Wine terms and picks from Ste. Michelle fine wines

Ste. Michelle Estates winery
This is the picture that you see in most bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle wines from Washington state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Titled “Women in Wine: Sip Summer Tasting,” a recent portfolio tasting of Ste. Michelle Estates’ wines took place inside the cool and elegant confines of City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St. The showcase, meant to celebrate the influence of women on wine making, featured a series of booths designated by place of origin and staffed by experts in each of the wines displayed. Presenters offered generous samples of their wines to enjoy with unique and tasty appetizers chosen specifically by City Winery’s chefs to pair with each set of wines.

A couple of the experts manning (and womanning) the tables defined some terms we hear all the time but may not know the precise meaning of. “Fruit forward”–a term that’s become very popular recently–simply means, according to one expert, that fruitiness is the first thing you notice when you smell or taste a wine.
“Legs” refers to that phenomenon whereby when you swirl the wine in your glass you notice long “legs” of it remaining on the side of the glass after the main portion of wine re-settles at the bottom. The longer and thicker the legs, the fuller, more viscous the wine is–and that’s often the most noticeable visual difference between a $10 bottle and one that goes for $20. Wines with legs are said to have great staying power and can be aged longer.

Tannins is another term used constantly in the wine industry. Naturally occurring substances found mostly in grape skins, seeds and stems, tannins can give young wines a mouth-puckering bitterness and astringency, but some tannins are desirable in red wines to give them structure. Generally, wines with high levels of tannins can take a long time to mature. For more about the language of wine tasting, check out the Gallo glossary of wine terms online.

 The Ste. Michelle portfolio is extensive, so it can help to have specific recommendations when you shop:
 To find retailers who carry Ste. Michelle wines, use the handy “Find Our Wines” feature on their website. There are hundreds of outlets in Chicago that carry at least some of these wines, including many locations of Walgreens, CVS, Mariano’s and Jewel/Osco, among others.