Speaking the Language

The wine world can be an intimidating place full of wine terminology, weird behavior, and a lot of big words.  Today I am going to walk you through some questions that come up in our tasting room in hopes to make your next tasting experience a little less awkward and intimidating and a bit more educational and fun.

What is Brix?

Brix is the scientific term for, in short, the sugar content in a liquid solution.  Also known as Plato or Ballings in the brewing industry, Brix is one component in helping a winemaker judge the ripeness of the grapes as well as help determine the alcohol content (because sugar=alcohol in the fermentation process) of their finished product.

Why do we swirl wine?

Swirling, or aerating, wine is a large part of the tasting process.  By aerating our wine, we are allowing air to incorporate with other compounds letting the wine come together, enabling the tannins to soften, and helping enhance the bouquet (aromas) of the wine.  You may also see restaurants or wineries decant a wine (transferring the wine into a glass vessel).  This process is another way to aerate our wine.  

Why is the gentleman next to me gargling his wine?

Though a bit over the top at times, moving or swishing wine around in your mouth can do a few things.  First, it is another form of aeration and enhances the tasting experience just like swirling wine in a glass.  Second, it allows you to hit all of your taste sensors.  Your tongue is composed of different areas that detect four distinct tastes – bitter, sweet, salty, and sour.  By swishing or aerating wine in your mouth, you are allowing the wine to cover all 4 major taste sensors creating a more complex and complete tasting experience.

What do you mean the wine is corked?  Aren’t all wines corked except for the screw caps?

When someone refers to a wine as “corked,” they are not referring to how the wine was bottled.  When a wine is referred to as corked, the person is referring to a wine that has cork taint, also known to our lab techs and winemakers as trichloroanisole or TCA.  You will recognize it in the form of an odor that smells along the lines of a wet dog or damp or mildewed cardboard.  TCA is formed when natural fungi (of which many reside in cork) come in contact with certain chlorides found in bleaches and other winery sanitation / sterilization products.

The wine world is a vast and overwhelming place at times.  My suggestion is to get out there and taste more often and ask more questions.  The more you ask, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more enjoyable your tasting experience will be.

Established in 1999, Edenvale Winery is a premier family-owned winery located on the historic grounds of Eden Valley Orchards in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley with a second location, Enoteca by Edenvale, located on the Plaza in downtown Ashland.  We make handcrafted wines that express the earth of the region and the passion of our winemaker.  We take an old world approach to our winemaking with an extensive barrel and bottle aging program creating complex and intricate wines for our guests

Enoteca by Edenvale
17 N Main St.
Ashland, OR 97520
(541) 482-3377
Check out their website here