Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Cabernet and all its Tannins

Last night, after enjoying two remarkably well-priced pints of a local microbrew in downtown Eugene, I wandered over to the 5th Street Market and into some specialty shops with chic displays, a whole lot of local wines and, to the chagrin of my wallet, an entire stock of Riedel glasses. It is my dream to one day own a set of their  “Extreme” Cabernet/Merlot/Bordeaux glasses. I suppose I could buy one (at $60 a glass, maybe not) and savor my wine alone in bed watching bad TV but that seems depressing. I guess that I’ll have to wait to experience the joy that is a specifically engineered glass (volume that allows the wine to aerate and a rim designed to direct the wine to the front of the palate so as to enhance sweetness) until I actually have a job and am buying wines more expensive than the glasses themselves.

Abandoning my lofty aspirations to true wine-snobbery, I gave my Target red glasses a little rinse off and opened a Vintage 2009 Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon (for $10.99 at Fred Meyer). Since the Bogle Petite Syrah is one of my favorite wines, I decided to branch out and try their other varietals. Their Cabernet, luckily, did not disappoint. This wine was a beautiful deep maroon and smelled smoky (my boyfriend suggested that it smelled of “tobacco smoke, but not overpoweringly so”). Before I taste wine I usually follow a process I learned at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA. As part of their winery tour and tasting, they taught me the following steps to taste wine: aerate your wine by swirling it in the glass, then take a deep smell, swirl it again, take a small sip to cleanse your palate and finally taste the wine by sucking the wine over your tongue (yes, it’s a loud and pretentious process). This sucking motion allows the wine to flow over your tongue in a way that highlights a fruity flavor at the front of the sip (since the tip of your tongue is where you taste sweet flavors) and then opens up into a riper “bouquet” as the wine passes over the rest of the tongue. It is using this process that I get to fully experience the taste of the wine. And this Cabernet lent itself well to it. The first sip had a hint of cherry but was followed by a smooth and unmistakable oaky flavor, unsurprising since this wine aged for 14 months in American oak barrels before bottling. A long, smooth finish and structured tannins* completed the sip. All in all this Bogle was a delicious wine with just enough body to compliment rich meals (grilled meats or steak) and just enough smoothness to make it a perfectly drinkable wine. Bogle’s website suggests that this wine can be enjoyed right now but can also be stored for 6-8 years.

*The first time I heard the term “structured tannins,” I laughed, but the tannins were particularly noticeable in this wine. Tannins are found in grape skins, seeds, and stems, and act as a natural preservative and antioxidant (as if we needed a reason to drink wine). They give red wines their structure and their texture. If you notice the feeling on your teeth and tongue after a full-bodied glass of wine, or the bitterness to a sip of wine, that’s where the tannins come into play. Red wines with lots of tannins often improve with age, the tannins softening over time. To read more about tannins visit this helpful website:

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