Aromas Play an Important Part in How a Wine Tastes

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In a recent blog, I asked “What do you smell when you smell wine?” In wines, especially the red wines, there are a multitude of aromas that can be detected, with a little practice. And, these aromas play an important part in how the wine tastes.

I was unintentionally reminded of this fact recently. I have a couple of insulated wine tumblers that are great for keeping wines such as rosés and white wines chilled when outside on a hot day. These double-walled metal tumblers also come with a handy “sipper” top that’s perfect for avoiding spills and keeping the bugs out.

I’ve enjoyed using these tumblers but was constantly finding that the wines were just so-so. This went on for some time until one day when I wasn’t using the “sipper” top. My wine really tasted good, the way it should. Then, suddenly, I realized the issue with the “sipper” tops. They were not allowing me to get any of the aroma from the wine. And, that makes a big difference.

Just try pinching your nose shut while eating or drinking. Things just don’t taste the same. Without your sense of smell you have a reduced sense of taste for anything you eat or drink.

And, the same is true with canned wines. The small opening doesn’t allow for any of the aromas to reach your nose.

So, avoid drinking from a “sipper” lid or directly from a can. Then you’ll be assured that you are getting to enjoy the full flavors of your wine. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - The Federalist Honest Red Blend


2016 Federalist Honest Red Blend ($21.99)

The Federalist Honest Red Blend pays homage to one of the most highly regarded American Presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln.

This is a blend of reds from the California’s North Coast appellation that includes 46.4% Merlot, 24% Zinfandel, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7.6% Malbec. (I always find the fractional percentages of a varietal in a blend fascinating, but I’ll address that in a future blog). It’s somewhat a Bordeaux blend but with the addition of the Zinfandel.

Each wine is fermented separately, spending an average of 18 days on the skins. Then, they are aged 15 months in 35% new Oak.

With all these big reds, the color of this Honest Red Blend remains a pale purple.

On the nose there are floral notes along with hints of black fruits such as black cherry and black currant.

The black cherry flavors also come through on the palette. The tannins are surprisingly moderate and the finish is again surprisingly light.

So, while this Federalist Honest Red Blend states that it “…burst with bold layered flavors” it actually has some lighter, more delicate notes as well. While I’ve seen this one in the past, it was a new one for me. And, I’m so glad to have become acquainted with The Federalist. Cheers!

Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White Communications

Behind the Cork™ - Écluse Blind Dog Red Blend


Écluse Blind Dog Red Blend ($17)

Écluse is the French word for the locks on the canals. And, the Écluse name is very fitting for this winery that’s owned by Steve Lock.

During my last visit to Paso Robles I stopped in to visit Écluse and got to meet Steve. Besides making great wines, he’s also a wonderful gentleman.

The Blind Dog wines began in 1996 when their property caretaker, Duane Robinson, lived on the property with Bingo, his longtime, faithful companion who, due to glaucoma, was blind. They were great companions as Bingo would bark to alert Duane, who was very hard of hearing, and Duane would be Bingo's eyes. In 1998 Bingo had aged and Topaz, a spunky little lab/terrier mix came on the scene. Topaz became Toby to Duane and all at the Vineyard. As Toby aged they discovered she was a Diabetic and in the summer of 2008, Toby lost her sight. They then had two blind dogs on the property.

This inspired Écluse to create Blind Dog Midnight Run Cuvee as a Tribute to these special dogs. This red is a terrific blend of some of the best Paso Robles reds. It’s barrel aged from 14 to 30 months and really special.

So, next time you are passing through Paso Robles, take the short drive off Highway 101 and visit Écluse. They make a bunch of really great wines that you’re sure to enjoy. And, if you pick up a bottle of this Blind Dog Red, they’ll donate a percentage of their proceeds to Dogs for Better Lives, formerly known as Dogs for the Deaf, in Central Point, Oregon. It’s a real win-win! Cheers!

What Do You Smell When You Smell Wine?

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Wine is often described as having aromas of fruits, flowers and spices. But, what do you smell when you smell wine?

The most common response from those just starting to like wine is “It smells like wine.” Well, that’s a good start. But, there’s so much more.

The best place to start is with red wines. They have the biggest aromas. And, you need to do a lot of sniffing.

Start by gently swirling the wine around in a bowl-shaped wine glass. This can significantly enhance the aromas in the glass. Then, don’t be afraid to stick your nose into the glass. You don’t need to take a deep breath, just inhale. Give the glass another swirl and take a second sniff.

Now, this is where you have to open up your imagination a bit and think of other things that could have similar aromas. With red wines it’s easy to start with the black fruits. Do you possibly smell Boysenberry, Black Cherry, Plum or Blackberry? Think of the fruits themselves or maybe the smell of jams and jelly. How about Fig, Date or Raisin? In the lighter red wines, you may get a bit of Cranberry, Strawberry, or Cherry.

You’ll need to be patient with yourself and give yourself lots of time and plenty of experience. And, if you’re in an environment where you can smell lots of different wines you’ll be able to compare and contrast the aromas.

Your nose actually plays a very important role in how you taste something. We’ll get into that a bit more next time. For now, happy sniffing and sipping! Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc


2018 Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc ($19)

This Sauvignon Blanc from Kalfu is from the Las Terrazas vineyard in Leyda Valley, Chile.

Leyda Valley is a sub-region of the San Antonio Valley wine region in Chile, just 55 miles west of the Chilean capital, Santiago. This region by the Pacific Ocean produces bright, vibrant wines. And, this Sauvignon Blanc is a fine example.

Kalfu means ‘blue’ in the language of the Mapuche, the indigenous inhabitants of Chile, and for the Mapuche, Kalfu is synonymous with the magnificent Pacific Ocean that boarders Chile’s western coastline.  A coastline blessed with an exceptional cool climate, constant refreshing breezes and early morning fogs that lead to a slow, steady ripening period for grapes, helping to create balanced, elegant wines. 

This 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Kalfu is fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh fruit flavors. It was then fermented and aged on lees for three months to further enhance it flavors. But this Sauvignon Blanc takes the middle of the road with nice bright fruit, but not overly so. You get nice gentle flavors of grapefruit and lime with just a hint of minerality. And, it’s got nice moderate acidity without being harsh. Its finish is light, long and refreshing.

This is an elegant Sauvignon Blanc from Chile that definitely fits the mold of a Behind the Cork™ wine. Look for this one! Cheers!

Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White Communications