Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Five Ways Wine and Whiskey Are Alike

Also published in the Huffington Post

If you love wine but your partner prefers Scotch whiskey, do not despair that your tastes are miles apart. Even though the high alcohol content of Scotch may seem overbearing to a wine drinker, and the subtle aromas of wine not as exciting to a Scotch advocate, these two beverages actually have more in common than you may have assumed. In fact, there are actually five ways in which wine and Scotch whiskey are alike.

Scotch Whiskey Aroma Wheel at the Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh Scotland

1# - Both Are Fermented Beverages

Both wine and whiskey undergo a fermentation process using yeast. With wine, it can be native or commercial yeast that converts the grape sugar into alcohol. With Scotch whiskey, it is usually distiller’s yeast that converts a mixture of pure water and sweet grist (ground malted barley that has been roasted over a peat or gas fire) into alcohol. Obviously, Scotch whiskey also under goes at least two distillation processes after fermentation in order to achieve its higher alcohol levels.

#2 - Both Undergo Barrel Aging

Both beverages are usually aged in oak barrels in order to provide flavor and allow the ingredients time to integrate for balance. High quality red wines and some white wine, such as chardonnay, are often aged in oak from 6 months to 2 years, and generally use French, American, Hungarian, or Slovenian oak. Scotch whiskey is primarily aged in used American oak, though some producers are now reverting to used sherry casks, and even used Sauternes, rum, or Tuscan red wine barrels. Whiskey is generally aged in barrels much longer than wine, ranging from 5 to 50 years.

Alcohol Comparison Chart for Whiskey, Wine & Beer

# 3 – Blended or Single Varietal/Malt Styles

Most wine lovers easily recognize single varietal bottles, such as chardonnay or merlot, and know that varietals can be blended to create white or red blends such as a red Bordeaux. Scotch whiskey is similar in that a barrel of whiskey made from a “single malt” is like a single grape varietal, and different single malts can be combined to create a “blended whiskey.”

#4 - High Quality Wine and Whiskey Express Terroir

Just as wine from different regions or appellations of the world can taste different, even though made with the same grape varietal – think pinot noir made in Burgundy versus the Russian River of California or New Zealand – so too can Scotch whiskey express terroir. There are four distinctive regions in Scotland, and each exhibits different aromas and tastes. For example the Lowland region is known for lighter styles whiskeys with a citrus note, the Highlands show flavors of vanilla and butter, whereas Speyside is known for tropical nuances and Islay for smoky notes.

# 5 – Similar Tasting Processes for Wine and Whiskey


Both wine and whiskey have a clear process for tasting evaluation and appreciation. There are even specially designed glasses for both wine and whiskey that allow the taster to appreciate the experience more fully. The 5 steps for wine and whiskey appreciation are: 1) Sight – to examine color; 2) Swirl – to stir esters and view “legs”; 3) Smell – to appreciate aroma; 4) Sip – to taste; 5) Savor – to enjoy and determine length of finish (the longer the better!)

Special Whiskey Tasting Glass With Similar Process to Wine Tasting



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