Week two decoding wine parlance for those fascinated by wine but baffled by its terminology.
• Oak monster/butter bomb: wine, especially chardonnay, that spends a lot of time in oak and undergoes malolactic fermentation, resulting in excessive oak, vanilla, and butter flavors. In lower quality wines, oak attempts to hide sins in same way pancake makeup covers blemishes. Red wines can be over-oaked and made sweeter (“jammy”) for same reason. In reviews, not a complement.
• Hot: high alcohol (14.5 percent plus) so you taste more alcohol than fruit. Like oak excess, can be used to hide fact wine doesn’t really taste good.
• Entry level: winery’s cheapest wine, often made from grapes that couldn’t make the cut for better bottlings. Winemaker hopes you tolerate $9 entry level and move up to the $15 middle tier and eventually to the $24-plus stuff they are willing to drink themselves.
• Horizontal tasting: different bottles of same variety from same vintage from same region. The exercise allows you to see how terroir, vineyard management and wine-making decisions influence final product.
• Vertical tasting: bottles of same wine, from same winery, from different vintages. Reveals variances climate makes; it is more noticeable in European wines and small production New World wineries. Big makers like Kendall Jackson, on the other hand, strive to achieve—and usually succeed—in tasting exactly the same year after year.
• International variety: grapes grown everywhere on Earth. Cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are champs of the category. Italy, on the other hand, has so many different grapes an inventory of them all would be the toil of years; some only grow only in a specific valley in an obscure area farmed by a handful of grape farmers.
• Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014: New Zealand’s top selling sauv blanc; 170,000 cases imported to U.S. Food friendly, nicely priced. $11-13
• McPherson Les Copains Brothers Blend White 2013: Superb acidity (helps with food pairing), pleasant fruit flavors, nice citrusy, tangy finish. $18-25
• Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Merlot 2013: Easy drinker both cab and merlot fans will enjoy. $23
Last round: Whoops! Did I buy wine instead of milk again?