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The Essence of Wine: Nuts


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Saying that our relationship with nuts goes back for some time dramatically understates the case. For three quarters of a million years, we've been eating tender morsels pried from armored exteriors that we've crushed with everything from stones to precision machinery. Raw and roasted, warm and toasted, nuts offer flavors earthy, woody, and even meaty. In wine, these flavors add grace notes to fruit, their savory qualities lending complexity and depth. Lean and savory white wines such as Riesling or Chenin Blanc can suggest cashews and brazil nuts. Richer whites often feature roasted hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios. Champagne can offer everything from salted, toasted nuts to the smooth essence of marzipan. Reds, especially Cabernet Franc, can reveal delicate flavors of almond and hazelnut skin or the burly bitterness of walnuts. Many wines, both red and white, develop nutty characteristics after a decade or two, as fruit and oak and oxygen dance their mysterious evolution. Whether they come from the alchemy of oak, the richness of time, or the grapes themselves, the aromas and flavors of nuts can evoke the soils, vines, and leaves of the vineyard in ways that notes of fruit sometimes may not. And of course, sometimes these salty, toasty flavors simply just demand another mouthful.

Monastero Suore Cistercensi "Coenobium Rusticum" White Blend, Lazio, Latium, Italy
Marc Kreydenweiss Wiebelsberg Riesling, Alsace, France
Clos de la Coulee de Serrant, Savennieres, Loire Valley, France
Philippe Colin Premier Cru Les Chaumes, Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy, France
Ferrari "Perlé" Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, Trentino, Italy
Dom Perignon "Oenotheque" Champagne, France
Blue Rock Vineyard "Best Barrels" Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California, USA
Weingut Christ "Mephisto" Red Blend, Vienna, Austria
Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion Bordeaux Blend, Pessac-Léognan, Graves, Bordeaux, France
Domaine de Chateau Gaillard Saumur, Loire Valley, France

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

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud