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Building a wine flight is a great way to highlight the individual profiles and distinctions in a group of wines. The wines chosen for a flight should have some type of connection so that they can be compared to one another. To choose the best wines for a wine flight, consider using the vintage year, the winery, the type of wine, or the style of wine as a guide.
The vintage year of a wine can tell quite a lot about its flavor profile. Weather patterns and soil conditions may alter from year to year, lending slight variations in flavor to the growing grapes. Choosing a selection of wines from the same year, or vintage, is one good way to build a wine flight. Known as horizontal tasting, this type of flight may work best if the wines chosen are all from the same geographical region, since they will have all experienced similar conditions for the year.
A vertical tasting flight is created when wines from the same winery are used. Since a winery is made distinct through its growing methods, aging and fermentation process, and varietal combinations, it makes sense to build a flight that analyzes the "philosophy" of a specific winery. Since many wineries produce several different types of wine, this can also be a good way to build a wine flight for a party with varied tastes. It may be preferable to choose wines for a vertical flight by visiting the winery in person, since most carry some “winery only” varieties and vintages that will not be available elsewhere.
One excellent way to choose wines for a flight is to use only one type of wine. By comparing merlots, chardonnays, or pinot grigios from several different vineyards and vintages, the characteristics of the wine type are better comprehended. A single-varietal wine flight is a good way to gain a better understanding of the flavors and profile of a particular type of wine. Single-varietal flights are also a good way to indulge a passion for a specific type of wine.
Similar to a single-varietal tasting, a wine style flight uses wines that may be different varieties, but have similar characteristics or some type of common ground. A dessert wine flight, for instance, might use a variety of fortified and sweetened wines, such as port, sherry, and ice wine. A sparkling wine flight might include a bottle of Champagne from France, a straightforward brut, and a demi-sec rose sparkler. Another fun way to do a wine style flight is to choose wines in a specific price range, such as reds under $15 US Dollars (USD), or sparklers between $30-$50 USD. Wine style flights may be fun to pair with tapas and small desserts, choosing dishes that help bring out the distinct personality of each bottle.
Those with a little more wine knowledge can consider building a progressive tasting. These flights use wine in a specific sequence, to help build a harmonious symphony of flavors that moves from one wine to the next. A progressive flight might begin with a light bodied pinot noir, move to a medium, jammy cabernet sauvignon, and finish with a smoky, spiced zinfandel. Most wine shops employ knowledgeable staff members that can help patrons select good wines for a progressive flight.
I've always heard you start out with the lighter wines in a progressive flight and move to heavier, drier wines as you go. Otherwise, your tastebuds will give out!
I think my ideal wine flight would be sweet dessert wines. I just don't care for the big, oaky cabernets and chardonnays. Not my thing. I'm not sophisticated, I suppose, but I just prefer a very sweet wine. The "mature" wines taste like rubbing alcohol to me. Maybe my nose is too sensitive, because all I can taste is the alcohol. Oh well. I'm not much of a wine drinker, normally, so this is not a problem I run into very often.
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