What are some common characteristics of the Muscat grape family?
- Medium acidity
- Floral aromas (citrus blossom, violet, honeysuckle, nasturtium and rose)
- Fresh peaches and pears
The family of Muscat grapes is somewhat large, yet nearly most of the highest-quality fortified Muscat wines are made from which Muscat variety?
Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
Fortified Muscats are produced in what two general styles?
Young, Unaged Muscats (without age or oxidation -- sweet, though rarely luscious)
Developed, Aged Muscats (with age and possible oxidation -- either sweet or luscious)
Give an example of a youthful, unaged Muscat-based Vin Doux Naturel.
Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (Southern Rhône)
Why aren't the grapes for Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise dried or raisinated prior to fermentation?
These methods add dried fruit aromas that are not what this wine is about, which is showcasing the purity of the grapes' fruit and floral characteristics.
One of the most acclaimed examples of mature, fortified Muscats comes from which region in which country?
When aging fortified Muscats, what kind of oak barrel is used: new or used?
Used. Neutral or old wood is best, usually larger format barrels.
New oak aromas and flavors would mask Muscat's perfumed character.
If a winemaker wants to make a luscious style of fortified Muscat, at what point in fermentation would s/he fortify the must?
When the must has only just started fermenting and reaches about 2% abv.
Winemakers who make this style of wine want to preserve the grape's natural sugars, perfume and flavors.
Why are certain grape varieties used for dessert wines more often than others?
Grapes traditionally used for dessert wines have an inherent sweetness in their aromas and flavor profiles that make them ideal candidates for sweet wine production; most also have inherent bitterness and/or medium-to-high acidity which act as balancing agents to offset sugars.
What white grape varieties are known for producing excellent examples of dessert wines?
- Chenin Blanc
What are some words on sparkling wine labels that denote the wine is sweet?
- Semi Secco
What is an example of a sparkling dessert wines?
Besides fortification, what 4 methods are widely used to make richly sweet dessert wines?
- Harvesting late
- Noble Rot
- Drying out on straw mats (passito)
- Allowing grapes to freeze on the vine (Eiswein)
How does the aging potential vary between richly sweet dessert wines and lightly sweet dessert wines?
Lightly sweet dessert wines are meant to be consumed while young and fruity (with the exception of some Rieslings).
Richly sweet dessert wines can age for extended periods of time, often decades.
How are late-harvest wines produced?
What is the term used to describe this?
Grapes are allowed to hang on the vine late into the season where they become especially sweet and often raisinated, resulting in wines that have higher residual sugar and more concentrated flavors.
The term used is passerillage. See p.58-59 in the textbook for further information and an image.
What are some classic examples of late-harvest dessert wines?
- Vendage Tardive wines from Alsace
- Late-harvest Muscats
- California late-harvest Zinfandel
What are some classic examples of dessert wines affected by noble rot?
- Quarts de Chaume
How are dessert wines produced from grapes affected by noble rot?
In order for noble rot to form, the Botrytis fungus requires moist conditions. This moisture often takes the form of misty mornings or humid conditions due to a proximity to a body of water.
In order to get the beneficial aspects of Botrytis, moist mornings must be followed by warm, dry afternoons. The damp mornings allow the mold to take hold and make tiny holes in the grape skins; the drying afternoons allow the grapes to raisinate, and their internal water evaporates through the holes made by the mold, thereby concentrating flavors to create a more complex, intense finished wine. Aromatic notes of Botrytis include saffron, ginger, mushrooms, and honey.
If the afternoons were not warm and dry (but stayed cool and wet), the Botrytis would just develop into legitimate rot, rendering the grapes no good.
How are dessert wines made using the straw mat method?
What is a term used to refer to this process?
Grapes are laid out on straw mats to dehydrate, allowing the grapes to lose water content and concentrate their natural sugars.
Passito in Italy, e.g. Recioto della Valpolicella (see card #29 in Northern Italy to review).
Besides Recioto della Valpolicella, what is an example of a straw mat dessert wine?
Pedro Ximenez (Sherry)
What are some examples of sweet red wines?
The one you need to know is in bold.
- Recioto della Valpolicella
- Late-harvest Red Wines
- Lambrusco Amabile or Dolce
What grape varieties are widely used in the New World for late-harvest red wines?
- Zinfandel (especially in California)
- Petite Sirah
What are some famous examples of fortified wines?
- Vin Doux Naturel
What styles of Sherry will most likely be sweet dessert wines?
- Pedro Ximenez
How does a winemaker increase the fruit and floral intensity of a young, unaged Muscat?
- Skin contact after crushing prior to fermentation
- Skin contact continued during fermentation
Fermentation temperatures for a young, unaged Muscat is cool or warm?
Cool, to preserve the grapes' primary aromas.
How does a winemaker stop fermentation on a young, unaged Muscat?
By adding a grape spirits that's 96% abv.
1. To make a sweet aged, developed Muscat, when are the grapes harvested?
2. To make a luscious aged, developed Muscat, when are the grapes harvested?
- Sweet --> grapes picked ripe and healthy
- Luscious --> grapes picked after somewhat raisinated
When a winemaker is making a luscious Muscat to be developed and aged, they almost always ferment the must:
- on the skins
- off the skins
On the skins
Old, aged, and developed Muscats are given an aromatic lift prior to bottling by adding what?
A small amount of a more youthful Muscat