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Elizabeth Burchard
August 4, 2016 | Elizabeth Burchard

It's What You Know

Growing up in a household of girls there wasn’t much discussion about cars. My memories are of my mom driving a Volvo station wagon and then later a Suburban, since it was the only vehicle that seemed to hold us kids, our dog and all our stuff.  My father who loves cars had to be practical, waiting patiently until we are all out of the house and on our own before being able to splurge a bit.  While he has not yet gotten the car of his dreams, he continues his search and is hopeful that the day will come soon.

As I have gotten older I still don’t know much about cars.  However, I realized there are some correlations between cars to wine and I would like to share what I have learned with you to make your experience more enjoyable. Namely: 

1. Care about Appearance

The first thing people see is the exterior of the car, so keep it clean! My father always says, “Elizabeth, humor me and wash your car.” I do this because when the car looks good, I look good driving it.

When it comes to wine, appearance is just as important. Not only do you want the bottle and label to look good, but also the color itself is very important. We first experience wine though its color and appearance.  You can lean a lot about a wine just by looking at the glass. The color of wine comes from its contact with the skins after the grapes have been pressed.  The longer the juice sits with the skins the more texture, color and flavor the wine can extract from them. Along with color, the skin also gives the wine tannin, a characteristic that adds a deeper complexity to the wine.

My dad likes cars in dark colors because he thinks they have more personality.  The same can be said for wine.  The darker the shade, the more likely it is to have a richer, bolder, full-body mouth feel.  It can also mean the wine has been aged in oak longer which also conveys stronger flavors and textures within the wine.

When it comes to the age the white wines tend to go darker, while the reds tend to get lighter.  A wine’s age can also be seen in the rim variation.  In older wines you should notice the gradations of color in the glass.  The wine at the center of the glass is much deeper in color than the wine at the rim.  Just a small tip, older red wines display a greater variation in color. 

2. Maintain Your Balance

Nothing scares someone more than a car that shakes. Often times it can be because the tires aren’t maintained, low pressure, balding, or out of balance – issues when taken care of will ensure the car rides smoothly.

I also look for balance in wine. Balance in wine usually refers to the harmony between two or more of the wines elements.  The most popular are the balance between sugar and acidity. When the acid levels are higher the wine is sharp, harsh, and acidic. When the sugar levels are higher the wine becomes flabby, sugary, and flat on the palate. There is always the concern of balance between acid and tannins as well as overall balance of flavor and intensity.  When you are looking for a good bottle of wine you should always look for the perfect balance that works for your taste. You traditionally want a wine that has the right amount of weight, complexity, intensity, and flavor. So remember it is important to maintain your balance. 

3. The more you take care of it the longer it lasts

It is very important to get your car serviced regularly, and to change its oil. Again quoting my dad, “the better you take care of your car, the longer it will last”.

This holds true for wine, if you are planning to hold onto a bottle of wine for a while it is important to take care of it.  Heat is a silent killer of fine wine. Make sure to store your wine in a properly temperature-controlled space.  Also remember, especially during the summer, that wine and a “hot” car does not mix.  

4. Look for a Good Value

Everyone loves a good value, so do your research and look for something you know you’ll love.  However, realize that much like cars, there is a value difference in wine regarding luxury and quality. All wines are not created equal, same as cars. The quality of the raw ingredients and the personal attention that goes into developing a good wine can be compared to the quality, style and high performance of a luxury car.  Whether you’re shopping for cars, or wine, remember that if it’s value you seek, be sure to consider more than just price.  Also, look for other features such as appearance, balance, and the tender loving care that goes into making the product.   



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Not usually on the Napa train, but this! Dope. @BaldacciWinery
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