Michigan isn’t a spot that usually springs to mind when thinking of wine. And if you, like me, seek out wines from offbeat areas you may have had some truly vile wines from the Wolverine State. This Forty Winks cabernet franc will wash any bad taste from Michigan out of your mouth.
This cabernet franc has some acidity; which is not uncommon with the grape, one of the parent grapes of cabernet sauvignon. It has some tannin to it too and the fairly young wine mellows a bit with some air.
This wine, to me, improves with air and when it gets that? It mellows and is a nice medium bodied wine that doesn’t have much in the way of fruitiness (perhaps you can detect cranberry). I’d drink this with food. As a pretty much life-long vegetarian I am not going to recommend meat but something in a red sauce—from Italian to a red curry—might be good with this wine. A sauce with some acid is a good match for this wine which is an especially good one for the price.
Trying to figure out what is acid and what is tannin is something you will often be told is “easy.” That is a little bit of glibness perhaps. It may not be difficult but it isn’t intuitive either.
The best way to put it (I hope) is that tannins create the same sort of feeling you might get when eating pomegranate (my favorite example). When you taste a wine and immediately after drinking you may feel a sensation of drying in your mouth; that is the tannins. This is sometimes described as bitterness.
Acid is, well, acidic, like biting an orange skin. But since acid in wine is balanced by other factors than JUST the acid the sensation isn’t generally as unpleasant! This wine had what are called “wine diamonds” on the cork when I pulled it out; if you see this, do not despair! It does not mean the wine is bad. It is the result of tartaric acid becoming solidified. Usually this means the wine gets less acidic but it also means there was acid present. There are a number of different acids in wine but let’s not get into that.
Tannins are affected by air and wine changes with exposure to it. Up to a point, with certain wines, this is a good thing (more important with red). As noted this wine needs some air. Does acid change with air? Some do, the chemically volatile ones, but others are more reticent to change.
I would note that when I drink and write about these wines I purposefully do not try to do it like it is at a wine tasting. Is that how YOU open a bottle of wine and drink it? Keep in mind I am not criticizing wine tastings. When most of us pop out to the store and grab a bottle we don’t follow wine tasting protocols either. We may be noshing on something while we open a bottle without thinking about it. We don’t sniff and slurp small amounts of wine—we crack it open and drink it. How I do this might change how I interpret a wine—and it would be different from how I might interpret a wine in a formal wine tasting environment.
You often see cabernet franc grown in colder, sometimes even hostile, climates. Michigan qualifies as that for grapes. The grape also adapts well in different soils—something more finicky grapes often won’t do. The cab franc grape also is known as one that ripens more reliably than most other reds. This is far from the only good Michigan wine by they way--they grow some truly good rieslings as well.