Post Content

The Nose That Knows: Get set, ready, go?

This sponsored column is written by the team at Arrowine & Cheese (4508 Cherry Hill Road in Arlington). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Experience Arrowine’s Tastings & Events. Have a question? Email thenose@arrowine.com.

What if, during your life, you could only practice your chosen profession 45 times? Well, that’s winemaking! Think about it: 45 times, that’s it. And you have to get it right each time, no matter the circumstances. Mother Nature is rarely consistent, perhaps never. Every year a winemaker has to make an enormous amount of decisions based on what the vintage gives them to work with.

Let me explain: we discussed the notion of “terroir” before. A “successful” wine must transfer or speak of the place it is from; that’s the whole enchilada, nothing less, or why drink wine in the first place?

We choose a particular varietal, a Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc, from a “specific place” with an expectation of what it will taste like and how it will work with a particular food or moment. But how do we form these expectations?

Glass of wine at a winery (Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash)

The winemaker’s job is to seamlessly get the land’s soul into the bottle without screwing it up. And, to capture not just the particular varietal or blend but to bottle “the vintage,” to pleasantly give you the flavors or expression of that particular growing season, that is the Art, my friends! And great winemakers embrace this challenge.

They know they are working with a product that doesn’t lend itself well to intervention, manipulation, or strongarm tactics. As a winemaker, you listen to the grapes, they don’t listen to you. No matter what you could do to change the nature of the fruit (technology today allows for this, lipstick on a pig), a cosmetic. Trying to change the soul of the wine is a fool’s errand.

I took 25 clients on a river cruise five years ago. I planned each visit, and when I sat back and looked at each winemaker I selected to visit, women ran 80% of them! Some of you might disagree, but I believe women are better suited for making wine. Women seem to approach winemaking from a more cerebral, nurturing perspective. They are more apt to deal with the realities of the vintage, to let the vintage speak, allowing the wine to be what it is intrinsically, and not forcing it to do or taste as they “think” it should. Perhaps it has something to do with maternal instincts. I’m not a psychologist, so I can only guess.

Now for the nitty-gritty, decisions, decisions. It all starts with picking the harvest date. The hard and fast rule is harvest takes place 100 days after flowering. But it’s not that easy; here’s why; when I started in this business 45-plus years ago, “Brix” were everything. People harvest according to the sugar content of the fruit. Winemakers squished a grape, placed the juice on a refractometer, and read the sugar content of the juice. That told you the potential alcohol level, and when you hit “your number,” you picked. Today winemakers get more up-close and personal. They go into the vineyards weeks before the harvest and observe.

They examine the stalks. Are they ripe, woody (overripe), shriveled, or green and healthy? Then they look at the all-important skins (healthy mature skins are everything in making red wine, especially). Grape skins are the primary source of tannins, allowing the wine to age gracefully. The all-important skins also contain phenols or compounds that enable the wine to develop complex aromas. Are the skins ripe and not bitter when you bite into them? Are they fragile, easily broken, damaged, or sunburned?

Then comes tasting the entire berry, not just for sweetness but maturity; the skins, the flesh, and the pips. Then you are ready to go, or maybe not? More on that next week!

Cheers,
Doug

Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash

Recent Stories

An individual was hospitalized after a reported shooting in a Mount Vernon apartment community this afternoon. Officers were investigating the shooting in the 8500 block of Hyman Way starting around…

(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) A Fairfax County Public Schools instructional assistant has been arrested after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of cash and goods from a Target in Chantilly….

A massive array of solar panels could provide cover for the office building that developer Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting are planning to build at Virginia Tech’s…

A nearly 9-acre property near Lake Fairfax Park in Reston could be the sight of future infill residential development. SEM Fairfax Land Associates is seeking Fairfax County’s blessing to build…

Art House 7 is a small art studio in Arlington – offering instruction in painting, ceramics, sewing and more. We are looking for kind, dedicated people who love both creating and teaching.

Ceramic Teachers are needed to teach wheel-throwing to adults and 6-12th graders and to teach hand building to elementary grades. Classes have 3-8 students.

Drawing teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. For kids, we offer cartooning, manga or traditional drawing. For adults, we only offer traditional drawing.

Painting teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. We offer oil, acrylic or watercolor for adults or teens. All elementary classes use acrylic and tempera.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

High School Senior Anxious about College Life? Our amazing graduate interns, Meghan Damminger and Kelly Charwat are starting an affordable College Readiness group in early 2023. Working out day and time. Please email hello@sarahmoorelpc.com to set up a free consultation after the Thanksgiving holiday. And yes, Meghan and Kelly have a few openings for individual clients as well. Their rate is $45 per session. [www.sarahmoorelpc.com](http://www.sarahmoorelpc.com/?fbclid=IwAR3ZlfQnSLVRCc78HbTZutDYZErTctC_5pl- zt4eo_wjQo1gF6uHS–k32g).

Submit your own Community Post here.

The Capitol Bones present A Christmas Brass Spectacular

The Capitol Bones Christmas Brass Spectacular will take place Monday 19 December at The Carlyle Room in Washington DC at 7:00pm. Tickets are now available at INSANTSEATS.
Dinner seatings are at 6:00,6:30 and 7:00pm. This year we will expand the

Ravel Dance Company presents the Nutcracker Ballet

The Ravel Dance Company will present this holiday tradition for the 2nd year at the gorgeous Capital One Hall main stage. It is a wonderful way to start the holiday season. Follow Clara through her journey to the Pine forest,

×

Subscribe to our mailing list