Posts Tagged ‘wine tasting’

Wine Tasting Do’s and Don’ts

June 2nd, 2015 by Rachel

Wine TastingWe all know how to drink wine at home or in a restaurant. But things can get a little awkward when you visit a winery to taste their wine. You may be meeting the very person who poured his or her heart and soul into that wine. How should you act around this person? What if you don’t know much about wine? We’re here to help with some tips on the etiquette of wine tasting at a winery.

DO be considerate to those around you.

When preparing for a tasting, think about those who will be around you. This may mean using less perfume, or aftershave – or using nothing at all so that you and they can enjoy the bouquet of the wine. Additionally, you may want to eat a good meal before heading to the winery so that you can keep a clear head throughout your experience.

DON’T expect a meal.

Many wineries lay out crackers to help you clear your palette between tastings. However, small boutique wineries rarely have a restaurant or additional food available. One fun idea is to bring your own picnic lunch with you. Many wineries (including our Willamette Valley winery) have outdoor spaces where you can relax, eat, and enjoy the breathtaking views.

DO head to the winery earlier in the day or during weekdays.

If you want to make sure you have plenty of one-on-one time at the wine tasting, try arriving on days or hours that are likely to be less busy. Many wine tastings happen on the weekend or after lunch. However, most tasting rooms are open throughout the week and have longer tasting hours. For example, our tasting room is open 7 days a week from 10AM-4PM. So, pack a picnic and head out after breakfast to enjoy a leisurely tasting.

DON’T expect to taste every wine available on a winery’s website.

Wineries often keep specific wines available for tasting. The wines available for tasting depend upon many factors, including inventory, how much stock is promised to their wine club members, and which wines they feel best represent the winery. The wines available for tasting are often pre-determined. However, you can always ask if a particular vintage is available for tasting.

DO ask questions.

It is absolutely expected that you will ask questions and discuss the wine at a wine tasting. The person hosting your wine tasting has likely heard every question under the sun, so don’t be shy about asking him or her something you may think is silly. No matter how much or how little education you may have in the area of wine, there is always something to be learned.

DON’T try to pour your own wine during the tasting.

The tasting room attendant is there to pour your wine and discuss it with you. Be sure to allow them to do their job and serve you.

DO use the dump bucket as needed.

A wine tasting can help you discover wine that you love, without having to drink an entire bottle. However, there may be a wine that has characteristics which you do not enjoy served along with the other wines. Or perhaps you are planning on going to multiple tastings and you want to keep your palette and head clear throughout your experience. Either way, it is perfectly okay to use the dump bucket. That’s what it is there for!

DON’T head out into the vineyard alone.

Many boutique wineries have vineyards attached to the property. These are gorgeous spaces, but they are also active farms. If you’d like a tour of the vineyard along with your tasting, call ahead and see if the winery offers such tours.Enjoying Willamette Valley Wine Tasting

DO take time to enjoy the atmosphere and scenery.

Tasting rooms are there to showcase the wine and winery. There is often an atmosphere of leisure in a tasting room. Take your time and sip your wine. Look out at the scenery and enjoy the space. Concentrate on the wine and the beauty that surrounds you. We often forget what a pleasure it is to really taste and smell what we are drinking. Make sure to take time to do just that while at a wine tasting.

No matter where you go for your wine tasting, we hope you have a wonderful time!

What Wine Terms Really Mean

May 12th, 2015 by Rachel

Willamette Valley Wine TermsWinemaking is a highly specialized field. Because of this, there are a number of wine terms which can get pretty confusing because they often have both specialized meanings as well as non-specialized definitions. Many of these wine terms have roots in other languages, which can make them seem more confusing.

We want to help you articulate and understand what it is about wine that makes it something you love. We’ve created a list of terms that many people find confusing. Knowing these terms will help you discover even more wine that you love.

Acid: This chemical is produced during the fermentation process. Grapes from cooler regions or chilly seasons have higher acidity levels while grapes from warmer climates have lower acidity. In white wine, acidity can taste like lemon or lime juice. Acid adds tartness and zest to wine.

Body: This is a very commonly used term when one is trying to identify a type of wine. The term “body” is used to describe the weight or feel of the wine in your mouth. Often what determines body is the amount of alcohol in the wine. The higher the alcohol, the more body the wine has.

Earthy: When we say something is “earthy,” we often mean that it is evocative of the pleasant smell of rich, fresh, clean soil. It can also indicate that the wine has woody or truffle scents. In French, this term is called goût de terroir.

Finish: The term “finish” is used to describe the quality of a wine. Finish indicates the taste the wine leaves in one’s mouth after drinking. When it has a long, rich taste that lingers after your wine has been swallowed, it is said to have a “long finish.”Willamette Valley Wine Term

Mineral, Minerality: This is a wine tasting term that indicates the smell of wet stones or crushed rocks. It can also mean that a wine has a taste indicative of the land in which the grapes were grown. This means it can have different tastes – anything from chalk to slate. Often wines with minerality are complex and nuanced.

Oaky: We use oak barrels to age our wine. The type of oak barrel and the length of time the wine resides in the barrel affect the taste. Usually oak adds flavors of butter, vanilla or coconut to white wines. In red wine it often adds the taste of baking spices, toasty vanilla or sometimes dill. A wine can become overly oaked and the taste can overwhelm the wine making it taste charred or burnt, or like lumber or plywood.

Residual Sugar: This is the sugar that remains in the wine after fermentation. This may or may not be done on purpose. Sugar can be left in to help change the taste of your wine, making it less astringent or creating a sweeter wine. However, sometimes residual sugar can cause a less than pleasant taste, making a wine too sweet.

Tannin: The mouth-puckering substance that comes from grape skins, seeds, stems, or even oak barrels. Tannins help your wine age and develop. Younger wines have a stronger taste of tannin than wines that have been aged. This is often solved by decanting a bottle or aerating.

Terroir: A French term that indicates the entire physical and environmental characteristics of a particular vineyard. These characteristics influence the grapes and the wine that is made from them. We respect our terroir here at Youngberg Hill.

There are an enormous amount of terms associated with winemaking and wine tasting. These are just a few of them. You can always come to our Willamette Valley winery and ask us what we mean when we describe our wines. Associating specialized words with an actual taste will help you deepen your knowledge of wine and help you find even more wines that you love.

Cheers!

How to Make the Perfect Wine Pairing

March 17th, 2015 by Rachel

Wine PairingThere are probably a million “perfect pairing” charts and articles discussing the ins and outs of wine pairing on the internet. We also post articles once in a while discussing what wines would pair well with certain foods. With the ultimate wine pairing event – a winemaker dinner – coming up, we thought we’d take a look at how to pair wine with food once again.

Yum and Yuck

Before you even start pairing wines with food, you have to think about the “yum” and “yuck” factor. That is, if you don’t like the wine or the food, no amount of pairing will make it delicious. So, pick both wine and food that you enjoy.

Rules, who needs them?

There are exceptions to every rule. For example, you don’t always have to pair red wine with red meat. Pinot Noir goes great with rich fishes and roasted veggies, as well as some white meats.

Compare and contrast

Think about the similar flavors in food. Would you pair this food with a zingy lemon sauce? Then a wine with lemon notes would likely treat it well. Is this food better with butter? A rich, buttery white might do the trick. Are there earth notes in the food? An earthy red may be just what you need.

Go local

If you are eating local foods, it’s likely a local wine will pair well. We often drink local wines with our meals because we are eating food from Willamette Valley farms. Another tactic is to look at where the food you are eating is from and go for a wine in a similar region. If you are eating a traditional Bordeaux-style meal like confit de canard, you can go with a Willamette Valley Pinot as we have a similar region to Bordeaux.

Acid, fat, salt, and sweet

When stripped down to the barest essentials, food and wine are all about flavors. An acidic wine will pair well with fatty and sweet food. Wine with high tannin levels will go well with sweet food while wine with a high alcohol content will cut through fatty food. Salty foods should get a low acid wine while sweet foods will want a little acidity.

In the end, wine pairing takes some practice. However, always go for foods and wines that you love. Be adventurous and tell us where your culinary adventures take you!

Take a Holiday Break

December 9th, 2014 by Rachel

Holiday treeIt’s about holiday crunch time. You know, that time in December when shopping for presents, wrapping presents, and planning holiday get-togethers seems to take up every waking moment? How about taking a break for some holiday R&R here at Youngberg Hill?

We know you may not have a lot of time, but we have options to help you unwind this holiday season.  Here are just a few:

  • Come on up for a wine tasting. You deserve some holiday cheer! Come up and taste our wines, enjoy the incredible views of the Willamette Valley and relax. Feel like you’re too busy? Well, Pinot goes very well with many holiday meals. How about coming up to pick out the wine to go with that special dinner? Just, be sure to give yourself a little time to taste, relax, and enjoy. We won’t tell anyone.
  • Need to just get away from the stress? Come on out for an overnight stay! Winter in Oregon wine country is stunning. So, take a day or even a few off and let us take care of you.Youngberg Hill Inn
  • Why not give yourself a little gift during your stay and sign up for one of our packages? There’s the winter wine tasting package that will only be around for a limited time. Then we have the private breakfast, romance package, birthday package, or your particular special request.

You deserve a break this holiday season! Which option would work best for your schedule? Let us know!

Does the Order You Taste Wine in Matter?

April 9th, 2014 by Rachel

how to taste wine

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There are many methods of wine tasting, so does the order you taste wine in matter? Generally, when you go to a vineyard for a tasting, the winery will provide wine from their latest bottling. This is a great way to get a feel for the variety of wine provided by the winery as well as a feel for the terroir (meaning soil, climate, and area in which the grapes were grown.)

Another fantastic way to get an in-depth understanding of a vineyard and its wines is a vertical tasting.  This is the process of tasting the same wine from the same winery, but from successive years.  For example, you could taste our Jordan Pinot Noir from 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.  This type of tasting allows you to identify the thread that ties the wines together.  As you taste progressively older wines, the tannins mellow, which can help you understand the evolution of the wine itself.

Finally, there is a horizontal tasting.  This is often not something you will do at a winery, but is something you may participate in at a wine bar or wine shop.  A horizontal tasting involves trying similar wines from similar regions – all of the same year.  For example, you could do a horizontal tasting of Pinot Gris produced in the Willamette Valley.  This type of tasting gives one a concept of how the wine in the area can vary due to the style and relative location of each winery within one region.

A fun way to spice up a horizontal tasting is to do a “blind” tasting.  You could blindfold yourself and taste each type of wine – but we think that way may lie accidental spillage – and no one wants to waste good wine.  Instead, the server providing you with the tasting simply puts a bag over the label of each bottle.  Once the tasting is over, they reveal the wineries you tasted.  You may want to try a second round of tastings after the wineries are revealed, just so you know which producer’s wine you enjoyed the most.  The answer may surprise you, which is the point of a blind tasting.

No matter how you go about tasting wine, the point is for you to enjoy the experience.