30 Second Wine Advisor: What's that fruit in my wine?

Today's Sponsors

A Memorable Business Gift with The California Wine Club!
The California Wine Club is a memorable holiday gift for clients and colleagues.
The California Wine Club

Discover the heart and soul of Rioja
Join the Vibrant Rioja Community for a chance to win a case of wine or a trip to Rioja, Spain.
Vibrant Rioja

What's that fruit in my wine?

Here's a bit of common scents: Smell is important to the wine taster. Much of what we think is taste really comes through our noses. If you don't believe this, try to enjoy a wine - or a meal - the next time you have a bad head cold.

When it comes to smelling, humans take a distant second place to our dogs and cats. Still, we can train our sense of smell, and you don't have to be an expert wine taster to learn to sniff out the differences among wines.

When new wine enthusiasts read wine-tasting notes, they're often puzzled by references to a fruit bowl full of aroma descriptions: Apples, pears, blackberries and melons, oh my, not to mention such un-fruity characteristics as chocolate, coffee, vanilla and warm spice.

I frequently field questions from readers wondering whether wineries actually add fruit flavors to wine to provide this complex and tasty mix. Answer: No, never, no way ... at least not in the realm of fine wines, although a few "pop" wine-like beverages such as Wild Vines and Arbor Mist do offer low-alcohol beverages that mix fruit juices and wine.

The real stuff, though, is made from 100 percent wine grapes, and that's what makes wine such an intriguing beverage: Fine grapes, fermented and aged in oak barrels or stainless vats, influenced by the taste of the land and the skill of the wine maker's hand, pour from the bottle with complex, intriguing aromas and flavors that you just don't find in Coca-Cola, iced tea or fruit juice.

With the understanding that these are generalizations with many exceptions, let's look at a few specific examples of aromas commonly associated with popular wine-grape varieties.

The aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, is classically associated with "cassis," or black currant liqueur, sometimes with back notes of cedar (in Bordeaux) or eucalyptus (in Northern California). Some add hints of green olives, green peppers, tobacco leaves or grass. Extended bottle aging may lend a toasty quality and impart earthy scents as variable as mushrooms, old leather, roses and wildflowers.

Merlot, often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, typically presents an aroma of black cherries on its own. West Coast Merlots aged in new oak barrels may add hints of chocolate and vanilla, creating a wine that almost gives the impression of a sundae in a wine glass.

Zinfandel's trademark scent is raspberry and blackberry. Pinot Noir at its best can be so complex as to defy definition, but the list starts with cherries and subtle, pleasant hints of earth, roses and spice, with a texture that invites comparison to velvet.

A fragrant floral scent of freshly ground black pepper signals Syrah, the No. 1 grape of the Northern Rhone valley in France.

Chardonnay in its natural state recalls crisp, ripe apples, figs, pineapple and tropical fruits. It may add rich notes of butter or coconut if it's aged in oak.

Riesling, the king of German grapes, starts with apples, too, adding elements of mango, pine and even citrus fruit.

Sauvignon Blanc may be grassy and herbal or citric and grapefruity, depending on the amount of sunlight it receives in the vineyard.

Chenin Blanc evokes melons, sometimes with a touch of orange blossom. A sultry smell of peaches identifies Muscat; the hard-to-prounounce Gewurztraminer shows aromas of grapefruit and Chinese litchee nuts.

This month's tasting (see below) features a California Sauvignon Blanc so consciously made to heighten citrus flavors that it's named "Pomelo," and features a bright drawing of three of the oversize Southeast Asian citrus on the label. Tangy and fresh, it's a very good bargain wine at just under $10.

Today's Sponsor

California Wine Club

A Memorable Business Gift with The California Wine Club!

Attention doctors, business owners and upper-level executives: Many customers like you have told us that The California Wine Club is a memorable holiday gift for clients and colleagues.

For 20 years, The California Wine Club has featured award-winning wines from California’s small "mom & pop" wineries. These handcrafted wines are made in such limited supply, they are typically only found at the winery itself. A gift from The California Wine Club is a true wine adventure and an experience just not found anywhere else.

Gifts start at $34.95. Volume discounts and additional corporate rewards are available. Holiday gifts ordered now will not bill or ship until December.

Call us today and let us help you with your gift giving needs. 1-800-777-4443 or www.cawineclub.com.

For the best in quality and service, trust The California Wine Club. They guarantee 100 percent satisfaction for you and each of your gift recipients.

Today's Tasting Report

Mason Cellars 2008 "Pomelo" California Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99)Pomelo

A distinct white-grapefruit aroma distinguishes this pale, brass-color wine. Its mouth-filling flavor offers a mouth-watering blend of grapefruit, lemon-lime and bitter-orange. Crisp acidity cloaks a hint of sweetness, and it finishes tart, citric and dry.

FOOD MATCH: It made an excellent match with a turkey and fruit salad with a whiff of curry. Its food-friendly citrus flavors and fruit-acid balance should make it versatile at the table with roast poultry, shellfish or pork.

WEB LINK: Pomelo is made by Mason Cellars in Yountville, Calif., with its tasting room in the village of Napa. Here's a link to the winery's Pomelo fact sheet:

Check prices and find vendors for Mason Cellars' Pomelo on Wine-Searcher.com:

The winery Website offers a list of U.S. distributors by state at this link:

There's also an online store offering Pomelo direct from the winery for $10 plus shipping where the law allows:

Today's Sponsor

Vibrant Rioja

Discover the heart and soul of one of the world's greatest wine regions - Rioja

How would you like to discover the land of a thousand wines? How about uncovering the heart and soul of one of the world's greatest wine regions? Vibrant Rioja is giving you the chance to win the experience of a lifetime - a trip to Rioja, Spain, and all you have to do is join the Vibrant Rioja Community. Oh! and you'll receive our newsletters, which will keep you informed of our tastings, events, delicious recipes, tasting notes and much, much more! Just click here to get started: Vibrant Rioja!

And if you're in the wine trade, you can join the Vibrant Rioja Trade Community! You will also have the chance to win a trip to Rioja as well as receive invitations to seminars and tastings, Rioja images and POS, newsletters that are aimed at helping you build your business, merchandising materials and much more! Just click here to get started.

In the meantime, visit VibrantRioja.com and learn more about Rioja, its grapes, climate, terroir, architecture culture, gastronomy and more! Remember, the trip of a lifetime is only a click away! Salud! Vibrant Rioja!

Talk About Wine Online

If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about today's article or wine in general, you're always welcome to drop by our online WineLovers Discussion Group, the Internet's first and still the most civil online community. To find our forums, click:

Discussions are open for public viewing, but you must register to post. Registration is free and easy; we ask only that you join following our Real Names Real Format system, using your real name in the format "John Doe" or "John D". Anonymous, cryptic or first-name-only registrations are discarded without notice.

Once your registration has been approved, which usually happens quickly, you'll be able to participate in all our online wine, food and travel forums.

To contact me by E-mail, write wine@wineloverspage.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Subscriptions and Administrivia

We're sorry if you must leave us, but simply click the "unsubscribe"
link at the bottom of your Email edition to be instantly removed from the mailing list.

Change address:
With our new Email system, the easiest way to change your Email address is simply to register anew, using the link below. If you are keeping your old address, you may unsubscribe; if you are closing it, you needn't take any action, as our system will delete your old address as soon as the mail starts to "bounce."

Subscribe to this Email edition (free):

WineLoversPage.com RSS Feed (free):

Wine Advisor Archives:

Sponsorship Opportunities:
For information, E-mail wine@wineloverspage.com