Sisters Saloon has a great wine list!

You know that Sisters Saloon & Ranch Grill has fantastic food in a great family restaurant. You may also know that we have heavenly local beers and even sangria on tap in the bar. Did you know that we also have an outstanding wine list curated by our fabulous manager Chris Braumann?  Thats right, folks, fine wine at the Saloon in Sisters, its a thing!  Here you can learn some basics about wine that will help you enjoy the great offerings on our list.

Wine Basics

Have you ever been wine tasting? No, I am not talking about swilling a tumbler of hooch after dinner just to appear civilized. Next time your friends suggest wine tasting, you can enjoy yourself without looking like a Neanderthal with just a few basics. Here we go!

Single Varietal Wine and Blends

No great mystery here – single varietal wines are made with one type of grape. The name of the wine is usually the type of grape. For example, a bottle of Riesling is made with Riesling grapes. See, I told you this was easy! In the US, a wine has to be at least 75% of that grape to be labeled as a varietal wine. Blends are made with several grape varieties (hey, this makes sense, right?). Did you know that blends are usually made by mixing after fermentation? You are really getting smart now!

Wine Tastes

Wine experts, like you are getting to be, talk about different qualities of wine that produce the flavor, including acidity, sweetness, alcohol, tannin and aroma. OK, this is not really as complicated as it seems. Lets break it down:

Acidity: Wine is on the acidic end of the pH scale, ranging from as low as 2.5 (like a lemon) to as high as 4.5 (like yogurt). Acidity is what makes wine taste tart. Easy peasy, yes?

Sweetness: Oh, shocker here – sweeter wines taste, well, sweeter than dry wines. For example, an Italian Pinot Grigio is an example of a bone dry white wine, while a Sauterne is an example of a sweet wine.

Alcohol: I hear you, now we are getting to the point, am I right? On average, wine is about 10% alcohol by volume, although there is some variation. Because I know you want to know, Port has one of the highest alcohol contents, at about 20%, since it is fortified with brandy.

Tannin: Tannin is found in red wine, giving it an astringent quality. If you want to know what this means, put a wet, black tea bag on your tongue, that’s tannin. Isn’t this fun!

Aroma: Yes, we are talking about your sniffer, not your snifter! Each variety of grape has distinct aromas, so some smell like berries and others smell like flowers. The aging process affects aroma as well, so wine aged in oak barrels smell different. You may be thinking “I want to drink it, not smell it”. Well, the aroma of wine is an important part of how wine tastes. Your nose is pretty close to your throat, right?

Red wine fruit flavors:

With red wines, you have your red fruit flavors and your black fruit flavors. Red fruit flavors include strawberry, cherry, raspberry, pomegranate and red plum. Black fruit flavors include blueberry, black raspberry, marionberry and black cherry. Wines with more “black fruit” flavors tend to be more full-bodied, like Cabernet Sauvignon. When your palate is in the game, you might be able to identify both black and red fruit flavors in a wine blend, which can tell you the different wines used to create it. Then you will be a real wine snob!

White wine fruit flavors:

With white wines, you have your tree fruits and your citrus fruits. Tree fruit flavors include apple, pear, peach and nectarine. Citrus fruit flavors include grapefruit, pineapple, lemon and orange. Ripeness is important too. When you taste white wine, first think about the fruit flavor, then think about how ripe that fruit flavor tastes. Come on, this is easy. Think about biting into a peach so ripe that the juice runs down your chin, then think about the firm unripe peach.

Stay tuned for the next article about the different styles of wine and pairing wine with food. Of course, Sisters Saloon & Ranch Grill is a restaurant, so we get to talk about which wines go best with our wonderful food!  The most important point is that your best way to learn about wines is to drink them, and the best place to do that is at the Saloon!