Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Discovering and Understanding Red Wine

If you’re like most people, discovering and understanding red wine can pose an interesting challenge for your pallet. Many new wine drinkers generally seek wines that are on the sweet side. That is because most people have a decidedly sweet tooth, having been raised on sodas, candy and chocolate as their normal sweetness level.

As a bit of background, the tannic, leathery flavor of red wine comes from the red grape skins. Most grape "insides" are white in color. So a red wine that only uses the skins briefly during winemaking, like a “white zinfandel”, is going to generally be less tannic and more on the sweet side. It will also be light in color, since the color comes from the grape skins. Conversely, a wine that sits on the skins for a long time during winemaking will end up darker in color, more tannic and healthier. That's because many of the health compounds in a wine come from its skin. So the aim here is to slowly train your tongue to get used to those more tannic flavors, so you can move from the pink colored wines to darker colored wines.

Many of our guests at Mercy consistently ask for a sweet red wine. In the world of wine, the word sweet isn't the same as sweet like candy. There are a few red wines that are definitely on the sweet side, like dessert and port wines, but traditionally, a sweeter red wine is fruity rather than sweet. So what they are really asking for is a fruity red wine.

Well, well, well, ladies and gentlemen we have it!

St. Clair Zinfandel 2006 out of New Mexico

This is the perfect medium body wine. Low in acid with a friendly bouquet, dressed in a sweet squirt of velvety tannin. Your senses will be exposed to the rich flavors of blackberries and ripe, dark cherries with a hint of cola. Beautifully paired with a blackened ahi tuna or our fantastic tuna tartar, it’s definitely an outstanding first approach to training your pallet to reds.

You can experience this wine for $11/glass or $35/bottle

Vincent Havard