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Ruby Hill Winery
January 26, 2024 | Ruby Hill Winery

A Quick Guide to Describing Wine

        At Ruby Hill, we strive to make wine approachable. Wine lovers of all kinds are welcome here! If you have ever felt overwhelmed by wordy tasting notes or just want to know more about how to describe wine, you’re in the right place. 

        If you don’t sense the subtle nuance of wild strawberry jam, graphite, or petrichor that your neighbor does, you’re no less of a wine lover. Still, if you want to hone your wine description skills, there are a few places to start that will empower you to taste what makes a wine refined and elegant! Wine tasting is all about engaging the senses for optimum enjoyment, so ask yourself a few questions:

What do you see?

Always “taste” with your eyes first! For red wines, note the depth of the hue. Is it a deep purple-black, or a bright brick red? These can give you hints about the wine’s character. Swirling the wine in your glass can also give you a hint about how rich it will feel on the palate, like the difference between whole milk and skim. White wines can range in color from very light to rich amber tones. Rosé wines will differ in color depending on the varietal from which they are made and the style in which they are made. Our Grapeful Rosé, for example, has a coppery pink hue, a picturesque indicator that it is made from our vibrant Sangiovese grapes. 

What do you smell?

Don’t be overwhelmed by trying to describe hyper-specific aromas. The aroma could remind you of flowers, fruit, soil, or herbs, easily described as floral, fruity, earthy, and herbaceous aromas, respectively. A wine’s smells are usually divided into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary. For those who are curious, the grape itself influences the primary aromas, the winemaking process dictates secondary aromas, and the aging process provides tertiary aromas. The more you approach wine tasting with curiosity and intentionality, the more common features you will notice. 

What do you taste? 

Just like the aroma, focus on general descriptors that help you unpack what you are tasting. Try to categorize the character of the fruit: Is it red fruit, like a strawberry, cherry or cranberry? Blueberry and plum notes can be described as blue fruit; blackberries, black cherry, and black currant are called dark, purple, and black fruit. Each of these connotes an amount of ripeness as well. Fresh notes like stone fruit, tropical fruit, and citrus fruits are commonly used to describe light wines. 
Common savory notes include leather or cigar box which help capture some of the smoky or dense notes from oak aging. Oak aging can also result in pastry-like flavors, such as pie crust, baking spice, and vanilla. 

What do you feel?

Wine has much more to offer than delightful flavors. When you take a sip, think about how it feels in your mouth. Common descriptors include velvety, suede-like, or even sandpaper. A wine that makes you pucker may be acidic, but a wine that makes your tongue feel dry, like a well-steeped black tea, is tannic. A buttery wine is one that has a full-bodied ripeness, common for oaked Chardonnay. All of these qualities have their place in delicious wines. 

What can you learn from the bottle?

A wine bottle can offer more information to enhance your enjoyment. The bottle will provide the vintage, indicating when the grapes were harvested, and the appellation, indicating where the grapes were grown. Each vintage and region have their own personalities! Of course, the bottle will also indicate if the wine is a single varietal, like Cabernet Sauvignon, or a blend. Every Cabernet will have some character in common with other Cabernets, though the winemaker, region, and vintage all exert influence as well. On the other hand, blends offer a wholly unique experience and often showcase a dynamic balance between diverse varietals.

        It is important to remember that wine descriptions have a level of subjectivity and express the personality of the taster. We all perceive our reference points and the wine’s qualities differently, so the most important thing is to enjoy the process. Remember, it’s always acceptable to drink wines simply because you enjoy them. Life is too short to take too seriously!

If you're looking to "practice" your wine tasting skills, our Mixed Case sales are a great place to start! They offer a delicious assortment of wines at a fantastic price. Click here to shop now!

Time Posted: Jan 26, 2024 at 3:51 AM Permalink to A Quick Guide to Describing Wine Permalink
Ruby Hill Winery
January 12, 2024 | Ruby Hill Winery

A Mood-Boosting Guide to Mindfulness

This is our recipe for a fun 2024. If you’re already tired of chilly weather or worried about the twists and turns that the year might bring, you’re not alone. As each day goes by, however, we’re working to institute “random acts of wellness”—little doses of mindfulness that can brighten each day. For both the things we can work on and the things that are outside of our control, these simple and realistic actions may help you to feel ready to face each day, week, month, and year. 

Get Outside and Move. 

Even if the sun isn’t shining or the chill is getting to you, it’s worth it, believe us! The physical and psychological benefits of fresh air and movement is overwhelming. You don’t need to have a full workout on your front lawn (although that might be refreshing), just put on a coat, step outside, and breathe. Stretch a little, take a few steps, or go around the block and enjoy that energizing power.

Clean Something.

You don’t have to scrub and polish, just set a timer for 2-5 minutes and straighten something up! Do a little bit of tidying while listening to a favorite song, podcast, or audiobook. Research shows that cleaning is powerfully connected to improved mood and focus, so if you’re looking for a little act of wellness with good reward, this one is worth trying. Bonus points if you grab a friend, family, member, or coworker to join you and do the same.

Express Thankfulness. 

Next time you say “thank you” to someone, try to pause and dwell on your gratitude. Trust us, it’s closely connected with well-being. If you appreciate a sense of meaning or feel like you need a little boost, we recommend taking a moment to write down a couple things for which you’re thankful, or find a reason to write a thank-you note to someone. You don’t even need to send the note, although you may find another boost of joy in doing so!

Change your Scenery.

This is especially important for anyone feeling weighed down by a monotonous routine. Take your work or task to another room, or leave your work behind and spend 5 minutes with a cozy blanket. Try to find a room with natural light. Try putting on some music you enjoy. Sing along, even if it’s not great!

Try Something New.

Trying new things is a great way to make memories, stimulate creativity, and open the door to know yourself better! The gesture does not have to be grand. Try wearing something outside of your usual wardrobe, or find a recipe for something you’ve never cooked. If you usually drink white wine, try reds. If you usually walk for exercise, try biking.  Even if it doesn’t feel as comfortable as what’s familiar to you, it’s always worth trying!

Here at Ruby Hill Winery, walking through the vineyards, riding the bus, trying new varietals, and meeting with friends are some of our favorite mood-boosters. What are some random acts of wellness you want to bring into your 2024?


Time Posted: Jan 12, 2024 at 4:00 AM Permalink to A Mood-Boosting Guide to Mindfulness Permalink

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