Ahoy from the Atlantic! We’re sailing back to the mainland today, for an early morning arrival to Port Everglades, and it has been a great few days aboard testing the new summer menus for 150 Central Park. We have tons of photos uploading through the slow and challenged Internets right now of the dishes being tested in the kitchen and of course beauty shots, too! But part of the fun of having a large MGFD contingent aboard is we get to showcase all the amazing talent we are made of — and it’s of course not limited to the galley.
Yesterday Eric led a seminar on articulating dryness and sweetness in wine using a horizontal tasting of Gewurtzaminer, a great grape to isolate the flavor profile variable since it has a very consistent and acute nose and palate of lychee and rose. He assembled the following spectrum and encouraged tasters to go from left to right and right to left — and even jump around a bit.
Eric explained, “The word dry is one of the most difficult words to use in any guest interaction. In regards to red wine, dry is often misused to describe a tannic wine that produces a drying sensation. When most guests say that want a wine that is “not too dry” they don’t actually mean that they want a sweet wine, they want one soft in tannin.”
The perception of sweetness has both subjective and objective elements to it. The cocktail order of a margarita, but “not too sweet” isn’t actually of much help to a bartender because it is a relative order. The bartender has no background on the like/dislike threshold of the guest, only knowing to err on the side of tart. Just like in a margarita, the perception of sweetness in a wine is about the balance of sugar and acidity.
Riesling is a great example of a grape that has often been mislabeled and perceived as always sweet, and the International Riesling Foundation has had to work hard to make it better understood. It has made huge strides over the past few years in doing so, thanks to efforts like Summer of Riesling (coming to Miami again this summer – stay tuned!) and better terminology on bottles, like the implementation of a dryness scale. The IRF scale defines a wine as dry if the amount of acidity is greater than sugar (pH is a wild-card, the lower it is the higher in acid a wine will taste, on the converse, the higher the pH the sweeter a wine will taste). Medium-dry is for wines that have a sugar to acid ratio between 1 and 2, medium-sweet 2 to 4 and sweet greater than 4. In spite of the subjectivity of something tasting to sweet these are objective measurements. If producers can be consistent in labeling wines and wine professional can be consistent in communication then we can establish actually sensory meaning to these terms.
Amen! Listen to Eric, everyone, you may learn a thing or two!