Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Grape of the Week: Pinot Noir

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Pinot Noir, UC Davis

Every wine lover should see the movie Sideways. For anyone who’s traveled through wine country, it’s all the more hilarious – a must see! One of the most memorable moments is an eloquent speech about why Pinot Noir is so special. For Pinot Noir lovers, the wine is much more than a sensory experience – it’s an emotional experience.  

who knew that popular culture could have such a strong influence on sales? Pinot Noir sales soared after the movie was released, creating shortages, in spite of the simultaneous market trend toward strong sales of huge, concentrated “fruit bombs.”

What to Expect From Pinot Noir I say “in spite of” because Pinot Noir has never been meant to be a black, massive monster of a wine. While Cabernet comes in and takes command, Pinot Noir prefers to gain favor by whispering. Subtle, sleek, silky, sweetish red fruit with earthy undertones (and sometimes overtones!). It’s not unusual to notice slightly smoky, bacon-like character.

This is the ultimate food-friendly red. Light to medium bodied, by red standards, moderate alcohol levels (usually), and low tannins make it an easy-going partner for a wide variety of foods. Continue reading

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How to Select Red Wine

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malbec, UC Davis

Question from Lindsay: Everytime I go to the store to buy wine for a gift or a party, I’m overwhelmed by the choices.  I know there are Merlots, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and a few other types, but I have absolutely no idea what the difference between all of them are.  To me, they are all red. Can you give a brief overview of the general differences. 

Reply: Hi, Lindsay. Thanks for writing! This is another good question that lots of other people have. A few weeks ago I decided to write about a different grape variety every week, so soon there will be fairly detailed info on the most popular varieties available on the blog. Just do a search by variety. In the meantime, a broad-brush stroke for these reds is a great idea and will be this week’s grape(s) of the week 😉

Disclaimer 😉

Characteristics vary, a little or a lot, depending upon where the wine is grown and how it was made.
Here we go:

Cabernet Sauvignon:

Weight: Full bodied – big – substantial. And deeply colored. If you’re not sure what I mean by weight, you might compare it to the way milk feels on your palate: Light bodied = skim milk; Medium bodied = whole milk; Full-bodied = cream.

Flavor profile: Black fruit such as blackberry, black cherry, black currant; it may show earth, cedar, bell pepper, green olive or any number of other descriptors, depending, again, on where it’s grown and how the wine is made. When the winemaker chooses new barrels for aging the wood may add vanilla, spice, smoke, grilled bread, mocha, nutty character or a sense of toastiness.

Pucker factor (Tannin): Very noticeable. Tannin runs around your mouth seeking out protein and then clings to it. That’s what accounts for the drying, gripping sensation. Cab has thick skins and the skins are the source of the color and most of the tannin. 

Merlot:
If you sometimes think you’re drinking Merlot and it turns out to be a Cab – or vice versa – there’s a good reason. These grapes are similar. Take Cabernet back a notch and it begins to look more like Merlot.

Weight: Medium to full bodied

Flavor profile: Merlot often shows red fruit intermingled with black: Currant, black cherry, plum, violet, herb-like, earthy; Oak will add some of the woody characteristics described for the Cab.

Pucker factor: Usually noticeable, but softer than Cab. Merlot can leave a fleshy impression where Cabernet comes off as more structured. Continue reading

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Welcome!

Wine is such a deliciously confusing beverage. Maybe you’re not sure what we mean by “dry” vs. “sweet.”  Are you wondering which wine goes the best with your favorite curry? Is rosé a red wine or a white?  Write To Me With Your Wine-Related Question, and I’ll get back to you in a jiffy! And, listen to “Wine Insights” at AMillionCooks.com. We’ll have some fun things, too, like really good, do-able recipes with wine pairings, of course! And, why not a little wine trivia from time to time?

So, here’s our first question from an A Million Cooks listener:

Question: Hi! I’ve always preferred white wine, but I’d like to start shifting into reds. What’s a good place to start?

Reply: Hopefully this reply will open up a whole, new and delicious world of wine! If you’re accustomed to drinking California or New-world wines, I’d say reach for the Pinot Noir! The French Pinot Noir is called red Burgundy.

 

Because it’s a thin-skinned grape the wine’s not too dark, heavy, bitter or tannic – a perfect transitional red! If you’re not familiar with tannin, many people who don’t like red wine eventually discover that they don’t like tannin. It’s the thing that dries out your mouth and makes your teeth feel furry. Continue reading

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