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The Essence of Wine: Cured Meats


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

For omnivores, the scent is unmistakable and for many, just as irresistible. From the smoky scents of cooking bacon and charred meat to the salty, tangy notes of saucisson, few things make the mouth water more. Finding such savory notes in wine can be alarming to the unprepared, and many never get used to the cognitive dissonance of fermented grape juice that smells like fried porchetta. For others, however, these aromas often possessed by older red wines are treasures to be sought and hoarded, or as the case may be, plundered. Certainly when married to cool, stony fruit or welded to ethereal, woody spices and berries, meaty flavors can offer quite a feast for the senses.

Tormaresca "Torcicoda" Primitivo Salento, Puglia, Italy
Luis Alegre "Vendimia Seleccionada" Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain
Sorby Adams "The Thing" Shiraz, Eden Valley, The Barossa, South Australia
Maison Arnoux et Fils "Jean Marie Arnoux" Vacqueyras, Rhone Valley, France
Man O' War "Dreadnought" Syrah, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Bien Nacido Vineyards Syrah, Santa Maria Valley, California, USA

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine

Comments (3)

Duane wrote:
03.11.12 at 5:14 PM

Love bacon BUT the perception of bacon (and cured meats) in wine is caused by a particular bacterial infection. Bacterial attacks are usually assiduously avoided and I believe when found in wines are considered a spoilage flaw rather than a virtue?

Alder wrote:
03.13.12 at 3:47 AM


Thanks for the comments. If you're referring to Brettanomyces, the meaty note that can be found in some wines is not always associated with this bacteria. There is also some debate about whether brett in small amounts is a flaw or not. It is certainly a polarizing issue.

Duane wrote:
03.13.12 at 8:53 AM

Not Brett Alder - Brett is a yeast not a bacteria and you would NEVER mistake its flavor for Bacon. :-)

No, I'm speaking of a bacterial infection. I'd have to go back to my old textbooks to locate the particular bacteria associated with bacon flavor - admittedly not as common as some other bacterial infections - but then bacon isn't so common a flavor in wines either.

I don't know the definition of a flaw - sometimes it seems to revolve around whether the result is "pleasant" and when it comes to taste I don't know what pleasant means either. Count me among the unknowing.

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