The Sensual Pleasures Of Wine

I’ve heard some say that wine is as good as sex. I’m not sure I agree, but I would definitely say the wine is a totally sensual pleasure. It can be enjoyed with our eyes, our nose, our taste buds and even our ears.

The color of wine is probably the least appreciated, but it comes in a host of hues. Their beautiful colors come from the skins of the grapes and the toasted wood they are aged in. Even the certain level of oxidation that they experience during their raising determines the quality of their color. Whites can range from watery and clear to liquid gold and amber. There are some with hints of green and some look like rays of the sun itself. Reds are best described as jewels. There are rubies and garnets. There are tinges of orange and brown and even pinks and purples. Some can be extremely dark and opaque, inky. Then there are those that are almost devoid of color where you can actually read the menu through the glass of wine. Rosés can span from a salmon color to really pink, and there are some that are even copper in color. And I would be derelict in not mentioning sparkling wines with the beautiful strands of pearls that rise from the bottom of the glass on their way to join the heavens above.

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An amazing Bordeaux with great fruit presence. Photos from Roberto Viernes

The spectrum is amazing if we just take the time to see it.

My wife says I have a nose of a bloodhound. Sometimes I wish I did, especially when it comes to wine. I enjoy the aromatics of wine just as much, if not more, than I do the flavors. The fruits that you can smell in wine run the gamut of an entire fruit section of a farmers market. I must admit that I find it quite amazing that almost every fruit I have ever tasted I could name a wine that I smelled it in. But beyond the fruits, there is so much more. There is vegetation, herbs, fungi, tubers, vanilla, smoke, toast, breads, spices … I could go on and on. And even beyond one single component or aroma, when you put your nose in the glass, it can transport you to another place. Something in the wine could remind you of a place or unlock a memory that you have. That in itself is amazing.

When we take that sip or gulp, in some cases the flavors and textures of wine are dizzying. They can be as light as cotton candy or as heavy as vodka. Flavors are as complex as you can imagine and just as scintillating as the aromatics. They can be sweet, dry, sour, bitter and even salty. And all these flavors can be so intense that you would think that your palate was stained with it. And some are like a rain shower on the Pali that lingers for just a short while but long enough for you to enjoy and cleanse your palate.

And if all of that sensual pleasure wasn’t enough, there is the sound. The POP of a cork, the little crackling of the bubbles as a sparkler is poured. The smooth sound of wine being poured is relaxing, and the clink of glasses toasting is one of my alltime favorites. It may not be as intimate as sex, but we certainly enjoy with all of our senses.

Recommendations: 2009 Chateau Haut Beausejour ($26) The 2009 vintage in Bordeaux was amazing and this wine is a testament to the vintage and the Chateau. It has great fruit presence with a supersmooth texture. This may be the best I have ever had from this estate. 2010 Montgras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($13) Plenty of blackberries and dried plum in this wine with a delectable dollop of spices. I am really impressed with the flavor profile and value of this Cabernet.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. rviernes@southernwine.com Twitter@Pinotpusher