June 2020

President’s Message

Greetings everyone! The OCWS has been busy continuing the work of our organization. Our office staff, Lynda Edwards and Rochelle Randel, have been working remotely to answer emails and provide support to our Board of Directors, Event Chairs and wineries. If you need assistance, please send an email to Office@ocws.org.

Working together, Charles English our bookkeeper, Mel Jay, Treasurer, and Dave Stancil, Finance Committee Chair have been paying our bills and monitoring our finances. Over the years, wise and prudent leadership in the organization allowed us to build up our reserves to weather these difficult times. I am pleased to report that as a result, we are in sound financial shape.

I have been working monthly with the OCFEC staff to schedule future events through 2021. We have been able to gain access to our office and cellar on a monthly basis to ensure that they are safe and secure. Like most of us individually, the OCFEC is waiting on guidance from state and local authorities that will allow activities to resume. As with businesses and wineries  throughout the state, everyone is eager to resume operations when it is safe to do so. This year the Annual Business Meeting will most likely need to be done “virtually.” We are in the process of working on the logistics and will provide more details as the meeting, scheduled for September 11, gets closer.

This summer, the OC Fair is Going Virtual!  The OCWS has been invited to be part of this virtual event and Sara Yeoman, Director, is working towards providing video content in July 2020. We are also working on a number of “virtual” events starting at the end of June for our membership. Please look for these events which will be posted on our website from the main menu Zoom Seminars.

It is once again time to invite our membership to become members of our Board of Directors. Please see Greg Hagadorn’s article and consider running for the Board this year. As the candidates declare, we will be posting their candidate statements on the OCWS website. Cheers,

 Bill Redding, President

Ideal Wine Serving Temperature Chart

Med/Full Bodied Oaked White WineChardonnay, Fume BlancLightly Chilled 50o – 55o F
Light/Med Bodied White WineSauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, RoséChilled 45o – 50o F
Sweet WinesMuscat, White Zinfandel, Riesling (sweet), White Port, Late Harvest WhiteWell Chilled 43o – 45o F
Sparkling WinesSparkling Wine, Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, AstiWell Chilled 43o – 50o F
Light Bodied RedsPinot Noir, Lambrusco, Dolcetto, Dornfelder, GamayLightly Chilled 55o F
Med/Full Bodied RedsCabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Malbec, Petit Sirah, Mourvédre, NebbioloRoom Temperature 59o – 64o F

WINE EDUCATION 101: Summer Wines – Keeping it Light

Summer is finally here!  With summer comes sunshine, warm weather and most likely some poolside/patio wine drinking with friends.  So, what are some good choices for your summer wine drinking that will keep you cool and refreshed?  The key to great summer drinking wines is that they have a lighter body and a higher acidity.  These wines will be refreshing and delicious when served chilled.  Yes, even light-bodied red wines can be delicious when served slightly chilled.

When referring to a wine’s “body” it usually refers to a feel of “weight” in the mouth.  Imagine the different mouthfeel you would experience with water or non-fat milk, then 2% milk, and finally full-fat milk or cream.  This comparison will help you begin to understand what “body” means in wine.  Most varietal wines have a “body” that is typical for that grape varietal.  Wine components that increase a wine’s “body” or “fullness” include sweetness, glycerol, grape and yeast polysaccharides, and phenolic content (in red wine).  On the other hand, the perception of “fullness” can be decreased by acidity.

Acid is one of the main chemical constituents of grapes and gives wine “structure” and the ability to age well.  The main wine acids are the non-volatile organic acids such as tartaric and malic acid which constitute more than 90% of the grape’s acidity.  Malic acid is what you taste when you bite into a crisp apple.  Tartaric acid is that tart taste when you eat grapes (as it is the primary acid in grapes).  While acid can be tasted by taste buds all over your tongue, it is commonly strongest along the sides of the tongue and can often cause increased saliva production.  High acidity or astringency in wines is often balanced with a little sweetness (or perception of) – this is referred to as a “balanced wine”.

With grapes grown in warm or hot climates, the heat will metabolize malic acid such that little is left by harvest – giving wines a lower acidity in warmer climates.  However, cooler climate grapes will often retain more of their malic acid by harvest – giving grapes grown in cooler climates a higher acidity.  In addition, some grape varietals are naturally higher in acidity than other grape varietals. If a wine undergoes “malolactic fermentation”, the stronger malic acid is converted to a softer lactic acid.  Overall, it is the tartaric acid that ends up giving wine most of its taste of acidity.

Based on this understanding of body and acidity, we can choose some nice, refreshing summer wines.  A great guide to grape varietal acidity and body is the “De Long’s Wine Grape Varietal Table” (https://www.delongwine.com/products/wine-grape-varietal-table).  This table is a visual reference to various varietals and their body/acidity levels.  We can see on this chart that the Albariño, Aligoté, Colombard, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Torrontés, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho, Verdicchio, and Vermentino varietals all typically have a lighter body and high acidity.  Any of these would make a cool, refreshing summer white wine.

Want to drink a red wine on a hot day and still be refreshed?  Choose a red wine with a lighter body and higher acidity (avoid wines with heavy tannins), and serve it slightly chilled (about 55oF).  A Pinot Noir is a great example, along with, Barbera, Blaufrankisch, Dornfelder, Freisa, and Sangiovese.

Rosé wine is also an excellent choice for summer with its light body and crisp acidity.  Most Rosé wines have higher acidity as they do not undergo malolactic fermentation where the stronger malic acid is converted to weaker lactic acid.

Sparkling wine is also a great choice for your summer wine – and not just because the bubbles are so fun!  Grapes that are destined for sparkling wines will be picked earlier than other grapes (for still wines).  These grapes will often be picked when the Brix (sugar) level is 18o-21o so that they retain their tartness and acidity that is needed for sparkling wine.

To ensure that you have a wine that has retained a crisp, refreshing acidity, choose a wine from a cooler, fog-drenched region.  Cooler climate wines will retain more of the malic acid that might otherwise become degraded in the heat.  Some excellent cooler-climate wine regions in California include:  Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Monterey, Santa Barbara County and others.

I hope you enjoy a cool, refreshing wine at your next summer poolside party!

Irene Scott, WSET-3, CSWS
Winemaking Certificate, UC Davis
OCWS Wine Education Chair