January is always a great month for us at the winery. Since it is typically our quietest month of the year we get to take some time to prepare for the rest of the year. In past years we have worked on the addition at the winery, focused on new wine labels and created a new look to our website. 2014 is definitely not any different than past years. We’ve had a lot of time to focus on scheduling over 15 events at the winery this year and I can’t wait to tell you about them in future columns. However for this week’s column I wanted to focus on my favorite part about January at the winery – getting ready to release new wines.

Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery
Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery

Over the past 18-24 months we have been fermenting, racking, sampling and bottling so many new wines. Most of them are dry red wines, however, we have a couple of sweeter wines coming out as well. What and when we are releasing those wines isn’t important for this week’s column, what is important is the lesson I learned in writing a description for each wine.

In order to write the description of a wine you need to go through the four “S” process in wine tasting – see, swirl, smell, sip. This weekend we opened a bottle of Merlot to see when it will be mature enough to release. Unfortunately, when the movie “Sideways” came out a few of years ago, Merlot received a very bad reputation. Over the past year or so Merlot has started to resurface as a good, dry, red wine. However when someone offers me a Merlot, I usually turn it down because the stereotype around Merlot usually means it is a lighter color, a little bit softer and sometimes has a sweet finish.

So when we poured our Merlot, I was pleasantly surprised to see a darker color in the glass. Since I really believed that all Merlots are lighter in color, this gave me some hope that the wine would be drier. As we swirled the wine my nose was filled of plums and currants, which is very typical of a Merlot. But then when we tasted it, it was so smooth that I couldn’t believe that it was Merlot.

What I learned from this experience is something that I need to change this year… never judge a wine from its label. If I had passed up tasting this wine because it is Merlot, I would have missed out on a great thing. So next time you get to try a wine that you normally don’t drink, give it a chance, you just never know what surprises you will find.