I have just finished a great conversation with Dr Jim Harbertson of WSU and one of his PhD students about bitterness in Washington white wines. In truth it must be said that I might be a bitter “super taster” meaning that I am more sensitive to bitterness than most folks – I do not like IPA beers, don’t appreciate super tannic red wines, can’t eat much unsweetened chocolate, like wimpy truck-stop coffee etc… It is very interesting because my palate might make me quite suited to make sweeter – low bitterness wine – maybe I was born, or my body was pre-programmed, to make Riesling (or other sweet “elegant” wine). OK, that suits me great, no Cabernet, no Chardonnay, no oaky monster, give me Riesling, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer.
Sorry for the personal digression. Back to bitterness in Washington whites which, albeit only a few gifted one might notice, is a real bummer. At Pacific Rim, we might be embarking on a quest to find out why many Washington white wines can be bitter if not properly fined (fining is a winemaking technique where a fining agent is introduced to bind with an unwanted molecule and then precipitate with the unwanted molecule at the bottom of a tank where it can be removed after racking off the clean liquid above). What is intriguing is the fact that most work on bitterness has been done on red wines and that we know very little about bitterness factors in whites. I have always felt that light exposure in Eastern Washington led to high skin phenolic content that in return could be extracted during juice skin contact (either due to maceration in a truck after machine picking or during pressing or both). Stay tune for an update on this fascinating topic – at least fascinating to about half a dozen folks in the country….