Creating a Wine Label

If I was making a wine label, what would I name it? It took me a while to think about what to say. One of the first things I looked at was the wine making process. My first experience with wine, was the wine that my parents would have in the refrigerator at Christmas time. Being inquisitive I would sneak and take a sip. Boy, did that go to my head! Later the advertisements that I would see for wine would be for the least expensive, most potent kind. Mostly it was the kind that was shared on street corners from a brown paper bag. I couldn’t associate wine with elegance or relaxation. It was nothing that interested me.

In my later years, in gatherings with family and friends, I would order wine. My preference would be for a Moscato or a Blush. Whenever I would drink red wine, I could feel it going right to my head. I did not know that it was a reaction to the additives in the wine. Then I heard of the Wine of the Month Club. I was happy to learn that special consideration has been given to not including non-essential ingredients. This eliminated the potential for those reactions that I had previously experienced.

The Wine Making Process

The wine making process is far more complex than Lucy stomping on grapes! It’s convenient to be able to walk into a store and pick up a bottle of wine. Because of this one has a tendency not to think about the actual wine making process.

The seven steps of the process of making red wine are:

  1. Step 1: Harvest red wine grapes. …
  2. Step 2: Prepare grapes for fermentation. …
  3. Step 3: Yeast starts the wine fermentation. …
  4. Step 4: Alcoholic fermentation. …
  5. Step 5: Press the wine. …
  6. Step 6: Malolactic fermentation (aka “second fermentation”) …
  7. Step 7: Aging (aka “Elevage”)

What About Taste?

Additional consideration is given to the types of soil as well as the climate. An article from Wine Market News explains the five basic characteristics of wine.

1) Sweetness

This refers to the level of residual sugar left in the wine after its creation. A sweet wine will have a higher level of residual sugar. A dry wine will have had all of its sugars converted to alcohol during fermentation.

Often, our very first perception of a wine will be its sweetness. And while everyone’s sensitivity to it is different, you’ll experience it first on the very tip of your tongue. A slight tingling sensation is a good indicator of sweetness. Sweet wines tend to have a higher viscosity, which means they’ll cling to the glass for longer.

 2) Acidity

Often confused with a high concentration of alcohol, a wine’s acidity is what gives it sharpness. High acidity wines are often tart and zesty, and may feel lighter-bodied as they come across as ‘spritzy’. A ‘well-balanced’ wine is so called as it has acidity, sweetness and tannin in perfect harmony.

How can you identify acidity? You’ll feel a tingling sensation on the sides of your tongue. This may feel rough if you rub it along the roof of your mouth. Your mouth will also feel extra wet.

 3) Tannin

A wine high in tannin is often mistakenly labelled as a dry wine. This is because tannin has a drying effect on the mouth. Frequently described as astringent, tannin is the presence of phenolic compounds that add bitterness to a wine. Despite these characteristics, though, tannin adds balance and structure, and helps wine last longer. A lot of research suggests the tannin in red wine is good for your health, too.

It’s usually quickly apparent if a wine has high tannin levels. It will make your tongue feel dry and can leave a lingering bitter feeling in your mouth. A high-tannin red is a great accompaniment to red meat, though. The tannins work to help break down meat proteins, thus exacerbating their flavor profile even further.

 4) Alcohol

 Wine alcohol percentage levels will have the biggest impact on a wine’s character, body and classification. The average wine contains around 11%-13% alcohol by volume (ABV). It’s not uncommon for wines to have as little as 5.5%, or as much as 20%.

Everyone tastes alcohol differently. The taste may be bitter, sweet, spicy, oily, and sometimes all at once. A lot of our perception of alcohol is actually influenced by genetics. Higher alcohol wines tend to taste bolder and oilier, while lower-alcohol wines feel lighter. It’s almost universally-agreed, however, that alcohol wields a warming sensation at the back of the mouths and throat.

 5) Body

Body is the result of many factors. From variety and vintage to alcohol level and region, it’s something of a generalized term. To simplify matters, it can help to think of a wine’s body like milk. With skimmed milk representing a light wine, and cream representing a full-bodied wine. If a wine’s taste lingers in your mouth for more than 30 seconds, it’s almost certainly a full-bodied wine.

In food pairing, light-bodied wines suit lighter dishes. Rich dishes such as steak call for a full-bodied wine. This type of wine with strong flavors will hold up against the meat’s bold aromas.

What’s In A Name?

I wanted to create a colorful wine label. I looked at the complexity of creating something that brings relaxation and pleasure as wine does. Then I thought about the beauty and complexity of a kaleidoscope. The beauty of the various colors and hues is fascinating as well as relaxing. In a kaleidoscope there are colors that are more vibrant as well as those that are muted. For my wine label I’ve chosen a kaleidoscope. This is to represent the nuances of wine making. Especially the ways in which wine enhances the flavor when paired with food. The kaleidoscope also represents the various occasions in which wine is used. Birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, bridal showers, romantic dinners, self-care time.

I considered the time and care that goes into a vintage wine. Also the collective beauty of the grapes, the orchards and the beautiful rays of sun. I would name my wine label Marilyn’s Kaleidoscope.

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