of wine and jelly beans
flavor chart matches wine with Jelly Bellys
What’s in a wine? What
makes it taste the way it does? What flavors do we find? This is an
age-old question that has been debated by wine people everywhere. Ann
C. Noble of the University of California at Davis has based her life’s
work on categorizing wine flavors and smells. She’s produced a Wine
Aroma Wheel that spells out 76 different scents found in wine. But you
don’t have to know all the precise terms to appreciate a good glass of
I’ve found that anyone
who likes wine can come up with a few descriptive lines on flavor, aroma
and taste. I’ve found that even the most casual wine drinker can tell
between a nice glass and a really good glass. This tells me anyone with
a sense of taste is qualified to make taste and value judgments. Just
open a bottle and taste. See how the wine smells in the glass and how it
changes as it mixes with the air. What fruit flavors are present? This
is how the experts do it, but it’s one of the more simple things about
A few days ago my
editor sent me an interesting e-mail on wine flavors. De Loach Vineyards
and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans have teamed up to present a wine-tasting
method by using different flavored jelly beans as descriptors. Just
click on the wine and flavored jelly beans come up.
Primitivo — an
up-and-coming Italian grape, similar to a light Zinfandel comes up as
cherry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, pepper, plum and licorice.
The oakier Californian version loses the licorice and adds cinnamon,
French vanilla and chocolate.
They’ve even come up
with a nasty little flavor called pinch of dirt, which is added for the
Italian Primitivos. There are 42 different varietals and even a very
ambitious section that describes the regional characteristics of
Californian Chardonnay and Zinfandel.
Carneros Chardonnay is
green apple, juicy pear, lemon lime, peach, crushed pineapple, red apple
and, once again, pinch of dirt.
The Sierra Foothills
region Zinfandel is much like the Primitivo but there’s no dirt. Dirt
flavors are often found in wine, but rather than a mouthful of muck they
are present as an earthiness, like eating a river catfish, from the
minerals in the soil that have transferred to the grapes. The website
where you can find this flavor chart is found at: winexmagazine.com/jellybelly/jellybelly.htm
on the Wine X Magazine site. Wine X Magazine (and its online e-zine)
bills itself as “a new voice for a new generation of wine consumers.” It
has a ton of good info and interesting wine articles, written in a
Maxim-esque tone. It’s funny and pulls no punches.
The best thing is that
the recommended wines, unlike in some wine columns, are usually readily
available. The comments are short and sassy. I’m not one to subscribe to
the many wine publications out there, because they seem to invoke a
jealousy and longing in me that remains unrequited. I just don’t have
the time or capital to do a bicycle tour of Burgundy the right way. A
3-star meal with wine costs more than a month’s rent on my apartment.
But when I first started to learn a little about wine I found these
publications helpful. My favorite is Yak Shaya’s Wine Page. He’s a
Burgundy fanatic who has the means and time to sample the greatest wines
of Burgundy, as well as a few Bordeauxs and Californians. Somehow it was
easier for me to live vicariously through his wine and food adventures
without getting an envy hangover. You can find Yak at www.yakshaya.com
Since De Loach
Vineyards is sponsoring the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean/Wine
Varietal Tasting Chart,
it’s only fitting that we discuss their wines. De Loach is a 30-year-old
vineyard that started making a Zinfandel on the Barbieri Ranch Vineyard
in 1975. Today they make everything from Pinot Noir to Late Harvest
Gewürztraminer. Their farming techniques have moved toward using more
and more biodynamic (organic) methods in the last few years. De Loach’s
wines are affordable, although some of the single-vineyard wines are
sold out and mostly unavailable. The top price runs around $32.99, but
the 2002 Pinot Noir is only $11.99.
I haven’t tasted De
Loach in a couple of years, but the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon and the
Single Vineyard Zinfandels have whetted my appetite for wines from this
reliable, well made vineyard.
Find your bottle
The New Hampshire
Liquor Commission can help you find your beverage with a click or two.
Just go to nh.gov/liquor/index.shtml, type the name of your wine into
the product locator and click “go.” The site’s search engine will come
up with a list of stores that carry the bottle you seek.