September 17, 2008

Wait for it...!

I don't often write about the wine I drink outside the experimental confines of the Lab. But today I'm making an exception. If only to relate a bizarre experience. There's educational value in this. And we believe in education at the Lab. Unless you think you should get a pay raise because of your advanced degree. We're not zealots.

So after a hard day's Science, I arrived home in time for dinner and opened a bottle of wine from the fridge that I knew exactly nothing about. Well, not exactly nothing. But pretty close. The few things I did know were these:

1. biodynamic producer from Piedmont
2. a Louis/Dressner import
3. it was white

It also had a dog on the label (see image) which is almost never a good thing. It's made from Cortese, an Italian grape I really do know exactly nothing about. But items 1 & 2 are both positives in my experience, so I opened it.

It smelled... not good. I was immediately faced with that age old quandary: Is this off? It wasn't corked (we've been practicing detecting TCA at the Lab, more on that later). But it sure smelled funky. Funky bad, not funky good. It tasted funny too. Did strange things in my mouth. I really didn't know what to make of this. But dinner was ready, so I jammed the cork back in, put it back in the fridge and opened something else.

It wasn't until breakfast the next morning that I remembered the odd bottle. So I got it out and pulled the cork and sniffed. Not bad. Spiced apple and a woodsy smell that hinted at the previous night's funk, but had faded to an approachable level. So I poured a glass and tasted it. What? It's not like anyone at the Lab is going to look twice if I show up with wine on my breath...

In the mouth it was okay. Honeyed pear with a little hint of tart green apple. And them something quirky on the finish, something I couldn't quite identify. While I was thinking about it I put the glass down on the counter. Ten seconds must have passed (okay, five, but it felt like a long time) and then it happened.

First, there was this drying, tannic tingle. Then a faint nuttiness appeared on my tongue. Then a distinct flavor of hazelnut emerged. And this hazelnuttiness grew and grew -- like something outta Willy Wonka -- expanding in my mouth with a nearly physical presence.

I took another sip. And waited. There it was. The same imaginary, ever-expanding nut thing all over again.


Okay, it's not like I saw Bigfoot. But it was pretty weird.


Joe Manekin said...

I often get a weird nuttiness on the finish of sans soufre red wines. Occasionally the whites as well. Sounds like a good time in Tasmania....Cheers, Joe

Laboratory Chief said...

Hey Joe,
Prevalence in red seems to be evidence in favor of my suspicion that the nuttiness is a barrel effect. I'll have to ask one of the chemists what role sulfur might play.