Wine comes with its own language, and you need to learn how to speak this tongue if you want to develop a greater understanding of this fascinatingly complex tipple. With this in mind, the Ideal Wine Company asks; how does wine taste like other fruits?
If you ever read a set of wine tasting notes, you’ll notice that they say the vintage in question tastes like certain fruits e.g. pineapple, lemon, blackberries etc. Does this mean that wine is made from a mix of fruits? In most instances, certainly in the cases of the wines on our product list, the answer is no; traditionally wines are only made with grapes.
So how can a wine that’s made with grapes taste like melons or strawberries or even kiwis? Wine X Magazine has written a great article which provides a perfect answer to this question. They explain that “a wine’s flavour, character and aroma are locked up in the grape, and it’s the yeast (through fermentation) that activates — unlocks — these characteristics.”
In other words grapes contain the same natural chemical compounds found in fruits and other foods e.g. butter. Fermentation, or other parts of the wine making process, provokes a chain reaction which unlocks these compounds, allowing us to smell and taste the same flavours and aromas found in fruits and other foods in the finished product.
This allows wine makers to control the flavour of the finished product throughout various stages of the production process. Here are four vital areas of wine making, and how producers can use them to determine the flavour of the vintage:
- Fermentation: Yeast is key for fermentation and different yeast strains can provoke different flavours in the finished wine. For example one yeast may create tropical fruit flavours in Chardonnay, but another may create more citrusy ones.
- Secondary fermentation: Also called lactic fermentation, this process creates butter/butterscotch flavours. Basically if a wine maker places their product through secondary fermentation they convert tart acid to a softer acid that creates a by-product called diacetyl, lending the wine a few buttery notes.
- Lees contact: After yeast has been used in fermentation its cells die, since their food source has been used to ferment the grape juice. This leaves a by-product called lees, and if you leave lees in a white wine for a long time, it can produce pastry-esque flavours. This is a particularly common occurrence in sparkling wines that have been left to age for at least three years.
- Oak aging: A lot of wines, as well as cognacs, are aged in oak barrels before they’re sold to the public. The age, type and toast level of an oak barrel can impart a range of flavours including clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, caramel, chocolate, vanilla and obviously, oak.
See for yourself
Therefore the wine making process unlocks characteristics in grapes which allows wine to taste like many fruits, as well as a host of other foods. If you want to see for yourself how this works, why don’t you buy Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste 2007 from the Ideal Wine Company? As we wrote in our review of the product, this vintage boasts tantalising flavours of black cherries and cedar.