Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Penn State Extension Gets New Enologist
Fresh palate to aid Pa. wineries
By Mary Pickels, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Denise Gardner thinks about wine all day.
Specifically, Pennsylvania wines — Catawba and Niagara made from grapes native to the state, Chardonnay and Merlot from French hybrids, Vidal Blanc from high-sugar white grapes.
A sensory scientist, Gardner can swirl a splash in a goblet and assess it by examining the color, sniffing for off-odors and tasting for tannins.
The 26-year-old wine expert, hired last month as Penn State Extension's only enologist, will work with the state's 140 wineries to enhance the quality of their products.
"In the traditional sense, (enology) deals with wine analysis and quality control. We apply those practices to fix or tweak wine," Gardner said. "We want to help improve overall quality on a year-to-year basis."
Winemaking is a fast-growing agricultural business in Pennsylvania, said Dennis Calvin, director of Penn State Extension.
"That's really part of the reason behind the position and interest in the industry of having an enologist," he said. "People look at Pennsylvania wines. Some are very good, some not so good."
After the state's first enologist left three years ago, "we committed to the wine industry to fill the position when we could," Calvin said. The state Winery Association and the Wine Marketing Research Board contribute funding for the position.
Enologists study wines for inconsistencies and factors that detract from quality.
Gardner said those factors can range from oxidation, when wines are overexposed to oxygen and take on a sherry-like quality, to cork taint, a musty smell and taste that seeps into the wine, to sulfur aromas and flavors that evoke rotten eggs or cabbage.
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