Sip:  What fruits or other flavors am I reminded of when I sip a wine

Drumroll please… it is finally time to drink that wine!  Sip that is, not gulp.  With wine, a little goes a long way and is meant to be enjoyed and savored versus quenching your thirst from a good workout.  When tasting wine, make sure you have not recently eaten anything which might leave a lingering taste in your mouth and take it from DOMSOM, you definitely do not want to drink wine immediately after brushing your teeth!  Ready, set, sip.

  • Fruits – the DOMSOM Principle of Wine Tasting table lists all the different types of fruit flavors found in wines.  What is important is that not all apple flavors or peach flavors are the same.  Just ripe apples are crisp, tart and refreshing.  Over ripe apples of the same variety are juicy, soft and sweet.  Baked apples are a whole different experience!  The point is not only does a wine reflect various fruit flavors, but also the condition of the fruit!  Ripe, over-ripe, baked, stewed, jammy, bruised – however you describe fruit, you can describe how it translates into what you taste in a glass of wine!
  • Other – some wine flavors are not fruit flavors.  White wines can have flavors of wet stones or concrete – often referred to as mineral flavors.  Specific varietals can have plant-like flavors or vegetable-like flavors such as grass, green peppers, asparagus, herbs or spices.  The extreme variety of flavors found in white wine is what makes it super fun and exciting!

It is important to note wine can have multiple levels of flavor referred to as primary, secondary and tertiary just as it can have multiple layers of aroma.  The most dominant flavors you will taste in the Sip stage are the Primary Flavors while Secondary and Tertiary flavors will become more pronounced when you have had multiple sips or are in the final S, Savor. 

Primary Flavors:  These are directly linked to the grape variety itself.  Each variety has basic characteristics true to its origin.  Sound confusing?  Let’s look at another fruit with numerous varieties to help explain, apples.  Green granny smith apples have distinct flavors and are highly tart making your mouth pucker.  Golden delicious are also pale green, but are much sweeter and juicier.  Make sense?  Primary grape flavors and smells are directly associated with the variety and through the fermentation process, produce base wines which fit within profiles matching what one would expect of the varietal.

Secondary Flavors: After fermentation, wines may experience a wide variety of influences during the storage and maturation stages.  You have already learned about most of them and you can reference the “Making White Wine” stages and DOMSOM’s “Principles of Wine Tasting:  White Wine” chart for details on how oak barrels, malolactic fermentation and lees aging can dramatically change the flavor of a white wine.

Secondary: Impact of fermentation on a wine

  • Lees – bread, yeast, dough
  • Malolactic Fermentation – cream, butter, curd
  • Oak – smoke, wood, vanilla, baking spice

Tertiary Flavors:  White wines can age in oak barrels or in bottles.  Oak barrels allow small amounts of air to flow through them slowly changing the flavor, and even color, of the wine through a process called “oxidation”.  Have you ever cut an apple in half and had it turn brown on you?  That’s oxidation!  Even storing wine in bottles can change the flavor of the wine over time.   

Tertiary:  Impact of storage and / or aging on a wine

  • Bottle – dried fruits, earth, mushrooms, honey, petrol (Riesling)
  • Oak – vanilla, spices, toasted nuts