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
There’s no script about how to run for an OCWS Board of Director seat during a pandemic. We may not be able to socialize with each other due to distancing directives, and campaigning is not quite what it was before. This is unchartered territory for everyone. So how do you even begin if you are thinking about getting more involved with the OCWS outside of volunteering for or attending various OCWS‑related events?
Are you innovative, open-minded, possess good interpersonal skills, are results oriented and a problem solver? If you feel good answering those questions, then a position as a Director of the OCWS just might be right for you .
The beginning of a three-year term of the nine members of the Board of Directors, according to the Bylaws, shall be staggered such that three members’ terms will expire each year. The three vacated Board positions will be filled each year by a vote of the OCWS membership, following the Annual Business Meeting in September. We have two members that cannot run again so two positions will need to be filled by new members.
The overall time commitment for a member of the Board varies, based on assignments and participation. We are moving from having the Board manage some events to having our members run the event with a Board coordinator being the liaison to the Board regarding budgets, event timing and placement.
A candidate should possess some of the following skills and experience as well:
- General knowledge of OCWS events and activities
- Experience as a volunteer in some events
- The ability and time to organize events during the year
- Selected event and budget management skills
- Be a member in good standing
To declare your candidacy for a position on the Board, the candidate must present their Declaration of Candidacy in writing, by mail or via electronic media to the Election Chair no later than fourteen (14) calendar days prior to the scheduled Annual Business Meeting.
During the Annual Business Meeting, you will have the opportunity to speak to the membership and present your qualifications. A written Statement of Qualifications must be presented to the Election Committee no later than five (5) calendar days after your Declaration of Candidacy.
If being an OCWS leader interests you, feel free to contact Greg Hagadorn with any questions related to Director Responsibilities, the election process or anything related to the election. I can be reached at 714.388.8803 or at Greg@ocws.org.
– Greg Hagadorn, 2020 Election Chair
– Leslie Brown, 2020 Election Committee Member
– Jolen Zeroski, 2020 Election Committee Member
Our wine education seminars have been such popular events this past year! In early 2020, many of you have enjoyed our seminars on: “Intro to Wine and Wine Tasting” (January) and “Wine, Chocolate and Other Perfect Pairings” (February).
We are disappointed that due to COVID-19 we had to cancel our remaining 2020 seminars on “Wines of Spain,” “Wines of Germany & Austria” and “Wines of North America.”
However, as soon as conditions permit, we will re-schedule these, and more wine education seminars. We may have smaller class sizes and will need to follow guidelines for social distancing, but rest assured, there will be plenty of wine tasting!
Thank you for your patience and understanding. We will notify you as soon as we can safely reschedule these seminars.
– Irene Scott, Wine Education Chair
Lately when reading online news, every now and then an interesting headline appears that I thought worthy of sharing—in case you missed it!
Ever hear of the “Cannonball Run?” It’s the New York to Los Angeles cross-country drive that has set a new pandemic-aided record in April. The new record beat the old record, set in November of last year, by more than 45 minutes. The drive was made in 26 hours and 38 minutes due to lack of traffic. It was reported that there were three to four drivers who made the drive, averaging an illegal speed of 106 miles per hour, covering 2,825.3 miles. Amazing!
Have you pulled out your old puzzles recently from the closet or ordered new ones to work on during your stay-at-home restriction? The New York Times published an interesting article recently on how jigsaw puzzles are made. Apparently the demand for puzzles has skyrocketed to levels not seen since Christmas, and with the world under lockdown, they’re been viewed as a new tool to save humanity.
A brief excerpt from the article is about a German company known for puzzle production, that “can’t easily ramp up production, because each new puzzle takes weeks to create. Each puzzle piece must be uniquely shaped, to avoid one accidentally fitting into the wrong place. That means 1,000 different shapes for a 1,000-piece puzzle, each drawn by hand by workers. Before a puzzle is cut for the first time, each piece is sketched on a sheet of paper draped over the finished image.” Who knew!
It would be remiss of me not to include a wine related headline which especially caught my attention. I did not want my inbox to light up to have to remind me that we are a wine organization, and that this space predominately addresses wine related events, home winemaking and education. Or the “red” landline phone ringing, fearing to answer knowing the President Bill Redding might have the current edition of The Wine Press in front of him, while enjoying a glass of wine, that didn’t make mention of wine in any form in an article.
Do you recall reading Love in the Time of Cholera, a novel by Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Did you see the movie titled the same? An online publication, Spirited, featured an article with a catchy title Wine in the Time of Pandemic which led me to read on. Aside from delivering how California wineries are adapting to the “new norm” with curbside pickup, virtual wine offerings and discounts, the article reminded me to “keep calm and keep the corkscrew handy.” Laura Ness, the writer of the article, keeps a corkscrew handy in every purse and jacket she owns. Hint, hint!
Moving on . . . did you know that the whales are thriving without cruise and cargo ship traffic? Lonely Planet is reporting that “wildlife are having a whale of a time—quite literally. A reduction in container and cruise ship traffic has provided a vacation of sorts for vulnerable cetaceans, and an opportunity for scientists to learn more about how marine noise pollution impacts ocean species.”
And there’s less rumbling on the earth’s surface—seismologists who study seismic signals from the earth’s interior report that quarantines seem to have made it easier to listen! There’s less air pollution, and city soundscapes are changing—it’s a whole lot quieter. This may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on preference to quiet or surrounding noise! The Atlantic published this interesting read entitled “The Pandemic is Turning the Natural World Upside Down.”
I am among the many who are currently working from home during the stay-at-home restriction. While enjoying a glass of wine, I try and catch up on positive COVID-19 related newsworthy articles.
My hope is that this article brings into your homes a “distraction” from what we are all facing today.
– Linda Mihalik, Editor
It most definitely is the “new norm” nowadays. Have you embraced the “new” virtual reality yet? Virtual classrooms, virtual health care, virtual workplaces, and yes, even virtual cheerleading. If you have, then we want to hear about your virtual winetasting experiences with family and OCWS friends while adhering to the California stay-at-home order.
My virtual experience has most definitely expanded from attending monthly OCWS Board meetings and Commercial Wine Competition meetings after my remote workday ends.
One of the benefits of being a member of the Wine Society is meeting new people who also enjoy learning about wine, drinking wine and sharing. Have you noticed that once you open a bottle of wine among friends, the conversation expands to someone knowing the winery, the winemaker, the region, and recommending other wineries in the region worthy of a visit?
About a month ago, I was invited to attend a Wednesday evening Zoom wine meeting beginning at 6 pm and lasting approximately two hours. The invite list was intentionally small so that we can have an opportunity to virtually share the wine we opened for the evening, discuss it and not find ourselves talking over each other. We also rated our own wines and went online to find out what it was rated by others and shared this information during the event.
A fairly new OCWS member took our Wednesday virtual winetasting experience to a whole new level. She prepared, presented and paired her wine to the meal she was enjoying in our virtual setting. And being savvy in technology, she set up her Zoom account with an amazing, different and interesting backdrop each week—a vineyard in Sonoma County, the Golden Gate Bridge (taking us back in time when we attended ZAP together), and she also took us inside a beautiful winery’s cellar. I look forward to the time when we can see each other face to face and continue sharing, drinking and talking about wine – and when a group hug will be perfectly appropriate!
Members, if you feel comfortable to briefly share your stay-at-home virtual wine experiences with family and friends, or you simply just want to send in isolation photos, we want to hear from you. Each month going forward, we will endeavor to publish your submission and photos, pending space and content of your submission. As in past practice, we do not encourage promotion of any winery, restaurant, or other online virtual experience in this space. Your submission should be sent to WinePress@ocws.org.
– Linda Mihalik, Director
We were delighted to hear about the inspiration and many accomplishments from the scholarship colleges and universities the OCWS supports. Students are studying in virtual classes and labs. Following is a bit of news so worthy of sharing.
Allan Hancock College Winery, Santa Maria Campus, is celebrating their fifth anniversary as a commercially bonded winery. Students carry over to a four-year university by participating in harvesting, production, bottling, marketing, and sales of award-winning wines. They produce their own bottles, and their labels are designed by the Campus Graphics Dept. AHC Winery has an on-campus wine club that provides Friday afternoon tastings to those over 21, and their wines are available for purchase. Allan Hancock 2018 and 2019 OCWS medal winners are Chardonnay, Malbec, Torrontes, Albarino and Rose of Pinot Noir.
Many students at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Justin and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture are employed by local wineries while they study. A new learning lab building was recently completed by donated funds and equipment where students conduct experiments and analysis of specific varietals.
Cal State Fresno Jordan College of Agricultural Science and Technology vineyards are still growing grapes and are continuing to cultivate and care for all the agricultural crops on a daily basis. While practicing safe distancing guidelines, a local winemaker and students have been volunteering to bottle Fresno State wines. Fresno State 2018 and 2019 OCWS medal winners are Zinfandel, Muscat, Pinot Noir, Proprietary White and Rose of Grenache.
Several students from the Sonoma and Napa Valley areas are returning from losing their homes and family businesses, wine cellars, and wineries in recent wildfires. With the 2020 OC Fair cancelled, the OCWS will miss out on donations garnered during the Fair and allocated to the OCWS scholarship fund.
Many thanks to our members for continuing to support our eight scholarship colleges and universities.
The OCWS congratulates the graduating Class of 2020 Enology and Viticulture students. We wish you the best in your future wine-related endeavors. Keep in touch with us.
– Leslie Hodowanec, Scholarship Chair