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Missouri Wine Tasting For Beginners

Jason is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Wine, a book that introduces people to the world's wine regions and varieties.

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Wine Tasting in Missouri

Attending wine tasting events is a great way to experience new wines. They are also a lot of fun. But if you have never been to one before, you might not know what to expect. You might also not realize that Missouri is full of incredible wines to taste. It isn't just California that has vineyards worth visiting. So, if it's your first time at a tasting, what can you expect? Well, even though there are no mysteries to wine tasting, there are some things that you should always remember.

During many wine tasting events, the ladies will be served before the men. Some tastings will serve water so that you can clean your palate between tasting different wines. It's worth noting that wine is always served at particular temperatures, so when handling a glass of wine, you should hold it by the stem to avoid heating the wine with your hands. There will also often be crackers or other snacks on hand to help reset your mouth between tastings as well.

You might already be familiar with the names of many common grapes, such as Chardonnay or Riesling. But Missouri, as a wine region, does things a bit differently. Certain grapes are better adapted to Missouri's soil and climate, which means you can taste wines that are not common elsewhere. A few of the varieties you might want to try are Norton, Chardonel, and Concord.

Missouri's Wine Varieties

  • Chardonel - A late-ripening white wine grape producing high-quality, full-bodied wine. It is a dry white hybrid of Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc, accounting for nearly four percent of all Missouri's grapes. It is often fermented in oak barrels and acquires some of that flavor along with a noticeable citrus flavor. It appears lemony yellow. The grape itself is rather cold-hardy.
  • Concord - An American grape, taking its name from where it was discovered in Massachusetts. It is a sweet grape, with a vibrant blue-purple color. You may already be familiar with it because it is often used in grape juices and jellies. It produces medium-bodied, sweet red wines. It is one of the few reds that is best served chilled because of its candy-like sweetness.
  • Catawba - Originally discovered in North Carolina by a river of the same name, this grape grows well in Missouri. You'll find that it has a sweet floral taste and produces a strawberry color and aroma. The grapes are used to produce a medium-bodied, sweet, strawberry-like wine.
  • Norton - A distinctly American Grape first found in Virginia that grows well in Missouri. It makes a dry red wine that is full in body with some fruity overtones. The grape itself is small to medium-sized with a blue-black color. It is disease-resistant and accounts for nearly 18 percent of all grapes grown in Missouri. You might notice that it has bold, complex flavors including a rich combination of spice, vanilla, and chocolate.
  • Chambourcin - A medium-bodied, red wine with a fruity, earthy flavor, reminiscent of cherry. It is smooth with soft tannins, making it the perfect wine to pair with an outdoor BBQ. This grape accounts for more than 10% of all grapes grown in Missouri and can also be used to make Rose.

How to Taste Wine

Keeping this information in mind as you taste the wine, see if you can pick up on flavor profiles that are unique to the region. It helps if you swirl the wine around in the glass before tasting it. This helps bring out some of the aromas and flavors. You should take time to observe the wine as your swirl it. You'll want to smell the wine before actually tasting it. Smell, believe it or not, plays an integral part of the process. After allowing yourself a few moments to take in whatever information you can before tasting the wine.

Lastly, you'll want to know how to properly taste the wine. Tasting wine in Missouri, of course, is no different than tasting wine anywhere else, but the state does offer some unique new options. Your tongue has taste buds in various areas, which helps to detect the flavors. So, when you put the wine in your mouth you should always swish it around for a few seconds before swallowing to allow the flavors plenty of time to dance on your palate. After swallowing the wine, what remains should give you even more of an idea as to the type and flavor of the wine.

While this article is a good primer, before you attend a wine tasting, you should always learn as much as you can about the many different flavors and varieties of wine. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of what you should look for in both taste and flavor. Exploring the world through wine, allows us to experience the world in a way that connects us to local culture and environment, so don't pass up such an opportunity.

© 2021 Jason M Arnold

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