Blame it on the heat. Blame it on the people that only materialize at the county fair, or the WalMart lingerie department. For some reason I got to giggling as I sat down to write this column. My friend Barry Featherstone and I were visiting the other day and he said that I just haven’t been honest with you about where the flavors in wines come from.
Now, I know that I’ve written columns about this before, but he says that people are still coming to him confused and wondering. Heck. I realize that I’ve just downright been deceitful. So, once and for all, I’m going to tell you the full and complete untruth about wine flavors.
Yes…Wine flavors are the work of fairy gnomes. You heard it right here for the first time ever. I know that this will probably get me permanently banned from ever writing for a high-faluten publication like Wine Spectator or Wine Press Northwest. I’ll probably even be banned from attending events like Taste Ukiah.
You see. The fairy gnomes are paid henchmen for winemakers. The better known the winemaker, the more he or she has to spend keeping the gnomes quiet. It really is a racket. The problem is that gnomes can’t really be brought up on charges. They’re too small to catch, and if you do nobody will be able to flavor the wine any more.
Call it a symbiosis. An agreement between the winemakers of the world and their “little people” as they like to call them. The fairy gnomes get a little pay and all the beer they can drink for their nightly work. We all get to benefit from wonderfully flavored wines.
Since gnomes can basically live on beer, and they make their own clothes and furniture, they don’t need much else. I only know this because every time I go to a winery for a visit to one of my friends I must bring a 30 pack of Coors Light. When I don’t have a case under my arm the winery staff get a wild, scared animal look in their eyes. I don’t blame them. Those gnome wives can be vicious!
Ok. So here are some of the particulars. When I say that a Merlot has berry jam flavors I really mean it. Those little guys work all night slathering the inside of wine barrels with jam. It takes them hours for each barrel. The mis-truth that we’ve been telling all these years is that jammy flavors come from the reaction of malolactic fermentation and the oaking process mixing with the flavors in the fruit.
When I say that a Pinot Gris has a mineral finish, I’m saying that those little suckers really got even by rolling in the dirt and then swimming in the juice. It has nothing to do with the balance of low residual sugar and terrior.
It is the leather flavors that you really have to watch out for. Don’t worry though, racking and filtering usually catches the shoes before bottling.
If you don’t believe me on these new revelations I don’t blame you. I just want you to know some of these secrets so when the fairy gnomes flavor your wine badly you’ll know who to blame. And, you can always make a winery staff happy by bringing a 6 pack to share. It might get you a private tour of the gnome’s homes.