Saturday night. Glass of white wine is clutched in my hand. A bottle of Heineken is clutched The Husband’s hands. Little Monkey is in his crib. Fire is roaring. (If an electric fire place can roar). UFC on the tv. Feeling snuggly in my red fleece snowflake pyjamas. A perfect cozy November evening.
I glance at my glass of wine, and fondly think of our trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake when we visited the Jackson Triggs Winery.
Me: “Remember our lovely day wine tasting at Jackson Triggs?”
Him: “Mmmmm Hmmmm” (in sports-induced coma)
Me: “Do you remember when we went?”
Me: “Do you remember if we went for the day, or stayed over night, or why we went?”
Frig. I can’t really get mad at him because I can’t remember those details either. But I clearly remember what I learned about wine that day. I had one of those Oprah “A-ha” moments where the world just made sense. I mean the wine world.
Being as this trip was a few years ago (I think) and I’m by no means an expert on wine, I’m going to do my best to recap what I found fascinating about the beautiful world of grapes and wine.
Different labels, same wine.
- One wine. Two labels. One significantly more expensive than the other. Is this a marketing ploy or is there a difference between the bottles? For example, Jackson Triggs has their Black Label which is more expensive than their “normal” label. I usually grab the cheaper bottle without even thinking twice – I’m mean duh…they’re both Jackson Triggs but one is way more expensive. NOT SO FAST. There is a huge difference.
- The first difference starts out in the vineyard. The black label grapes are pruned differently, so that the grape plant yields less grapes. Why? Well let’s just say a typical grape plant has 30 grapes on it (totally making up this number, I have no idea how many grapes are on each plant. I don’t even think it’s called a “grape plant”. But keep reading, I swear I’ll teach you something). So typical grape plant has 30 grapes and those 30 grapes must share the sun’s rays and the nutrients from the soil. The Black Label grape plants are pruned so only 15 grapes grow. These 15 grapes share the same sun and the same nutrients but it’s only divided over 15 grapes instead of 30. Therefore these 15 grapes get double sun, double nutrients. They are overall, better grapes than their non-Black Label friends. Genius.
- The preferential treatment continues through the wine making process, in which the Black Label grapes (no longer grapes at this point, now wine) are aged in oak barrels for much longer. You see, the longer the wine hangs out in the barrel, the more the flavours develop from the oak in the barrel. This creates a more complex wine in both flavour and experience. The Black Label is also stored in barrels with better oak. Oak basically seasons the wine. You’ll taste more flavours (smoke, chocolate, etc) and the wine won’t just glide down your throat – you’ll notice a few different tastes and sensations as it travels over your tongue and down your throat
- And if you’re as naive as I was, the wine is actually store in barrels in a cellar.
- What’s the deal with oaked wine? Specifically white wine. There’s a wine on the market called “Naked Grape” which cutely professes to be unoaked…hence naked. Oak is a term you hear a lot with wine. Well my tour of Jackson Triggs shed some light on this burning question I had, and now I love to share this tidbit of info with everyone I see drinking Naked Grape
- As mentioned above, oak adds flavour to the wine. It’s essential to flavouring red wine. However, it creates a buttery taste with white wine. Buttery = Chardonnay. If you like a light, crisp, wine, then it’s probably un-oaked. But what does that really mean? It’s simple – if a wine is un-oaked, it means it is not stored in an oak barrel. Rather, it is stored in a stainless-steel barrel. These days, the majority of white wines are stored in stainless steel barrels (unless it’s a chardonnay)
- So the “naked wines” – a crock. While truthful, what they don’t tell you is that most wines are actually “naked” but just aren’t marketed that way.
Red vs White
- This was probably the most ground-breaking information I have ever learned about wine. One of those things that makes you feel so.stupid for thinking otherwise. I’ll fess up. I thought the difference in red wine were the grapes – red wine = red grapes and white wine = white/green grapes. FALSE.
- All wine is made with red grapes. The difference in red and white wine is that the skin is removed with white wine, therefore the wine’s only source of colour is the flesh inside the grape….which is…white. The skins create tannins, which gives it the red colour and among other things, is responsible for the dry mouth you get from drinking red wine
So while this wine tour was apparently not significant enough to create a lasting memory in our marriage, it was absolutely a turning point with my appreciation for wine.
Jackson Triggs Unity Pinot Grigio
I’ll quickly cover the three points I seem to start my recent reviews with…
1. Purchased at the Wine Rack out of convenience, which is why I’m reviewing another Ontario wine
2. ABC (anything but chardonnay)
3. I find white wine difficult to review
I crack the lid, unscrew, and pour into my wine glass. Stand back, take a look at the colour. Move closer, and deeply inhale. Light colour, light scent. Inhale again to take note of any specific aroma. All I can smell is a dry white wine. Since that’s what I like, this is a good thing.
My first sip is surprisingly a little sour. I take another. It tastes like a normal dry white wine. Which is perfect. I still struggle to identify some sort of flavour or scent. There is a faint floral taste, and the wine lightly tingles tongue and cheeks with a tart, but not unpleasant sensation.
This wine is dry and refreshing.
Jackson Triggs Unity Pinot Grigio is a lovely light white wine, and at $8.95 a bottle is a steal. I would definitely but this again, even if I was at the LCBO and had more options than just Ontario wine.