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!

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.

Take a Breath!

One of the bigger debates about wine drinking has to do with whether or not it’s really important to let a wine breathe before you drink it. Even among wine drinkers there’s a lot of disagreement about whether it’s important, whether all types of wines should breathe or how long a bottle needs to breathe.
So here’s the scoop on giving that bottle a few minutes before you enjoy it. The idea of letting air into the bottle – especially for red wines and ports is that letting a little oxygen into the wine will open up the flavors and make it more robust. On the other hand, left to the air for too long, some wine pros will tell you that flavors begin to fade. Others will tell you not to worry about letting it breathe in the bottle, but you should air it by swirling it in your glass. And we know that aged wines (more than 15 years old) are considered fragile and do better with a shorter breathing time.
The average time a bottle of wine should breathe is about 30 minutes. But the best way for you to decide what amount of time you prefer is your own trial and error experiment. Open a few bottles of your favorite wine and sample them without breathing, at about the 10 minute mark and then at 30 minutes. See what you notice about subtle changes in the flavor and you can decide what your decant time is going to be.
The other reason for decanting is less subtle. Fermentation causes sediments – especially in older red wines and ports. Color pigments and tannins will bond inside the bottle and as you pour, that sediment will end up in your glass. This is what can give wine a cloudy appearance as well as leaving a bitter taste or even a gritty residue. Sediment isn’t harmful, it just isn’t pleasant.
Decanting helps separate the sediment from the wine.

Here’s how it’s done:

1) Let the bottle stand upright for 24 hours.
2) Open your bottle and wipe off the neck of the bottle (inside and outside)
3) Pour slowly into a decanter or pitcher without stopping.
4) As you reach the midway point of the bottle pour even more slowly
5) Stop when you see the first sign of sediment in the neck of the bottle.
6) Discard that last ounce of sediment-filled wine.

Remember that pouring the wine into a decanter will help it breathe more quickly so you’ll want to take that into account as you estimate the amount of time you want the wine exposed to air.
Decanting is part art and part science. But mostly it’s just a matter of personal taste. Experiment and have fun finding that perfect prep for your favorite flavor!

Wine in the Bible

Wine in the Bible

Ecclesiastes 9:7: “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.”

First came Noah…. In addition to the rescue of every animal, Noah is really a farmer. He plants a vineyard and becomes intoxicated from his fruit of the vine. Then there is Jesus, who often used wine imagery in his teachings. In fact, both Testaments speak often of the consumption of wine as a way of life in ancient Israel.
We know that these ancient people made wine from grapes and any number of other fermentable fruits. It’s the most commonly mentioned alcoholic beverage in any of the texts and is associated with all things good – and a few not so good. There are 10 different words that refer to various wines in the Torah. And in the early Greek Testament, there are five words for wine. Interestingly, the Biblical Hebrew words for wine are used interchangeably between fermented (alcohol) and juice (non-alcoholic). Tirosh refers to grapes in any state of fermenting and is a sweet wine or juice that’s been newly made. There is Chomets, a vinegar used for cooking, but which is also intoxicating. The most common word for wine in the bible is Yayin.
The use of wine, most often described as a bounty of a harvest, a sign of God’s good will and favor upon people is reflected in the texts along with the natural tension of what can happen when you imbibe irresponsibly. Drunkenness in all texts is certainly frowned upon. Wine is used often in rituals of thanksgiving, blessings and anointments. The first public miracle of Jesus was at a wedding in Canaan when he turned water into wine.
The texts also describe the medicinal uses of wine. Without a doubt these ancient people understood the dangers of drinking water. Parasites and other impurities in addition to sharing water with livestock and other human waste would have made drinking plain water simply dangerous. But mixing a little hydrating water into wine was a reasonable way to kill off bacteria and parasites and create a somewhat less toxic water. But there are also references to wine being used as an anesthetic and as a cleaning agent for wound care. Jesus tells of spreading wine and oil into a wound of an injured stranger in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and there is no question that Jesus was encouraged to drink wine as an anesthetic prior to the crucifixion.

Psalm 104:14-15: “[The LORD] makes … plants for man to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.”

Read Psalms 104 in both Hebrew and in in English

א בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי, אֶת-יְהוָה: יְהוָה אֱלֹהַי, גָּדַלְתָּ מְּאֹד; הוֹד וְהָדָר לָבָשְׁתָּ. 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. {N} O LORD my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with glory and majesty. ב עֹטֶה-אוֹר, כַּשַּׂלְמָה; נוֹטֶה שָׁמַיִם, כַּיְרִיעָה. 2 Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment, who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; ג הַמְקָרֶה בַמַּיִם, עֲלִיּוֹתָיו: הַשָּׂם-עָבִים רְכוּבוֹ; הַמְהַלֵּךְ, עַל-כַּנְפֵי-רוּחַ. 3 Who layest the beams of Thine upper chambers in the waters, {N} who makest the clouds Thy chariot, who walkest upon the wings of the wind; ד עֹשֶׂה מַלְאָכָיו רוּחוֹת; מְשָׁרְתָיו, אֵשׁ לֹהֵט. 4 Who makest winds Thy messengers, the flaming fire Thy ministers. ה יָסַד-אֶרֶץ, עַל-מְכוֹנֶיהָ; בַּל-תִּמּוֹט, עוֹלָם וָעֶד. 5 Who didst establish the earth upon its foundations, that it should not be moved for ever and ever; ו תְּהוֹם, כַּלְּבוּשׁ כִּסִּיתוֹ; עַל-הָרִים, יַעַמְדוּ מָיִם. 6 Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a vesture; the waters stood above the mountains. ז מִן-גַּעֲרָתְךָ יְנוּסוּן; מִן-קוֹל רַעַמְךָ, יֵחָפֵזוּן. 7 At Thy rebuke they fled, at the voice of Thy thunder they hasted away– ח יַעֲלוּ הָרִים, יֵרְדוּ בְקָעוֹת– אֶל-מְקוֹם, זֶה יָסַדְתָּ לָהֶם. 8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down–unto the place which Thou hadst founded for them; ט גְּבוּל-שַׂמְתָּ, בַּל-יַעֲבֹרוּן; בַּל-יְשֻׁבוּן, לְכַסּוֹת הָאָרֶץ. 9 Thou didst set a bound which they should not pass over, that they might not return to cover the earth. י הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ מַעְיָנִים, בַּנְּחָלִים; בֵּין הָרִים, יְהַלֵּכוּן. 10 Who sendest forth springs into the valleys; they run between the mountains; יא יַשְׁקוּ, כָּל-חַיְתוֹ שָׂדָי; יִשְׁבְּרוּ פְרָאִים צְמָאָם. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field, the wild asses quench their thirst. יב עֲלֵיהֶם, עוֹף-הַשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׁכּוֹן; מִבֵּין עֳפָאיִם, יִתְּנוּ-קוֹל. 12 Beside them dwell the fowl of the heaven, from among the branches they sing. יג מַשְׁקֶה הָרִים, מֵעֲלִיּוֹתָיו; מִפְּרִי מַעֲשֶׂיךָ, תִּשְׂבַּע הָאָרֶץ. 13 Who waterest the mountains from Thine upper chambers; the earth is full of the fruit of Thy works. יד מַצְמִיחַ חָצִיר, לַבְּהֵמָה, וְעֵשֶׂב, לַעֲבֹדַת הָאָדָם; לְהוֹצִיא לֶחֶם, מִן-הָאָרֶץ. 14 Who causeth the grass to spring up for the cattle, and herb for the service of man; {N} to bring forth bread out of the earth, טו וְיַיִן, יְשַׂמַּח לְבַב-אֱנוֹשׁ– לְהַצְהִיל פָּנִים מִשָּׁמֶן; וְלֶחֶם, לְבַב-אֱנוֹשׁ יִסְעָד. 15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, making the face brighter than oil, {N} and bread that stayeth man’s heart. טז יִשְׂבְּעוּ, עֲצֵי יְהוָה– אַרְזֵי לְבָנוֹן, אֲשֶׁר נָטָע. 16 The trees of the LORD have their fill, the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted; יז אֲשֶׁר-שָׁם, צִפֳּרִים יְקַנֵּנוּ; חֲסִידָה, בְּרוֹשִׁים בֵּיתָהּ. 17 Wherein the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir-trees are her house. יח הָרִים הַגְּבֹהִים, לַיְּעֵלִים; סְלָעִים, מַחְסֶה לַשְׁפַנִּים. 18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the conies. יט עָשָׂה יָרֵחַ, לְמוֹעֲדִים; שֶׁמֶשׁ, יָדַע מְבוֹאוֹ. 19 Who appointedst the moon for seasons; the sun knoweth his going down. כ תָּשֶׁת-חֹשֶׁךְ, וִיהִי לָיְלָה– בּוֹ-תִרְמֹשׂ, כָּל-חַיְתוֹ-יָעַר. 20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. כא הַכְּפִירִים, שֹׁאֲגִים לַטָּרֶף; וּלְבַקֵּשׁ מֵאֵל, אָכְלָם. 21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God. כב תִּזְרַח הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, יֵאָסֵפוּן; וְאֶל-מְעוֹנֹתָם, יִרְבָּצוּן. 22 The sun ariseth, they slink away, and couch in their dens. כג יֵצֵא אָדָם לְפָעֳלוֹ; וְלַעֲבֹדָתוֹ עֲדֵי-עָרֶב. 23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. כד מָה-רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ, יְהוָה– כֻּלָּם, בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ; מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ, קִנְיָנֶךָ. 24 How manifold are Thy works, O LORD! In wisdom hast Thou made them all; {N} the earth is full of Thy creatures. כה זֶה, הַיָּם גָּדוֹל– וּרְחַב יָדָיִם: שָׁם-רֶמֶשׂ, וְאֵין מִסְפָּר; חַיּוֹת קְטַנּוֹת, עִם-גְּדֹלוֹת. 25 Yonder sea, great and wide, {N} therein are creeping things innumerable, living creatures, both small and great. כו שָׁם, אֳנִיּוֹת יְהַלֵּכוּן; לִוְיָתָן, זֶה-יָצַרְתָּ לְשַׂחֶק-בּוֹ. 26 There go the ships; there is leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to sport therein. כז כֻּלָּם, אֵלֶיךָ יְשַׂבֵּרוּן– לָתֵת אָכְלָם בְּעִתּוֹ. 27 All of them wait for Thee, that Thou mayest give them their food in due season. כח תִּתֵּן לָהֶם, יִלְקֹטוּן; תִּפְתַּח יָדְךָ, יִשְׂבְּעוּן טוֹב. 28 Thou givest it unto them, they gather it; Thou openest Thy hand, they are satisfied with good. כט תַּסְתִּיר פָּנֶיךָ, יִבָּהֵלוּן: תֹּסֵף רוּחָם, יִגְוָעוּן; וְאֶל-עֲפָרָם יְשׁוּבוּן. 29 Thou hidest Thy face, they vanish; {N} Thou withdrawest their breath, they perish, and return to their dust. ל תְּשַׁלַּח רוּחֲךָ, יִבָּרֵאוּן; וּתְחַדֵּשׁ, פְּנֵי אֲדָמָה. 30 Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the earth. לא יְהִי כְבוֹד יְהוָה לְעוֹלָם; יִשְׂמַח יְהוָה בְּמַעֲשָׂיו. 31 May the glory of the LORD endure for ever; let the LORD rejoice in His works! לב הַמַּבִּיט לָאָרֶץ, וַתִּרְעָד; יִגַּע בֶּהָרִים וְיֶעֱשָׁנוּ. 32 Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke. לג אָשִׁירָה לַיהוָה בְּחַיָּי; אֲזַמְּרָה לֵאלֹהַי בְּעוֹדִי. 33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have any being. לד יֶעֱרַב עָלָיו שִׂיחִי; אָנֹכִי, אֶשְׂמַח בַּיהוָה. 34 Let my musing be sweet unto Him; as for me, I will rejoice in the LORD. לה יִתַּמּוּ חַטָּאִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ, וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם– בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי, אֶת-יְהוָה; הַלְלוּ-יָהּ. 35 Let sinners cease out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. {N} Bless the LORD, O my soul. {N} Hallelujah.