Do you know why dessert wine glasses have longer stems? How about why there are rose bushes at the end of vineyard rows? Adding these fun facts to your repertoire will help fill conversation between each pour at your next wine tasting.
A recent trip to Osoyoos in the Okanagan was spent visiting numerous vineyards, each offering a tasting often paired with a lesson in wine production. The tour group learned about how important the earth is in the creation of wine and how dirt effects the taste of the wine. Among the lessons, there were small bits of information often mentioned as an aside by the wine makers or overheard in conversation between wine-enthusiasts. VancityBuzz made note.
Roses are susceptible to the same diseases as grapes, however they tend to show signs of deterioration first. Therefore, it’s said that roses are planted at the end of vineyard rows to serve as a warning sign before the fungal disease reaches the grapes.
Once a meal is over, dessert wine is usually served. At this point your taste buds have withstood an appetizer and a main course most likely accompanied by a robust red or a crisp white depending on the dish. Either way, it’s important to hit a new part of the tongue to fully appreciate the final flavours a dessert wine brings as the grand finale.
Tony Mundy, Executive Director of Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association demonstrates the technique of drinking dessert wine during a dinner at NK’MIP Cellars winery.
The stem of a dessert wine glass is longer than the average white or red wine glass. He holds the glass closer to the foot. This keeps the heat from his hands away from the cold wine and will ultimately help direct the wine to the back of the mouth. When he brings the glass up to drink, the length of the stem forces his head to tilt back, allowing the wine to reach the back of the tongue instead of hitting the front.
Don’t forget: dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert being eaten. It also tends to have high alcohol content and is best served in small, chilled doses.
When referring to the geography and climate that affects the taste of wine it’s called terroir. Michael Bartier of Bartier Bros. wine reaches down to touch the Okanagan Valley soil upon which his vineyard grows. But the magic is happening underground. He picks up a rock and talks about how the vines will wrap themselves it and absorb its flavour. He talks about how the minerals in the soil (calcium carbonate) can be detected in the wine as an “earthy” or “slightly chalky” taste.
Wine embodies the characteristics of the region where it’s created by reflecting the soil beneath and sunlight in its flavour profile. Learning about the area where your favourite wine was grown will help in determining its taste.
B.C. has a wide variety of climates and therefore produces extremely different wines without having to travel very far.