Intensity in wine is a term used to evaluate appearance and aroma.
As a very general rule of thumb, the intensity of a wine’s color is directly proportional to the intensity of the wine’s flavor. Paler wines are generally milder while deep rich colors represent more robust flavors. To test the color intensity of your wine, tilt the glass the glass slightly (this works best against a white background- a napkin or tablecloth work nicely) Now look straight down at the wine from above, the richer/ darker the color the more intense the wine.
And unlike the really intense looking guy you hope doesn’t sit next to you on the bus, intensity is a highly desirable trait in wine.
In terms of intensity of aroma certain varieties are naturally more aromatic particularly Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. The aromatics are also greatly affected by production methods. New world producers tend to focus their efforts on fruit ripeness and ferment in cooler conditions yielding wines with high aromatic intensity. Traditional European producers leave much to nature and will sacrifice fruit intensity for developement of an earthier complex.
Try placing the bowl of your wine glass at your belly button, Slowly bring the glass up towards your nose, inhaling deeply. When you can smell the wine: STOP! Now look at where the glass is. If it is below your chin- it is high intensity, somewhere between chin and nose- medium intensity. If you suddenly find yourself snorting wine, its safe to say your wine is low intensity.
Our pick for an “intense” wine:
2012 D-Cubed ‘Korte Ranch’ Zinfandel, St. Helena
Wine Spectrum 93: The 2012 Korte Ranch Zinfandel is both complex and intense. The wine has aromas of bright blackberries and plums with nice cedar and tobacco behind the fruit. The structure and tannins are smooth in this full bodied wine. This vintage of Korte Ranch has flavors of berries and hints of cedar and oak that meld into the long finish which is loaded with berries and hints of smoky oak.
The Korte Ranch is a classic old St. Helena Vineyard, planted around 1910, that is 100 Years ago! Korte Ranch is head-trained and dry-farmed planted on the St. George rootstock and produces wonderful Zinfandel from the gnarly old vines. 199 cases produced.