Wine Appreciation Tips


Is taste subjective? You like red, your husband likes white. You like sweet, he likes dry.


From my good friend Tim Hanni, at you can gain a new understanding of the way you discover, share, and think about wine.

Humans range in taste-bud count from as few as 500 to more than 12,000. Someone with 500 tastes things differently than someone with 12,000.

People having a 500-taste bud count crave intensity and big, bold flavors. They love a 100 Point Cabernet with massive oak and tannins.

Those sporting a 12,000-taste bud count tend to like sweetness, and salt and are very sensitive about alcohol content too.


Flavor association and past experiences are tied to survival. They also signal safety for us. Try finding a poisonous fruit that contains fructose. Did you know that no harmful bacteria can live in honey? Have you ever become ill from food or beverage? Do you still consume it? Not likely.  Therefore, we are predisposed to like sweets. Sweetness is used as a crutch for liking new foods and beverages.

We also find safety in flavors we are familiar with. Can you remember a cookie or some other great-tasting food from your childhood? Of course, you can! As humans, we’re the only animal species that can’t drink out of a puddle without getting sick. Think about that!

From a consumption standpoint, we are constantly building a flavor and aroma library of likes and dislikes, so we never forget an aroma or a flavor.

Dry red wines have no other food or beverage flavor associations, so it is extremely rare to find someone who, when they first started to drink wine, started with a dry red wine. Thus, nearly everyone starts off liking sweeter wines, and as the body adjusts to the wonderful positive chemistry of wine, and its 1500 natural chemical compounds, the reliance, and dependence on sweetness begin to wane, thus introducing people to the flavorful world of dry red wines.

Food is the mechanism that gets people to move to dry wine.

If you want to start liking dry reds, drink more wine pairing it with familiar food, such as lasagna or a burger. Soon, your brain will start a positive association to dry red wine because it was paired with something you like and are accustomed to consuming.

You can also try a variety of wines. This enables you to experience new flavors and discover how tasty wines can be when blended. Some find the taste of dry red wine and a big steak to be delicious. For others, like me, I get a metallic finish (email me at if you want to know more about this phenomenon).


Feeling adventurous? Try the same wine out of different shaped glasses. Stemware is an important aspect of wine and can greatly influence the aromas and flavors in the wine. Don’t “buy into” the concept that a “red wine glass” should only be used for red wines. Try whites in them too! The same holds for “white wine glasses”, by trying reds in them as well.

Different sizes and shaped wine glasses change the volumetric pressure and vapor pressure of the wine. Naturally, without thinking, you will shape your lips differently to adjust to the shape of the glass. Additionally, you will naturally position and shape your tongue according to the shape of the glass. These are the basic differences unique shapes of glasses provide you as a taster.

From a sensory standpoint, most of the flavor you experience will come from aromatics, so the glass shape will affect the aromas you experience before you taste the wine as you breathe in through the nose before sipping, and the aromas you experience once the wine starts to vaporize on your tongue (most of what you supposedly taste is aromatics vaporizing and sensitizing the backside of your olfactory nerve).


There are over 10,000 different grape varieties grown in the world for making wine. Additionally, some varieties have clones of themselves.

For instance, our Cabernet Franc that we grow is clone 347. Wow, so many choices….

If you made wine from 100% of the grapes, here is where the wine would get the flavors (approximate percentages):

  • Grape Seeds 65%
  • Grape Stems 19%
  • Grape Skins 15%
  • Grape Juice 1%

With white wine, all we care about is the juice, the 1%. With reds, we carefully manage the 1% while adding the effects of the grape skins (the 15%).

Ever notice when you try wines made from grapes that you’ll pick up flavors of strawberry, cherry, apple, blackberry, and so forth?

Did we add those flavors to the wines? Not a chance!

NOTE: There are more than 1500 natural chemical compounds that exist in a bottle of wine. Many natural chemical compounds are shared between plants. And some with animals. Therefore, that apple taste you find in our Vignoles may be a shared chemical between a certain apple variety and our Vignoles.


Adding to the allure of wine is how your mind processes such a delicious beverage. Before you consume any beverage, your sense of smell kicks into gear and tells you some wonderfully basic things.

  • Is the beverage safe to drink or not? Seriously, safe beverages haven’t been around for more than maybe 100 years. And that includes water!
  • After your sense of smell gives you the green light, it next tries to associate the aroma with a pleasurable experience. Or a bad one. Tossed this in the porcelain bus before. Not again!
  • Your tongue is NOT divided up between bitter, sweet, salt, acid, and umami receptors. But due to olfactory sensitivities, it does matter what areas of the tongue sense flavors and aromas first.

So here we go, a body in constant survival mode, sensing for safety and past experiences constantly, taking in a beverage with over 1500 natural chemical compounds, many of them shared with other plants.


Hindsight is 20/20. Knowing what you know now wouldn’t you agree that:

  1. Does trying wine in different shaped glasses affect the flavor and aroma of wine? Yes! Every uniquely styled wine glass will provide subtle and not-so-subtle changes in the wine complexity. You are on your own for figuring out the style of glass you like for the wines you like most.
  1. The art of a great wine may not exist in a single variety, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, but rather in how the winery blends different wines to create more complexity.
  1. With over 1500 natural chemical compounds, everything counts – the grape variety, where it’s grown, the weather for that year, the yearly vineyard maintenance, and the harvest parameters.For you folks who know wine, that’s called terroir, and I live for it! Terroir is soil type, climate, microclimate, Mesoclimate, elevation, slope, human influences in pruning and vineyard maintenance, etc., etc.…etc. Throw in the harvest date too, And that week’s weather!
  1. The temperature of the wine can also affect flavor and enjoyment. Typically, the warmer it is, the more fruit and perhaps the more alcohol is noticed in the wine. And oak too! Some reds we prefer cool and some whites we prefer at room temperature, and vice versa.The cooler the wine is, the more prevalent the acids in it will be. It’s also less oaky, less fruity, and will have more tannic if it’s a red, but less alcohol too.


Take the food you like most and pair it with the wines you like most! Simple! So simple! If that doesn’t work, try adding salt and lemon to the food to balance the flavors.

Written by:
Jim Pfeifer

Wine Club

Cellar Dwellers

Hi! Glad you made it. Everyone down here was wondering how long it would take for you to find this page.

Corks are popping here as we are preparing for the launch of our brand-new Wine Club. Brand-new in that it is not only innovative but interactive so everyone can join in the fun.

Now, hold on there pilgrim…This is not going to be your traditional wine club where you commit to buying a bottle or two every month. We feel that’s archaic! We want you to have fun in our wine club, so we are going down the rabbit hole with this one.

I can’t release any details just yet but be prepared for the ride of your life as we all go down the rabbit hole together.

Ready for your next Wine adventure?

Keep checking back regularly on this page for further details.

Mr. Edge


Check You Later


Its All About the Wine

Turtle Run Winery prides itself on producing top-quality, health-conscious wines with a flair for being consistently exceptional but not necessarily exceptionally consistent.

Allow Jim to explain – Two phrases should pop into that sentence, “Health Conscious” and “Not Necessarily Exceptionally Consistent.”

First on health. Sugar is killing us in so many ways, yet many people prefer sweeter wines due primarily to the number of taste buds on their tongues. American wineries typically take dry wine (wine that has finished fermentation completely) and back-add sugar, juice, or juice concentrate before bottling, thus making a dry wine sweet.

By doing so, the wine’s residual sugar becomes half glucose and half fructose (since sucrose breaks down in acidic solutions into its two component parts, glucose, and fructose). But it’s the glucose that’s problematic for the body (think type 2 diabetes, inflammation, a cancer food source).

The world’s most recognized sweet wines do not have added sugar to sweeten them before bottling. Nor do ours. The world’s most recognized dry red wines are made from the fruit and not from added outside chemicals such as powdered tannins. Our dry red wines ferment and age on the skins from a minimum of three weeks up to two months. On occasion, Jim will use an old French technique of re-using skins to deepen the complexity of his dry reds. And yes, the wines are barrel aged. No powdered oak or chips are ever poured into stainless steel tanks to pick up oak flavors.

At most European wineries and Turtle Run too, sweet wine is obtained via arrested fermentation, a process in which fermentation is carefully monitored and the wines are filtered right when the residual sugar is where the winemaker wants the taste to be.

From 2009-2012, Jim conducted break-through research in which he discovered yeast sequential fermentation: whereby yeast converts sugars into heat, alcohol, and carbon dioxide in a unique order.

If sugar is added, it splits the sugar molecule into one part glucose and one part fructose. Think of glucose as a nice T-bone steak and fructose as overcooked broccoli. I’ll eat the broccoli, but I prefer the steak, so I’ll eat the steak first (glucose) and then the broccoli (fructose) last. As it turns out, fructose has 3 calories per gram, glucose 4, so with arrested fermentation, there’s a 25% savings in calories because, at the end of the day, all that’s left is fructose.

Second, fructose is 2.2 times sweeter than glucose and 1.72 times sweeter than sugar. Translation – Turtle Run’s sweetest wine has about 3.5% residual sugar. For a winery to equal our same sweetness, nearly 7% sugar needs to be added. This is a total win for the consumer since fructose is not nearly as disruptive to the body as glucose, Speaking of grams. Turtle Run wines contain about 12-14 grams of fructose per bottle.


Dry Reds

Jim simply does not like using additives in his dry wines. Modern winemaking today uses plenty of additives that are perfectly legal.

From liquid oak to powdered tannins, to all sorts of fining agents.

So many folks these days no longer drink dry reds because they claim it causes headaches. Turtle Run wines are based on grapes and aging in barrels with no oak or tannin additives. From this, you get pure wine that keeps headaches at bay. Yes, sulfites are added, but only because it is required by law. FYI – sulfites are not the culprit of headaches.

Wines contain upwards of 1500 natural chemical compounds, many of which are leached into the wine from the skins. Long skin contact wines allow everything good to be pulled out of the skin. For dry reds, Turtle Run arguably has the longest skin contact in America, at and after fermentation.

Jim could go the additive way to drive for consistency but that wouldn’t be much fun. He wants the best each vintage can deliver, so that means vintage variation. Fortunate or not, due to yearly weather variations vines are going to produce different fruit every year.

Not changing anything from what is written above, but I (Jim) wrote the following on 8/4/2023 about the red wine headache.  Be ready.


The red wine headache explained. Ever get a headache from just a little bit of red wine? Or a stuffy nose? Or a flushed face? Any other allergic reaction? By the way, what I type here cannot be found on the internet except at our Turtle Run Winery website. Here comes my strong hypothesis. Be ready. I am on my own island on this.

Most people believe that yeast only ferment sugars into heat, co2 and ethyl alcohol. If I were to make black bean wine, yeast would remove the inflammatory protein known as lectin. Now, there are no lectins in wine but I add this paragraph as another useful activity that yeast do when fermenting.

Yeast also remove histamines. And this is where I am heading. Grapes have a small amount of histamines in their skins and we ferment red wines on their skins. But in fermentation yeast will remove the histamines, so how can it be histamines?

Think of the allergic reactions that people have with red wine and all of them align with allergic reactions to histamines.

I rarely, rarely run into anyone who says they have an allergic reaction to our red wines, and I have had hundreds who have sworn off drinking red wines try our red wines and they have no problem. So if it’s indeed histamines and the yeast remove histamines, how are they getting back into the wine?

Think of it this way. If you swore off sugar and I handed you a small packet of sugar and said “eat this sugar,” you would probably do it and realize no negative health outcomes. Now, if I gave you a 64 oz liter of a sugary drink and said, “here, drink this,” you might feel a little woozy afterwards, right?

So if I gave you a bunch of grapes and you ate them, you probably wouldn’t have an allergic reaction because the concentration of histamines in the skins is pretty low.

Our wine industry is allowed to add more than 80 different ingredients into wine and one thing our industry likes is a consistent product. Wines naturally contain upwards of 1500 chemical compounds, so in order for wine to taste and look exactly the same year after year there are fining agents, coloring agents, liquid oak and powdered tannins added to wine to give it the look, feel and taste, the same consistency year after year.

Yeast remove histamines. There are super concentrated coloring agents and powdered tannins available to me to add to wine to fix color and tannins. Let’s think of that 64 oz liter at this point.

Super concentration of color and tannins added to wine to me, is like drinking a 64 oz liter of soda. These product are added after fermentation to fix color, mouthfeel, flavor and texture…when the yeast are no longer there to do their magic. My strong hypothesis is this. When natural grape skin derivatives are super concentrated, like anthocyanin, the color component, naturally the histamines will be concentrated. Added back into the wine after fermentation releases a super concentration of histamines, way more than what the grapes could have possibly delivered in grape juice. With yeast not around to clean up this excess amount of histamines, the human body is exposed to a 64 oz serving, so to speak of histamines.

I seriously don’t think anyone is allergic to red wine. I think there are plenty of people allergic to wine that has been modified though. If you stop by Turtle Run Winery, check out the color of our red wines. Yep, they are lighter in color than a great many that you can buy in the stores. And that is fine with me.


Dry Whites

Many of Turtle Runs dry whites are barrel fermented though not oaky. Lactones that are imparted by the barrels are minimalized in such a way as to highlight the fruitfulness of the wines. The barrels used and the temperatures they achieve for making whites because of a process called autolysis positively affect the smoothness and body of their wines.

Some say Jim’s “Chard” is a dead ringer for topflight white burgundies. And Turtle Runs “Serendipity”, a blended white, screams of the aromas and flavors of wines from southern France.