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Taste Wines For Yourself Before Judging

Taste Wines For Yourself Before Judging


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Over the past 40 years or so, I have consumed, tasted, and written about tens of thousands of different wines. And the number may well be even higher — I have never counted! The wines cover everything from A to Z (think albariño to zinfandel) and vary in cost from thousands and tens of thousands of dollars per bottle to a few dollars a bottle (think Romanée Conti to Two Buck Chuck). I have found phenomenal wines, great wines, really good wines, good wines, not so good wines, bad wines, fake wines, and really disgusting wines. But across this range of wines and experiences, what I have also found is that I like a lot of different wines for different reasons. I like certain wines with certain foods and I like other wines based the occasion, what I am doing, and even the weather. This means, in my mind, that I am an equal opportunity wine drinker.

I never stop trying new wines and don’t ever intend to, even though I am fortunate enough to have accumulated a large wine cellar with more wines than I could drink in a lifetime (or two). All this has allowed me to develop my palate and establish criteria for wines that I really like to drink. These include: balance, flavor, complexity and purity. What I don’t like are wines that are heavy, overly alcoholic, overly manipulated, and polar opposites of what I like in wine. That said, the best wines I have ever experienced are wines with bottle age from a few years to tens of years for great white wines such as white Burgundy and champagne, and decades of bottle age for the great red wines such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and California cabernet sauvignon. But there are times when I really like a young red, white, or rosé wine (think Beaujolais, Sancerre, albariño, riesling, and grüner veltliner, to name a few, and a wide variety of rosés, particularly those from France).

Earlier this year I was in Hawaii and visited a Costco. Many of the wines they sell offer good value and their prices on all wines, like all the other products they sell, are generally lower that those for the same wine at most places.

Today Costco is the largest retailer of wines in America. However, they are selling wines in a completely different way than they sell other products. They use big numbers and there are no numbers for anything else in the store except wine. In the Hawaii store they have even set up a chart explaining the big numbers scoring system and identifying the number by one of three different publication sources that they use. And there is nothing much said about individual wines, mostly just a number. It is very strange and seems totally contrary to the way Costco has sold other products for decades. I, for one, find the numbers worthless. They might as well start putting the numbers on toilet paper as well as wine. After all, that was the analogy the head Costco wine buyer made a few years ago that was referenced in my article Do Wine and Toilet Paper Have Anything In Common? Back then wine was just another product. Now Costco seems to have concluded that, unlike anything else in the store, wine needs a number.

But I suppose Americans are more insecure about wine than they are toilet paper. Many American consumers still think a number for wine can express what they should like. Interesting, since this is the only product that is sold this way. In fact, in other areas of the world where wine making and wine drinking have been part of the culture for hundreds of years, this numbers nonsense is not very important. But in emerging areas like China, people are being seduced and sucked into the bogus idea of determining the quality of a wine by points. So while the trend seems to have peaked in America, China is climbing into the driver’s seat. I say more power to them. And, I hope they enjoy the ride as they ultimately will hit a wall.

For the inescapable conclusion in drinking and enjoying wine is that you have to taste for yourself and form your own opinions. Do not rely on numbers that have no meaning other that the taste of a person (often unknown) of a wine tasted or consumed in a variety of different ways that may or may not relate to how you will be drinking the wine. But, what is important, is to ask what is in the wine you are drinking. And, seek advice from wine merchants and wine drinkers whose opinions you trust. Hopefully the latter will include theUnderground where our total focus is on the consumer and providing information that can guide and educate. But, at the end of the day, always remember the Underground motto – Drink What You Like & Like What You Drink!


The 7-Step Method to Tasting Beer Like a Pro

Beer isn’t all chuggable macro lager anymore. The craft beer movement has brought a previously unheard of number of new styles and tastes to the everyday beer drinker, and it’s useful to know how to find and appreciate those tastes. That’s not to say you should sit down, swirl, sniff, and slurp every beer like it’s a glass of fine wine, but some beers are worth some extra time.

No one knows this better than members of the Beer Judge Certification Program, or BJCP. The BJCP is a non-profit organization that certifies beer judges. It was started in 1985 and now has more than 3,000 judges who sanction beer events across the country. These people know their beer. They also know how to appreciate their beer, and it all starts with an easy method of evaluation.

The perfect pour

Pour the beer into a clean glass. Any glass will do, but a tulip glass is best. If there’s a lot of carbonation, tilt the glass to make sure the head of the beer isn’t too large. If there’s low carbonation, pour the beer straight into the center of the glass to agitate the beer enough to give it a head of foam.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

Stick your nose in it

Swirl the beer around in the glass and put your nose right in there. Inhale several times. Warm it up in your hands to release more aromas if you need to by cupping the part of the cup where the liquid is. If you’re still having trouble, put your palm over the top of the glass and swirl for a few seconds, trapping the aromas in the glass. Then smell.

Check it out

Hold your glass up to a light and tilt it a little. Check out the color, whether it’s clear or hazy, and how much of a head stays on the top of the beer. You can expect different looks for different styles, and the only way to know them all is to practice (drink).

Back to the smells

Swirl it up again and stick your nose back in it. The beer will be more agitated and warmer after the first three steps. Note the differences from the first smell.

Taste

Finally it’s time to take a sip. Take in just enough to coat your mouth. Let it hit your lips, gums, teeth, and all around your tongue. When you swallow that sip, keep your mouth closed and exhale through your nose. Take note of the initial flavors you notice, the intermediate flavors, and the aftertaste.

Taste, again

Take one more sip, this time focusing on the weight of the beer. Compare it to other beers of the same style you’ve had before.

Enjoy

This is where you take it all in at once. As the BJCP writes in their procedure process: “Relax. Take a deep breath. Smell the beer again, and taste it again. Pause to consider where the beer belongs in the overall range of scores … and where similar beers are ranked within the judging flight.”


1. Nebbiolo

The Nebbiolo grape is, in many ways, Italy’s prized possession. It’s a huge part of the Barolo wine that many collectors stock their cellars with, and the distinctive grape is noticeable at first taste for those who have experienced it before. It’s also known for being extremely tannic and bold, not to mention a wine that requires a great deal of patience on the part of the consumer. In most cases, Nebbiolo requires as much as 10 years in the bottle before mellowing out to the point of being drinkable, which goes to show just how much of a backbone this precious grape has. Damilano’s 2004 Barolo Lecinquevigne is a beautiful example of what the Nebbiolo grape can achieve, and it’s ready to drink now.


The Best Wines to Stock Up On at Trader Joe&rsquos for Under $10

Don&rsquot judge a bottle by its price tag&mdashat least not while shopping at TJ&rsquos.

Pandemic times call for pandemic measures — and this mostly means minimal visits to grocery stores with maximum stock-up on all the staples (wine included). In March, my wine budget was a lot more abundant, frequently splurging on favorites like Brunello, White Burgundy, Rioja and other favorites to help me feel like I was roaming through wine country in Italy, France, or Spain, with each sip. Fast forward: Work slowed down, as did my wine budget, but this hasn’t slowed down my appreciation for wine. And I&aposve learned you can experience the taste of a place on a mega budget, too.

Each week, my quarantine friends𠅊 party of three!—safely gather in the yard or on the porch (or sometimes with beach chairs in the living room, pending weather) to check out our collective grocery store wine hauls of the week. Sometimes we’ll stick to rosé, sometimes it’s a nice mix of everything, but it’s mostly a fun time to catch up and talk about wine in a non-fussy environment.

That said, we’re back at the best grocery store wines to buy, and this time, expect a slew of bottles that are under $10 from Trader Joe’s. Repeat under $10 (and many under the $5 mark too)—including a $7 bubbly that is super refreshing. We’re here to tell you to never judge a label by its price tag as there’s some excellent inexpensive stuff waiting in the wine aisles. Check out these very drinkable bottles below and be sure to stock up on your next grocery store visit.

Melissa Renwick/Getty Images

If you love French Champagne and Italian Prosecco, don’t overlook Spanish Cava. It’s from a bubbly region in Spain, called Penedes, just south of Barcelona. And for $7 a pop, it’s ideal to grab at least four bottles of the La Granja 360 Cava Brut, with a duck on the label for easy access, when perusing the wine aisles. (Remember, from our sparkling wine guide, that Brut means unsweet and dry). Expect a bright, crisp, lemon-y taste. Toss out a few salty snacks like nuts, smoked fish, cured meats and cheeses, and call it a day. FYI it’s refreshing on its own too, or makes for a stellar brunch mimosa.

Summer-Isn&rsquot-Over-Yet Wine

VINTJS Monterey County Rosé is one of chef and sommelier Laura Pauli’s favorite buys for summer. “Well into our hottest month of the summer a bright, light rosé is the perfect wine to grab as you head outside—socially distanced of course— to the beach, the park or poolside,” says Pauli. Trader Joe&aposs VINTJS Monterey County Rosé from the Central Coast is crisp and lively with notes of freshly picked juicy strawberries and rose petals,” she adds. Plus it’s a steal at $7 a bottle. Pauli pairs with everything from fruit salad to shellfish to chilled, poached dill salmon—or with a lounge chair and a good book.

A Porch Drinking Red

A few food and beverage industry friends raved about Terrain Vineyards California Red Blend, coming in at $4 a bottle (nope, you didn’t read that wrong!). Not going to lie, the price was a little worrisome as reds are more complex than whites, but during wine night a few weeks ago, a girlfriend proclaimed how nice and refreshing it was𠅊nd a nice break from the white wine we’ve been getting after. It’s a little jammy but not overkill and is overall a super-smooth drinking red to keep on hand. As I’ve mentioned in previous wine pieces, reds can be challenging to pair with foods but when you find a solid red blend such as this gem, buy it fast�ore all of my friends wipe out the aisles. Truth be told I don’t need any food to go with this red. It’s a solid porch sipping wine or the perfect bottle for watching the Heart of Dixie with my roommate.

Like Strawberry Wine, But Way Better

This watermelon-hued Espiral Vinho Rosé ($5) turned into an instant favorite after having it over in a friend’s yard one evening. It legit makes me want to scream out the lyrics to Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” and I&aposm here to say it’s way more palatable than whatever “strawberry wine” you were sipping on circa late 90s. Think hints of strawberries and lemongrass and peach with a fizzy factor that’s super pleasing𠅋ut not too bubbly. It sells out fast and it’s the best wine to take over when you have no idea what’s being served…it just goes with everything.

Summer BBQ Wine

Hailing from Spain, La Paca Sonriente Garnacha ($7) is a wine that I&aposd whip out alongside a summertime picnic or a backyard barbecue. It’s a little bolder with dark cherry and leathery notes but still super approachable (and drinkable) when it comes to a cheaply priced red. And because it’s a little more spicy (you’ll probably be able to pick up on some cinnamon vibes right away), serve it up with pulled pork, fried chicken, and really any kind of grilled meats, too.

A Charcuterie & Cheese Board Rosé

When it’s too hot to eat a large meal, may we suggest a sizeable charcuterie and cheese board and several bottles of Banfi Tuscany Centine Rosé. I’ve seen this in other grocery stores for around $14 but always find it for around $7 at TJ’s. While I never tire of rosé, I often feel too monogamous with French rosé. From Tuscany, Italy, expect a crisp, aromatic, berry-centric rosé that can stand alone as an aperitif—or as the star libation to help wash down all the meats and cheeses.

A Great Burger Night Wine

Christopher Southern, winemaker at Detroit Vineyards, the city&aposs only winery and tasting room, raves about Corvelia Zinfandel from Paso Robles, California. It’s a solid $10 red and Southern notes that it’s a “great example of a California Zin with some restraint.” Expect a bit if jamminess with notes of plums and raisins, making it a solid supper wine that will not disappoint. “It’s absolutely perfect to pair with carnitas or burgers,” he notes, so keep in mind next time you dust off the grill or make tacos.


The Best Red Wine For Sangria, According To Wine Experts

Kicking back with a cool glass of red sangria is pretty much the perfect way to spend a summer evening. And, if you&rsquove never made it yourself, it&rsquos time to change that (don't worry if you're not usually the bartender in your friend group&mdashthere's really not a set "recipe," and you can customize it and add whatever fruit and spices you like).

The traditional Spanish punch features delicious slices of fruit floating in a wine base. Add some sugar and a little brandy, and you&rsquore ready to enjoy a little sip of heaven.

Here&rsquos the thing: Even though recipe for red sangria is pretty basic, there are a lot of different ways you can create it. Everybody seems to have their go-to method of selecting the wine, first of all. Some, like Regine T. Rousseau, founder of wine and spirits marketing and events company Shall We Wine, likes to start with a quality wine. &ldquoNothing too expensive, but something that you would drink anyway,&rdquo she says. &ldquoI&rsquove heard people say &lsquoI want a cheap wine.&rsquo Why would you do that? Don&rsquot spend $100 on a wine for sangria, but definitely use a good, quality wine.&rdquo

But Maria C. Hunt, wine journalist, educator, and author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion, says that &ldquosangria is a great way to use up little leftover wine, or a new wine that you tried, but didn&rsquot quite fall in love with.&rdquo Noted&mdashdefinitely have a few of those bottles hanging around.

Basically, your wine base is pretty flexible. One thing to keep in mind, though, according to Rousseau: You&rsquoll want something dry. &ldquoThat wine will balance out the sweetness and all of the other ingredients,&rdquo she says. Otherwise, your sangria might taste too sugary sweet and take you back to your college days of bottled red sangria from the corner store.

Once you've got your wine in there, you&rsquoll want to use fruits that add texture to each glass. &ldquoMix it up&mdashcrunchy pink lady apples to more of a firm mango and citrus,&rdquo Rousseau says. You can also soak your fruit in brandy or rum and infuse a seasoning like cinnamon, rosemary, or thyme, before you add it to your drink, she says.

Next comes the sugary stuff. &ldquoTypically a sangria will include some sweetener, either sugar or some lemon soda,&rdquo Hunt says. &ldquoBut the way you make yours is a matter of personal preference.&rdquo And, if you really want to make your sangria pop, you&rsquoll put it all together at least a couple of hours before you plan to serve it (or drink it yourself), Hunt says. &ldquoThat gives the spices time to release their flavors and for the fruit to soak up some of the wine and spirits,&rdquo she adds.

But, of course, it all starts with the star of the show: the wine (which, in most cases, you can order straight to your door. Have a wine subscription? Even better). The experts swear these are some of the best red wines for summer sangria.


The best recipe to make during self isolation since you can keep all 30 gyoza to yourself. I'm not judging you.

This recipe makes about 30 gyoza approximately and you don't need to share with anyone, I promise.

3.5 cups of all purpose flour

Optional: fried tofu (diced)

Dissolve the salt in hot water. Put the flour in a deep bowl and start pouring the water slowly to the bowl. Fold the dough with a spatula as it will be really sticky at first. Keep folding as you slowly pour the water and when all the water is poured down, fold a little bit more to make it more manageable. After the dough forms, knead it well for 10 mins, separate into two smaller parts and roll both parts into two 1cm thick logs. Wrap the logs in saran wrap and let it sit for 20 mins.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Dice the mushrooms, green onion and garlic. Sautee them a bit with some olive oil. After the mushrooms let out their water, take them off the stove and drain the water and oil off. There should be no water nor oil left in the pan.
Grate the cabbage, carrot and ginger. Cover them with a thin layer of salt and wait 10 mins for them to let off their water. Afterwards, squeeze the veggies with your hands to get rid of water that's trapped inside them. They should've lost some volume and became a mushy mixture now. Be sure there's no water left in the mixture or gyozas might burst open while cooking.
Put every ingredient of the filling that you've prepared so far and the rest into a bowl and mix well.

Unwrap one of the logs and cut it into 15-16 smaller pieces. Roll out the pieces really thin (as thin as you can manage tbh) and cut with a big circular cookie cutter or use a big glass like I did. Put a bit of the filling and fold the dough closed. You can find the folding technique on Youtube or I can send you a video if you message me. Keep doing this until you're out of dough and yes, re-knead the excess dough and use them as well.

Don't forget to keep the small pieces of dough that's waiting on the side covered with a damp rag. We don't want dough to dry out.

After you're finished with the dough, pour some sesame oil (or olive oil if sesame oil is expensive where you live) into a rather deeper pan with a lid. Place the gyozas in the pan, make sure they don't touch each other. Let them fry for 5-7 mins without moving or touching them. Then, pour 3/4 cup of water on the gyozas and close the lid. Let it simmer in medium heat until the water is fully evaporated. After all the water is gone, you can fry the gyozas for 1-3 mins more if you like them a bit burnt like I do, or you can serve them hot with soy sauce on the side.

Edit: For all the vegan and vegetarian Turkish people out there, I have an instagram page where I share my recipes in Turkish. You can follow it if you are interested from this link.


Taste Wines For Yourself Before Judging - Recipes

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. This contest is sponsored by Sutter Home Winery, Inc., P.O. Box 248, St. Helena, CA 94574-0248 (the "Sponsor" or “Sutter Home”).

1. INTRODUCTION: Sutter Home invites you to submit your most delicious and creative burger recipe to pair with its wines for a chance to participate in a live cook-off and take home a cash prize.

2. ELIGIBILITY: The Sutter Home Build A Better Burger® Recipe Contest ("Contest") is open only to individuals who are legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia (except where prohibited or restricted by law), who are 21 years of age or older. The following individuals are not eligible to enter: employees, contractors, directors, shareholders and officers of Sutter Home Winery, Inc. ("Sponsor") and each of its respective subsidiaries and affiliated companies, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, suppliers, web design, advertising, fulfillment, judging and Contest agencies involved in the administration, development, fulfillment and execution of this Contest (collectively, "Contest Parties"), and the immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling and spouse or "step" of each) and those living in the same households of each such individual. Any person who holds directly an alcohol beverage license or permit issued by a federal, state, county or local agency or is employed by, or is an agent of, a company or entity that holds an alcohol beverage license or permit issued by a federal, state, county or local agency and all family members of such person are not eligible to enter. Previous Grand-Prize Winners and Finalists of the Sutter Home Build A Better Burger® Recipe Contest are not eligible to participate.

3. TO ENTER: Create an original burger recipe to pair with a Sutter Home wine ("Recipe" or "Submission"). Refer to Rules 4-5 below for more details regarding the requirements for your Recipe. Enter your Recipe in the Contest between 12:00:00AM ET on April 1, 2021 and 11:59:59PM ET on July 31, 2021 ("Contest Entry Period") by following the entry process outlined below.

The Contest will be conducted in three sequential phases: 1. Recipe Entry Judging, 2. Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Offs and 3. National Finalist Cook-Off. As part of the entry process, each entrant will be assigned to the region associated with his or her state of residence.

See chart below for region locations, entry periods, selection dates and Cook-Off schedule.

REGIONAL SEMI-FINALIST COOK-OFFS

Region Entries Must Be Received Between Semi-Finalist Selection Date Regional Cook-Off Date
Atlanta, GA April 1, 2021 at 12:00:00AM ET July 31, 2021 at 11:59:59PM ET Monday, August 16, 2021 Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Queens, NY April 1, 2021 at 12:00:00AM ET July 31, 2021 at 11:59:59PM ET Monday, August 16, 2021 Friday, September 10, 2021
Arlington, TX April 1, 2021 at 12:00:00AM ET July 31, 2021 at 11:59:59PM ET Monday, August 16, 2021 Thursday, September 16, 2021
San Diego, CA April 1, 2021 at 12:00:00AM ET July 31, 2021 at 11:59:59PM ET Monday, August 16, 2021 Friday, September 24, 2021

NATIONAL FINALIST COOK-OFFS

IMPORTANT: You must complete all of the following steps in order to ensure your Recipe is submitted for review into the Contest:

REGISTRATION:

  • Proceed to the Sutter Home Build A Better Burger website (www.buildabetterburger.com) ("Website") to register your Recipe for the Contest.
  • Once on the Website, click on the “Enter The Contest” link and enter all of the requested information. You will be asked to provide your entrant name, city, state, zip code, email address, phone number, date of birth, the name of your Recipe, your ideal Sutter Home wine pairing, patty type, bread/bun type, introduction, list of ingredients, recipe instructions, recipe yield and how you learned of the contest. Please note your state of legal residence will determine your cook-off region. You will also have the option to include a cooking tip and/or upload a photograph of yourself or your completed burger with the entry. Uploading a photograph is optional and is not part of the judging criteria. Entrant releases all ownership rights of the photograph to Sponsor upon submission. If you have questions on how to submit a Recipe or are having problems with the upload process, please visit the FAQs section on the Website. Complete the registration step by clicking the "Register Your Recipe" button.
  • If you prefer to enter by alternate means, refer to Rule 10 below.

If you do not complete this registration step, your Recipe will not be submitted for review and possible inclusion into the Contest or eligible for a prize. Registration must be completed by 11:59:59PM ET on July 31, 2021 or your Recipe will not be submitted into the review process for the Contest.

CONFIRMATION OF ENTRY:

  • Once you click the "Register Your Recipe" button, you should see a "Thank You" page on your internet browser. This Thank You page confirms that your Recipe has been received and submitted into a review process. Your Recipe will be reviewed to ensure that your Submission complies with these Official Rules. Please note that at this point your Submission is undergoing review, and is not yet considered an Approved Entry into the Contest.
  • Once your Recipe is reviewed, you will receive a Confirmation Email at the email address you supplied on the registration form. If your Recipe complies with all Official Rules, the Confirmation Email will state that your Submission has been accepted as an Approved Entry into the Contest and you will be considered a Contest entrant (“Entrant”). If your Recipe is not accepted as an Approved Entry, the Confirmation Email will detail the reasons why your Recipe was declined.
  • Submissions that do not include all required information and do not adhere to the foregoing and following requirements will be considered void and will not be considered in the judging of this Contest.

There is no limit to the number of Approved Entries an individual can submit in the Contest. An Approved Entry is defined as a Recipe that has been registered on the Contest Website through the process above and has received a corresponding Confirmation Email stating that the Recipe has been accepted into the Contest. The same Recipe may not be registered for the Contest more than once.

4. CONDITIONS OF ENTRY: As conditions of entry into this Contest, and by entering a Submission, Entrant warrants and represents that the Submission:

  1. is original and has been legally created
  2. does not infringe the intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights or any other legal or moral rights of any third party
  3. has not been entered in previous contests or won previous awards (Please note: recipes that were submitted to the Sutter Home Build A Better Burger® Recipe Contest in previous years MAY be updated and resubmitted as long as the recipe was not a Finalist or Grand-Prize Winner)
  4. has not been published or distributed previously in any media.

Entrant represents that he/she owns all rights to his/her Submission. Entrant further represents and warrants that the Entrant has obtained permission from each person whose name and/or picture ("Likeness") is included in the Submission, and that such person(s) have granted Entrant all necessary rights to use the person's Likeness as described in these rules, and that Entrant can make written copies of such permissions available to the Sponsor upon request. Sponsor's determination as to whether the Submission potentially violates the rights of any third party is final.

By entering a Submission, Entrant irrevocably grants Sponsor and its affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents and licensees, the unconditional and perpetual right and permission to reproduce, encode, store, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, publicly perform, adapt, exhibit and/or otherwise use or reuse (without limitation as to when or to the number of times used), the Entrant's Submission, including, but not limited to, the ingredients and cooking methods contained therein (in each case, as submitted or as edited/modified in any way by the Sponsor, in its sole discretion), as well as to use Entrant's name, likeness, photograph (collectively, "Likeness"), and/or statements regarding his/her participation in this Contest (with or without using the Entrant's name) in any and all media without limitation as to time or territory, and without additional compensation or approval from the Entrant or any other party. Entrant waives intellectual property rights, privacy/publicity rights or other legal or moral rights that might preclude the Sponsor's use of the Submission, and agrees not to sue or assert any claim against the Sponsor for the use of the Submission or Entrant's Likeness or statements.

Entrant agrees to indemnify and hold Sponsor, its agencies and Contest Parties and their respective affiliates, officers, directors, shareholders, agents, co-branders or other partners, and any of their employees (collectively, the "Indemnitees"), harmless from any and all claims, damages, expenses, costs (including reasonable attorneys' fees) and liabilities (including settlements), brought or asserted by any third party against any of the Indemnitees due to or arising out of the Entrant's Submission, or the Entrant's conduct in creating a Submission or otherwise in connection with this Contest, including but not limited to claims for trademark infringement, copyright infringement violation of an individual’s right of publicity or right of privacy or defamation. Entrant further agrees to release Sponsor from any and all claims that any advertising subsequently produced, presented, and/or prepared by or on behalf of Sponsor infringes Entrant's rights with regard to any elements, characters or ideas contained in any Submission.

5. SUBMISSION FORMAT AND CONTENT REQUIREMENTS: Once you register your Recipe in the Contest, your Submission is final and may not be modified or edited. No Submissions will be returned. The person named as the registered owner of the email account associated with the Submission and named on the Contest Registration form for the Submission will be deemed the entrant ("Entrant"). In the event of dispute regarding the identity of an Entrant, dispute will be resolved in favor of the individual who is the "authorized email account holder" of the email address provided. "Authorized email account holder" is defined as the natural person assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization (i.e., business, education institution) responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address.

If any group of individuals elects to collaborate on a Submission, they are required to designate one (1) representative to enter the Contest and accept the prize on behalf of the group. Neither Sponsor nor any of the Contest Parties are liable for any disputes between collaborators related to a Submission.

Please note the following:

  • All Submissions must be in English and may not refer to any company/brand or food or beverage brands other than Sutter Home.
  • All burgers must be composed of grilled patties formed from ground beef or ground alternative foods (i.e. plant-based meats, chicken, fish, lamb, turkey, seafood, pork, other) prepared on a gas or charcoal grill, served on buns, other bread products, or alternative wrappings such as lettuce, collectively referred to as “Bun”. Burgers may include any combination of condiments and toppings. Every component of the burger must be placed inside the Bun or served open-faced on the Bun.
  • Each Submission must include your entrant name, city, state, zip code, email address, phone number, date of birth, the name of your Recipe, your ideal Sutter Home wine pairing, patty type, bread/bun type, introduction, list of ingredients, recipe instructions, recipe yield and how you learned of the contest. You will also have the option to include a cooking tip and/or upload a photograph of yourself or your completed burger with the entry. Uploading a photograph is optional and is not part of the judging criteria.
  • Your list of readily available ingredients (found in most well-stocked supermarkets) must include standard, unabbreviated U.S. measurements, (i.e., cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, ounces, or pounds), specific amounts for each ingredient (i.e., number of lettuce leaves, exact teaspoons of salt and pepper do not say “to taste” for any ingredient, but list exact amount so reviewers can judge how the burger will taste). Each ingredient, including the bun and all other elements, must be listed, preferably in order of use.
  • Recipe instructions should include complete, step-by-step cooking directions, including timing and temperature for any cooked components.
  • All ingredients used must be listed and no garnishes should accompany the burger.
  • Each Recipe must be written to make six (6) regular-sized burgers or twelve (12) or eighteen (18) small burgers or "sliders."
  • All recipes must be able to be prepared completely in sixty (60) minutes or less.
  • Submission must be entirely original and created by you. Use of any elements that are not original may result in disqualification of Submission, in Sponsor's sole discretion.
  • All Submissions will be reviewed before being published or judged however, publication of a Submission does not mean the Submission has been deemed to be in compliance with these rules. Submissions that do not comply with these Official Rules or that otherwise contain prohibited, inappropriate, or irrelevant content as determined by the Sponsor, in its sole discretion, will be disqualified and will not be considered for a prize.

Technical Requirements:
The maximum file size for photo file uploaded to the Website is 5MB. Photo file(s) must be provided in a JPEG file format.

6. WINNER SELECTION

Determining The Semi-Finalists:
From all eligible entries received, sixteen (16) Semi-Finalists (four (4) from each region) will be selected.

A panel of qualified independent judges selected by the Sponsor will judge each eligible recipe based on the criteria below:

  1. Perceived Taste Appeal (40%) Does the recipe sound appealing?
  2. Creativity (25%) Is this recipe creative and one of a kind?
  3. Ease of Preparation (25%) Could anyone create this burger by following the recipe?
  4. Perceived Wine Pairing (10%) Does the wine complement and enhance the burger?

In the event of a tie, the tie will be broken based on the highest score in the first judging criteria (Perceived Taste Appeal), continuing thereafter to each judging criteria in order (Creativity, Ease of Preparation, Perceived Pairing With Wine), as needed to break the tie.

All potential Semi-Finalists will be notified starting on or about August 16, 2021 and are subject to verification, including without limitation, verification of eligibility, compliance with these Official Rules, completion of all required documents and a personal background check (“Final Review Process”). Once sixteen (16) potential Semi-Finalists have cleared the Final Review Process, they will be declared the Top Semi-Finalists. Entrants agree that the Sponsor has the sole right to decide all matters and disputes arising from this Contest and that all decisions of Sponsor are final and binding.

Sponsor reserves the right to select fewer than sixteen (16) Semi-Finalists or reassign Semi-Finalists to a specific region, if, in its sole discretion, it does not receive a sufficient number of eligible and qualified Entries in each region.

Determining The National Finalists:
Sixteen (16) Semi-Finalists (four (4) from each region) will be required to prepare their burger recipe in a live cooking competition to take place at a tailgate lot near a professional baseball stadium in each region prior to a professional baseball game in accordance with the dates listed in the Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off chart in Section 3. Semi-Finalists must arrive on time, as determined by Sponsor. If a Semi-Finalist is late or unable to attend their Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off for any reason, including, but not limited to illness, travel delays or force majeure, the Semi-Finalist will be disqualified from the competition.

A panel of no less than four (4) qualified independent judges selected by the Sponsor will judge each burger prepared at the Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Offs based on the criteria below:

  1. Taste (40%): Does the burger taste good?
  2. Creativity (25%): Is this burger creative and one of a kind?
  3. Ease of Preparation (25%): How easily was the chef able to prepare the recipe?
  4. Pairing With Wine (10%): Does the wine complement and enhance the burger?

In the event of a tie, the tie will be broken based on the highest score in the first judging criteria (Taste), continuing thereafter to each judging criteria in order (Creativity, Ease of Preparation, Pairing With Wine), as needed to break the tie.

The one (1) Semi-Finalist per region with the highest total score will be declared a National Finalist (four (4) total). National Finalists will be notified at the conclusion of their respective Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Offs. All National Finalists are subject to verification, including without limitation, verification of eligibility, compliance with these Official Rules, completion of all required documents and a personal background check. Entrants agree that the Sponsor has the sole right to decide all matters and disputes arising from this Contest and that all decisions of Sponsor are final and binding.

Sponsor reserves the right to select fewer than four (4) National Finalists, if, in its sole discretion, any of the National Finalists chosen are found to be ineligible or do not have a qualified Entry.

Determining The Grand-Prize Winner:
Four (4) National Finalists (one (1) from each region) will be required to prepare their burger recipe in a live cooking competition to take place on October 7, 2021 at Sutter Home Winery in St. Helena, CA. Finalists must arrive on time, as determined by Sponsor. If a Finalist is late or unable to attend the National Finalist Cook-Off for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, travel delays or force majeure, the Finalist will be disqualified from the competition. Should a Finalist be unable to attend, the Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to select an alternate Semi-Finalist to participate in the National Finalist Cook-Off.

A panel of no less than four (4) qualified independent judges selected by the Sponsor will judge each burger based on the criteria below:

  1. Taste (40%): Does the burger taste good?
  2. Creativity (25%): Is this burger creative and one of a kind?
  3. Ease of Preparation (25%): How easily was the chef able to prepare the recipe?
  4. Pairing With Wine (10%): Does the wine complement and enhance the burger?

In the event of a tie, the tie will be broken based on the highest score in the first judging criteria (Taste), continuing thereafter to each judging criteria in order (Creativity, Ease of Preparation, Pairing With Wine), as needed to break the tie.

The one (1) National Finalist with the highest total score will be declared the Grand-Prize Winner. The Grand-Prize Winner will be notified at the conclusion of the National Finalist Cook-Off. The Grand-Prize Winner is subject to verification, including without limitation, verification of eligibility, compliance with these Official Rules, completion of all required documents and a personal background check. Entrants agree that the Sponsor has the sole right to decide all matters and disputes arising from this Contest and that all decisions of Sponsor are final and binding.

Sponsor reserves the right not to award a Grand-Prize Winner, if, in its sole discretion, the Grand-Prize Winner is found to be ineligible or does not have a qualified Entry.

Sponsor may photograph, videotape, and otherwise record the Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Offs and the National Finalist Cook-Off competitions for promotional and other purposes as designated by Sponsor (collectively, “Footage”). Footage will be owned by Sponsor who has the right, along with its designees, to use, edit, adapt, post, stream, copy, exploit, and make derivative works from such Footage and all elements embodied therein, including any names and likenesses embodied therein, in any and all media now known or hereafter devised throughout the world, in perpetuity, for advertising, promotional, trade and other purposes.

Sixteen (16) Semi-Finalist Prizes:
Each Semi-Finalist will receive two (2) professional baseball game tickets in Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off city in accordance with the dates listed in the Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off chart in Section 3 and one (1) $200 pre-paid debit card for required burger ingredients.

If Semi-Finalist lives within 300 miles from Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off city, Semi-Finalist will be required to provide their own ground transportation to and from the event and will receive one (1) $200 pre-paid debit card for fuel, parking, toll expenses and/or any other transportation costs.

If Semi-Finalist lives more than 300 miles from Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off city, Semi-Finalist will receive economy-class airfare for two (2) between Semi-Finalist’s home and the Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off city and two (2) nights hotel accommodations (1 room, double occupancy) in Regional Semi-Finalist Cook-Off city. Semi-Finalist and guest must travel together on the same itinerary. Semi-Finalist is solely responsible for all other expenses not specified herein, including but not limited to, ground transportation to/from airports, meals, fuel, parking, gratuities and hotel incidentals. Accommodation restrictions and blackout dates may apply. All travel dates and arrangements are subject to change, availability and Sponsor's approval. Once travel is booked, no changes or cancellations will be accepted and no extensions or exceptions apply. Semi-Finalist and guest must present valid identification prior to ticketing. Airline carrier's regulations apply. Trip may not be combined with any other offer and travel may not qualify for frequent flyer miles. Other restrictions may apply. No alcoholic beverages are included in the prize. Semi-Finalist’s guest must be at least 21 years of age.

Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) for each Semi-Finalist Prize is $1,800, but actual final value of prize may vary based on point of departure and ticket availability at time of purchase.

Four (4) National Finalist Prizes:
Each National Finalist will receive (2) nights double occupancy hotel accommodations in St. Helena, CA, economy-class airfare for two (2) between Finalist’s home and a Bay Area Airport (SMF, SFO or OAK), entry for two (2) to a welcome reception and dinner, breakfast for two (2) daily, reimbursement of rental car for duration of two night stay in St. Helena, CA, ground transportation for two (2) to and from all sponsored activities as needed and (1) $200 pre-paid debit card to be used for additional meals or at the discretion of the Finalist. Finalist and guest must travel together on the same itinerary. Finalist is solely responsible for all other expenses not specified herein, including but not limited to, ground transportation to/from airports, meals, fuel, gratuities and hotel incidentals. Accommodation restrictions and blackout dates may apply. All travel dates and arrangements are subject to change, availability and Sponsor's approval. Once travel is booked, no changes or cancellations will be accepted and no extensions or exceptions apply. Finalist and guest must present valid identification prior to ticketing. Airline carrier's regulations apply. Trip may not be combined with any other offer and travel may not qualify for frequent flyer miles. Other restrictions may apply. No alcoholic beverages are included in the prize. Finalist’s guest must be at least 21 years of age.

Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) for each National Finalist Prize is $3,500, but actual final value of prize may vary based on point of departure and ticket availability at time of purchase.

One (1) Grand-Prize Winner:
The Grand-Prize Winner will receive $25,000 cash. Prize will be awarded as a check payable to the Grand-Prize Winner. The check will be issued three (3) to four (4) weeks after the National Finalist Cook-Off date. Grand-Prize Winner agrees to appear for and participate in media interviews for up to one (1) year after Grand-Prize Winner’s name has been announced.

Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) is $25,000.

Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of all prizes is $67,800. No substitution or cash equivalent of prizes is permitted except at Sponsor's sole discretion. Winners are responsible for any and all federal, state and local taxes or assessments and any person winning over $600.00 in prizes will receive an IRS Form 1099 from Sponsor for the calendar year in which the prize is awarded. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

8. GENERAL CONDITIONS: All Entrants will be required to irrevocably assign and transfer to Sponsor any and all rights, title and interest in his/her Submission, including, without limitation, all copyrights and any other protectable rights, and agree to waive all moral rights in the entry, and its contents will automatically be the property of the Sponsor, without any compensation to the Entrant. Potential winners and guests will be required to complete, sign and return a W-9 form (potential winners only), an Affidavit of Eligibility, Liability Release, Copyright Assignment and, where lawful, a Publicity Release. Potential winners’ and guests’ Affidavits of Eligibility must be notarized. In addition, potential winners will be subject to a background check. All completed documents must be returned to Sponsor within three (3) business days of the date notice was sent or potential winner’s status will be forfeited and an alternate winner may be selected. Notification of potential winner’s status must be kept confidential until his/her Submissions are publicly revealed by Sponsor.

If for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including without limitation, infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Contest, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion to cancel, modify or terminate the Contest. Further, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual deemed to be (a) tampering or attempting to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or any Sponsor (b) violating the Official Rules, or (c) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. Sponsor reserves the right to require Grand-Prize Winner to submit to a confidential background check to confirm eligibility as a condition of awarding the prize to help ensure that the use of any such person in advertising or publicity for the Contest will not bring Contest Parties into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule or reflect unfavorably on the Contest as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion.

9. LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY AND RELEASE: No liability or responsibility is assumed by Sponsor or Contest Parties resulting from any user's participation in or attempt to participate in the Contest or ability or inability to upload any information in connection with participating in the Contest. No responsibility or liability is assumed by the Sponsor or Contest Parties for technical problems or technical malfunction arising in connection with any of the following occurrences which may affect the operation of the Contest: hardware or software errors faulty computer, telephone, cable, satellite, network, electronic, wireless or Internet connectivity or other online communication problems errors or limitations of any Internet service providers, servers, hosts or providers garbled, jumbled or faulty data transmissions failure of any email transmissions to be sent or received lost, late, delayed or intercepted email transmissions inaccessibility of the Website in whole or in part for any reason traffic congestion on the Internet or the Website unauthorized human or non-human intervention of the operation of the Contest, including without limitation, unauthorized tampering, hacking, theft, virus, bugs, worms or destruction of any aspect of the Contest, or loss, miscount, misdirection, inaccessibility or unavailability of an email account used in connection with the Contest. Sponsor and Contest Parties are not responsible for any typographical errors in the announcement of prizes or these Official Rules, or any inaccurate or incorrect data contained on the Website. Use of Website is at user's own risk. Sponsor and the Contest Parties are not responsible for any personal injury or property damage or losses of any kind which may be sustained to user's or any other person's computer equipment resulting from participation in the Contest, use of the Website or the download of any information from the Website. By participating in the Contest, the Entrant releases Sponsor and Contest Parties from any and all claims, damages or liabilities arising from or relating to such Entrant's participation in the Contest. By accepting a prize in the Contest, winners agree that the Sponsor and Contest Parties shall not be liable for any loss or injury resulting from participation in the Contest, acceptance or use of any prize. Sponsor and Contest Parties are not liable in the event that any portion of the Contest is cancelled due to weather, fire, strike, acts of war or terrorism, civil disorder, governmental regulations, curtailment of transportation facilities, or any other condition beyond their control (a "Force Majeure Event").

Choice of Law: Contest is governed by the federal and state laws of the United States and void where prohibited by law. Any dispute arising from the Contest shall be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to its conflict of laws rules and the Superior Court located in Napa County, State of California shall have jurisdiction over any action arising from the Contest. With respect to any suit, action or proceeding arising out of or related to this Contest, the parties hereby submit to the jurisdiction and venue of the Superior Court of Napa County, State of California, or to the U.S. District Court-San Francisco.

10. TO ENTER BY MAIL: For those wanting to enter by mail, hand print your contact information, the name of your Burger and text for your Recipe on a plain piece of paper following the Submission Format and Contest Requirements in Section 5 and mail to: "Sutter Home Build A Better Burger® Recipe Contest”, c/o One Line Sports Agency, P.O. Box 610505, Bayside, NY 11361-0505. Group and mechanically reproduced entries, including photocopies, are not eligible. Sponsor will not be responsible for late, lost, illegible, mutilated, incomplete, misdirected or postage due entries. All mail-in entries must be postmarked by July 31, 2021. Each entry must be mailed separately. All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.

11. WINNER LIST: For a list of Finalists and the Grand-Prize Winner, visit www.sutterhome.com or send a self addressed, stamped, envelope to: "Sutter Home Build A Better Burger® Recipe Contest Winner’s List”, c/o One Line Sports Agency, P.O. Box 610505, Bayside, NY 11361-0505. VT residents may omit return postage. Requests must be received by December 31, 2021.

12. SPONSOR: Sutter Home Winery, Inc., P.O. Box 248, St. Helena, CA 94574-0248.

13. ADMINISTRATOR: One Line Sports Agency, Inc., 29 Chelsea Drive, Syosset, NY 11791.


Evaluating by Sniff

Now that you’ve given the wine a good look, you’re ready to take a good sniff. Give the glass a swirl, but don’t bury your nose inside it. Instead, you want to hover over the top like a helicopter pilot surveying rush hour traffic. Take a series of quick, short sniffs, then step away and let the information filter through to your brain.

There are many guides to help you train your nose to identify key wine fragrances, both good and bad. There are potentially thousands of aroma components in a glass of good wine, so forget about finding them all. Naming all the fruits, flowers, herbs and other scents you can trowel out of the glass can be a fun game, but it’s not essential to enjoying and learning how to taste wine. Once you’ve taken a few quick, short sniffs of the wine, try to look for the following aromas, which will help you better understand the wine’s characteristics.

Wine Flaws

First, you want to look for off-aromas that indicate a wine is spoiled. A wine that is corked will smell like a musty old attic and taste like a wet newspaper. This is a terminal, unfixable flaw.

A wine that has been bottled with a strong dose of SO2 will smell like burnt matches this will blow off if you give it a bit of vigorous swirling.

A smell of vinegar indicates VA (volatile acidity) a nail polish smell is ethyl acetate.

Brettanomyces—an undesirable yeast that reeks of sweaty saddle scents. A little bit of “brett” gives red wines an earthy, leathery component but too much obliterates all the flavors of fruit.

Learning to identify these common flaws is at least as important as reciting the names of all the fruits and flowers. And it will also help you to understand your own palate sensitivities and blind spots. Discovering what you recognize and enjoy is key to learning how to choose wine on your own.

Fruit Aromas

If there are no obvious off-aromas, look for fruit aromas. Wine is made from grapes, so it should smell like fresh fruit, unless it is very old, very sweet, or very cold.

You can learn to look for specific fruits and grapes, and many grapes will show a spectrum of possible fruit scents that help you to identify the growing conditions—cool climate, moderate or very warm—of the vineyard.

Flowers, Leaves, Herbs, Spices & Vegetables

Floral aromas are particularly common in cool climate white wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and some Rhône varieties, including Viognier.

Some other grapes can be expected to carry herbal or grassy scents. Sauvignon Blanc is often strongly grassy, while Cabernet Sauvignon can be scented with herbs and hints of vegetation. Rhône reds often show delightful scents of Provençal herbs. Most people prefer that any herbal aromas are delicate. The best wine aromas are complex but also balanced, specific but also harmonious.

Another group of common wine aromas might be characterized as earthy. Scents of mushroom, damp earth, leather and rock can exist in many red wines. A mushroom smell can add nuance it can also help you determine a possible grape or place of origin of the wine. Too much mushroom may just mean that the grapes failed to ripen sufficiently, or were from an inferior clone.

The scent of horse or tack room leather can be an accent, but too much can indicate brettanomyces.

Scents of earth, mineral and rock sometimes exist in the very finest white and red wines. These can be indications of “terroir”—the particular conditions of the vineyard that are expressed as specific scents and flavors in the finished wine.

Wine Barrel Aromas

If you smell toast, smoke, vanilla, chocolate, espresso, roasted nuts, or even caramel in a wine, you are most likely picking up scents from aging in new oak barrels.

Depending upon a multitude of factors, including the type of oak, the way the barrels were made, the age of the barrels, the level of char and the way the winemaker has mixed and matched them, barrels can impart a vast array of scents and flavors to finished wines. Think of the barrels as a winemaker’s color palette, to be used the way a painter uses tubes of paint.

Secondary Aromas

Young white wines and young sparkling wines may have a scent very reminiscent of beer. This is from the yeast.

Some dessert wines smell strongly of honey this is evidence of botrytis, often called noble rot, and is typical of the very greatest Sauternes.

Chardonnays that smell of buttered popcorn or caramel have most likely been put through a secondary, malolactic fermentation, which converts malic to lactic acids, softening the wines and opening up the aromas.

Older wines have more complex, less fruity aromas. A fully mature wine can offer an explosion of highly nuanced scents, beautifully co-mingled and virtually impossible to name. It is pure pleasure.

Nonetheless, the effort to put words to wine aromas helps you focus on, understand and retain your impressions of different wines. You want to build a memory bank of wine smells and their meanings. That is where the language of wine can add value to a wine tasting event. Learning to talk the talk, if not carried to extremes, helps to dispel some wine myths, such as the confusion surrounding descriptions on wine labels. Have you ever known anyone to ask why a winery added grapefruit to its Gewürztraminer and raspberries to its Zinfandel? The fact that these are simply descriptive terms is not always understood.


Sweet Red Wine Categories

The most famous sweet red wines fall into the dessert wine category. You'll want to look in that section while shopping. You can look for wine labels that fall into a few categories:

  • Germany's Dornfelder grape is often made into a lighter-styled, slightly sweet version. While it is not overly exported, it can certainly be found in U.S. markets. It is worth a try if you are searching for a sweeter style of red wine.
  • Italy's Lambrusco is a slightly sweet, slightly sparkling, and inexpensive red wine that has wooed wine lovers the world over for years. It is intended to be consumed young and is readily available in most markets.
  • In Australia, sweet red wines are appropriately dubbed "stickies." These can use a range of grapes and many producers have built them into their success stories.
  • The fortified wine known as port will also do its best to fill a sweet tooth's expectations.

How to Taste Wine

Now for the fun part: tasting! Essentially, wine tasting can be broken down into four easy steps: look, swirl, smell, and sip. Each step helps you fully take in all of the nuances of a wine by focusing your attention on each individual component – clarity, aromas, taste, and flavor profiles – so you can determine if the wine is balanced or off, delicious or mediocre. Just like learning to play piano or ride a bike, practice makes perfect with wine tasting, so grab a glass and follow these simple steps to taste wine like a pro!

Before you taste, tip the glass at an angle to get a good look the color of the wine. Check out the opacity, determining whether it appears clear or cloudy. A lot of clues are buried in the appearance of a wine, like varietal and age, but unless you’re blind tasting then you don’t need to spend too much time on this step. Just know that lighter white wines will be pale in color and full-bodied whites will take on more rich, golden tones. As for reds, lighter hued wines you can easily see through tend to be more light-bodied while deeper, dark hued wines indicate a fuller body.

Swirl & Smell

A little known fact about tasting wine is that your nose is the key to your palate. It’s true that a large amount of your satisfaction in a wine comes from smelling it before you take a sip. The smell of a wine can be delicate or strong, pleasant or unappealing, but before you dive in, be sure to swirl the wine a bit to bring out the aromas. This aerates the wine by adding oxygen to it, letting it “breathe” so it opens up and reveals the goods. So swirl away, then stick your nose into the glass and take a big whiff. What do you smell? Fruit, earth, dried herbs, sulfur? Certain grapes and certain places will have unique smells, while production techniques can impart additional aromas, as well. These can be broken down into categories:

Primary Aromas: These are grape-derived aromas and include dominant fruity, herbal, and floral notes.

Secondary Aromas: These aromas are background aromas that come from the winemaking practices, like fermentation techniques. Think buttered brioche, cheese rind, nutty characteristics, or yeast-like aromas.

Tertiary Aromas: These come from aging, whether from oak or in the bottle, and include notes of vanilla, coconut, baking spices, roasted nuts, tobacco, cigar box, and leather.

Look for aromas that smell like wine (fruit, earth&hellip) instead of something funky, the latter of which could mean the wine isn’t in good condition. A few indicators that the wine is off include the smell of must or wet cardboard, barnyard/wet horse, rancid butter, matchsticks, and mothballs. Some of these flaws could be the result of a problem with winemaking, while others are caused by improper handling and storage.

Taste

After you’ve sniffed the wine a bit, it’s time to take a sip. There’s no standard practice when it comes to tasting, but professionals usually roll the wine around in the mouth and suck in some air at the same time to let the wine hit all areas of the tongue. However you want to do it, start to take note of the way the wine hits your tastebuds.

Sweet: Is the wine sweet from residual sugar left after fermentation or is it perceived as sweet from the fruit flavors?

Acidic: Does it taste acidic? Acidity makes your mouth water, like a tart lemon or cranberry, which tends to make the wine seem refreshing and zesty. Too much acidity can taste harsh, like your teeth are being stripped of enamel, while not enough acidity will make the wine seem flabby in the mouth.

Bitter: Does the wine dry out your mouth like oversteeped tea? That’s the result of tannins, which can be derived from the grape skins, seeds, and stems or from extended aging in oak. Tannins can be a good thing, depending on the wine, providing structure and shelf life.

Body: Body is the general feel of the wine in the mouth. Body fills your mouth with weight or viscosity – think skim milk versus whole milk for light-bodied compared to full-bodied wine. Generally speaking, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tannin, and the more rich the wine is, the fuller the body.

Length: How long do the flavors and/or textures of the wine linger on your palate? Does it have a lengthy finish or does it fall short immediately after you swallow?

Drawing Conclusions

Now that you’ve looked, swirled, sniffed, and sipped a few times, it’s time to evaluate the overall impression of the wine. This is when you’ll be able to differentiate good wine from great wine. Does it seem balanced, with each nuance gracefully integrating together, or does one thing overpower everything else?

Whether or not the wine fits into the textbook “balanced” category, the most important question to ask yourself when tasting: is the wine enjoyable? In the end, that’s really all that matters.