Wine 101

With Sommelier 
Carlin Karr

Since 2012 Carlin Karr has been working with Master Sommelier and Frasca Food and Wine Owner Bobby Stuckey as an advanced sommelier. Her career began while attending culinary school at the California Culinary Academy when Karr realized that her true passion was for wine.

Karr has been recognized by multiple national publications and awards, including Forbes “30 under 30” in 2011, Wine & Spirits Magazine “Best New Sommeliers,” Eater “Young Guns,” The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post, and Zagat’s “30 under 30.”

Currently, Karr oversees the beverage programs at both Frasca Food and Wine, Pizzeria Locale and will be the Wine Director of the company’s new restaurant opening outside of Denver’s Union Station in December 2016. She took some time to fill us in on the wine basics everyone should know.

Tasting Etiquette

With tasting wine, it is hard to go wrong. The most important thing is to be open-minded! Not all Riesling is sweet. Not all chardonnay is buttery or oaky. There is a big difference between Syrah from the Northern Rhone Valley and Shiraz (syrah) from Australia. I taste wine every day and am constantly surprised by having my mind blown by a new exciting wine from a region I thought I was not into. The world of wine (and beer, whiskey, tequila, gin, etc.) are evolving so quickly. Brands that you might have loved five years ago might have been bought and sold and could be producing completely different wine than they used to.

The overall point here is to stay open minded and find a great sommelier or wine store that you know and trust to turn you on to new things.  Don’t think you know everything, because you don’t. Nobody does. There is always something great to discover.

Tasting Reds vs. Whites

The primary difference between red wine and white wine is that red wine production involves a period of skin maceration, the skins are left with the juice while the wine ferments, while in white wine production, the juice is pressed off the skins prior to fermentation.  This results in the tannic nature of red wine.  The tannins of red wine come from the skin – you can feel the tannins on the top of your tongue, and on your gums – this is why tannic red wine, like sangiovese or cabernet is so great with a fatty steak – the tannins help cut through the fat.