Saturday, July 30, 2016

BRAMBLES; Taste That!

"The wine one has drunk can't compare to the wine one is about to drink"

Local grape crops have begun to change colors, an annual occurrence that this year is arriving early. It is veraison, where the fruit acidity(malic) declines, allowing tartaric acids to become increasingly prominent, and while then gradually increasing the production of sugars.  Its natures survival cycle, as the vines maturing propagation needs and its cycle of ripening continue to physically evolve.

Nearby, early ripening, high acid Pinot Meunier begins our harvests in the cool, dark hours of a late July Thursday morning, destined to be used in regional sparking wines. Part of a traditional and time honored recipe, Meunier is widely planted in its ancestral homeland of Champagne, and remains an important building block here to our many local sparkling house cuve'es or blends.

Local birds, too, have also noticed the color change, an indication that the seeds found in the fruit were ripening, becoming less bitter.  It becomes an increasingly common site across these endless acres of manicured rows, draped with netting to protect the precious harvest of premium wine grapes valiantly enjoying their final hours of sugar producing sun, the culmination of the annual cycle.
Verasion begins maturity

Just like the birds, our recognition of what is in our wine glass prepares our wet appetite.  Hue, clarity, brilliance and intensity that are recognized prepares us for an anticipated and hopefully delicious wine experience. On site, dark wines should then remind us of dark fruits, offering the opportunity to enjoy its unique color and flavor profile. Rising from the glass are complex and volatile aromatics that when perceived individually translate to countless aroma memories, many times too numerous or congested to be clearly recalled. Yet, absorbing the air-mixed nuance from the glass is one of the joyful traits of most quality wines. Just Imagine. Could that be the aroma of stewing fruit on the stove-top with a whiff of a cigar box or hint of citrus fruit bowl nearby? Imagine!

Site, sniff, savor and swallow(or spit)

Feeling the sensation of drawing wine into your mouth; holding on the palate it as we warm it up, making those many impressions found more perceptively volatile.  As we take in a small amount of air, and the hundreds of airborne compounds rise to reinforce our first aromatic impressions, sending these countless flavor memories to our brains.  The flood of signals are recognized, reacting with our taste memories to create an impression of past experiences. The taste lingers, offering us the unique opportunity for recognition to be savored; a lingering expression that can even follow beyond the eventual swallow.  This taste recognition, repeated, promotes our ability to increasingly recognize the physical effects of and the emotional memories that exist for each of us to enjoy in every wine.

Tasting is a discipline, to be sure.  But the rewards await, compounded by the repeat of the exercise.  How has that wine in the glass changed from its initial impression?  When reacting with food pairings does the tasted wine display other facets of its diverse personality? When repeated, the wine tasting exercise beckons to explore, to go further, beyond our comfort zones and invariably offers the taster the chance to 'expand' the palate with broader recognition.  And we can suddenly realize that this hedonistic exercise searching for pleasure in a glass actually offers the taster an opportunity to alter the perception, the change the cadence of passing time.  As we take a cue from our local birds, it all begins with the recognition of what is held in the glass. Now, taste that!