11/03/2009

Wine Geek Speak: Veraison

Hello Friends,

This week's wine geek speak is another term I heard used in a Virginia tasting room when I was still fairly new to the wonderful world of wine. I was reminded of this term a few months ago when I strolled through a local vineyard during growing season and the red wine grapes were maturing and starting to lose their youthful green color.

Grapes going through Véraison

It was in August of 2006, during a tasting at King Family Vineyards & Winery in Crozet , Virginia , when owner Ellen King showed me a young Petit Verdot grape bunch and told me the grapes were going through veraison. So what is veraison and why do we care? As Ellen explained, veraison is the point in the growing season when grapes start to ripen, soften a little, and change color. For red wine grapes, the color typically transitions from a youngish green to a mature purple. Veraison also exists in white wine grapes, but the change is not as showy as the red wine grape varieties. White wine grapes typically go from green to yellow(ish) depending on the variety. The term we use, veraison, is French, and means for the point at which berries begin to turn color. Also, during this period the grapes start to pick up more sugars and lose acidity. Next year when the grapes are back on the vine at Virginia wineries, take a stroll through the vineyard in the July-August timeframe and see if you can catch any red wine grapes going through veraison. Oddly enough, when I first got into wine, I assumed red wine grapes started out red (silly me). Needless to say, it is always good to get an education in the tasting room while tasting through wines – almost three years later, I can say that was a memorable Virginia wine tasting experience!

Stay tuned friends ...Next winery review: King Family!

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