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Red Wines

If you have attended my classes, you know that I have a fairly concise description of the production process of red wines, It comes down to this point, red wine is created from red, blue, purple, or black grapes. When producing red wine the grapes are crushed and the skins are left in contact with the juice. The skins are macerated into the must, and the juice extracts color, texture, and flavor. If this were done with green, yellow, orange, or white grapes, there would be little to know color to extract. Exceptionally, Pinot Grigio, which has a gray/pink skin, makes a lovely rosé with full skin contact. Now, consider the experience of eating a grape, you have the fleshy, fruity interior of the grape, and when you chew down to the skin, you feel a dry, astringent sensation on your tongue. This is from tannic acid present on the skin of the grape. When producing red wine, this tannic structure is imparted into the juice, and is why reds feel drier, and more astringent. It is what most people who enjoy reds appreciate, and what turns off white wine exclusive drinkers.

Here we see some grapes beginning to bleed a bit of color into the juice. Dry rosé wines are a fantastic way to train your palette to appreciate red wines, if they are not your speed. To be honest, a dry rosé is pretty similar in style to a less tannic red, and the production process used to produce rosé is an incremental step. If the winemaker allows some color to bleed into the juice, until the color is pink, and then separates that juice from the rest it allows for a couple things to occur. First, the pink juice often made of Syrah, Pinot Noir, Barbera, or Grenache has plenty of tannin and drinks dry, but does not require extended oak ageing to balance the body, texture, aroma, and flavor. Second, the ratio of skins to juice remaining in the vessel allows for a much greater extraction of color, and texture in the balance of the batch.

As more color, and tannic structure is extracted into the juice we find it more common to utilize some degree of oak ageing, perhaps neutral or brand new barrels depending on grape varietal, and stylistic choices of the winemaker. Oak vessels impart another type of tannic structure, aromatics, flavors, and colors to the wines as well. They also allow for gradual oxidation to help the wine "rest" after fermentation. The oak ageing process can take 3-6 months for gentle presence, and 18-36 months if desired, or necessary.

My classes, generally, show one white, one rosé, and one red. I feel that this suits the most number of guests. If you only drink white, you should like two, and if you only drink red you should like two. Of course, I am happy to create whatever curriculum interests you and your group, but this exercise of seeing, and feeling the varying production processes is frequently an eye opener. Set up your class now.

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