Wine clubs offer so many styles of wine that sometimes it’s hard to count them. One style liked by both novice and veteran wine connoisseurs specializes in other fruit flavors that are decidedly not grape. These wines can taste and smell like citrus, apples, or even blue berries. They can be white or red, specializing in certain groups of flavors or just general fruitiness. But how do these flavors get added? Do they jump in the mix when nobody’s looking or are they there to begin with?
It’s all in the grapes. Well almost…
It is no accident that grapes are used for wine making; they are actually very versatile. Grapes contain many of the flavor and aroma molecules characteristic to other fruits. These flavors are in fact not snuck in by faeries, but are the product of science. First of all, needed flavors are produced through grape variety selection. This isn’t the only factor, but it’s were things start. White wine clubs use different grapes and produce different fruit flavors than red wines. Listing each variety of grapes used is really too boring, but generally speaking, white wines will have citrus flavors. Red wine clubs will have darker flavors such as blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, cherry or plum.
Yeast: the great unlocker
Grapes start out with all these great flavors but they just don’t show until after fermentation. This is why grape juice tastes like, well, grapes. Yeast plays the role of the wine flavor liberator, giving freedom to the flavors bound within. Different strains of yeast will free up different flavors, too. If a certain flavor is needed this can be arranged by introducing a special strain that will promote, say for instance, citrus flavors. If you like a surprise, the “wild yeast” that comes in on the grapes can be used.
Wines vary greatly the tastes and textures they produce. Flavors are not limited by using grapes exclusively, and in fact can include other non fruit flavors as well, through other winemaking techniques. If you are curious about new and interesting flavors, consider wine clubs as a way to find that certain taste you’ve been craving.