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Wine Flavors: What’s Right? What’s Wrong?

Learn where wine flavors come from, how to smell them, and what flavors to expect in Cabernet, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Understanding the flavors in wine starts with a seemingly simple question:

Where do wine flavors come from?

Imagine yourself the size of a single atom floating on the surface of a glass of wine. Down at this level, the surface of wine is quite turbulent.

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Ethanol molecules lift off from the surface of the liquid during evaporation, carrying with them a slew of other aromatic compounds. These compounds float into our noses and give wine its many flavors.

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But this doesn’t explain why Pinot Noir juice smells nothing like Pinot Noir wine.

Wine flavors are created by chemical reactions during fermentation (when yeast turns sugar into alcohol). Fermentation creates hundreds of flavor compounds.

If cherries aren’t an ingredient in wine, then how come some wines smell like cherries?

At the atomic level, aromatic compounds in wine look identical to – or are mirror images of– smells you already know. When you sniff cherry in wine, you are smelling the identical aroma compounds that also waft from a freshly baked cherry pie. (Egads, now I’m hungry!)

Here are common wine flavors by category:

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FRUIT

Red wines typically smell like various berries, cherries, and plums.

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White wines typically smell like citrus fruits, tree fruits (peaches, apples, pears), and melons.

FLOWER / HERB

Both red and white wines can have subtle (or not-so-subtle) aromas of fresh flowers, roses, green herbs, leaves, green vegetables, and/or stems.

OTHER

Don’t be surprised if you get whiffs of cheese, bread, milk, butter, bacon fat, petrol, nail polish, potting soil, or petrichor (smells like freshly wetted asphalt in the summer – side note: I’m addicted to this smell…).

AGING / OAK

Some wine smells come specifically from aging wine (or oaking it) and include vanilla, baking spices, pie crust, caramel, Maillard Reaction (the “brown butter” smell), tobacco, cedar, coffee, leather, creosote, and chocolate.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon Flavors

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Shiraz Flavors

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Chardonnay Flavors

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Sauvignon Blanc Flavors

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If I smell cherries and you smell pepper, who’s right?

Look at your nose. Now imagine (or look at) someone else’s nose. (Don’t stare!) They look pretty different right?

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Differences in our physical attributes, along with how our brains process smells, partially explain why we each pick out different wine flavors and smells.

That said, each wine does have a “base set” of aromas that most people agree upon (who aren’t asnomiacs.)

BTW, if you have trouble picking out wine flavors, I highly recommend watching this video with a glass of Pinot Noir.

Get out and use your snout!

Next time you pick up a glass of wine don’t drink it! (Well, at least not at first). Take your time to pick out 3–5 wine flavors BEFORE you taste it. That’s the secret.

 

This, my friends, is how you become an amazing taster. Salut!

 

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Reference :  https://winefolly.com/review/wine-flavors-whats-right-whats-wrong/

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Why is Wine So Expensive?

If you’ve ever found yourself standing in the wine aisle gawking at the prices, you may have also found yourself wondering,
“Is there really a difference between cheap and expensive wine?”

And,

“Is more expensive wine better?”

To figure this out, let’s take a look at what it costs to make a bottle of wine.

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How much the grapes cost in a bottle of wine in California.

 

The Cost of Wine Grapes

Grapes are one of several costs that go into producing a bottle of wine. So, to put real numbers behind this cost, I crunched some data from the 2017 California Grape Crush Report.

Here’s what I learned:

$5 (for the actual wine part) affords one pretty decent quality juice.

There is a substantial price variance between different grape varieties. (Merlot offers superb value!)

Napa Valley is, by far, the most expensive place to buy wine grapes. Napa Cabernet Sauvignon costs $12.34 / bottle (weighted average).

Some California producers spend as little as 49 cents a bottle for grapes from the Inland Valleys. Of course, grapes aren’t the only costly thing that goes into making wine.

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American oak barrels cost about $600, whereas European oak typically starts at $1,200 per barrel.

 

The Cost of Oak

Oak barrels range in price from about $600–$2400 a barrel, depending on the type of oak and quality level.

That means you can expect at least a $2 bump in cost per bottle if the wine uses oak. (BTW, it’s possible to do it cheaper using oak chips).

In case you didn’t already know, oak is most commonly used for red wines, although you’ll find oak ageing used for a few bold white wines too (like Chardonnay, White Rioja, etc).

While oak barrels are used over and over again, the strongest oak flavor compounds of vanilla, clove, and baking spice come from new barrels.

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The Cost of Packaging

Presentation is everything!

Next up comes the packaging. Any pragmatist realizes that packaging isn’t important as long as it works. It’s what’s inside the bottle that matters, right?!? Still, it doesn’t stop us from being influenced by the way wine bottles look.

Here are some things you should know about packaging:

  1. The Punt: You know, that thumb-sized divot in the bottom of a wine bottle? It doesn’t really matter. If you find a bottle with a deep punt, it just means the bottle was more expensive.
  2. Screwcaps: We’ve been testing cork alternatives since the 1960s. What we’ve learned is that they work, and in many cases, are more consistent than natural corks.
  3. Low Shoulder vs High Shoulder: Low shoulder bottles (e.g. “Burgundy Bottles”) are the “it” bottle these days but don’t fit in most wine racks or stack on top of each other. To a collector, they’re a bit of a pain in the ass.
  4. Heavy Bottles: Some bottles are so heavy that they make up 60% of the weight of the unit. The weight isn’t bad until you realize it costs extra fuel to transport heavy bottles. That being said, they do feel impressive…
  5. Glass Color: Clear glass doesn’t protect wine from light strike, and green glass doesn’t do that much better. Surprisingly, brown glass is an effective UV protector, but hasn’t quite caught on yet. Brown glass is affordable.

In researching packaging costs, I learned that increased spending on bottles might be better treated like a built-in marketing cost.

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It turns out, little things like grape prices, choice of oak, and packaging costs really add up.

 

Adding It Up

As an experiment, I took the average prices for wine grapes from the higher quality growing zones of California and created two examples. Of course, this experiment doesn’t include the cost of winery labor, facilities expenses, and what not, but I still found it illuminating.

Merlot vs. Cabernet Franc

Using Merlot grapes with American oak and value packaging ended up costing around $5 a bottle.

The increased prices for Cabernet Franc grapes, fancy French oak barrels, and prestige packaging bumps the cost up by three times, making it around $16 a bottle.

So, is cheap wine better than expensive wine?

Apparently, it really depends on your desire to drink outside the box.

But wait… there’s more!!!

 

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Reference :  https://winefolly.com/tutorial/why-is-wine-so-expensive/

Study: Red wine Rejunevanates Cell

A compound in dark chocolate and red wine could help rejuvenate cells, according to a scientific breakthrough.

Researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Brighton have made the sizeable breakthrough on ageing and discovered a way to rejuvenate inactive senescent cells.  (more…)