Tag Archives: cabernet sauvignon

Wine Regions: Bordeaux Style

Wine Regions 1

Okay, let’s talk about the most famous wine region of them all: Bordeaux. 

Where is it?

Bordeaux is a city and a surrounding wine region in the Southwest of France that extends out to the Atlantic Ocean. There are lots of sub-regions for wine within the region of Bordeaux, so it can get a little confusing. Here is a nice map to help you get an idea of where it is:

Based upon Image:Gironde_map_blank.svg created by Sting

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Varietal Spotlight: All About Cabernet Sauvignon

If you like wine, it’s hard not to know Cabernet Sauvignon. Although it’s not the most widely sold red wine (that would be merlot), it’s widely grown and recognizable by almost everyone who drinks red wine.

What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc way back when, which produced a thick-skinned, durable, and delicious grape that went on to become one of the stars of the Bordeaux region in France and, later, in almost every grape-growing country in both Old and New world wine regions.

Where is it grown?

Lots of places. France (particularly in the Bordeaux region), Italy, Spain, Chile, Australia, California, Washington, you name it. Almost every country that grows grapes has cab, and they all turn out differently. Regions with cooler weather will produce cabs with more vegetal flavors to them, and hot weather regions will make cabs with lots of ripe fruit and berry.

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What is a tannin?

What is a tannin and why are people obsessed with the tannins in wine? Before I knew anything about wine, tannins confused me more than everything else about wine combined. Is it a flavor? Do they add it to the wine? Is it good or bad?

Tannin is a compound naturally found in plants (like, you know, red grapes). Tannins are bitter, often described as astringent or dry. If a wine leaves you puckering, it’s a sure bet that it’s tannic. You know that puckery feeling you get when you drink oversteeped tea? That’s tannin.

You get tannin in wine from the grape skins. Some grapes are naturally more tannic than others; Cabernet Sauvignon has a very thick skin, which means it grows well in most climates, but also that it has a lot of tannin. Pinot Noir, on the other hand, has very thin skin, which means it’s delicate to grow and has very little tannin. Aging wine in oak barrels also imparts tannins; the longer you have wine in oak, the more tannic the wine.

It can be both good and bad. Overly tannic wine is not a pleasant taste or sensation, but it mellows out over time. Puckery tannins become soft and smooth as the wine ages in bottle, leaving it with fully body, structure, and a long finish. Wines with little tannin can be weak and flavorless. In short, you want a wine with enough tannin to give the wine structure or allow it to age, but not so much that it makes you look like you just bit into a lemon.

A handy infographic for you! This is a very rough guide of wines with the most to least tannins; it will vary because of climate, regions, aging, etc, but this is a little shortcut for those of you new to wine.

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Photo by David Wilbanks via fotopedia.