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Become a Great Wine Taster

Lesson 6 of 21

Exploring Varietals: Whites without Oak


Become a Great Wine Taster

Lesson 6 of 21

Exploring Varietals: Whites without Oak


Lesson Info

Exploring Varietals: Whites without Oak

we're going to jump back in and use the method again. We're gonna keep doing over and over and over again. And this time we're gonna explorer varietals of white varietals without oak. So we just spent the last lesson talking about looking at two different chardonnays for different parts of the world and really understanding how first, how wind carries oak and then how the place where it's made really matters again. As we just saw it, we're going to do the exact same thing with Winds without okay. Except this time we're gonna use three lines. We're gonna count more on you guys toe in your candor to throw it out there and work through these things. Um, the first thing we're gonna take each one all the way through the whole method. Then go back and start it again and do the 2nd 1 The first thing I want you to do is that when you have three whites or three reds or any number more than one of any color of wine, the first thing to do is look at them all together like that. That's the first p...

iece of information when, when you just have something on its own. All you have is this. But when you get to compared to something, then you can begin to triangulate, right? So when we look at something, what do we dio? We pick it up, turn it over and look down through it with a white background. Right? And right now it looks like just a white wine. And I We've developed your context over the morning so you could begin to describe it. But let's make it easier. Let's pick up another one and stick it next to it. Right? And then then you actually can start to see differences and pick up the third and look at it next to it as well. Do you notice anything? Does the color change? Yes, it does. Okay. And what happens as they had the collectors on which one? Where does it become darker? See? Okay. Great. And where is the middle windfall? Is that also middle in terms of color? Closer to the first? Okay, closer first. I agree with that. Yep. I grew that totally is brighter and a brighter. You say OK. Great is definitely Okay. Cool. So but they're they're they're different, but they're also pretty close, right? It's not as like like we had in the last one where the Louis chardonnay was so dark that they're still there. Variations on a theme. Okay, now pick him all up in Smell them. Oh, one after the other. What do you smell? So they smell all the same? No, not at all. Isn't it amazing? So, one of the big things I see people do when I when I teach tasting is they don't use this opportunity to juxtapose, but you just pick up the first class and go for it. If you just pick up the first class and you go for it, you're going down the hole describing something. But maybe you're veering into territory you wouldn't describe if you smell the other wines and you actually find guardrails, right? It's just like when we talked about with acidity like, Oh, it's high acid. Well, it feels high, but taste the one next to it. That's actually what high is. So you got to come all the way back here and you know, So you're finding the guard wheels right at the beginning. So with that said, which which one do you want to start with. That's what I would pick two. Because, man, it's it's singing. It's got a lot to say, Um, and I think the others, or actually maybe a little, little more subtle and gonna be a little harder to dio. So let's begin with B, which is the geese and sauvignon blanc. So what color is it? Right in the middle? What color is it? Pail pale and what? And pill wet though light. It's pale, but what color were talking about it. Still a yellow yellow, really? To meet a little silvery and maybe has little little and has little flecks of what green. Do you see the green tint to it? It's a slight green. 10. Do you see this like this? Like green? 10. So what's green in plants? Chlorophyll, chlorophylls, the green part of a plant and what we're seeing when you see that in a grape? Did you see? Did we see any green tents in the warm climate? Napa Valley Chardonnay? No, because that comes from a warm place, and the grapes are really developed there really mature. So all the green element is gone. It's actually become more gold because it's It's warm and ripe. So this is a really important visual clue. Did, like, take and put in your pocket because you see little bits of that green. What does it tell you? That it's what kind of climate cooler. So just from picking it up, you know that this is very likely from a cooler climate. That's pretty cool, isn't it? Okay, skipping color at the rim doesn't matter. How bright is it? Fairly brain fairly is not a word because it doesn't relate to something other than to you, right? We have to be its objective. Right? So you got to pick one of those stops every single time out of that. The little break, maybe even more, huh? Remember we called the I think we called the Lewis Chardonnay Bright the Napa Chardonnay. Yeah, but this is brighter than that, isn't it? Okay, so that puts us where Starbright. Awesome. So developing. Contact. This is what Starbright looks like. Okay, that's cool. And so it gets that way very likely, because it's been fined and filtered, and there's a lot of stuff done to it. So it has this this luminosity almost and typically that happens toe wines generally destined for America Very don't want things that are cloudy and their cloudy. We're we're certain that there's something wrong with it. So it becomes a lot about process so you can start to think. Okay. Where is this from? You know, like, likely new world tends to be a new world. Practice tends to be okay. Um, is it? Is there in sediment? Nope. Is a bubbling? Nope. And how about the viscosity? I think that's a good call. Well done. You're learning. Great. Okay, cool. Now let's smell it and just talk for a second. Don't look at this Live. Just talk. Would he smell lemon? Lime, lemon, lime. Good floral elements to me. Floral bears. Pairs. Cool. Good with that, I think. Great proof again. Like more bitter. Definitely bitter grapefruit. I'm gonna throw something out there. How about jalapeno? You're finding that now. That cool. That's a That's a banker factor for for this great from this place. That kind of how opinion Green thing. Asparagus. Asparagus. I'll take it. That's awesome. Yeah, really good. Yes. Yeah. You're supercharging her context again. It's really good. Really good. It has a green Virdon thing right. Grassy. Yeah. Grassy. Okay, what else do we smell? I'm kind of good with that list. That's awesome. I'm going to stop you there. And now we're gonna actually use the grid and make sense of this wine. Okay, so the fruits give me a list of fruit again. Lemon, lime, pear, Grapefruit. What color grapefruit. More white, More white. I totally agree with you. Totally. We have a vegetable. Asparagus will take that too. Earth. Did you guys say anything earthy? You didn't know? Isn't that cool? Grassy note that's more vegetative than Earth? Yeah, it's I'm glad you asked questions. Really? It's good to separate those two things that's green and living, right. So, yes, I'm not the soil, Not the soil, not the dirt. Not this stuff, but it's actually the grasp. Yeah. So, um, so there is the distinction made, but so we didn't say anything Earthy. So what does that say to us? Based on what we've learned already, it tends to be a new world thing. Okay, well, in fact, we know it is not tasting is blind, but it's good. It's adding up. And you guys came to that organically by just not saying anything or think that's really good. How about wood? It's almost the same conclusion. No signs of Oh, great, No, none. Because it's just not there. So this was glued. Surmises has been identified and aged, if it all in stainless steel or some other neutral vessel, that would not contribute any flavor. All right. Okay. Anything else you want to say about the nose, Anything else at all? You smell cool. So it's pretty straightforward, isn't it? It's good. I mean, it's good to like ruminate that in that for a minute. Just like Okay, I guess that's really what this is about. Is the grass, the asparagus, the peppers, thes fruits we mentioned. And that's kind of the wine, right? So, you know, he starts break it down and there's there's not a lot of mystery there, So let's keep going Palette. That means we get to drink it. Wow, totally. It's bright. Yes, rolling here, watching everybody do this like yeah, yeah, definitely. Okay, so that's the first thing is striking. Everyone is the acid. Their mouth watering was drooling, So let's start with assets. And that's the first thing that striking us third up from the bottom. What is it? Low, medium minus, media meeting plus or high winner? Totally. It's definitely high. It's high acid grade from cool place, which only elevates the city. Now let's go back to the top and work through the rest of it. What fruits do you taste? Rind? Grapefruit. Great. What else? Lemon lemon is awesome. I think you'll read a lot. People say gooseberries about this. I don't even know what that is. I mean, we don't eat gooseberries in America. We don't. I mean, I've been other parts of world where they dio um, and it's a funny descriptor that you'll hear a lot with sauvignon Blanc. And I want you just like forget it. Like whenever you read that are here it, like, pretend it doesn't matter because it's really not really Have any of you have ever had a gooseberry you have? Okay, one. And is it part of like your regular diet that was less than 10? So probably OK, so it's pretty rare, and the point that I want to make their is that I'm encouraging you to use your own vocabulary in your own language and what so with that said. What does it taste like? What else do you taste? We've got great fruit. Do you taste the asparagus Vegetative nous to it? Yeah, it's very It's kind of green. Just like what is that? You think we can use the flavor green? That's fair. I think that's very fair. I actually taste a little like the jalapeno green bell pepper. Anything a little bit. It is. Isn't it? A little bit? Do you taste your pair? No. Grass. Weird. Yeah. No, it's not at all. It's not weird at all. In fact, that's what this is all about. It's, in fact, quite grassy green apple. Yep. Yeah, it's not a real lush like golden. Delicious. It's definitely green. Green. Mean, what else do we taste? I'm getting some like cranberry before you make cranberry sauce on at all the sugar. Maybe that's what I guess. Berries like I like it. Yeah, which is, like, really? Yeah, it starts snappy. Goodbye. Like tart. Yeah. Yeah, that's good. And fresh and crunchy, right? It's a big, tactile thing, definitely. What else? Okay, so that's good way. Drained your brain enough. I think that's what I think that I actually think That's pretty much all the wine has to say. It doesn't have a ton to say. Um, but, you know, it is what it is. So, fruits, we just did our list. Earthy. Did we see anything earthy? No. So that corroborates our idea that this is what a this is wine is from where? New World. Awesome oak. Yes or no? No, oak. You got to be. You gotta ask yourself, you know that there is no oak in these wines because this is the set of of the lesson. But it's important to always ask yourself that question. And when you do that, then you own the lesson you put the put the nugget in your pocket a little bit of knowledge like, Oh, yeah, there's no oak because it doesn't have all of this stuff, right? That's important. So keep keep with that rigor. Tan is don't apply. Let's talk about alcohol. Where is it? That's where you get to taste it and tell me how it feels. U minus two medium. Do you mind? Okay, I think medium minus. We need to find the guard rails again. Yeah, I think we're going. It gets more medium it's medium, a little bit of waiting us to. It is yes, it's right up the middle. It's not as high or medium plus as the Napa Valley Chardonnay was, but it's probably about the same as the as the Marceau was that we had in the last lesson the way burger and it is the same 12.5%. So it's just like right in the middle. And so it's important. I mean, I know you guys drink a lot of wine, and as you're tasting, really, really think about that. So you can you can start toe, put the brackets on it and then, you know, over time it just becomes natural because you know where the guardrails are, Right? So, yeah, this is medium. So what does that tell us if we take this is medium alcohol. We can also make an inference again about the climate, which would tell us what is a cool, temperate or hot cool. Yeah, cool. The temperate right, because if it were warmer, you would have more alcohol, right? Super. Everyone's adding that math up right, More warmth, more sugar, more sugar, more alcohol, Cool. Let's keep going. Acidity totally off the chart high. That's a function of great end place. Right? Sauvignon blanc is a high acid grape. Um, and in fact, in New Zealand, in Marlborough, where this is from, it's a cool, temperate climate. So it's gonna exaggerate that if we grew the same grapes in Napa, it would have more acid than the chardonnay. We drank in the last lesson, but it would have a whole lot less than this. You good with that? Okay, cool length. Where are we? Am I come in the medium spot? Yeah. Yeah, it's just kind of like it feels like a pounder. Yeah, it doesn't feel like it. Not that it's unserious, but just like this is great. Just, like wash it down sort of thing, right? Good iced tea. Alternative E. I mean, like, not in a despairing sense, but in a casual sense, like his great just casual table wine. Right? And instead, make your mouth water to make you want to eat and drink and eat and drink. Meet there. There it goes. Okay. Is it balanced? This is where you really have to separate. I can see you guys. I can see it's being there. You have to separate. Okay. Doesn't have anything. That's, um that's overt. Exactly that zone. Great answer. Despite the big acid, it's balanced. Yeah. Do you guys will agree with that? Jessica, you look like you're still moment. I'm not sure about balance it. So importantly, we want to We really want to detach ourselves from this. And remember, it's objective and not subjective. This isn't Am I okay with that? Personally? That level acid like, doesn't really stick out in the end. On the finish, it gets all wanke right now. I don't think it does. I think, Yeah, it's bright. But then it, like, does its job. I guess I think I need to compare. Does not balance helping. You didn't bring, but I didn't bring you e definitely did. Bring is hard to find. I'm sure you find one. Awesome. So once we run through this, we're gonna run it against the next one. So we know this is which. Why now let's turn back to you. Why? Why isn't New World have a terrible doesn't Doesn't have the earthiness. Exactly. That's a great reason. Okay? And the climate is what cool. The temperate cool. The temperate. Why? Because it was a high. Awesome. Now that's part of it. Part of a C acid part of its the color part of its Remember what we're looking for here. Out the viscosity, Which is an indication of how much alcohol are exactly right. So because it's medium, you're in the temperate spot. Age doesn't matter for now, grapes or blends. And what else could this be? You know, other white grapes that aren't aged in oak? Well, includes Pino Grigio, which we're gonna taste and reasoning which we're gonna taste, and Gruner veltliner and all these other things. And just like you asked the last lesson, Why is that chardonnay? By the time we're done with all three of these wines, you'll really be able to say, like, Okay, why is this Soviet bloc right? So we're gonna hold that in reserve until the very, very end. So let's go back to the beginning. And which one do we want to do next? You have any questions about this so far? Vanessa? Um, so just so I understand correctly the balance. So if something isn't balanced, is that just the definition of bad wine? Um or can something not be balanced, but still be good wine. Not really. Right qualitatively the We'll start to fall off a that point. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Imbalances. It's everything. Balance and sense of place, Right? Um, you can have a sense of place and not be balanced, but and then the wheels fell off. I mean, ultimately, what is one supposed to do is supposed be drinkable. That's it's It's pure function is toe refreshing Drink and back when you know the Roman armies would poison the water, you drink the wine because it was safe, right? That's that's how it went. And and so I think it's important to never let it become divorced from that, that it's supposed to be refreshing the beverage. Um, And when we do that, then okay, so you fundamentally start with Is it bounced? Do you want to drink it right? I'm gonna, um, is balanced. One of the things that also could depend on the glass. Because if I go to a bar that's more of a whiskey bar and it seems like they just fill it to the rim of the wine, it always tastes pretty mucky, no matter what it is, and I don't know if that's just the quality or if I should have been put in like, two glasses. That's a great question. Um, there's I never want to discourage you from drinking. But if you're in a West, Zebari probably shouldn't under the wine, you know, when in Rome, right? But that is that aside on my perfect whiskey, maybe we're working on that where we have a book for you. So it's a great question a lot of times, and as I talked about the wine culture in America is still very young. The service of wine is it's part and parcel with that, so it's oftentimes not well done. So yes, it's definitely a little bit of party foul to fill it all the way up unless you're at a party and getting back to the bar is gonna be hard and you just trying to cop one right? But apart from that, um, it makes it less easy to enjoy, but it won't change the balance. You know, you really don't feel balance until it's in your mouth, and it doesn't matter how it got there. You know you could do it out of a test tube, a turkey baster. You know, out of a can, whatever you know anything. But it's how it got in. There doesn't matter. It's what's happening once it's in there, right? I mean, it'll certainly affect the Romas, but that's not where we're determining balance. I guess I was comparing it. Teoh. A lot of times if I go too, just like a local Italian restaurant sometimes will even put the wine in the little cup. And it's always very inexpensive, like five or $6. And that's usually good. Yeah, it's great, Totally well. And there, you know, it's Italian restaurant where they have, ah, you know, hopefully generally a real idea of how food and wine are other in CMA. They're meant they're meant to be together. And so there's a sensibility and the winds, probably from Italy, And you know what grows together, goes together and that whole things you just set up for a success in that instance, right? Yeah, at the whiskey bar, it's probably something like, you know, some brand. I won't mention that it comes in a great big drug or out of a box or, you know, it's you're not set up for success part right in particular. Yeah, your odds of success are much lower than other questions. So if you were to go toe not a wine specialized restaurant or anything like that, where would you be able to find good wine that's accessible to just kind of the average person, you know, going just to get a drink with their girlfriends or Yeah, I mean on a cheaper scale. Yeah, the good news. Well, no, it can definitely be affordable, right and affordable. That's relative term. But, I mean, it's never been a better time to drink wine anywhere in the world, particularly here in America. I mean, there's just so every year there's more and more great wine there, more, more great choices. It doesn't have to cost a Norman a leg. So for sure, it's a better time than ever before. For sure. It's also still really easy to make a mistake like you can go to Paris and it's really easy to get bad food. You know, it's super easy to do the same. Same thing here, you know, it's really easy to get bad wine at every turn, but it's also never been easier to get good wine. Um, so depending on where you are, I mean Francisco, it's It's super easy. And I'm staying downtown. You can walk in any direction, you know, two blocks and you'll find something great. Yeah, yeah. So it's be encouraged, not discourage.

Class Description

Do you cower when presented with the wine list? Feel at a loss while walking the wine aisle? You are not alone! Many of us struggle to differentiate between the subtleties of the world’s oldest beverage. But wine is not destined to be difficult! Join Master Sommelier Richard Betts for a fun and informative guide to buying, tasting, and enjoying wine.

Become a Great Wine Taster is your guide to wine varietals, trends, and tastes. You’ll learn Richard’s “wine is a grocery, not a luxury” approach to wine while exploring the differences between regions and the history behind them. Richard will teach a simple method for looking at, smelling, and tasting each wine so you understand the nuances and the provenance of the drink in your glass. You’ll study the important factors and features of winemaking by exploring ideas through related varietals. Richard will discuss:

  • Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc – the impact of climate and oak
  • Riesling, Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Zinfandel – balance, sweetness, and alcohol content
  • Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio, Gruner Veltliner, and Chenin Blanc – important grapes, small subtleties
  • Cabernet Sauvignon and it’s subjects – regional expression of the ubiquitous reds
  • Pinot Noir – temperamental grapes and growing in France, California, Oregon and Australia
  • Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo – wine production in Italy and Spain
  • Syrah/Shiraz, Grenache and friends – blends and winemaker’s intent

You’ll also learn about the unique ways we modify wine, like making it sparkle, heating it, turning it into Port, and so much more! This class will help you get more comfortable with wine, remove much of it’s mystery, and show you how to integrate it into your everyday life.

Pair your appreciation for wine with knowledge in this accessible and educational class. Join Richard for Become a Great Wine Taster and never fumble over wine selection again.


a Creativelive Student

This course was amazing. As someone who felt really intimidated by wine before, I finished the course feeling a lot more confident and excited to try out my new wine knowledge. Great instructor with great content. Would definitely recommend!


Good course, needs to identify wines to set up tasting. It was fun to do with friends. Perfect to watch in the segments.


Fabulous! I've passed the Introductory Exam for the Court of Master Sommeliers, but, never ginned up (pun intended) the deductive tasting. This did it. There are several of us who purchased this course and are doing out best to re-create the tastings and memorize the map. Thanks so much for the class and for Richard Betts.