40s.  I know that this is nothing compared to what may happen in Nebraska or Niagra, but never the less I say “Brrrr…..”

Why does a glass of Port taste and feel so good on these very chilly nights?

Aside from tradition and romance, there’s actually a logical explanation for it. Port falls into a category of wines called “fortified” wine. What’s the fortification? Grape spirits, or brandy. As the wine ferments, the yeast gradually consumes the grape sugar and converts it to alcohol. The spirits are added before all the sugar is used up. The extra alcohol is too much for the yeast to tolerate so the fermentation ends, leaving a wine that’s typically between 18 and 22% alcohol and noticeably sweet. Continue reading

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Today’s Wine Word: Press

pressing
As you’ve probably heard, crush in Napa Valley was early this year. And for most producers, it’s been over for at least a week or two. Exhale…
But, for red wine, the work isn’t over quite yet. There’s still a little pressing to do. the winemakers are greedily getting the last bit of color and flavor out of the grape skins for their reds before sending them off to the barrel cellar.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that there’s quite a lot of confusion about the difference between crushing and pressing, so let’s get it straightened out. Here goes…

The Stemmer-Crusher

This machine is first stop for most reds when they come in from the vineyard. It removes the stems and breaks the grape skins open. When you’re finished crushing, you’ve still got the skins and seeds,which go right into the fermentation tank with the juice. As you know, all of the color and most of the flavor in red wine comes from the skins.

The press

The press leaves the winemaker with only liquid, however cloudy.

Think of the press as a giant strainer. Picture yourself dropping broken grapes into this strainer. Of course,some of  the juice runs off. Then, you push down with your fist to squeeze more liquid out of the skins. That’s pressing. There are a few different styles of presses a winemaker can use, but I won’t bore you with that unless you ask.  Continue reading

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Are Syrah and Petite Sirah the Same?

Well, they’re related but not quite the same. And what about Shiraz?

Are you a fan of Syrah or Petite Sirah? What are some of your favorite brands?

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September 12, 2013 · 7:12 pm

Today’s Wine Word: Crush Widow

Have you ever heard of a crush widow? Here’s the story:

Maybe you’d like to take a lonely crush widow – or widower – to lunch! Cheers!

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September 5, 2013 · 7:50 pm

Today’s Wine Word: Brix

What’s the word on every grower’s and winemaker’s lips right now? Brix!

How sweet is that? ;-)

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Today’s Wine Word: Cap Management

Punchdown

Doesn’t sound very winey, does it? Is it about the proper way to arrange your chapeau or ?

Cap management is a term that’s used only during harvest, but it’s an important one.

As you know, all of the color and most of the flavor and tannin in red wine comes from the grape skins. With very few exceptions the juice of a dark variety runs clear.

TRIVIA! The few varieties with red juice and flesh are called teinturier (ten-toory-AY). The best-known example in the wine world is probably Alicante Bouschet, which is often part of a field blend and can also be used when the winemaker wants to ramp up the color.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming: The thing is that the darned skins keep going up to the top of the tank, buoyed by the carbon-dioxide gas produced by the fermentation. If the “cap” of skins is allowed to stay at the top, color and flavor extraction isn’t good and it also tends to get hot up there. You don’t want it to get so hot that it starts killing the yeast. Continue reading

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What’s the Difference Between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot?

Checking the most common searches, lots of you seem to be wondering what the difference is between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Let’s take a quick look:

Which do you reach for most often? Do you have a favorite brand?

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