The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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november 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  93 and partially in stainless steel, "so it really racks the brain," said Jamieson. "And pouring the Chardonnay ties in the Wente story, which is a story of Wente family's pursuit of quality as they were the first to release varietally labeled Chardonnay in America after Prohibition. It also opens people up to a different style of Chardonnay as well." SIZE MATTERS Jeff Hank, Wine Educator, opened the second seminar of the day called Size and Shape Matters, with a ques- tion: "How many people think the aroma and taste of each wine will change based on what glass you use?" While we all agreed there would be some varying degree of sensory perception, the reality would prove to be fairly shocking. This class presents a series of five glasses—four varietally specific Riedel glasses (two for unoaked and oaked whites, a Pinot glass and a Bordeaux glass) and a fifth "joker" glass, as the educators call it, which is the standard wine glass you might find at most American steakhouses—all purpose, heavy and a bit clunky. We started with the 2013 Wente Vineyards Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc in the unoaked white wine glass. Collectively, the group perceived notes of grapefruit, grass, lime and green apple, which were confirmed by all on the palate. Next, we tasted the same wine from the "joker" glass and it was evident that the Louis Mel had lost its aromatic profile and on the palate the wine was muffled. Kaufman pointed out that the lip of the joker glass was so bulky and thick, that it literally propels the wine past the ideal taste receptors and instead brings to light back-palate, muddled character and aromas. "I would call it 'stale' in this glass," she said. In the oaked whites glass, with its wide, low bowl and ample nose space, there was just too much room and the wine was lost there as well. Hank then poured the 2013 Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Chardonnay into the oaked white wine glass, and there the wine exhibited a multitude of complexities—fresh zest, baked citrus fruit, complex spice and oak notes—but when tasted in the other glasses, again the wine became muted, or in the unoaked glass was cit- rus heavy without any of the previously noted spice complexities. The "joker" glass offered exaggerated buttery aromas, as those perceived complexi- ties from the proper glass, gave way to rather unflattering aromas. The consensus was unanimous: with wine, the size and shape of your glassware absolutely matters. For more information on the Winemakers Studio classes, visit Jonathan Cristaldi, Deputy Editor, THE TASTING PANEL/SOMM Journal (left), nosing Chardonnay in the varietally correct glass and with the "joker" glass while Jeff Hank, Wine Educator (right), looks on. LeeAnn Kaufman, Studio Manager, nosing a glass of Chardonnay during the Size and Shape Matters seminar. "People realize they know more about wine than they thought," she said. "Maybe their taste buds surprise them or their sense of smell, and I've had people sit in our blending class and say, 'Gosh I don't like my wine,' and our educator says, 'Why don't you take out two percent of this or add a percent of that,' and next thing you know, the angels are singing from above."

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