An Exploration of Wines by Caterers in Bergen County, NJ, Part 2
The Brick House caterers in Bergen County are happy to present part 2 in an exploration of wines, in which we dive into reds. (To read part 1, please click here!) What makes reds different than whites and sparkling wines? What are some of the popular red varietals? And what marks the difference between old world reds and new world reds? All this, along with a few samples of specific reds taken from the extensive Brick House wine menu. Without further a due…
What Makes a Red a Red?
Red wines are made from red grapes (called black grapes in the industry). The color comes from leaving the grape skins in during fermentation. The liquid absorbs the red pigment of these skins creating a beautiful range of colors—from light transluscent pinks, to medium purples to deep, opaque rubies and garnets.
The skins also impart red wine with tannins, which is the primary flavor of reds (vs. whites). If you’re unfamiliar with tannins, they are the flavor that makes your mouth pucker. More tannins indicates a wine that can age longer, and wine makers will play with this to create wines whose flavors and textures change over long periods of time into something quite new—and divine.
Wine makers also leave skins in for differing amounts of time depending upon the flavor they are cultivating—more or less tannic. Of course, the specific grape used, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, described below, will also affect the flavor.
Compared to white wines and rosés, red wines tend to feel heavier in your mouth. They can have a wide variety of flavor profiles, such as softer, fruity reds with less tannin, such as some Pinot Noirs or spicy, flavorful reds, such as Malbecs.
Let’s look at a few specific varietals.
People have been enjoying Pinot Noirs for a long time, as it is a very old grape—one of the oldest in the world in fact. It has been drunk since Roman times and is over 1000 years older than Cabernet Sauvignon! The only other grapes as old are the Gouais Blanc (nearly exinct!) and the very rare Muscat Blanc.
This grape is grown in cooler climates in California, France, Oregon, New Zealand, among other places and is known for being wonderfully receptive to local terroir—meaning the flavor will be distinct based on where it is grown. Pinot Noir is perhaps the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine, beloved for its “red fruit, flower, and spice aromas that are accentuated by a long, smooth finish,” as described on Winefolly.com.
Chardonnay, which we talked about last month in our article about white wines, is actually related to Pinot Noir. It’s a descendant from a natural crossing of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc (the near extinct variety mentioned above!). Due to it’s age, there are also plenty of Pinot Noir mutations that have become wildly popular—such as Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.
Several Pinot Noirs offered at The Brick House by caterers in Bergen County, include the following:
DeLoach Pinot Noir “Estate-bottled”
This eco-friendly, organic and biodynamic vineyard in the Russian River Valley in California describe their 2016 Estate Pinot Noir as “elegant, profound…with tremendous amounts of expression even at an early age.”
A vineyard in Willamette Valley, Oregon, Adelsheim describes their wine making philosophy as follows: “We’re still interested in making the wines we most love to drink—ageable, elegant, and complex wines that showcase this small corner of the world we call home.” With a variety of Pinot Noirs available, they describe the 2018 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir as follows: “The fruit quality was just perfect—not too ripe, fresh and juicy, and full of complexity and nuance. This wine highlights those characteristics and does so with all the verve our region is known for.”
Cabernet Sauvignon is among the most popular red wines drunk in America. While it can come from California, Australia, Chile, and other places, it was born in France when an accidental breeding between the red Cabernet Franc grape and the white Sauvingnon Blanc grape gave birth to something entirely new. Affectionately known as Cab Sauv, this grape is both easy to grow and hardy.
It is a dry and tannic wine that vinepair.com describes as “known for its dark color, full body and an alcohol content that is over 13.5%…Many people who drink Cabernet Sauvignon say they always pick up a taste of green pepper in the wine, along with tobacco, cassis, and dark fruits such as cherries, along with a hint of vanilla that comes from the wine aging in the oak.”
They go on to say that “Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that needs to be drunk with food, given its acidity, tannins and alcohol…by itself, it can be overwhelming.”
Some options made available by caterers in Bergen County at Brick House include the following:
An organic farm in Napa Valley, California, Frog’s Leap vineyard takes great pride in their Cabernet Sauvignon which they describe on their website as a wine with “balance, restraint and respect for terroir. All in a wine that explains without trying why Cabernet is King.”
These winemakers are all about creating the perfect California Cabernet Sauvinon. Located in Napa Valley, they explain the name of their wine comes from “the 20 tons of fruit from the gentle rising bench land vineyard from which they were picked.”
They describe the flavor of the 2016 Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvingon as “The 2016 Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvignon has a ripe black cherry core, twining with blackberry syrup, a subtle minerality, with the smokiness of charred French oak on the nose. The mouth is creamy and dense, with layered of juicy berries, the darkest of dark chocolates, rich espresso and black pepper. The wine is well-balanced and drinking well in its youth.”
Merlot! This is quite a famous and popular variety of black and blue grape that produces “softer, medium to full bodied dry red wine,” according to winetraveler.com . And, described by winefolly.com. the characteristics are that of “red fruits, easy tannins and a soft finish.”
Merlot often comes from California, France, Washington, New York, Chile, and other places. It is one of those grapes whose flavor changes enormously depending on where it’s grown, since it is a thin-skinned grape and quite sensitive to environment.
Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon in both flavor and popularity, the two grapes are, in fact related—both are descendants of Cabernet Franc. However, according to winefolly.com, “Merlot grapes do have one benefit over Cabernet: they ripen up to 2 weeks earlier. On a rainy harvest, one week can make a big difference!” Furthermore, Merlots are said to be “less astringent due to fewer and softer tannins. It also maintains a fruitier, sometimes less complex body,” according to the winetraveler.com.
A few of the Merlots on offer at Brick House include:
Kenwood “Jack London”
Located in Sonoma County, California and this vineyard is located on the famous Jack London Ranch, (where Jack London himself pioneered sustainable farming). The Kenwood Jack London Merlot is 98% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, “to give additional complexity and balance.”
Another Napa Valley, California vineyard, Rutherford Hill has an array of Merlots from various years. They describe their 2013 as “crimson in color showcasing aromas of boysenberry, brambleberry, plum with hints of spice and vanilla providing full-bodied with round tannins and layers of dark berries and long lingering mocha finish.”
Old World Reds & New World Reds
When browsing the Brick House wine menu, you’ll notice that there is a section for old world reds and another for new world reds. Caterers in Bergen County clarify the difference:
Old world reds indicate European and Middle Eastern reds where wine has been made traditionally for hundreds of years. Vinepair.com explains that because of strict regulations and restrictions going back eons, you can drink these wines knowing they are made in exactly the same way and are held up to the same standards that they have been for centuries. There is a certain romance in this knowledge, and they are delicious.
According to winefolly.com, old world reds are typically described as “tasting lighter, having less alcohol, having higher acidity and tasting less fruity.” However, there are enough exceptions to these “rules” to warrant that you be wary of assuming all old world wines follow these descriptors.
New world reds indicate that the wine comes from any one of the countries where wine making migrated after contact with Europe—it includes, north and south America, Australia, South Africa, Asia and India. As to be expected from the descendents of immigrants and adventurers, there is plenty of innovation and experimentation that goes into these wines—and they are also delicious.
According to winefolly.com, these wines “are often described as tasting riper, having higher alcohol, having less acidity, and tasting more fruity.” However, as with the old world wines, there are plenty of exceptions to these rules.
May you find deep gratification in a romantic cup of wine soon! And may you indulge in the beautiful wine menu provided by the fine caterers of Bergen county and presented by The Brick House!