Salivate, Dribble, and Slobber

Salivate, Dribble, and Slobber

“Pavlov’s Dog” started as an experiment by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who meant to discover how a condition response (a bell ringing) is the result of an unconditioned stimulus (food). The tool? The poor dog that hears the bell and immediately salivates whether or not he is presented with food. He went on to prove that these responses also occur in humans.

City Vino then commissions you to step number two. Instead of hearing a bell ring, will a smell cause the same salivating reaction whether or not you actually get wine or something to eat or drink? Consider: the sense of smell (olfaction) holds a stronger, more sensitive, sway over sensory experiences than taste (gustation). An aroma can evoke a powerful emotion or memory. An aroma can just remind us that we are hungry too.  The tongue then confirms what the nose has already determined. A sip or a bite is where the tongue experiences basic sensations of sweet, sour, bitter, savory, salty, fatty, spicy, and umami. Any of which tells the brain that digestion enzymes need to be activated, meaning to salivate.

How does this relate to wine? There is a progression of activities to academically taste wine: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Savor. Don’t just glide over this, there is enhanced enjoyment when you take time with each step. Now, there are wines with a more pronounced bouquet than others. On the other hand, people have a wide range of sensitivities. Wines with bitter, sour, and salty characteristics generally make for higher salivation than sweet, savory, and fatty characteristics.

Where do wines grow that characteristically have higher bitter, sour, and salty characteristics that bite you and make you salivate? First, consider that acid amplifies the bitter, sour, and salty characteristics. The amount of acidty in a growing region is then influenced by climate, soil composition, grape variety, and wine-making practices. But notably, cooler climates produce wines with higher acidity, as the grapes will progress toward ripeness during the day and stop at night (which stops the loss of acidity during the night). Meaning the grape needs more time to get all the phenolic compounds (flavors) before harvesting, and the growing season becomes more strategized. Second, consider vines that grow near salty waters will display saltiness causing salivation.

Starting with Picpoul (aka Piquepoul), from Languedoc, which is southern France. There it has been cultivated for centuries, and its name translates to "stings the lips" in Occitan, alluding to its high acidity. The grape has been used in still and sparkling wines and is valued for adding freshness to blends. The Picpoul de Pinet appellation,, near Thau Lagoon, is dedicated to white wines made from Picpoul, highlighting its suitability for coastal vineyards. In recent years, Picpoul has gained popularity globally for its refreshing acidity and enticing flavors, leading to cultivation and experimentation in various wine-producing countries like the United States, Australia, and Spain. The lip smacking 2022 Les Costieres de Pomerols Cap Cette is a classic example with its saltiness and high acidity. It begs you for another sip.

Bringing out the salt in full force are Spanish Alberino’s, from the Rias Baixas region. The wind that travels over the gulf stream picks up ocean moisture and then smacks into the western-facing cliffs of Spain. Having to lighten their load to pass, the wind drops its salt precipitation on Alberino vineyards. The 2021 Bodegas as Laxas, Alberino may have a soft lemon, with greenish tinges in color. Just the aromas will get you salivating with citrus lemon-lime, ripe pineapple, wet stone, and salt.

As said before, cool climates preserve natural acidity. What better than Marlborough New Zealand for this effervescent Sauvignon Blanc? New Zealand is surrounded by water, where the currents flow from the cold Arctic toward the land. The other cool climate feature here is its latitude that hangs out almost to the edge of vine possible growth at the 50-degree south latitude. NV Lake Chalice Sky Bubbles makes you start to salivate at the moment of popping the cork. It has bright, intense aromas of blackcurrant leaf, gooseberry, and white flowers, with an underlying green capsicum and tropical fruits. It has lively, high acidy with lifting bubbles, jumping out flavors of gooseberry, lime juice, and white grapefruit in the mid palate. You’ll taste soft melons, and tropical fruit, with a medium-length finish. This off-dry sparkling wine is definitely filled with fun.

The last one for this week is the 2021 Wines of Adam Malagousia from Thessaloniki, Greece. Malagousia resides on the southern coast of the mainland, Greece. Just in the last few years it has been gaining popularity for its rich Jasmine-floral nose and lemon-lime citrus nose. On the palate, it is slightly selenic with notes of white peach, lemon blossom, melon, pineapple, honey, and layers of complexity. Here, the elevation is the key to the cooler climate helping to keep the acidity.



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