==== ====For great wine tips, check this out:Odin88888==== ====Though vineyards exist in almost every U.S. state, California outranks all of the others by a greatdeal and its production can even be ranked on a global scale. In fact, California ranks # 4 in theworld in volume production among wine producers with a total of 2 billion liters per year, followingonly Italy, France, and Spain. It also ranks as one of the most diverse wine regions in the worlddue to its ability to produce almost 100 separate high-quality grape varietals. Some of the mostpopular wines include:* Merlot* Pinot Noir* Cabernet Sauvignon* Shiraz* Zinfandel* Chardonnay* Sauvignon BlancWithin the state, there are approximate 4,500 wine grape growers; a testament to the size andimportance of the wine industry in California. In 2006, the California wine industry had a $51.8billion dollar economic impact on its own state and a $125.3 billion dollar impact on the entireUnited States. The wine industry in California is easily the most profitable of any other area in theUnites States and its wines are among the top in quality around the world.Due to different growing conditions within the state, the California wine producing areas areseparated into five major regions: North Coast, Sierra Foothills, Central Coast, Central Valley, andSouthern California. Each of these regions can be divided even further into sub-regions calledappellations (which are often counties) that many people who are not even familiar with wine willeasily recognize by name such as Napa, Sonoma, and San Joaquin Valley. When a wine labelcontains a specific appellation, it means that at least 75 percent of the grapes used within the winewere grown within that specific region. Wine labels can also contain two or three appellations toclassify the different grapes used within the wine if the percentages are specifically noted as well.The climate range in California varies from region to region which allows for superb production ofmany different types of perfectly grown grapes which results in many different varietals. Elementsof the weather, such as the cool offshore breezes that cool the Sonoma County vineyards, are
extremely important in the distinct growing condition needs for specific wine grapes.The most important varietals produced in the California wine region are chardonnay and cabernet,though many other varietals from the region are massively popular such a pinot noir. TheCalifornia wine region has a reputation for producing a high-quality wine to be enjoyed in a relaxedsetting among friends, just the way its biggest fans would want it.MerlotMerlot is a popular thin-skinned red wine grape that is believed to be descended from theCabernet Franc grape and was first recorded in Italy in 1832. It is used for both the purposes ofblending inspired by the Bordeaux wine region of France and also for the production of straightvarietal wine. In the 1990s particularly, Merlot experienced a huge surge in popularity and becamethe new trendy wine but its popularity has proved to possess staying power. In 2003 there wereover 50,000 acres in California devoted to the Merlot grape alone.Some of the highest quality Merlots comes from Bordeaux, France, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Chile,and Washington State. These areas have elevated the historical planting of Merlot into betterquality soils which have resulted in a Merlot that is less-suited for blending and perfect for its ownvarietal. The taste of a Merlot is dependent on the type of soil in which it was grown. For instance,Merlot from flatter and more clay-like soil results in a smoother, more velvety wine. Merlot grown inmore mountainous regions tends to taste more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.Many Merlots tend to have a taste reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon, but they has less aciditydue to a thinner skin in the grapes and earlier ripening time. It also frequently possesses a widevariety of flavors such as: currant, plum, black cherry, caramel, clove, bay leaf, bell pepper, olive,and violet. It is low in tannins and many wine drinkers believe that it is smooth and an easy-to-drink red varietal.When blended, Merlot is often combined with Cabernet Sauvignon to balance the taste strengthsand flavors of each separate varietal resulting in a blend with the best of both worlds. Anotherbenefit to Merlot and the Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blends is that the cost is often substantiallyless than the fuller-bodied Cabert Sauvignon varietal itself.Although many wine drinkers think that red wines should only be served right at room temperature,Merlot should actually be served a few degrees below room temperature as it can sometimesdevelop less pleasant tastes at approximately 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Chilling it for simply acouple minutes will ensure that the wine is slightly cooler and result in the best possible flavors.Because Merlot is not quite as rich as some other red wine varietals, it is still fairly flexible in itseasy pairings with many popular dinner choices. Because it is a medium-bodied wine, it will pairwell with veal, meatloaf, sausages, and hearty pasta dishes.Pinot NoirThanks to the recent movie Sideways, Pinot Noir has become much more widely acclaimed by thegeneral wine-drinking population in recent years and multiplied quite drastically in popularity. Itoriginated in the Burgundy wine region of France but today, has spread around the world to vastly
differing wine regions which encompass almost all wine growing areas. Despite its worldwidepopularity, Pinot Noir remains among the most difficult varietal grapes to cultivate efficiently as it isdelicate and difficult to control in terms of preventing mutations of the grapes or any otherunwanted variations which result in undesirable changes in the flavors or other characteristicspresent in the grapes.Pinot Noir reaches its peak in flavor development when grown in cooler wine regions and hasnever reproduced the level of accuracy and perfection in development that it has achieved in itshome in the Burgundy wine region. However, all Pinot Noir wines are typically a light hue of redwhich range from cherry to plum. They also possess a fragrant aroma encompassing notes ofcherries, violets, berries, and spices. Like most other wines, Pinot Noir wines develop a greatercomplexity of flavors when aged. The aging process can contribute flavors reminiscent of leatherand mushroom to the flavor dimensions of the wine.Pinot Noir wines are usually considered light or medium-bodied as they are quite a delicatevarietal which often also encompass fine silky tannins.The Pinot Noir grapes, while notoriously difficult to grow efficiently, also become difficult tomaintain consistency in the winemaking process. Winemakers struggle to modify the winemakingprocess for Pinot Noirs in order to find the optimal process to highlight the delicate flavor andstructural aspects of this varietal. For example, winemakers must take great care in the aging ofPinot Noirs with oak barrels because the woody flavors can easily overtake the natural fragility ofthe flavors balanced within the Pinot Noir. Batches of Pinot Noir wine grapes can also be blendedtogether in a way that masks the imperfections due to changes in the winemaking process orweakness inherent in the grapes themselves.When pairing Pinot Noir wines with foods, remember to go easy on the spices, otherwise thedelicate flavors of the Pinot Noir will be masked. Salmon is one of the best pairings for Pinot Noirwines, as the flavors are both fairly light but with a complexity that compliments the opposite quitenicely.Cabernet SauvignonCabernet is a term which encompasses a few different varietals: most notably CabernetSauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon is a particularly popular varietal which arosefrom a grape developed by crossing the Cabernet Franc grape with the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Infact, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely grown red grape in most wine regions of the worldand particularly the Boudreaux wine region in France. In other parts of the world CabernetSauvignon is also referred to as Petit Cabernet, Sauvignon Rouge, and Vidure so it is important tokeep those phrases in mind while abroad.Additionally, since the 1960s, Cabernet Sauvignon has been the most common varietal term forred wines due to its wide appeal and critical acclaim. Because it is so widely in demand in manywine circles, Cabernet Sauvignon becomes easily subjected to inflation-related cost increases asdemand from wealthy wine-lovers drives prices upward. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignonsparent grape Cabernet Franc is less popular because it is a less desirable grape than its grapeoffspring. However, it is quite often used as a blending element in mixed varietal wines, particularlywith Merlot. A general tip for most novice wine consumers is that most bottled wines labeled
Cabernet belong to the Cabernet Sauvignon family of grapes, rather than the Cabernet Franc.Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive best in regions with long growing seasons due to a warmclimate and reaches maturity quite late in the season. It also grows well in slightly arid areas withwell-drained soil. These elements will allow the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to mature with a fruitytaste, rather than the more herbal flavor that arises from the grapes exposure to increasedmoisture and excessive soil-based nutrients during the growing process. The grapes themselvesare comparatively small with a tough outer skin that protects the grapes from many elements.They are considerably resistant to disease and can be viewed as a fairly hardy grape varietal.Cabernet Sauvignon is also one of the best aged wines. It is traditionally aged in small oak barrelsfor up to eighteen months before bottling. This aging period allows the wine to develop a greatercomplexity and depth of the flavors it encompasses. Some of the flavors which are most oftenattributed to Cabernet Sauvignon are: dark cherry, black currant, olive, pepper, cedar, andtobacco. Cabernet Sauvignons can also sometimes have spicy or earthy taste profiles as well.Sirah - ShirazShiraz currently accounts for one-fifth of all wine grape production in Australia and is one of themost widely harvested grapes in the country. Though the intense popularity of the rival redCabernet Sauvignon has accounted for the secondary status of Shiraz in the minds of wineconsumers in recent years, many vintners are beginning to revitalizing their Shiraz with new stylesand methods of aging.The Shiraz wine grape has an interesting history and place in the contemporary wine world aswell. Generally described as "New World" wines, these wines are generally thought to be morefruity in their predominate flavors in opposition to the "Old World" wines which are often labeledSyrah. Because both variations of wine are derived from the same grape genetically, thedifferences between them are minimal to say the least. Some wine purveyors even maintain thatthe distinction between Shiraz and Syrah is in relation to style preferences only.However, South Africa, Canada, and Australia are three of primary growing regions which refer tothis varietal of wine as Shiraz rather than Syrah. These regions keep with the trend of identifyingtheir exports with the New World wine classification of Shiraz which identifies it as a lighter andmore aggressively fruity style of wine.The Shiraz grape is commonly used in the production of red table wines which characteristicallyage well. Shiraz often reaches its prime complexity of flavor after approximately ten to fifteen yearsof aging; however it can easily be consumed much earlier in its aging process without sacrificingits excellent taste. It is also commonly used as a blending wine, although this occurs primarily inSpanish regions.Shiraz wines are characteristically quite full-bodied and flavors vary easily depending on thephysical characteristics of the wine region of its production. Some of the flavors most commonlyattributed to Shiraz wines are: blackberry, chocolate, black pepper, plums, and spices. Shiraz alsohas soft tannins and varying degrees of oak flavors. They flourish especially in the wine regions ofAustralia with cooler, dry climates which allow for the berry finishes. Other Shiraz wine grapesgrown in warmer climates tend to encompass the more mellow plum flavors.
Despite its frequent New World wine associations, Shiraz is one of the oldest known wine grapevarietals. In fact, it is named for the city of the same name in Iran where wine-making may haveoriginated many thousands of years ago.ZinfandelZinfandel often gets a less-than-stellar reputation among the most pretentious of wine drinkers asit has recently held the reputation of being a "starter wine," especially for women, due to itspopular sweet taste in the 1980s and 90s. However, in the past several years, winemakers haveresponded to this prejudice against Zinfandels by improving the complexity and balance of flavorswithin their wines to make them a more palatable choice to the savvy wine consumerssophisticated sense of flavors.What makes a wine more appealing to wine lovers? Complexity and fullness of the flavors are afew of the key aspects of a well-crafted wine. In Zinfanfels, a few of the most popularly describedcharacteristics of the flavors are blackberry, raspberry, cherry, cloves, black pepper, and anise.However, depending on the complexity of the Zinfandel, many other levels of flavors may emerge,especially through a tasting in which you carefully give your attention to the subtleties releasedwithin the entire experience of the wine. Another interesting characteristic of Zinfandels is that theyare also often mixed with others such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Petite Syrah.Because Zinfandels range from lighter-bodied whites to quite robust reds, they are no steadfastrules for which foods to pair with them. Some zinfandels do possess enough body and presence offlavors to drink even with a hearty steak or rich chocolate dessert. The lighter zinfandels can be agreat pairing for Latin American and tropically-inspired foods.Zinfandel originates from a distinctly American red-skinned Zinfandel wine grape that is used tomake both red and white Zinfandels. Formally named in 1832, Zinfandels are traditionally definedas an American varietal and can occasionally be quite difficult to locate in overseas markets. Itwas recently discovered that Zinfandel grape is genetically identical to the Primotivo grape nativeto Italy. This discovery begins explains the previously unknown heritage of the Zinfandel grapesdevelopment.Californian vineries have come to embraced Zinfandels as their own characteristic varietal, leadingthe reputation of Zinfandel to become a representation and branding image for California wine.Some of the most popular regions for the production of Zinfandels are: Napa Valley, Sonoma,Mendocino-Lake, Central Valley, Bay area, Sierra Foothills, and Southern California. However,Zinfandels arent exclusive to California and can be produced in American regions as distant asNorth Carolina and Tennessee, as well as overseas locations to which the Zinfandel grape hasbeen exported.ChardonnayChardonnay has become the most popular white wine in America in the past few decades. Thereasons for this development are varied. The first is that Chardonnays possess a widely appealingtaste often consisting of fruity and full-bodied buttery notes. Due to the wines versatility, it canpossess many distinguishable variations of flavors and vintners can even mix Chardonnay with
other varietals as a way to experience new flavors with blended wines. One of the other mostimportant reasons for its popularity is that its widely available and can be quite inexpensive due tothe small, hardy Chardonnay grapes resistance to many diseases and thus easier to grow in manyconditions. Thus, the demand for Chardonnay becomes easily to fill, despite the fact thatChardonnay grapes are more delicate in the wine-making phase of development.Some of the key distinguishing characteristics of this well-loved wine white are that it is dry andoften quite full-bodied with the most popularly distinguished flavors and aromas mentioned indescriptions of Chardonnay are apple, melon, pears, lemon, and pineapple, as well as buttery,nutty, creamy, vanilla, oak, and citrus. Particularly when Chardonnay is aged in an oak barrel, itdevelops a toasty or buttery quality along with a vanilla or coconut flavor which adds to the depthof the richness in the tasting experience. Many cheaper types of Chardonnay that try to achievethe oak-aged taste, use steel barrels with oak chips to lessen production costs while still obtainingsimilar flavors and textures within their wines.Chardonnays are one of the most popular varietals grown in the California wine region but alsoflourish in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and South Africa. In 2000, Chardonnay grapesaccounted for 40 percent of the total white wine grapes planted in California wine regions and canthrive in many regions with quite distinguishably different weather patterns. French Chardonnaysare also reputed to be of extremely high-quality and in fact, in the Chablis wine region of France,Chardonnay grapes are the only grape varietals allowed.Todays Chardonnays are less-heavily subjected to oak fermentation as public preference hasshifted to lighter and crisper versions of this varietal. The reason for this preference can be viewedas a return from the past several decades in which all chardonnays were so heavily processedwith malo-lactic fermentation and other aging techniques that even the most distinctiveChardonnays began to lose their distinctive flavors.Sauvignon BlancSauvignon Blanc is a currently very popular white wine varietal. Californian Sauvignon Blanc isalso occasionally referred to as Fume Blanc. The growth of Sauvignon Blanc grapesencompasses nearly 14,000 acres in California alone. Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in regionssuch as South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Italy, France, Australia and can even be grown insurprising regions such as Canada and Long Island, New York.Sauvignon Blanc is often viewed as the best white wine for many food combinations as its tangy,aggressive flavor pairs well with foods. It is especially well-matched with foods containingcomponents such as peppers, garlic, cilantro smoked cheeses, and tomatoes which are foods thatwould ordinarily completely overpower even the strongest-flavored Chardonnays in addition tomost other dry white wines.Sauvignon Blanc possesses a unique aroma which makes it easily identifiable compared to otherwhite wines. Its flavors tend to be classified as herbaceous such as those of lemongrass,gooseberry, and freshly mown grass. However, it also possesses some other more traditionalflavors such as green melon, grapefruit, passion fruit, and bell pepper. Overall, Sauvignon Blanc isa strong, tangy, and flavorful varietal that outweighs many other white wines in intensity andsharpness of flavors.
Unlike many other wine varietals, Sauvignon Blanc is not frequently aged in oak barrels because itoften departs an unfavorable taste combination. However, Sauvignon Blancs are frequentlyblended which is a technique that calms their occasionally abrasive tastes. Blending SauvignonBlanc with Semillon (another wine varietal grown primarily in France) is a popular practice,especially in Frances legendary Boudreaux wine region, as the Semillon adds a fig flavor andsoftens the overall taste profile of the Sauvignon Blanc. The ratio of Semillon blended with theSauvignon Blanc ranges on the region and occurs primarily in France. However, some versionsare comprised of 70 percent Semillon and 30 percent Sauvignon Blanc and other varieties arecomprised of the nearly inverse ratio of 75 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Semillon.These blends are a perfect option for the wine consumers who enjoy some of the flavors ofSauvignon Blanc but find it a little too aggressive for their palates.Because Sauvignon Blanc is still not as popular with many wine drinking consumers as its morepopular cousin varietal Chardonnay, many quality Sauvignon Blanc are very economically priced.Combined with its perfection in matching many difficult to pair food combinations, Sauvignon Blancis a great choice for a dinner party varietal.Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Tools