Are Wines Spicy?

| Entertainment | October 4, 2018

This past weekend, someone ask if we had spicy wines. Generally, when describing the aromas or flavors of a wine, spicy isn’t one. When someone says spicy, I think if chilis. Now, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and my favorite, ginger, are spices that can be called spicy. Mostly when someone thinks of a wine that has “spice” as the descriptive notes, those wines are Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and sometimes Malbec, but usually not Merlot.

Spicy notes can originate from the grape variety or from barrel aging in oak. When wines are aging in barrels, the oak interacts with the wine and develops spice, which would taste and smell like cinnamon and other spices in our estate Merlots. When wines have notes of cinnamon, they tend to be a fruitier and less bold of a wine than a peppery Syrah.

Wines often associated with peppery notes are found from the region of Rhone, France. It is a distinguishing characteristic that is derived from the aromas and flavors for Syrah and Zinfandel. Peppery notes can be a naturally occurring trait that comes from the terroir. Terroir is the soil composition in which the vines are grown, and the maturity level of the fruit. Our estate-grown Merlots tend to have spicy notes of cinnamon and an abundance of berry fruit notes, while our Syrahs are much bolder with peppercorn notes and bright stone fruit.

Last week, I mentioned my story about the difference between cassia and cinnamon. Ceylon Cinnamon is mellow, while Saigon Cinnamon is intense and spicy. The one thing our Merlots have in common is the note of cinnamon and its fruitiness. Every year, the notes will vary from mellow to intense, depending upon the weather. 2010 Reyes Merlot has the spiciest of notes compared to other years. It has notes of black cherries, blueberries and cinnamon. It has won many awards, silver medals at the 2012 O.C. Fair Commercial Wine Competition and the 2012 Long Beach Grand Cru Wine Competition. Plus, bronze medals at the 2012 Los Angeles International Wine Competition, 2013 Sunset International Wine Competition and the 2013 San Diego County Fair Commercial Wine Competition. This 2010 Merlot pairs well with pork chops with a cinnamon jerk rub, Toscano cheese dusted in cinnamon and flourless chocolate cake.

On Saturday, October 20 from 2-5 p.m., Reyes Winery is hosting our annual Pig Roast. The cost is $49 per person, and includes two glasses of wine. Enjoy the Pig Roast while listening to live music and drinking award-winning wines. Come and taste the 2018 Harvest with us. Roast chicken will also be served along with other side dishes. We will be featuring our 2010 Merlot that pairs perfectly with our Pig Roast. The Still Moving Project will be performing live. Those interested can purchase tickets online at at https://squareup.com/store/reyes-winery/


For the month of October, the tasting room sheet will focus on our Merlots. From our award-winning Merlots to our Merlot blends, Merlot of Rose and our dessert wine, Agua Dulce Delight. October is International Merlot Month. Social media has a hashtag for it, #MerlotMe. Join the movement and drink lots of Reyes Winery Merlot. Take a photo of you, your wine and your wine glass using #MerlotMe and #Reyeswinery.

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One Response to “Are Wines Spicy?”

  1. Ceylon cinnamon is a legend. It is rare and expensive spices. Due to ultra low coumarin levels, Ceylon cinnamon is safe for longer use.

    This valuable spice is native to my home country, Sri Lanka. Earlier known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is the country produces 80-90% Ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon) to the market. Cassia is the commonly available cinnamon variety and it covers more than 90% of the whole cinnamon market. Ceylon cinnamon is only 8% in the whole cinnamon market.

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