Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Chianti, Vinho Verde & Finish

Your wine lessons for today from Karen MacNeil:

Dear Karen: I am interested in trying wines from the Chianti region of Italy, but when I visit retail stores, I see that some labels say Chianti and others say Chianti Classico. What’s the difference?

Dear Reader:The Chianti area in Tuscany was once much smaller than it is now. When the wines of Chianti gained recognition around the world, the Italian government decided to take advantage of their growing popularity. In 1932, the original Chianti region was enlarged to include neighboring villages and vineyards. Thereafter, the original area was designated the classic zone, or Chianti Classico. Wines produced in the Chianti Classico region have stricter regulations regarding grape growing and winemaking.

Many believe that the Classico wines are the true rich and age-worthy versions that elevated Chianti to its world-famous status. There are, however, good Chiantis made outside the original zone. Traditional aromas and flavors include dried cherry, orange, plum fruit, a dusty earthy character, cedarwood, chocolate, spice, and a distinct minerality.

OENO FILE: The name Vinho Verde means “green wine,” a reference not to the color of the wine but to the fact that the grapes are picked early in the season.

Finish: There are few absolutes in the world of wine, but here’s one: The longer a wine’s finish, the better the wine. The finish is the lingering flavor of a wine after you’ve swallowed. Some people use the word aftertaste as a synonym, but for many wine pros, aftertaste has a negative connotation and thus the term finish is preferred.

Interestingly (and luckily), only really good wines have a finish, and great wines have a finish that can go on for many seconds (wine judges have been known to take out stopwatches). Conversely, a poor-quality wine often ends tasting of nothing. Obviously, a long finish enhances the pleasure of a wine by prolonging the flavors and sensations it provides. So remember, when it comes to wine, great ones finish last.

**MORE Ask Karen Tips & Notes here.

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