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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.
Sauvignon Blanc (pronounced SO-vin-yawn BLONK)
As with chardonnay, the purest expression of the sauvignon blanc grape is found in France, in the Loire Valley (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume) and Bordeaux. However, it also make superb wines in New Zealand, California (where it is sometimes called fumé blanc), Australia, South Africa, and Chile. In Bordeaux, it is blended with the semillon grape to produce both fine dry wines (Graves) and the great sweet wines of Sauterne and Barsac.
The most salient characteristic of sauvignon blanc is its distinctive, penetrating aroma, which can evoke scents of grapefruit, lime, green melon, gooseberry, passion fruit, freshly mown grass, and bell pepper. Grown in cooler climates and in fertile soils promoting excessive vine growth, herbaceous smells and flavors can dominate the character of the wine, while in warmer regions, the melon, citrus and passion fruit aromas and flavors emerge.
Most producers ferment and age their sauvignon blancs in stainless steel to accentuate the wine’s crisp, zesty, bracing qualities, while a few barrel-ferment the wine. Malolactic fermentation is rare, and barrel-aging usually is limited to a few months’ duration.
Sauvignon blanc is a very versatile food wine that can complement everything from shellfish and Caesar salad to fried chicken and aged Jarlsberg cheese.
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