Posts Tagged ‘Best’

Closures

A new wine cork that screws into the bottle is being unveiled. But why is there still so much snobbery in the battle between traditional cork and screw-top?

The sound is unmistakeable.

A scientist might talk about the explosive pop of a wine cork in terms of pressure or elasticity.

But for wine lovers, the distinctive creak and pop means something good is happening. It triggers associations – social intimacy, relaxation, nuanced aromas, celebration – that go far beyond just a slug of alcohol.

The unveiling this week of a new style of cork raises the question of why the traditional kind continues to dominate much of the wine world.

The Helix is opened with just a twist of the hand. No corkscrew is necessary as the top of the bottle has a thread inside.

The glass bottle and cork combination for wine is thought to have started in the 17th Century. But newer materials exist today that some argue are better suited for sealing a bottle than cork.

Screw caps and plastic corks have been embraced by producers fed up with wine becoming “corked” – the unpleasant musty taste, likened to wet dog, which is caused by tainted cork.

Read on …

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Winemakers in New Zealand are hailing the 2013 vintage as ‘one of the best in history’, with a record harvest 28% bigger than last year’s crop.

 

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan described the summer as ‘outstanding’ with ‘near-perfect conditions for growing grapes’.

‘The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit-driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape-growing regions – 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.’

Nearly 350,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in 2013, a record volume up 5% on 2011 and 28% bigger than last year’s small crop, which left New Zealand short of wine to feed its expansion plans.

Key region Marlborough and key grape variety Sauvignon Blanc both had good years, with volumes up 33% and 26% respectively, while the Pinot Noir crop was 36% bigger than in 2012.
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Winemaking is an 8,000-year-old tradition, and the first wines tasted … well, terrible.

 

People added ash, resin and even lead to “enhance” the flavor . Luckily, most wines today are pretty darn tasty on their own, thanks to modern fermentation techniques and innovations in packaging that help your wine stay fresher longer, and you certainly don’t have to worry that a wine-maker used lead to improve his product’s flavor!

We’ve also seen a big shift in where we produce wine. Once considered a hoity-toity European beverage, wine is made and drunk all over the world, and you’re as likely to find a decent glass of red at your neighborhood pizza joint as at a fancy French restaurant.

Winemakers have also gotten more conscious of their environmental impacts. Since a good wine starts with the grape, and good grapes start with good soil, the wine industry has stayed on the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture. Any vintner worth his salt knows that protecting the environment is more than just good for the planet — it’s good for his wines.

With such a long history, there have been lots of innovations through the centuries, from how winemakers grow grapes to how they market those bottles. Let’s look at 10 of them.
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Bag-in-Box dispenser; chillers; aerator
 
Publications and other media are bombarded with unsolicited product samples from suppliers seeking publicity. As the North American wine business has surged, so has the flood of innovative “accessories” intended to enhance the drinking experience and enrich their inventors/promoters.

While some of these gizmos look like foolish or overpriced trinkets, others at least appear to have practical application. Wines & Vines editors evaluated a few recent entrants last week.

Most striking is the Boxxle: A sleek countertop container that dispenses bag-in-box wines while dispensing with the actual box. Designed and produced by Tripp Middleton, a former banker in North Carolina, the Boxxle would be especially useful for on-premise, by-the-glass sales.

First described in our October 2011 print edition, the Boxxle “came out in spurts,” according to Middleton. Seeking perfection for his vision, the fledgling inventor took time to refine and retool the Boxxle, which is manufactured in China.

“We really just started pushing in the last month,” he said. Already more than 200 of the devices have been sold through Boxxle website, Amazon.com and deals with Wine Enthusiast and Preferred Living.

Middleton is negotiating with distributors in Tennessee and on the West Coast, and, he said, has heard “a lot of interest from wineries themselves, plus wine and spirits distributors to the restaurant and bar industry.” His sales goal for this year is 10,000 units, a figure he considers doable.

Boxxle has a non-skid base and stainless steel/black exterior. Unlike conventional 3L bag-in-box packages where the spout at the bottom demands placement at the edge of a shelf, Boxxle dispenses the wine from the top: Even a tall glass fits under the spigot for a clean and easy pour.

Middleton believes the growing demand for on-premise by-the-glass service will fuel his sales. Any 3-liter BiB package can easily fit inside, where a spring-loaded dispensing devise pushes the remaining wine up and out. This helps ensure an oxygen-free environment that preserves wine for a month or longer and allows every last drop to be poured out as the package is depleted.

Middleton hopes that wine producers or distributors will begin to provide the Boxxle as a premium or an add-on to top on-premise clients. He said he can provide custom, peel-off, self-stick labels to identify the wine brand and varietal in commercial settings. He also hopes to tap winery tasting rooms, although it’s the rare winery that serves tasting room pours from BiB packages.
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Yesterday we revealed the world’s most fattening drinks, and today we look at the other end of the scale and reveal the world’s least calorific alcoholic drinks.

A low calorie message is now being seen as a further way to attract drinkers, beyond just cheap price and promotional offers.

Many winemakers, including E&J Gallo, McWilliams and Banrock Station have all recently released low calorie, low alcohol wines.

Banrock Station’s brand manager, Neil Morolia told db, “Say 5.5% abv to a consumer and most of them will not really understand. Say 60 calories per glass to them and all of a sudden you are talking their language.”

These drinks are in stark contrast to the world’s most fattening drinks, some of which carry more calories than a Big Mac, although they do have much less fat.

Read on …

Also read:

Watch that waistline...

Watch that waistline…

 

You’re a pro at checking labels at the grocery store, but when you hit the liquor store for a bottle of wine, nutrition facts are nowhere to be found. Luckily, armed with some basic knowledge, you can easily figure out which wines are the best buys for your bikini body as well as your palette. We spoke with wine expert Madeline Puckette, cofounder of Wine Folly, who shared her best tips for finding great-tasting wines that won’t derail your diet.

1. Check the ABV. While there are no actual nutrition labels on bottles of wine, there is one indicator you can use to approximate calories: the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) percentage. ABVs can range from 9 percent for low-alcohol wines up to 17 percent for some dry wines. “Aim for an ABV that’s between 9 to 12 percent, which equals 110 to 140 calories per six-ounce pour,” Puckette says. The amount of alcohol in wine has more influence on calorie count than carbs, since alcohol has seven calories per gram, while carbs (i.e. sugars) have four. So a lower-alcohol wine has fewer calories than higher-alcohol wines, independent of the amount of sugar. (Check out Wine Folly’s helpful infographic, below.)

2. Buy European. “A smart tip to keep in mind is to look for European wines from regions like Italy, France, and Germany,” Puckette says. These countries tend to have stricter laws and regulations on alcohol content in wines than America, so European wines tend to be lower in alcohol and, hence, calories. “Also try to avoid wines grown in warmer regions like Chile or Australia, where higher sugar content in grapes converts to higher ABV in wines,” she adds.

3. Stick with white. In general, white wines tend to be lower in alcohol and calories than reds. “While light whites have around 140 calories or less per six-ounce glass, a light red has between 135 to 165 calories, while a higher-alcohol red like pinot noir or syrah can have up to 200 in a glass,” Puckette says. Light white varieties such as Riesling, pinot grigio, and vinho verde have fewer calories than whites with higher ABVs like moscato, Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and viognier.

 

Read on …

The middle class knows best ...

The middle class knows best …

 

Middle class professionals who drink at home are the country’s biggest problem drinkers because they think they know better than health experts, new research claims.
The study found widespread evidence that white collar workers consider alcohol – especially wine – an everyday reward for chores such as cooking dinner or putting their children to bed, as well as to combat the stress of office life.

There was also a common perception among the group that they could ignore health warnings and that regularly drinking at home is safe and sensible, even if their intake exceeded recommended guidelines.

The researchers claim the study shows the need for an overhaul of the government’s messages about safe drinking, which currently focus more on the impact of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour.

In fact, the study – in the journal BMC – found that these public health warnings “actively reinforced” the view among the middle classes “that their own drinking was problem-free”, because the campaigns tended to depict problems associated with young people drinking.

The research, by the universities of Newcastle and Sunderland, involved a study among 49 clerical and managerial staff from a range of workplaces, including a council, a tax office and a chemical storage company.
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Terroir vs Technique! (Chronicle photo by Lacy Atkins)

Terroir vs Technique! (Chronicle photo by Lacy Atkins)

Is great wine the product of terroir, technique, or both?

 

Regular readers of my blog know that this question, or concept, intrigues me as do few others. I’ve frequently quoted the great Prof. Peynaud, who says terroir is Mother Nature; when man brings his or her own touch to the finished product, the combination of the two, he calls “cru.” As he expresses it, somewhat complexly, in The Taste of Wine: The Art and Science of Wine Appreciation, “The cru…is the wine-producing property, the chateau, different from its neighbors.” At the same time, this definition includes not just physical attributes such as climate, soils, slope, elevation and so on, but “the three activities of production, processing and marketing.” And P.R.? Yes, that too.

This definition of terroir is pretty broad; it’s one I accept, and if everyone else did, we could cease these eternal hand-wringings on what constitutes terroir. Still, the definition raises exciting and troubling implications: If I take the grapes from a single wine-producing property, divide them into three parts, and give three different winemakers one of those parts to vinify, will the resulting wines all show the terroir of the site? Or will they be so different that we can only explain their distinctions by the technique of their winemakers?

This is precisely what The Cube Project explores. The brainchild of Anne Amie’s winemaker, Thomas Houseman, it was formed “to evaluate the impact of winemaking vs. terroir.” Anne Amie is in the Willamette Valley; its two partner wineries are Bouchaine, in the Carneros, and Lincourt, down in the Sta. Rita Hills. Each of the winemakers took a single block of Pinot Noir from the estate vineyard in the 2010 vintage, divvied it into three shares and sent two of them (very carefully) to the other two winemakers. Then all three crafted the best wine he or she could.

Read on …

 

The days of grocery aisles stocked with Edwardian-Scripted wine bottles are hopefully close to being a thing of the past. Our favorite old-school alcoholic beverage is getting a fresh face with innovations in both the design of the label and the container itself.

We’ve picked 50 of some of the best designs—and while we can’t vouch for the stuff inside—the look of them is enough to get your salivary glands going.
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The future of (faster) wine aging is here

One of the enemies of the wine lover is time. The greatest wines in the world are meant to be aged, to be given the time to allow oxygen, and who knows what else, to work their magic on young wine. The edges smooth out, the texture turns silky, flavors gain nuance, depth and complexity. It’s magic in the bottle, though nobody can fully explain what happens in that bottle.

While wine lovers tend to be a pretty geeky crowd, I know that many (if not most) of us aren’t nearly as interested in the how’s as we are in the what’s. Give us your finely aged wines and we’ll be a bunch of happy campers. Of course, knowing which of your bottles are ready to drink, which are past peak, which need more time and which are just trashed is a mystery that can only be solved by pulling the cork and drinking the wine—until now!

We’re thrilled to be the first to announce a new, groundbreaking technique for wine lovers: AmmazzaVino vacuum dehydration storage! AmmazzaVino founder and CEO Gianni Brunellopolis sat down with me recently to discuss the advantages of AmmazzaVino, and how it’s going to revolutionize the wine collecting world.
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