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Need help talking about wine? Check out this New York Times article!
15 Helpful Words for Talking About Wine
Here is a practical lexicon that helps to describe the elusive characteristics of wine, without eliciting eye rolls and forehead slaps.
By Eric Asimov
Few things are as maddening or as elusive as trying to convey the character of a wine, both for the reader and the writer.
Many wine authorities believe that a wine should be described as specifically as possible, breaking it down into a group of flavor and aroma components that, when all put together, describe the totality in the glass.
I disagree with this approach, for two main reasons. First, when most people drink a wine, they experience it seamlessly, in its complete form, not as a series of discrete individual flavors, some of which, in the tasting notes, can be so esoteric as to be incomprehensible.
Second, these sorts of descriptions capture a wine at a particular moment. But good wines change and evolve, over minutes in the glass, as well as years in the cellar. Overly specific notes often confuse because of the baffling references, and because they are relevant to one distinct moment.
I prefer general descriptions of a wine’s character instead. These efforts seem more useful because they don’t rely on references that have meaning for the writer but are lost to the reader, and because they are true, I hope, over time rather than at a moment.
Even so, I have found that many readers are confused by these characterizations, too. Perceptions of aroma and flavor are so difficult to describe that many writers form a vocabulary that does not always convey to the reader what the writer has in mind. Even more bewildering is the fact that many writers use the same terms, but in different ways.
I thought it may be useful to the cause of clearer communication to try to define some terms that I use regularly to describe wine. As always, I welcome any thoughts and suggestions.
Can a wine have energy? Absolutely. This quality is hard to describe, but it feels propulsive. It partly concerns texture: how the wine feels in the mouth. But it connotes liveliness as well. An energetic wine snaps your senses awake, heightens your awareness and implores you to take another sip. Energetic wines generally have good acidity, otherwise they would be dull and flaccid. Good examples of wines made with high-acid grapes — like riesling, chenin blanc, gamay and barbera — are often energetic. Young, age-worthy wines, like red Burgundy and Champagne, can be energetic as well, while truly great older wines may retain their youthful energy.
A tense wine feels as if it walks a tightrope between forces that threaten to pull it one way or the other, but are so well balanced that the wine never loses its footing. Tense wines can be thrilling — sweet German rieslings are classic examples. They are pulled and pushed by both their sweetness and their acidity, yet never stumble or become cloying or harsh. Tense wines can be said to have energy, with a shiver of uncertainty stirred in.
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A textural term that indicates, as the word suggests, a soft, luxuriant sort of richness. The word is applied almost entirely to red wines, which have the potential to be bigger and softer than whites. Other related words: opulent, fleshy, velvety.
It’s not quite the opposite of plush, but it’s certainly in the other direction. It’s also a term related to texture, indicating a wine more skeletal than fleshy. Lean wines are ectomorphs, characterized more by their acidity than by softness. The best require a sense of energy, which galvanizes the wine. Without energy, a lean wine can be thin and dull.
Though a liquid, wine can be said to have structure, an architecture of tannins and acidity that gives it figurative shape. Structure is like the bones of a wine, on which the aromas and flavors hang. Some wines, like easy, thirst-quenching bottles made to be consumed young, will have little structure. Others, particularly age-worthy reds like Barolo or Bordeaux, may be so structured that the tannins dominate when young, requiring a few years to recede before the wines are pleasurable to drink. Tannins primarily come from grape skins, though seeds and stems contribute as well. They are felt mostly in reds, which are macerated with skins to obtain color. Whites gain most of their structure from acidity, with the exception of orange wines, which are made like reds, leaving the juice to soak with the skins. If a wine is aged in new oak barrels, it may also absorb tannins from the wood. These tannins differ from grape tannins and can have a bitter, mouth-drying flavor. Obvious oak tannins are a flaw, to me. If a wine has insufficient acidity and tannins, it can be overly soft and flaccid. Too much, and it can be harsh. Tannins that blend in seamlessly are said to be fine, while those that are rugged or chewy are rustic.
A well-structured wine with flavors that arrive in a smooth procession may be called linear. Linear wines have the potential for complexity as the flavors can change and evolve as they linger in the mouth. Without sufficient structure, the wine will be amorphous and soft, with everything arriving at once.
Lingering flavors, which can echo long after swallowing, give a wine length. It’s a similar quality to linearity, but not exactly the same, as linearity generally implies complexity, while length indicates a prolonged presence without necessarily any evolution.
A long wine can be deep, too, an added dimension that is also related to texture. A wine with length and depth resonates in the mouth. This is where pleasure lives, the sort of wine where each sip inspires the next.
All the elements come together with clarity in focused wines. They are balanced, proportionate and seamless.
This quality often reflects a wine’s alcohol content, as well as the impact of its flavors and textures. Examples include Amarone and very ripe zinfandels and Châteauneuf-du-Papes. They certainly have their place, but they can overwhelm foods, too. Fino sherry is an example of a high-alcohol wine that I would not describe as powerful, because good ones can often feel more fragile than hard-hitting.
Precision goes beyond focus, indicating a wine shepherded along its path from grape to bottle with exceptional skill. Each quality in the wine is exactly as it should be. Nothing is overbearing or out of proportion. For me, the quality of precision is preferable to power, permitting nuances and subtleties to emerge.
Sometimes good wines can feel alive in the glass. Life is a combination of energy, texture and depth, with something more that is difficult to grasp. It’s a vibrancy that can be found in wines ranging from simple to profound, and comes from skillful winemaking that is minimally manipulative.
Most obviously, this means a wine in which not all the sugar in the grape juice has been fermented into alcohol. Rieslings and chenin blancs are examples of white wines that can be wonderful either dry or with residual sugar, so long as the sweetness is balanced by acidity. Sweet, blended reds are increasingly popular among mass-market wines, and high-alcohol red wines can seem sweet because they are highly fruity and rich in glycerol, both of which contribute to the perception of sweetness.
Wine is often assumed to be fruity, since it is made from fruit, but many wines are instead savory. That is, they convey stony, saline, herbal, smoky or floral aromas and flavors, rather than fruitiness. These flavors often go together with high acidity, but not always. Good examples of savory wines include reds from the Northern Rhône Valley, Chablis and fino sherry, just to name a few.
Perhaps no word in the wine lexicon has been as controversial as mineral, possibly because some people take it literally, as if it referred to minerals in the soil sucked up through the roots and deposited in the glass. No. As with most wine descriptions, it is figurative, a general term for the sorts of sensations conveyed by wine. Others criticize it as too general. Why not be more specific? Does it smell or taste like slate? The sidewalk after a rain? I reject that as well. Minerality is a highly useful general term that helps to convey the character of wines, which can seem stony, pebbly or rocky in aroma, flavor and texture.
Burleson winery named to wedding top 10 list
Neetish Basnet, Jul 19, 2019
Many may be unaware the Texas wine industry is booming. More might have not realized there are wineries in Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that resembles wineries in California.
Some have utilized the scenery and are choosing to celebrate their most special day at the wineries.
About 20 miles south of Fort Worth in Burleson, Lost Oak Winery currently offers a unique sight. After half a year of giving meticulous attention, the grapevines are now ripening.
Mid-July will start off the harvest season, a busy time of the year.
Just as busy is the event space at the winery. A long list of to-be married couples waits to host their wedding at the venue.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine, an international media outlet covering the wine industry, named Lost Oaks Winery one of the 10 best wineries for weddings in the U.S.
"It's a beautiful facility," said Roxanne Myers, president of Lost Oak Winery. "And it's close to the metroplex. That's a little bit of our niche market. It feels outdoors, you've got away from the metroplex. But, we're very, very close, very accessible."
Myers recently obtained majority ownership of the winery. The transaction makes her one of less than 10 female winery owner-operators in Texas.
During her time as the general manager, Myers played a significant role in marketing and expanding the winery into a wedding venue. She also included an active wine club and a wine-focused international travel business.
The winery is on track to host about 60 weddings this year.
"We're building that business," Myers said. "Before, we did not have that availability. We only did 30 a year. We are hopeful."
Lost Oak Winery has three cultivated vineyards and sits on a 52-acre property in the banks of Village Creek, a tributary creek of the Trinity River.
The indoor event area has large bay windows letting in natural lights and overlooks a pond and the vineyards. A cocktail room and a bride and groom suites are also available.
Wedding guests are offered a complimentary glass of wine.
The indoor event hall has a capacity of about 100 guests.
When it's just TOO HOT in TEXAS!
It's OK to put ice cubes in your wine.
If you know anything about me, you know that I am an unconventional wine snob. Wine is to be enjoyed, however you like it. And when the heat index reaches 120 I enjoy a refreshing white like Lost Oak's Orange Muscat with a splash of La Croix over ice. Yes, this dry red wine drinker said it, "over ice!"
Here bon appetit gives "9 Situations in Which It Is Totally Fine to Put Ice in Your Wine" and I couldn't have said it better myself:
I’ve never received more hate than I did for posting a picture of ice in wine. “Sacrilegious!” they screamed into emails and “UNFOLLOW!” they chanted in the comments section. How could I curse the sanctity of wine like that? Well, quite easily. While I would never put ice into a ’67 BV Reserve, there are plenty of situations where I want ice in my wine and it is totally warranted.
...As it turns out, there are at least 9 situations:
At the Airport
If you’re anything like me—an anxious person that is pathologically early to events large or small—you’re probably at the airport and through security with two hours to kill before the flight. And while it’s nice to have a few glasses before take off, no one is trying to get drunk or go broke. Airport wine is expensive, and it’s never any good, so why not add some cubes to a $15 glass of repugnant Pinot Noir? It goes down easier, it lasts longer, and you’re out of Xanax and doing the best you can here!
On a Plane
If you have ever ordered wine on a plane, then you already know. If you have not ordered wine on a plane, maybe don’t start, but if you do, get a glass of ice on the side. And maybe a backup can of Sprite with a few lime wedges. While the first couple sips will have you fooled, by the third or fourth you will realize the wine is very heavy and gives you mouth-sweats and suddenly you are very aware of the barf bag in the seat pocket in front of you. You’re not going to want to finish it. Having make-shift spritzers supplies on hand will make the last leg of your Sauv Blanc a pleasant one.
It’s Too Damn Hot
IT’S JUST TOO DAMN HOT. AND YOUR A/C IS BROKE. AND YOU REALLY NEED A GLASS OF WINE. BUT IT’S TOO DAMN HOT. Throw some ice cubes in there. Not only do you want to, but you also have to. You’re already in survival mode, stripped down to your underwear, so this is no time to be concerned with shame.
The Wine Is Terrible (And It’s All You Have)
It’s been one week since you paid rent and it’s three days until you get your next check. Suddenly that butter-bombed Chardonnay an acquaintance left at your house isn’t looking so bad. But good God, it is bad. Not so bad that you are willing to go to the store in your sweatpants and spend your last eight dollars, but definitely bad enough to where you are justified in icing it down.
You’re a Grandma
My grandmother drank ice in Franzia and she was my favorite human ever, so I only have respect for Grandmas and iced wine.
You’re Trying Not to Get Too Day Drunk
Sometimes you find yourself drinking wine at noon. Perhaps on vacation at a lake house, trying to keep up with your mother-in-law who considers Pinot Grigio lunch or maybe just on any given Saturday. I don’t know why you’re drinking at noon, but a good way to way to stave off day-drunkness is by adding ice. It dilutes the wine and keeps your glass a little bit fuller. Plus, you can pretend you’re hydrating and partying at the same time. Most importantly it will keep you from passing out at 4.
Rosé, ice, St. Germain=You've got yourself a spritzer. Photo: Christopher Testani
You’re Using Wine to Make Something Else
From frosé to Sangria to spritzers of seltzer and muddled strawberries you found in the back of your fridge, you can transform wine into another drinking experience. And you know what all the recipes call for? ICE.
You’re Stuck Ordering House Wine at a Bar
You should never trust anything that goes by the vague, eponymous “House Wine.” You’re going to give yourself a headache with the amount of sugar that is in that thing. Cut it with ice. It’s so dark no one is going to notice anyway.
You Like It
Wine, above all else, is for pleasure. We drink it because it’s delicious and it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s the realness of the situation. And you should treat it as you would any other personal preference, like the temperature of your steak or ordering an extra side of ranch. It’s whatever tastes good to you, not anyone else. If adding a few cubes has you feeling yourself, bring it to the table because it’s no longer taboo.
If you can stand the heat, summer can be a beautiful time in the vineyard. One thing that makes it so colorful is veraison.
Veraison is the name given to the process in which the grapes change colors from green to golden or green to purple or red. During this process, you can see individual barries on bunches changing colors at different times making for a magical kaleidoscope of yellows, greens, and purples.
Along with this color change comes more intense aromas. All of this is to let animals (and us) know that the fruit is ready to eat. We, however, don’t rely solely on veraison to tell us the grapes are ready to go. During this time, we are constantly testing the sugar content of the grapes. This involves going down rows of vines pulling a few grapes off each vine. We then squish them all up and take a Degrees Brix reading. That is a fancy way of saying that we are looking for the amount of sugar in the grapes. Each varietal has a different ideal level of sugar that we are looking for.
When the grape reaches that magical Brix number we are ready to harvest!
- Angela Chapman, WSET III
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
As the summer reaches peak temperatures in July, Americans celebrate National Ice Cream Month as a way to cool off and enjoy the nation’s favorite frozen treat with friends and family. We can thank a Presidential Proclamation for this day! In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.
What better way to celebrate two of our favorite things - wine and ice cream, than to make a boozy wine float. Delish has a red wine float
and a red wine milkshake
that we are dying to try out!
Chocolate sauce, for lining glasses
1 pt. Magnum Dark Chocolate Raspberry ice cream
1/2 bottle, red wine
Seltzer, for serving
Rim the insides of four glasses with chocolate sauce. Scoop in ice cream and pour over red wine.
Top off with seltzer before serving.
1 (1.5 quart) Breyer's Natural Vanilla Ice Cream
1 c. red wine
4 oz. vodka
Whipped cream, for serving
Maraschino cherries, for serving
In a blender, blend ice cream, red wine, and vodka until smooth.
Divide between glasses and garnish with whipped cream and cherries.
We are very excited to release our new Meritage 2017 this week!
But what is a Meritage you ask?
Meritage is a Registered Trademark of Exceptional Wines Blended in the Bordeaux Tradition. Meritage wines are handcrafted, red or white wines blended from the “noble” Bordeaux grape varieties. A Meritage wine is considered to be the very best of the vintage.
This Lost Oak Winery 2017 Meritage is comprised of:
- 37% Caberet Sauvignon from Diamante Doble Vineyards, Tokio TX
- 28% Merlot from Bingham Family Vineyards, Meadow TX
- 14% Malbec from Burning Daylight Vineyard, Rendon TX
- 14% Cabernet Franc from Burning Daylight Vineyard, Rendon TX
- 7% Petit Verdot from Sprayberry Vineyards, Midland TX
Which all adds up to a whole lot of awesome!
This Meritage wine greets you with a beautiful rich ruby color with an earthbound blackberry aroma. Creamy butterscotch meets cherries and sweet tobacco on the tongue. With a smooth silky texture, and complex robust structure, this wine lives up to its name. Aged in American and French oak, pair this great Bordeaux blend with Coq au vin, beef bourguignon, steak au poivre, hearty robust beef stew, leg of lamb, dark chocolate stuffed croissant.
- Written by Angela Chapman, WSET III
Edited by fellow wino Mariam Copeland
We are honored to be selected 10 of the Best Wineries and Vineyards in the U.S. to Host Your Wedding by Wine Enthusiast!
Lost Oak Winery | Burleson, Texas
Just about 20 minutes outside of Fort Worth, Lost Oak Winery sits on three cultivated vineyards and 52 acres in the banks of Village Creek, surrounded by oak trees. The wines are well-regarded both locally and beyond.
The venue has received rave reviews from couples looking to tie the knot, and it offers both outdoor and indoor wedding areas. A large event space features high ceilings, stained concrete floors, and large bay windows that overlook the vineyards and a pond. There’s also a cocktail room and bride and groom suites. All guests receive a complimentary glass of wine upon arrival, and reclaimed wine barrels will enhance the visual appeal of your space, or help mark the boundaries of the dance floor.
The panhandle of Texas is home to one of the largest American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in Texas. Designated the Texas High Plains, it is second only to the Texas Hill Country.
Recently, I was invited to tour some of the vineyards in the High Plains.
Now, I am a Texas girl and I have traveled to many corners of the state, but the panhandle is one spot I had never been to. The first thing that struck me was the never-ending sky. Montana is known as “big sky country” but I have been to Montana, and although it is incredibly beautiful, the sky is nothing compared to what the High Plains had to offer.
I thought that the endless flatness would get boring, but instead, I found the expansiveness to be fascinating. I saw wildlife that included prairie dogs, burring owls, red shouldered hawks, horned lizards, and more butterflies than you can count.
I was event there during a haboob. I watched the horizon for almost an hour as the dust storm grew in insanity before engulfing the restaurant we were dining at.
Other nights the horizon was awash in electrically charged thunderheads that just never quite made it to where I was. I can see why people would choose to live in what many would consider to be vast nothingness.
Beautiful vistas and wildlife aside, I was there to look at some vineyards.
But what exactly were we looking for? How healthy are the vines, is there hail damage, how full is the canopy, do the clusters look like they are developing evenly, how much fruit is there, what is the expected yield?
With the help of the growers, all our questions are answered and then we determine how much of each varietal we want from our different growers.
Our first stop was the Bingham Family Vineyard in Meadow then off to Krick Hill Vineyards in Levelland. The next day we went to Oswald Vineyards in Brownfield and Diamante Doble Vineyard in Tokio.
Everywhere we went we were treated to the best Texas hospitality from hard working vineyard owners.
I was overwhelmed by the amount I learned and how passionate the growers were about their vines.
Although, they were growing different types of grapes and each grower did things a little different from the others, one thing they definitely had in common was the spark in their eyes and the smile on their face when they got to talk to us about their pride and joy, their grapes.
We can’t wait to make outstanding wine from their incredible fruit.
- Written by Angela Chapman, WSET III
Edited by fellow wino Mariam Copeland
Lost Oak Winery Wins at the 2019 Lone Star International Wine Competition
Burleson, Texas, June 11, 2019
Each year the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association hosts the Lone Star International Wine Competition (LSIWC). This year twenty-five judges, primarily from the retail and distribution tier of the wine industry, participated in the blind judging on June 3-4, 2019 in historic Grapevine, Texas, centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth. The LSIWC is the oldest wine competition in the State of Texas.
Lost Oak Winery is proud to announce the following wines were awarded medals:
- Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Silver
- Tempranillo 2017 Silver
- Mourvedre Rose 2018 Silver
- Orange Muscat 2018 Bronze
- Cabernet Franc 2017 Bronze
- Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Bronze
Come to the Lost Oak Tasting Room for a taste. Cheers to Texas Wine!