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Old 26-08-2009, 05:07 AM posted to alt.food.wine
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I'm fairly new to sophisticated wines, and need some
help trying to understand the descriptions tasters use.

I understand what is meant by fruity, spicy, sweet,
dry, those are straightforward. But what is mineral,
or earthy? I don't normally chew on dirt, and don't
see the attraction here. And what about buttery?
(which applies to chardonnay only, apparently)

Also. heavy/light, simple/complex, body, structure,
texture... can anyone explain these?

Tannic vs. acidic is also unclear. Tannic wines make
you pucker, right? I don't get it, are there really drinkers
who enjoy that? And is acidic different than tannic? If
anyone could a list of tannic vs. acid wines, I'll try
them side by side.

What's the deal on oaked vs not oaked? Haven't
brewers been aging wine in oak barrels since Socrates?

Thanks,

--
Rich


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Old 26-08-2009, 02:26 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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On Aug 26, 12:07*am, RichD wrote:
I'm fairly new to sophisticated wines, and need some
help trying to understand the descriptions tasters use.

I understand what is meant by fruity, spicy, sweet,
dry, those are straightforward. *But what is mineral,
or earthy? *I don't normally chew on dirt, and don't
see the attraction here. *And what about buttery?
(which applies to chardonnay only, apparently)

Also. heavy/light, simple/complex, body, structure,
texture... can anyone explain these?

Tannic vs. acidic is also unclear. *Tannic wines make
you pucker, right? *I don't get it, are there really drinkers
who enjoy that? *And is acidic different than tannic? *If
anyone could a list of tannic vs. acid wines, I'll try
them side by side.

What's the deal on oaked vs not oaked? *Haven't
brewers been aging wine in oak barrels since Socrates?

Thanks,

--
Rich


Lots of questions!
OK, a few quick replies, from a non-scientist
I think in Socrates' time amphora might have been more common. And
brewers make beer.
Most references to "oaked" have to do with new oak (first use
barrels). Older barrels (and larger containers like foudres, with more
surface space), impart more direct oak flavors. Some people like new
oak more than others.

Tannins and acids are not really related. A wine can be low acid low
tannin, high acid low tannin,. low acid high tannin, high acid high
tannin, and all variations in between. Tannins (yes, they can make you
pucker) provide structure- in the short term maybe good for dealing
with fat in rare meat, in long term can help age. Tannins and acids
should be in balance, but what that means varies to different people.
Without knowing what is available to you, hard to recommend specific
wines, because of availabilty. As a GROSS generalization, Loire Cab
Franc would be more acidic than Languedoc reds, etc.

When Chardonnay undergoes malolactic fermentation (malic acid to
lactic acids) certain malobacters can produce diacetyl, a substance
which is in butter and is added to margarine or "movie butter" to give
it the buttery flavor.

Earth and minerals are inexact terms to try and capture some of the
non-fruit based flavors in wines.
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Old 26-08-2009, 05:29 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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DaleW wrote:

I understand what is meant by fruity, spicy, sweet,
dry, those are straightforward. But what is mineral,
or earthy? I don't normally chew on dirt, and don't
see the attraction here. And what about buttery?
(which applies to chardonnay only, apparently)

Also. heavy/light, simple/complex, body, structure,
texture... can anyone explain these?

Tannic vs. acidic is also unclear. Tannic wines make
you pucker, right? I don't get it, are there really drinkers
who enjoy that? And is acidic different than tannic? If
anyone could a list of tannic vs. acid wines, I'll try
them side by side.

What's the deal on oaked vs not oaked? Haven't
brewers been aging wine in oak barrels since Socrates?


Most references to "oaked" have to do with new oak (first use
barrels). Older barrels (and larger containers like foudres, with more
surface space), impart more direct oak flavors.


I'm pretty sure that Dale meant that older barrels impart LESS direct
oak flavors. The flavor of new oak has several forms: American oak
often gives a vanilla-like flavor to wine, whereas French oak often
gives flavors akin to baking spices (cinnamon and nutmeg, mostly). If
the oak has been toasted, you also get toast-like flavors, and all oak
imparts tannins to wine (oak is HUGELY tannic -- ever tried eating an
acorn?)

The words you mention, Rich, describe lots of different things:

"earthy" and "mineral" describe smells. Most of what we get from wine
is from what we smell (even what we taste is mostly smelled). So, don't
you know what freshly turned earth or forest floor smells like? What
hot rocks smell like? That's what those terms reference.

"heavy," "light," "body" and "structure" have to do with mouth feel, the
tactile sensation of having the wine in your mouth. A milkshake feels
thicker in the mouth than a cup of tea, right? It would be a heavier
beverage. More subtly, coffee is usually a heavier beverage than tea.
The "body" of a wine describes how thick and heavy it feels. Full body
= big and thick; light body = thin and light.

"tannic" is also a tactile term. In the extreme, tannins make your
mouth pucker, but they also impart a sense of roughness to the mouthfeel
and also can contribute to the body of the wine. Most young red wines
will have some amount of tannic feel to them, but that fades with time,
which is why we age some red wines before drinking them. Some people
_do_ seem to like the feel of tannic red wines, though (they do go well
with steak, f'rinstance).

"acidic" has to do with how crisp or soft the wine seems. It has a lot
to do with the aftertaste. A crisp, acidic wine will leave little
aftertaste, whereas a soft, non-acidic wine will have a mouth-coating
feel to it. Think about the differences in aftertaste between milk
(soft) and tea or coffee (acidic).

For a more detailed discussion of these and other terms, you might
consider getting a book like Hugh Johnson's "Pocket Wine Book" (cost:
$10 from Amazon) which has a detailed glossary of wine terms as well as
a lot of other useful information about wine.

HTH
Mark Lipton

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alt.food.wine FAQ: http://winefaq.cwdjr.net
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Old 26-08-2009, 08:55 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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I'm pretty sure that Dale meant that older barrels impart LESS direct
oak flavors. *


yes, typing too fast. Typically new oak barrels can impart a lot of
oak flavors, barrels used once less, twice even less, after that
virtually none. Smaller barrels have more surface area compared to
volume, so typically even new foudres or botti (often 1000 liters or
much more) would give less oak than new barriques (225 liters).

A good book is an excellent idea. The Johnson pocket is good, but you
could also try the Dummies series, The Wine Bible, or Andrea Immers,
all of which devote pages to each of these subjects.
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Old 27-08-2009, 11:53 AM posted to alt.food.wine
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"RichD" skrev i melding
...
I'm fairly new to sophisticated wines, and need some
help trying to understand the descriptions tasters use.

I understand what is meant by fruity, spicy, sweet,
dry, those are straightforward. But what is mineral,
or earthy? I don't normally chew on dirt, and don't
see the attraction here. And what about buttery?
(which applies to chardonnay only, apparently)

Mineral: Think of the smell you get when you bang two stones together
Earth: Think of the smell of wet soil after rain (depends on where you
live, I think)

Also. heavy/light, simple/complex, body, structure,
texture... can anyone explain these?

A light wine example is an ordinary red Beaujolais or a white vinho verde
from Portugal - simple and refreshing and easy to drink
A heavy wine would be a red Amarone from Italy or a Zinfandel from
California - viscous and alcoholic with much taste.
Simple: Onedimensional, short
Complex: Layers of taste, changing all the time, long lasting and varying
sensation in mouth
Body: Mouthfilling, chewy
Structu The combination of various parts of the wine - smell, taste,
texture, complexity. A well structured wine is where the parts form a
harmonious whole.
Tannic vs. acidic is also unclear. Tannic wines make
you pucker, right? I don't get it, are there really drinkers
who enjoy that? And is acidic different than tannic? If
anyone could a list of tannic vs. acid wines, I'll try
them side by side.

Tannins are astringent. Eat banana peels.
Acids are sour. Eat lemons.

Tannic wines are mostly red ones. They will often need maturing to round
off, in a few cases up to 15-20 years... Tannins are often desired as being
the backbone of a wine structure. Some, like me, do appreciate tannic
wines, others prefer softer wines.
Acid wines are often white ones. Acids often diminish during storage and
thus you'll find more acids with younger whites with the result being a
sensation of freshness, even zing. Sweet whites will often need a high
degree of acidity to be considered balanced (well structured :-). A high
acidity is
What's the deal on oaked vs not oaked? Haven't
brewers been aging wine in oak barrels since Socrates?

Right. However, new oak barrels flavor wine very much more strongly. In
Europe barrels were used and reused for long times and so only a small part
of the wine saw new barrels. The blended end result would then have only a
moderate influence from oak.
In the US, notably, oak was taken as a quality marker and so the public
looked for wines with a heavy oak taste to the extent that some wine makers
not only used all new barrels but also filled up with oak wood chippings...
(that is not quite true... it was steel tanks that received wood chips :-)
Btw, most ordinary wine sees little oak wood but are fermented in steel
tanks. The use of oak barrels has largely disappeared in Germany, the
preference being for maximum fruitiness in all wines, up to the expensivest
ones.

Fortunately, the overly heavyhanded use of oak so common in the 1980ies has
diminished...
For some wines oak still is necessary to give a desired structure and
backbone.

hth
Anders




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Old 27-08-2009, 10:57 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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On Thu, 27 Aug 2009 16:59:15 -0400, Joseph Coulter
wrote:

Thanks for that! It's one of those subtle and vague terms that some English
writers are overfond of using.
Graham

Finesse is one of my favorite wine words For me it refers to a wine
that does not overpower, but has a gentle approach ie not a fruitbomb.
Joseph Coulter
Joseph Coulter Cruises and Vacations
www.josephcoulter.com


I still think that the definition of finesse in the Chambers
Dictionary sums it up perfectly "subtle intention of design".

A wine with finesse is subtle, balanced and beautiful rather than
loud, brash and in your face.

Think Chanel's little black dress or Michael Broadbent's tailor. :-)

James
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Old 31-08-2009, 02:42 AM posted to alt.food.wine
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"Bobchai" wrote in message
...


Has anyone read about the piles of decomposing algae on the French
beaches of Brittany this summer? They are deadly. Farmers are using
too much nitrogen fertilizer, and the runoff from rain is causing
enormous algae blooms off the beaches, and when the algae is washed
ashore, it forms piles which release enormous quantities of hydrogen
sulfide gas (H2S), which has actually killed several people.
__________________________________________________ __

The death of one horse has been blamed on the decomposing seaweed but
AFAIAA, no humans have died.

Environmentalists (who are rarely good scientisits, IME, and who are fond of
hyperbole) have blamed it on intensive livestock operations in Brittany,
not overuse of fertilisers.

However, one has to be careful of media hype. 35 years ago, the
eutropification of Lake Michigan was blamed on farmers using too much
fertiliser. However, it was pointed out that the population along the
shores of the lake had increased greatly during the century and human sewage
was at least equally the cause - but that didn't get much coverage.
Graham


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Old 01-09-2009, 08:06 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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On Aug 30, 7:39*am, Bobchai wrote:
The statement by the previous writer that H2S smells like a burnt
match is incorrect. *Now you're talking about SO2, sulfur dioxide.
Not the same thing at all. *SO2 remains a critical part of winemaking
operations, and while it is an additive, it's also a natural by-
product of fermentation. *SO2 is a whole other topic, except to say
that it is the best antioxidant in a winemaker's arsenal, which I
should have mentioned in a previous paragraph.


Bob (you're less formal than you used to be! )

Welcome back, and thanks for the informative post. I'm sorry if you
read my "just lit matches" comment as referring to H2S, I just meant
that people often refer to the smell of sulphur as reductive. As
noted, I find that far less troublesome, and even in fairly extreme
cases (Prum) it blows off in a few minutes (or you can try a penny). I
don't regard SO2 as a flaw.

) odors.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:08 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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On Sep 1, 3:06*pm, DaleW wrote:
On Aug 30, 7:39*am, Bobchai wrote:

The statement by the previous writer that H2S smells like a burnt
match is incorrect. *Now you're talking about SO2, sulfur dioxide.
Not the same thing at all. *SO2 remains a critical part of winemaking
operations, and while it is an additive, it's also a natural by-
product of fermentation. *SO2 is a whole other topic, except to say
that it is the best antioxidant in a winemaker's arsenal, which I
should have mentioned in a previous paragraph.


Bob (you're less formal than you used to be! )

Welcome back, and thanks for the informative post. I'm sorry if you
read my "just lit matches" comment as referring to H2S, I just meant
that people often refer to the smell of sulphur *as reductive. As
noted, I find that far less troublesome, and even in fairly extreme
cases (Prum) it blows off in a few minutes (or you can try a penny). I
don't regard SO2 as a flaw.

) odors.


PS I should note that I'm pretty sulphur insensitive, and others might
regard these wines as flawed (Pierre Rovani famously did while
reviewing German Riesling for WA).
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:22 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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DaleW wrote on Tue, 1 Sep 2009 12:08:35 -0700 (PDT):

On Sep 1, 3:06 pm, DaleW wrote:
On Aug 30, 7:39 am, Bobchai wrote:

The statement by the previous writer that H2S smells like a
burnt match is incorrect. Now you're talking about SO2,
sulfur dioxide. Not the same thing at all. SO2 remains a
critical part of winemaking operations, and while it is an
additive, it's also a natural by- product of fermentation.
SO2 is a whole other topic, except to say that it is the
best antioxidant in a winemaker's arsenal, which I should
have mentioned in a previous paragraph.


Bob (you're less formal than you used to be! )

Welcome back, and thanks for the informative post. I'm sorry
if you read my "just lit matches" comment as referring to
H2S, I just meant that people often refer to the smell of
sulphur as reductive. As noted, I find that far less
troublesome, and even in fairly extreme cases (Prum) it blows
off in a few minutes (or you can try a penny). I don't regard
SO2 as a flaw.


As someone whose eating was made possible in graduate school by the
position of part-time instructor teaching analytical chemistry, may I
say that I still rather like the smell of hydrogen sulfide. On the other
hand, I find it inappropriate in wine and I don't much like it as
evidenced by hing in Indian food (Teufelsdreck in German).


--

James Silverton
Potomac, Maryland

Email, with obvious alterations: not.jim.silverton.at.verizon.not



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