Most of us have tasted a finished wine before. But have you ever tasted a developing wine straight out of a barrel? Head over to Sable Creek Winery in Plainfield, IL, about 30 minutes outside of Chicago. Sable Creek offered a scheduled wine-tasting evens where visitors learn about wine through it’s various stages of barrel progression. The event started with a tour around the facility to understand the steps of wine-making from the moment the grapes arrive, to the finally bottling stage.
After the initial tour, we spent a great deal of time in the barrel room tasting different stages of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot and Malbec. The wine-makers explained the different aromas and flavors present in each of the wines, and we even did a little blind-tasting to test our knowledge!
Sampling wines at different stages of development is a great way to learn about the aging process. Sure, we can learn about the differences through classes, textbooks and various other teachings, but tasting the same wine both young and “developed” allows you to taste the difference yourself!
As wine develops in barrels, the primary fruit characteristics (i.e. strawberry, cherry, plum flavors in red wine) begin to fade and the wine develops secondary flavors (i.e. cedar, cinnamon, vanilla, etc.) from the barrel itself. In addition, barrel-aging helps to soften grippy tannins and make an astringent wine a little more drinkable. Noting the differences first hand was pretty extraordinary.
We even received a pretty cool lesson on barrel-toasting, as we used the beautiful barrels for our “tables.”
In addition to their bottles, this winery also sells wine gifts and accessories. Be sure to check them out if you’re ever in the area!