Being a “lifelong” fan of Merlot, I was super excited when I found out that Merlot was the next lot of grapes to arrive. I was not about to miss out on this little taste test. After posting this photo on Facebook, my friend Michael asked me to describe the taste right off the vine. I was up to the task, plucking grape after grape, trying to figure out how to type what I was tasting. I’m such the newbie :).
Here’s what I came up with: “Well… these grapes are much sweeter then any store-bought I’ve ever tasted. They are small, plump, and juicy. The seeds are bitter – spit them out :P. The juice tastes very fruity, but the skins are firm and leave the mouth a little dry.” Chalky would have been a better word than dry.
The process for making red wine is much different than for the whites. Red grapes are not actually *crushed* so they do not go into the press. You don’t want to chance any damage to that bitter seed, or you’ll release the same bitter flavor into the wine. Instead, the grapes are moved into a de-stemmer that utilizes a set of metal rollers to just break the skins, squeeeeze the fruit, and release the juice. The rollers are adjusted during the process to avoid bruising the skins which would release excess tannin, creating more astringency in the final product.
Next step – fermentation! and why grapes get a fever.