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Article Archive >> Autumn Tourism

Maryland Wine ...Wine Tasting 101

Maryland Wine
...Wine Tasting 101

There are more than 180 different varieties of wines to choose from. Finding the perfect wine for your palate and pocketbook has just got easier.
The hills start rising west of Frederick and continue through Hagerstown, Cumberland and Deep Creek Lake. Known for its history and vacations (great boating and skiing), this area is also catching on as a wine region. There are a few wineries in this extreme section of western Maryland, with more to come, thanks to Senator Donald Munson and viticulturist Dr. Joe Fiola at the University of Maryland. Fiola replied that the land is perfect for vineyards, and the tourism base is already there--but no one's doing it. Senator Munson wanted to know why, and quickly called Maryland Department of Agriculture Lewis Riley. He asked Secretary Riley to form a task force to investigate the Maryland wine industry, and learn how to promote its growth.
Secretary Riley quickly appointed the Maryland Wine and Grape Advisory Committee to identify strategies to facilitate the growth of Maryland's commercial vineyards and wineries and to offer recommendations to strengthen and expand Maryland's grape and wine economics and their markets. This report outlines a series of recommendations that--when implemented--will encourage and assist the continued expansion of Maryland's wine industry as expressed by the growth in the number of vineyards, the acreage planted to wine grapes, the number of Maryland wineries, the gallons of wine produced in the State, the quality of that wine, and the economic benefit to the State. The good news is that the Maryland wine industry is showing definite signs of growth.
One of those wineries is Deep Creek Cellars, perfectly situated in the scenic Laurel Highlands along the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, 20 minutes from Deep Creek Lake in extreme western Maryland. The wine at this family-run winery is made one way and one way only--by hand. "In every part of the craft, we emphasize the low-tech and the no-tech. We believe humans can tell the difference between genuine craftsmanship and an industrial approach. We know the hand-made can be tasted on the palate and felt in the heart."
With so many residents of the East Coast seeking vacation experiences closer to home, in areas without the urban hum, where the stars shine on a pitch-black sky and rushing streams seem to slice every landscape, the Deep Creek region's popularity grows every year. Yet, so far, the area remains unspoiled.
For as many wine connoisseurs as there are, there are just as many wine-tasting newbies.
I used to find myself wondering what all the fuss was about. I used to think you take a drink of something, and either it tastes good or it doesn't. However, the more wineries I visit, the more I realize wine tasting is not the same as drinking it and that in order to experience the true flavor of a wine, you must pay attention to your senses of sight, smell, touch, as well as taste.
Sight: Look at the wine in daylight if possible. The best way is to tilt the wine in the glass and look at it against a white background. What do you see? Is the wine clear or cloudy? The color will vary according to what wine it is. Red wines vary greatly in color--a Merlot, for example will usually be an intense ruby red while a Cabernet Sauvignon will be a darker, deeper red. As a red wine ages, you will see hints of reddish-brown around the edges. White wines become more golden as they age.
Smell: Through our sense of smell, wine reveals its pleasures to us. To determine the aroma, swirl the wine vigorously in the glass. As the wine coats the sides of the glass, it releases its bouquet. The aromas can be quite different depending on how far into the glass your nose goes. At the top of the glass, they are more floral and fruity; deeper in the glass, they are richer. Try to detect the full range of scents from berry to floral to spicy to woody...and so on. Consider intensity and appeal.
Touch: This does not mean you dip your finger into your wine glass! When tasting wines, the touch is the feel of the wine on your tongue. Is it soft or brisk? Does it have a refreshing zing around the edges of your tongue? Or is it flat and flabby? Tannins (used in red wines to keep them from spoiling) will feel sort of prickly on your tongue. Younger red wines are usually more tannic. The ideal touch is a mellow softness--a velvety feeling in your mouth.
Taste: This is the final step and should be taken only after you've used your other senses. When tasting a wine, take a small amount in your mouth, swirl it around lightly so all your tastebuds are exposed, then keep it there for a brief period. Does the wine taste the same as its aroma? Is it sweet, acidic, crisp? Is it light or full-bodied? At this point you can either spit it out (especially if you taste several wines) or simply drink it, but be sure to experience the aftertaste (the finish). What is the memory of the wine on your palate?
Visit a Maryland winery today...your senses will thank you!

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