Wine Terms Deciphered

When choosing a bottle of wine, everyone has their favorites; red, white, sparkling, or rose’. We also have particular nuances that we look for; bone dry, dry, off-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. 

Lately I have been getting a recurring question (mostly when discussing whites) –  “What do you mean when you say dry?” I know it may sound snide, but the correct response to this is, “Not sweet!” When a winemaker produces dry wine, they let the fermentation process completely finish, allowing the yeast to absorb all the sugar present, leaving no residual sugar. No sugar; hence, dryness.

Other confusing terms are the words fruity and sweet; they are notably different. The amount of residual sugar left behind after fermentation, will determine the level of sweetness a wine will have. Fruitiness will always be detected at different levels, even if a wine is dry. Many people are usually surprised to hear this; it is a big eureka moment for them!

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Dry New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and semi-sweet New York Riesling.

So what do you look for? Now that the days are getting warm, are you gravitating towards a crispy, dry, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc or a sweet, fruity Riesling? Or do you drink red all year long and reach for a bone dry, fruit-forward Sangiovese from Chianti, rather than a dry, ripe Garnacha from Spain?

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Bone dry Sangiovese from Chianti and a dry Garnacha from Spain.

 

 Whatever your preference, next time you are out shopping for a bottle, try to think about what it is you favor when selecting a wine, and reach for something new to try. Or ask for help; it is how you learn. 

 

Cin Cin!

Sauvignon Blanc Day!

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Every first Friday in May, winemakers in Marlborough, New Zealand come together to celebrate the crispy, white grape known as Sauvignon Blanc. Since the early 1980s, New Zealand has been producing some very reputable Sauvignon Blancs, especially on South Island, home to Marlborough, their largest region.

Sauvignon Blancs from this area are very herbaceous and fruit-forward, with grapefruit and tropical fruit notes. These wines are usually high in acid and are almost always dry. They pair well with young, creamy cheeses, white meats like chicken, pork or turkey and just about any fish, including shellfish. The acidity of the wine bursts through in high fat dishes like vegetarian quiche, casseroles and lasagna.

So despite the cool start to this spring season, chill your favorite bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc today and celebrate this delightful white with Kiwis around the world.

Cin Cin!