More wine descriptors and some cures:
• Rustic. Hearty, earthy, rough edges—opposite of smooth or elegant. Indicates tannins are chewy or coarse. Can be positive. Do you prefer a tuxedo or a leather motorcycle jacket? Petite sirah, carignane, syrah/shiraz and others can be rustic and delicious.
• Butter bomb. Usually applied to chardonnay that underwent full malolactic fermentation and spent too much time in oak. Many people love this, most wine critics do not.
• Dead. Describes wine with little flavor, or has flavor that goes away quickly when it sits in the glass or as you swallow. You don’t have to be a wine whiz to figure this is not good.
• Blow off. Some wines have odd smells when opened—Burgundian pinot noir may have “barnyard” and riesling “petrol” odors. When allowed to breathe, odors go away—blow off.
• Barnyard. Farmyard, fecal aroma that can indicate unclean barrels or unsanitary winemaking facilities, but also appears in high quality Burgundy. Fortunately, this smell blows off.
• Breathe. Allow air contact with wine, either by swirling in large glass or decanting. Breathing can soften tannins and allow wine to “open up” and improve, also blow off bad aromas.
• Open up. When wine is allowed to breathe, it can present greater depths of flavor and complexity than when you simply “pop and pour.”
• Pop and pour. You do not give wine time to breathe and open up before drinking. There are wines, especially in value categories, where there is no need to decant; wine is as good as it is going to get immediately after opening—pop and pour. Many others benefit from breathing and opening up.
• Hot. High alcohol—you feel alcohol fumes in your nose and back of your mouth. Maybe a good thing, depending on how your party rolls. Hot, however, typically is not food friendly; best poured in carousing time after the meal.
• Qupé “Y” Block Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2014: Not a butter bomb, pleasurable fruitiness. $19-20
• WhiteHaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015: Rich flavors, complexity, food friendly. $20
• Frank Family Vineyards Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: Decadently delicious luxury; deft use of oak, superb fruit. $85-98
Last round: Friday is the beginning of my liver’s wine work weekend.