Category: Wine 101

10 Things Golden Retrievers Can Teach Us About Wine Tasting

Posted on February 20, 2019 in Wine 101, Wine Musings
  1. People, people, people! Goldens light up and smile when they see people. A day wine tasting is about the connections with friends and family, not just good wine. So, like a golden, love others unconditionally and, if need be, quickly forgive a friend if they get mad at you (a wet kiss is optional).
  2. Sniff, lick and move on: Drink the kind of wines you like. Be alright with that. If someone wants you to drink something totally different, maybe give it a lick/taste and then kindly decline. To give our retriever some medicine we put a small pill in her dinner. She would eat everything and leave just the pill in the bowl. Now THAT is a good palate.
  3. Take short sniffs. Why do dogs do this? We humans take big, long sniffs. Dog’s noses have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. We have about 6 million. Try taking 2-3 quick sniffs of a glass of wine and see if you can detect more aromas. You’d be surprised.
  4. Take a nap. Could this be the secret of contentment for dogs? After a busy day of wine tasting, a nap can recharge your batteries. A recent study says a 20-30-minute nap is the perfect length.
  5. Drink water: Dogs seem to lap up a lot of water. When you drink wine, the rule of thumb is to drink a 12-ounce bottle of water for every glass of wine. You will enjoy the day (and the next morning) much more when you are hydrated.
  6. Lie down in the shade when you can. There’s something about finding a spot of grass in the cool shade. Don’t rush from place to place. Maybe just chill out at one location for a bit.
  7. Wear your dog tags. Bring your I.D. to each place. Don’t leave your wallet or purse in the car (break-ins happen). And if you drank too much and get lost, someone can check your “tags” and call someone for you.
  8. Let someone feed you. When wine tasting, enjoy a lunch at a nearby restaurant. Let someone do the cooking and serve you!
  9. Don’t drive. Dogs love to be a passenger. If you have been drinking, get an Uber or have a designated driver. This way you don’t end up in the dog pound. If you are the passenger, maybe stick your head out the window a little bit. Why not?
  10. Leave your worries at home for the day: Dogs aren’t anxious about tomorrow, or what they will eat, or where they will sleep. Dogs exist in the now.
  11. Don’t just go to the inside of tasting rooms. Walk through a vineyard and look at the vines, the soil, the birds. Take it all in. Breathe. Chasing rabbits or digging for gophers is optional.

– Mick Wilson

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Storing Wine At Home

Posted on January 24, 2019 in Wine 101, Wine Musings

Believe it or not there is a right and wrong way of storing your wine! Wine is a very delicate thing that can easily be turned into vinegar… ew no thank you!

So you want to save your wine for a special occasion or a rainy day, here are the do’s and don’ts of storing wine at home.

Temperature control is super important. At the correct temp between 50 – 58 degrees your wines will be happily resting for as long as you’d like. If you don’t have a cool and dark wine nook or wine fridge, you can always keep them in your closet. Attics, garages, and above the washing machine are all off limits. Don’t keep your wine in the kitchen unless you have a wine fridge (away from the dishwasher). We say this because too much temperature fluctuation can cause your wine to become cooked and also speed up the aging process.

You always want to store bottles on their sides. If they are screw cap then you don’t have to worry about that, because the purpose is to keep the cork from drying out. If the cork gets dried out, too much air can get into the bottle and lead to oxidization. Once wine oxidizes there’s nothing you can really do to save it.

Follow these tips and you’ll never have to worry about your wine going bad, whether you’re opening a bottle for tonight’s dinner, next week, or a few years down the line.


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Wine 101: Main Categories of Wine

Posted on October 20, 2017 in Wine 101, Wine Musings

Harvest is officially over for us, and all of our delicious grapes have made it through crush and into their tanks to start fermentation! I think I can speak for our Vineyard and Winemaking team when I say “phew!”. They have been working so hard to make sure we produce the best wine possible for this 2017 vintage, and things are looking great so far.

So, while over 300 tons of our crushed grapes begin fermentation, we figured we’d explain how this effects the next crucial process of winemaking.

There are six main categories of wine, all produced in slightly different ways. We are currently in the first phase of producing these different types of wine by the way we treat the grapes during fermentation.

Six main categories of wine:

WHITE: Wine made by crushing grapes and separating the juice from the crushed skins.

RED: Wine made by crushing grapes and macerating the crushed skins with the juice for an extended period of time. (Fun Fact: Most grapes have clear flesh. Red wine is made by leaving the crushed red skins in with the grape juice during fermentation).

ROSÉ: Wine made by crushing grapes and macerating the crushed skins for a very brief period of time. It could also be made by blending white and red wines together.

SPARKLING: Carbonated wine made by trapping carbon dioxide produced during alcoholic fermentation.

DESSERT: Wine made by arresting fermentation and keeping some residual sugars, resulting in a wine that is sweet and fruity.

FORTIFIED: Wine that is higher in alcohol, caused by fortifying the wines with neutral-flavored spirits.

After these basic steps are made during the fermentation phase, the real artistry of winemaking begins. So many methods can alter the profile of wine, including:

  • How long the grape skins are left with the grape juice during and after crush
  • If it is aged in steel tanks, oak barrels, or both
  • If it is a blend of multiple grape varietals

So as you can see, our winemaking team still has a lot of work ahead of them over the next few months. Luckily for them, it’s the fun part experimenting in the wine lab with different varietals, blends, aromas, and flavors.

Stay tuned for our 2017 vintage! It’s sure to be a great one.

“The Foundation.” How to Host a Wine Tasting The Complete Kit, Race Point Pub, 2014, pp. 6–7.

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Wine 101: Training Your Palate

Posted on September 29, 2017 in Wine 101, Wine Musings

Dry. Crisp. Acidic. Herbal. Floral. Astringent. Velvety. Balanced. Fruity. Sweet.

These are all common terms (among several others) that we hear when wine tasting. But what does that all mean? Who imagines what velvet feels like in their mouth, and of course its fruity it’s made from grapes. Right?

Well here at Wilson Creek we like to make wine experiences approachable and fun, so read on to see how these flavors and scents come to life within a good glass of wine.


Let’s start with a few of the main components of wine: Acidity, Tannin, Sugar, and Fruit. The more confident you feel about identifying these components, the more enjoyable the wine tasting experience becomes.


For wine, the term “acidity” is used to describe the tart or citrusy taste being recognized on the palate. This component is more common in white wines than it is in reds. Acid is important because it keeps the wine fresh and lively. It has a cleansing effect which makes it great for pairing with food.

Some descriptive words you will run into while tasting are: crisp, citrusy, lively, bright, vitality, tart.

Tip: In wine jargon, “sour” means spoiled or tastes like vinegar. So try to stay away from describing wine as “sour” if what you really mean one of the descriptive words above.

Train your palate : Combine freshly squeezed lemon juice into a tiny glass of water (you want mostly lemon juice to get the desired sensation). Take a sip and focus on where in your mouth you feel the acidity. It should mostly be felt in the back of your mouth at the base of your cheeks. Notice the way your mouth begins to water and tingle? This same sensation is what happens when tasting a wine higher in acidity.

Try it with wine : Our Grenache Blanc has a light golden hue with a vibrant herbaceous, floral and citrus nose. On the palate the acidity is quick to show but cascades into flavors of citrus zest, honeydew melon and peach. The firm acidity makes this a good food pairing wine. Examples of great acidity could also be found in our sparkling wines as well.


This one can be tricky to understand, as it is more something we feel rather than taste. Tannin is a component found in the skins, seeds, and stems of all grapes; as well as the oak barrels the wine is aged in. It’s most noticeable as a drying sensation in your mouth between your cheeks and gums. Tannin is recognized more in red wines, and help to provide structure and power. However, too much tannin can make wine taste bitter and overly astringent.

Some descriptive words include: astringent, dry, grippy, coarse

Tip: Pair wine high in tannin with heavier dishes. The tannin in wine helps break down proteins and fats.

Train your palate : Make yourself some overly-steeped plain black tea. Take a sip and concentrate on the drying sensation around your mouth, mostly between your cheeks and gums. This is the same sensation tannin creates in wine.

Try it with wine Our 2014 WS Syrah would be great for identifying tannin. On the palate you will find earthiness of leather followed by berry highlights of black currant and blackberries. The tannins are well-integrated, giving a full mouth feel and a long finish. Pairs great with anything off the grill, like BBQ Ribs and Rib-eye Steak.


Aromas and tastes of sugar, fruit, herbs, spices, and oak are easier concepts to grasp when wine tasting. We are already so familiar with these flavors.

Sugar : The higher the residual sugar (RS) the sweeter the wine will be. This can be identified by a pleasant, slippery sort of mouth feel.

Fruit : The fruit-like quality of a wine can be recognized by smell and taste. This doesn’t mean you will only detect the actual grapes, but also scents of citrus and berries. Other nature-driven aromas or tastes include floral, herbal, and grassy (specifically in white wines).

Oak : As for oak, this component in wine is caused by it being matured or fermented in oak barrels. Oak from different sources (i.e., French or American) will inflict different characteristics on the wine. In general, oak maturation gives aromas and flavors of butter, toffee, caramel, vanilla, and spice.

Train your palate : Experiment with strawberries, bananas, blackberries, lemons herbs, spices, flowers, and oak chips. Crush the fruit and herbs, then place these ingredients in separate wine glasses with a little bit of water. Sniff each glass to smell its aroma. Similar scents are what you experience when smelling the wine in your glass before sipping.

Try it with wine : Our White Cabernet is great for identifying fruit and sugar in wine, without being overly sweet. To practice identifying oak, our ’14 Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is great at giving off these characteristics. Aged in both French and American oak barrels, aromas of oak spice and vanilla prevail nicely.

Now you are ready to wine taste with some confidence! Just remember. As fun as it is to be knowledgeable about wine aromas and tastes, the primary purpose of wine is to be enjoyed!

Visit us in our Tasting Room (open everyday from 10am – 5pm) to enjoy some wine!

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December’s Wine Word of the Month

Posted on December 6, 2012 in Wine 101

Tannin :  A polyphenolic compound derived from a grape’s skins, seeds and stems. A tannin is what gives young red wine that astringent-like quality, most often described as bitter. Tannins contribute to the longevity of the wine and often soften and improve as the wine ages. Salut!

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