A tour of a vineyard and winery can be a fun outing, where you can also learn about the wine making process, from growth to food accompaniment. The following are some terms you may come across during your tour of a winery or vineyard.
Aging – Aging is letting a prepared wine sit for a period of time. This lets the flavor of the wine fully develop. Fine wine is often aged for at least a few months.
Blending – Blending is combining two or more different wines. This mixture possesses traits and flavors of all the wines included. Because of their flavor complexities, blended wines are often excellent additions to wine tastings.
Brix – This is a measure of the sweetness of a wine. This is based on how much sugar the unfermented grape juice contained. White wines are typically sweeter than red wines. The sweetness of the wine in question determines what food it would complement.
Chaptalize – This is the addition of sugar to grape juice. This is done when grape juice does not contain enough sugar to make a fine wine.
Extended Maceration – Extended maceration is allowing red grapes to age a bit before they are pressed and made into wine. This process allows the grapes’ flavor to fully develop.
Filtering – This is the process of straining any residue or impurities from wine. Wine is run through a filter, cloth or paper. Filtering is completed before bottling.
Hydrometer – This piece of equipment determines the gravity, or alcohol content, of a particular wine. Wine tasting participants should know the gravity of the wines being tasted.
Must – The must is everything obtained from a vineyard that is used in making wine. This includes the grapes and their skins and stems. The must also refers to the liquid necessary to make wine.
Wineries offer fine wine tastings to interested consumers. Wineries generally have a showroom where you view the products for sale, and a sample room where you drink and try the alcoholic beverages. Many keep soda on hand for children and designated drivers. If you can't find a babysitter don't worry, ask before hand if the winery offers non-alcoholic beverage options.
When trying or testing samples, you generally enter another room where you are offered samples of the different sparkling offerings, reds and whites. The vintner may offer a tour of the vineyards where the grapes grow. You may see people or laborites busy picking the grapes. Some let you taste the grapes used to create reds and whites. You’ll tour the warehouse facility and cellar to see how they make the mash. You'll learn how the mash is fermented and racked, and you will see the bottling and storage process. Some charge a small fee for tours and tastings. Others allow free samples hoping you'll be enticed to purchase a bottle or two.
Many vineyards hold special events with advanced reservations. The main house may offer lodging to guests. Celebrate a wedding, birthday, company picnic or other special occasion at their picturesque valley location. Wine businesses frequently set up catered festivals and offer foods like local cheeses. Most fine wine makers need time to arrange food and beverage requirements. Call a number of months in advance to ask about reserving space. Most tastings are held on weekends and reservations are not necessary. However, avoid disappointment by calling the business before heading out.