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Wine Tasting - The Sense of Sight
Wine tasting basics begin with knowing how to use your senses to understand, interpret, and enjoy the wine. The ability to recognize what you see, and furthermore describe it in clear terms, is a very important wine tasting skill.
Although some may say the appearance of the wine is the least important aspect with regard to the senses, it is still worth noting. When examining appearance, we are looking for clarity and color. We want the wine to be free of any sediment, leaving it clear and brilliant. Red wines tend to lose their color as they mature, while white wines tend to grow darker with age. A good quality wine generally will be intense in color. The "legs" seen running down the sides of a glass after being swirled, are an indication of flavor density. It is best to use a plain white background, and tilt the glass slightly as you observe clarity and color.
Chardonnay (pronounced SHAR-doe-nay):
Chardonnay is the world's most popular white wine grape, with over 300,000 acres planted, 100,000 in California alone. It’s homeland is the Burgundy region of France, where it produces sublime, complex table wines (in Champagne and elsewhere it provides the base for many of the world’s best sparkling wines), but it also flourishes in California, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.
Chardonnay is a good-yielding variety that buds early in the season and also ripens relatively early, with its thin skin making it susceptible to rot from early rains. The best chardonnays come from cool climates like Burgundy or California’s Carneros District, but the variety also adapts well to warmer regions like Australia. Chardonnay ripens easily and produces medium-to-full-bodied wines with rich apple, citrus, and tropical fruit aromas and flavors. Although it can be vinified as a crisp, fruity quaffing wine, the best, most complex chardonnays, as in Burgundy, are fermented in small oak barrels and put through a secondary, malolactic fermentation, which imparts toasty, buttery characteristics to both the wine’s aroma and flavor.
Chardonnay is not an especially versatile food wine and is best paired with simply prepared seafood and poultry dishes.
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