Around the world, millions of people drink wine. While the vast majority probably drink it just for the sake of getting drunk, interest in wine production, tastings, and pairings has seemed to surge. Just take a look at the number of wine events listed in our weekly roundups -- there's one almost every day of the week.
That being said, we've all seen that pompous person seated at the front of the class sipping, swirling, and spouting his mouth off -- yes, it's always a guy -- as if he knows everything about wine.
Here's your chance to figure out if he's legit or just a showoff. We caught up with Andrew Lampasone of Wine Watch to find out how to taste wine like a pro.
As the first part of our series on tastings leading up to the Sixth Annual Pairings on September 26, we're starting off by exploring basic wine production.
At its core, wine is made by adding sugar (from the grapes) and yeasts together, which convert into alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation.
A myriad of factors contribute to the aromas of leather or grapefruit or coffee that you so commonly hear about, including grape varietal, the climate of the growing region, length of time on the vine, fermentation process, aging practices, and a number of other factors.
Malo-lactic fermentation is a secondary fermentation process that turns harsher malic acid, a flavor associated with green apple, into softer lactic acid, kind of like the creamy texture of milk. Diacytiyle, a byproduct of the malolactic fermentation process, is the same compound that gives butter its buttery smell and taste. This process is common in the majority of red wines and some white wines, such as Chardonnay.
"The next time you notice that buttery aroma that many Chardonnays from California have, you will know that it underwent Malo-lactic," said Lampasone.