Friday, November 9, 2007
Exploring Wines: Part 3- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandels
One of the most basic things to understand about wine are the characteristics of various grapes and how they relate to wine types. For example, today I'd like to describe three popular varieties of red wines with very different personalities: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel.
Merlots are often described as "soft" or "light", with flavors such as cherry, currant, herb, and chocolate .
Zinfandel is zesty, with flavors often like: pepper, wild berry, raspberry, cherry and plum. It often has some complex undertones such as leather, tar and earthen soil.
Cabernet Sauvignon often has rich jammy flavors such as plum, currant, black cherry and spice. The scents of tobacco, cedar, herb, olive, mint and anise can also observed.
I am partial to Cabernets with "big" flavor" and Zinfandels with a "zesty" flavor. The Cabernets I like have a dark purple-ruby color, a big, full body intensity, concentrated flavors, firm tannins and firm acidity. Cabernets are often stored in French or American oak barrels for anywhere from 15-30 months. The wine develops a wonderfully rich toasty cedar-oak flavor that delights the senses.
Here are a few different red wines I tried recently:
Above: Even Owen likes Quintessa, from the Rutherford area of Napa California
Above left: Sterling Vintner's Collection Merlot, and above right: McRae Wood Shiraz
Traveling with Wine...
If you are lucky enough to make friends with people who also enjoy wine, one of the nice things you can do is visit each others homes to drink wine and snack on cheese and nibbly-things all night. If you're going to do that, you'll want to buy a nice wine travel case to protect your fine wines as you travel. Here are a few different styles that I use:
Above: This is a really nice leather wine case, holding two bottles, with room for the corkscrew.
Above left: This carrier is a padded fabric that holds four bottles. It has insulation to maintain a consistent temperature for a short period of time. Above right: A simple cardboard "tube" with a fitted cap that holds one bottle. This is inexpensive and is great for a gift bottle.
Above: Some fine wines are specially packaged for gift giving in a nice cedar wood box. This really makes a statement.
If you have a guest visit who brings wine, never assume it is strictly a gift for you. Its best to ask if they would like it opened or if they would they rather have it at their next visit. Let the guest tell you that it's for you!
Many thanks for reading today! This weekend, Rick's Roadshow resumes, as I travel to New England for the weekend to visit family. I'll keep you posted!
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