What does “fruit forward” mean in the world of wine?
If you have ever heard people talking about wine – perhaps on TV or even just at the next table in a restaurant – it might have seemed like they were almost speaking in a different language. With words like “tannins” and “varietal” being bandied about, you may have thought it was time to go home and find that old SAT vocab book.
While there is a lot of jargon associated with wine, the truth is you don’t need to know about all of the nitty-gritty details to enjoy it or to enhance your tasting abilities. However, it is always good to familiarize yourself with the basics. One term that’s worth knowing is “fruit forward.”
What it is and what it isn’t
First let’s start with what fruit forward isn’t. While it may sound like it, it doesn’t involve the sugar content or sweetness of a wine; it has to do with smell and flavor. When a wine is called fruit forward, it has a dominant taste of fruit. All wine has an element of fruit in it – it is made of grapes, after all – but in many cases, those fruit flavors are intertwined with its other components. A fruit forward wine has more of an emphasis on the grape as opposed to its terroir (uh-oh, there’s another one of those wine words; it just means where it was grown) or how it was made.
If it’s made from grapes, how are there other fruits in it?
That’s a great question with an interesting answer. During the fermentation process when grapes turn into wine, chemical compounds are created. These compounds are identical to the ones found in other foods, including various kinds of fruit. Because there are so many compounds that are affected by an assortment of things, such as differences in grapes and the type of barrel a wine is stored in, this can create a virtual smorgasbord of fruity flavors.
Both a positive and a negative
While it can be a great way to describe a wine, fruit forward can also be seen as a negative quality. For some people, a fruity wine is one-dimensional or simple. However, that doesn’t mean that over time, a fruit forward wine won’t reveal its nuances. And besides, if it tastes good, what’s the difference?
Orange Coast has the fruit forward wine that will excite your taste buds
If you’re suddenly in the mood for some fruity wine, we’re ready to pour you a glass. When you sample our wine, there are many different fruits you’ll be able to smell and taste, including strawberries, cherries, pears, and even pineapples. Our tasting room is open seven days a week, and we’d love to see you tonight.
Simplifying the science of good taste
Light. Sparkling. Fortified. The three major types of wine branch off into a rich variety of styles and flavors. There's a certainly a science to it, but the organic nature of wine-making means it isn't an exact one. Ongoing developments in wine research have revealed that despite the differences between categories, all wine types share a common molecular make up.
From trace elements in the soil and the delicate balance of the climate right up to the tonal influence of the glass, the science behind wine is a fascinating subject. To understand the chemical aspect of wine, it has to be broken down to its roots.
The basic composition of all wine
The grapes themselves are made largely of water (typically 70-80% of their make up) with their remaining chemical volume comprised of carbohydrates, glucose, fructose, and acids. As a result, a huge 98% of that flavorful bottle of wine is actually only water. All the scents, tastes and textures are to be found in the remaining 2%. We can split the chemistry of the wine-making process into five segments: the harvest, the crush, the press, the fermentation, and the purification. Every individual stage plays an important role.
During harvesting, it's the singular terroir of the grape that first influences the wine's chemistry. Terroir has a multiple meaning as it refers to the soil, climate, and topography in which the grapes are grown as well as to the flavor those factors may impart. For example, the sugars present in fruit develop more quickly at higher temperatures and more slowly at lower ones. Since it is the sugar which is broken down by yeast into alcohol, the greater the sugar content means the stronger the wine.
The grape flesh contains tartaric acid which maintains a wine's chemical stability and has a strong influence on color and taste, followed by malic acid, which produces a flat taste in low quantities and a sharp bite conversely. The grape's skin also releases flavanols: if you've ever heard wine described as having a cocoa/chocolatey taste, it's because flavanols are present in both.
Once the grape has been pulped and fermented over a period of days (or in the case of white wine, before fermentation), the removal of the juice is next. The tartaric and malic acids released during this process prevent excessive bacterial growth. The pressed juice adds polyphenols (tannin) to the wine. Wines such as the Cabernet Sauvignon are made dry this way, with dryness increasing the more tannin is present. Tannin content can also be influenced later in the process by barrel storage.
Fermentation and purification
Here is where the yeast goes to work converting the glucose and fructose into ethanol. Carried out beneath a blanket of carbon dioxide, the fermentation and purification process alters the malic acid to lactic acid, mellowing the flavor of the wine. The wine is repeatedly racked to siphon off excess carbon dioxide and introduce oxygen.
When it's been corked, a bottle of red wine can now contain between 800 and 1,000 different chemical compounds. A sparkling glass of champagne uses its 20 million bubbles to send out a broad spectrum of aromas the instant they break on the surface. The eight chemicals in this diagram (www.compoundchem.com/2014/12/30/champagne/) are only an indication of the many further chemicals involved:
Glass, but not least
The subtle origins and interplay of these compounds has received dedicated and intense scientific focus in an effort to unravel the rich tapestry of a wine's flavor and aromatic composition. Going beyond the standard swirl across the tongue, chemists and researchers have devoted years (and such advanced techniques as liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry) to split a vintage into molecular fractions.
It's heady stuff, but the research has borne fruit by proving that the characteristics of every type of wine boil down to differing concentrations of the same 60 or so molecules. From there, the shape of the wine glass itself can have a direct influence on aroma and flavor.
Some final facts
We can't forget the final act of wine chemistry: how it alters our own. Did you know that alcohol is actually one of the four major fuel groups of the human body? Along with protein, fat and carbohydrates, alcohol is converted into acetate by the liver. Acetate is second only to carbs when the body seeks a source of energy to burn.
There are other benefits to the occasional glass. From strengthening bone marrow through a seeming boost to estrogen levels to reducing Helicobacter pylori which can play havoc with our stomachs, wine can have some very positive chemistry. Needless to say: everything in moderation!
Winemakers pride themselves on the individuality of their vintages. With many chemical factors dictating production and science becoming ever more aware of the mechanisms behind it all, the likelihood of vintners having greater control over their product isn't far away. The future of wine looks very exciting...and may be as high tech as it is high class.
At Orange Coast Winery, we believe in a blend of science and art. With precision and passion, we select the finest grapes from the Temecula Valley and the Lodi area of Northern California.
White wine with your steak? Red wine with your seafood? Yes, please!
Mankind as we know it will not cease to exist if you decide you’d like a bottle of white wine to go with your steak. While it’s true that you’ll generally see red wines paired with red meats, you don’t have to go that route if you don’t want to.
There are many white wines that will pair well with steak—and sometimes, you’re just not in the mood for the bold flavors of a red wine. Here’s what you should keep in mind when pairing wine with food, as well as a few suggestions involving our own wines.
Chateaubriand and …?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s red or white: you’ll need something that’s got enough acidity to cut through the beautifully marbled fat of a luscious cut of meat like chateaubriand. Our suggestion would be a bottle of our 2013 ES Cabernet Sauvignon LIB.
Yes, it’s predictably red—and fabulously so. Each sip rewards you with a mouthful of rosemary and eucalyptus herbal aromas that take your bite of beef to the next level of flavor enhancement. The savage nature of this grape has been slightly tamed by a few years of aging, yet it’s still bold enough to work well with the creamy mushroom sauces often served with chateaubriand.
What would we suggest if you wanted to stray into white wine territory? Look for something bright, with a good deal of minerality. Again, it’s to help with all that marbled fat that makes this cut of beef so fabulous. Pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. The bubbles will lift the fatty richness of a bite of chateaubriand off your palate.
A Mediterranean Plate of Olives, Cheese, and …?
Keep your palate in a globetrotting mode and choose an unexpected pairing like our 2015 Viognier. Your first challenge will be to pronounce it. The French grape variety flows off the tongue as “vee-own-yay.” People often mistake it for chardonnay, as both wines are full-bodied and share a creamy texture.
Your nose will distinguish the difference. It’ll report yellow apples and lemons if it’s a chardonnay. If there’s viognier in your glass, your nose will send you signals for tangerine and roses. There’s no other way to describe this next characteristic. A viognier starts with a softness that delivers an oily feeling at your mid-palate.
For this reason, it’s perfectly paired with any dish that has paprika, turmeric, or saffron. It’s right at home with olives, or anything that includes butter. You’ll want this over a chardonnay because the latter’s creamy or waxy contribution to your palate may interfere with some cheeses.
A Grilled Fillet of Halibut, Tuna, or Salmon, and …?
We’ve already stuck our respective noses up at the concept of sticking with a red wine for red meat. We’re going to keep on in that direction by suggesting our 2014 Malbec. You’ve probably started hearing about this red wine, which is now being grown in many places other than its native Argentina.
Your first taste of a Malbec may make you say, “Ah, a merlot.” They share that earthy and woody character. And like merlot, Malbec often was only used as a blending grape. Many cabernet sauvignons will use it to achieve a mellowness and balance.
But give that sip of Malbec a moment to develop. You begin to taste a rustic characteristic that the simpler merlot just can’t establish. Your nose will flash sensations of earth and perhaps even chocolate. If you pair Malbec with red meat, the enzymes will soften the tannins of the wine and let this fruitiness shine through. However, a grilled, thick-fleshed fish fillet leaves the mild tannins in place. You will love the results.
There are more wines on our list. We’ve got suggestions on what to pair for all of them. The rest of those suggestions will cost you a visit to the winery. Your reward is a taste of a superb family of wines.
The three hallmarks of a great wine
Judging the quality of wine is often subjective. Every individual has a preference and one person’s “favorite” could make another turn up his or her nose. However, there are three general areas that can be used to determine the quality of any bottle of wine: complexity, intensity, and balance.
Complexity refers to the different notes and flavor compositions that can be detected. A great wine will be multidimensional. According to sommelier Jorn Kleinhans, “That's where you get descriptors of flavor profile like plum, cherry, vanilla, or tobacco. The more of those flavors you can taste, the more complex the wine, and the more complex, the higher quality.”
There are several nuances that can lead to greater complexity. Start with the vineyard and the notion of terroir. According to thekitchn.com, “Older vines as well as vines grown on poor soils tend to produce less grapes, but more concentrated, flavorful ones. This adds complexity.” Winemaking techniques can also affect the complexity. An approach that is more non-industrial will generally produce more complex wine. Barrel fermentation and the blending of different grapes are also ways to add complexity.
Intensity has more to do with the ability to identify and distinguish the flavors present. It also relates to a wine’s appearance and aroma. The key is to have a very complex taste that still allows all the flavors and notes to be clear. In terms of appearance, the more concentrated and opaque the color, the higher the intensity should be. You will often see wines described as “pale, medium or dark” and this is an indication of intensity. The darker the color, the more intense the wine should taste.
How can you judge the intensity of a wine? Here is a tip from Wine Spectrum. Tilt the glass slightly (this works best against a white background - a napkin or tablecloth work nicely). Now, look straight down at the wine from above, the richer/ darker the color, the more intense the wine.
Just like in life, we want a good balance in a wine. According to another article on thekitchn.com, “Balance is extremely important in any wine and one of its most sought after characteristics. A wine is balanced when all the different components are working in harmony - a balanced wine is one where no one component protrudes or awkwardly sticks out.”
There are 5 key components that need to be in balance:
Now that you know the three main ingredients that go into a quality wine, start judging for yourself. To find the perfect wine for your next dinner party or event, visit Orange Coast Winery and review our selection of fine wines for every price range and palate.