A Matter of Taste

A Matter of Taste

Many people approach wine with hesitation about understanding whether you are drinking a good wine or a “so/so” one. Without a doubt Big Creek Winery believes that you should love the wine you buy so we encourage you to taste our wines before you decide which ones you want to take home. And at Big Creek Winery the tastings are always free.

But sometimes it is helpful to know what makes a “good wine” to help narrow down which ones you may like the best. Here are some ways to approach finding a favorite:

Find a Variety of Wine:

Wines can differ from one region to the next and will taste different based on the type of grapes used or the variety of orchard fruits that form its base.

Taste is a big factor. Do you like sweet wines or dry? And are you searching for a red, white, dessert, port-like robust flavor wine? Taste, especially in red wines, is flavored by Tannins. Tannins come from skins, stalks and pips of grapes. The younger the wine, the more bitter the Tannin taste. Another feature of taste is how long the taste stays on the palate. The goal with good wine is that the taste stays for a longer rather than shorter period of time.

Wines vary by acidity. And there are many types of acids that may be present in wine. Law acidity will result in a “flatter” tasting wine. When acidity is higher, wines will be tart or more sour tasting. When the acidity level is right, the other flavors in the wine will stand out. That means that you will notice fruits or spices. When you taste tangy or refreshing or zingy, you are noticing the acidity.

Alcohol Levels:

Wines have body. Sometimes, it is a light or more delicate body and sometimes the wine tastes heavy. This is a reflection of the alchohol level. Lighter wines will be 7.5 – 10.5% alcohol. Medium body is 10.5 – 12.5%. Full body is 12.5% and over.

Expensive bottles of wine do not translate into a better wine. Buying the wine at the winery takes out retailers and other overhead costs. But the price alone does not necessarily mean that it is a better wine. Rest assured that you won’t have to spend a lot of money to experiment with various wines. And tastings are always Free at Big Creek Winery.

Age or Vintage:

Most wines are meant to be consumed right away. Wines made from orchard fruits are ready to drink when you get it home.

Alcohol Content:

Wines should be balanced with alcohol content. Generally, the alcohol level should not be higher than 12%.

Don’t assume high alcohol wines are better, some wines today contain too much alcohol, which leaves them unbalanced. Try to pick a wine that has an alcohol content no more than 12%.

Location Location Location:

Like with food, it is good to know where exactly the grapes or orchard fruits in your wine come from. There are legendary vineyards that are specifically associated with different wine. For instance, knowing that you wine began in a Napa Vineyard as opposed to somewhere in California tells you about the grapes in the bottle. Big Creek Winery’s vineyards are in the rich soil of Giles County.

Always Ask for Suggestions!

When buying wines, always share your personal likes (or dislikes) about the types of wine you prefer. Wine merchants – and especially the team at Big Creek Winery- are happy to help find the wines that match your personal tastes. Sometimes, you may also be surprised that you discover a “new favorite” that came from talking with the staff about the flavors you like best.

The Excitement of The Crush

The Excitement of The Crush

Since time immemorial grape harvesting has been a labor of love, weather and timing. In the northern hemisphere, typical harvesting times fall between August to October, but, like guessing a baby’s due date, grapes are ready for harvest on a schedule dependent on weather conditions, diseases and the very important detail of “ripeness” of the grape, which is measured by sugar content, acid levels and tannin.

These judgements about the readiness of the grape are made by the winemaker and vineyard owners. The harvest, no matter which month, is called “The Crush.”

Historically, grapes have been tested by taste. Winemakers and vineyard owners would sample grapes and determine whether they were ready for The Crush or whether they needed more time. A simple taste would indicate sweetness and acid levels.

Today, the taste is often replaced by a machine called a refractometer that tests sugar levels and a titration test for acidity. Neither tasting nor today’s modern machines can test for tannins. Tannins are a naturally occurring polyphenol that adds to the bitterness of the grape.

Grape harvesting is frequently done by hand – grape by grape. However, there are machines that can be deployed to The Crush. They operate by using rubber coated sticks to beat the vines until the grapes drop onto a conveyor belt.

The advantage is that they can operate 24 hours a day regardless of the heat. They can harvest up to 80 – 100 tons of grapes in a day compared to the 1-2 tons people can pick by hand. But like any machine process, the risk of damaging the grapes is higher with a machine harvest and it does not eliminate the need to look at the grapes before they are used for winemaking.

Sorting grapes is as important to winemaking as how and when they are picked. Beyond the obvious of sorting out grapes that are not ripe enough or that are rotten, grapes are also examined for damaged skins. This bruising on individual grapes can lead to discoloration of the wine. Tears in the grapes skin can cause grapes to oxidize and lose their aromatic properties.

Certainly, every winemaker looks forward to The Crush with huge excitement. It is the beginning of the crafting of every bottle of wine that will be corked for the year.

Big Creek Winery is preparing now for what we hope will be a successful harvest later this summer and in early fall. If you’re interested in seeing how some of these procedures are done, give us a call, and we’ll let you know when we’re get started on the The Crush.




What Makes a Port Wine?

With a competition to name our next wine, it has not been a secret that we are about to debut our newest wine, a Port-Like flavor blended with the peaches we love in Middle Tennessee. So, without further ado, we would like to introduce you to Pulaski Pure Peach, our newest wine and our Port-Style limited edition. But what makes a Port Wine? Here you go:.

Formal Port Wines all have one main feature. They come from Portugal. And, obviously, our Big Creek Winery is not importing from Portugal. But we do share features of Port Wines.

Beyond the common starting place, they share the feature of being a rich, sweet wine that, because of the sweetness, is usually enjoyed as an “after dinner” or dessert wine. There are two main categories of Ports with the first being a berry or fruit base with some chocolate and the second being a tawny port that leans to caramel and nuts.

The colors of Port Wines reveal their ingredients:

White Ports (made usually with grapes), best served cold at 40° F.

Rosé Ports (made often with Strawberry, Raspberry, Cranberry and Caramel) best served over ice.

Tawny Ports (made with Caramel, Raspberry, Hazelnut, Cinnamon, Clove, Fig) best served at 50° F or cool.

Ruby Ports (made with Blackberry, Raspberry, Cinnamon, Chocolate) best served slightly cool at 60° F.

Port Wines also have special wine glasses. They are smaller than other glasses, holding about 3 oz servings. Both the sweetness of the wine and the fact that it is generally a higher alcohol percentage means that smaller portions are in order.

Chefs love Port Wines. They make terrific toppings for all sorts of dishes, frequently substituted for a balsamic glaze topping. Port Wines reduce easily and can be a recipe substitute for brown sugar or maple syrup.

Port Wines are a kitchen staple and a wine cellar option. They are designed to age well over very long periods of time. Those bottles with long corks can age for 100 years, although we hope you will enjoy your bottle and come back for more. Once opened, a Port Wine sealed with a vacuum style wine cork will keep for 2 weeks.

Look for announcements as we debut the Big Creek Winery newest wine!

Escape the Cold with Mulled Wine

Escape the Cold with Mulled Wine

The traditional winter treat for warming up those freezing cold days is Mulled Wine. The tradition of defending against winter chills with Mulled Wine seems to date back to the Roman Empire when soldiers would heat wine to keep themselves warm. As the Empire spread, so did the idea of Mulled Wine.

Today, we think of Mulled Wines as a holiday beverage, but it is a wonderful way to enjoy wine and to spread the luscious scent of spices as you prepare it. The trick to keeping alcohol from burning off is to do this on a low heat and to allow it to gently heat over 30 minutes and to let it stand in a covered pot to cool a little before serving. The longer the wine stands, the more robust the infusion of the spices will be.

Our favorite Mulled Wine is:

  • 1 bottle of your favorite red wine
  • 3 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 2 inch piece of ginger sliced\
  • 1 tbs of whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 oranges cut in half

Stir all ingredients into a large pot (5 cups). Squeeze the orange juice into the pot and then add the orange rinds. Gently warm the wine mixture for about 30 minutes. Make sure that you don’t let the wine come to a full boil. The longer it heats, the more the spices will infuse the wine. Let the wine cool a little bit

Strain the cloves, ginger and cinnamon as you pour glasses. Serve warm with a slice of orange as a garnish.



Drinking Wine (in Moderation) is Beneficial to Health

Drinking Wine (in Moderation) is Beneficial to Health

Each of the following findings are from recent medical studies. Big Creek Winery is open seven days a week to make sure the health benefits of wine are available to everyone, every day.

  • Moderate consumption of wine (especially red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent.
  • Brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers.
  • Wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers.
  • Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers.
  • Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease.
  • Moderate drinkers have 30 percent less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • The possibility of suffering a blood clot–related stroke drops by about 50 percent in people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol.
  • Moderate drinkers are 32 percent less likely to get cataracts than nondrinkers; those who consume wine are 43 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those drinking mainly beer.