Posts Tagged ‘Cheap’

Russian girl stomping grapes during Russian wine harvest.

 

Cheap sweet whites dominate the home market but a handful of ambitious Russian wine producers are raising the standards.
For most westerners, the whole concept of “Russian wine” sounds a bit like an oxymoron. And if you ever sip wine at a Russian party, the chances are you won’t like it much. Or at least you will find it perplexing.

That’s because four-fifths of wines sold in Russia are poor quality semi-sweet varieties, and involve the use of concentrate.

The reasons for this date back to Soviet times, when Russians’ taste for semi-sweet and sparkling wines was formed. Many Russians today consider dry wines too sour. It was Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, who did most to foster this tradition.

It may be hard to believe but, according to the International Wine Office, the Soviet Union ranked fifth in the world in terms of area under vines and seventh in terms of wine output by the end of the Fifties.
The young Soviet winemaking industry found enthusiastic support from Stalin and from Anastas Mikoyan, his Armenian minister for food production. Both Georgia and Armenia, in the fertile, Mediterranean-like climate of the South Caucasus, have a rich tradition of winemaking that predates even the ancient wine culture of Greece.

Wine was drunk in Russia only by the aristocracy before the 1917 Revolution. But all this changed under Stalin, who believed wine had to be affordable for every Soviet citizen.
Scientists managed to produce frost-resistant, high-yielding varieties of grape. But the quality suffered: wines made from such grapes were barely palatable because of their high acidity and lack of taste. To remedy this flaw, grape sugar and often ethyl alcohol were added to the wines – practices that are still widely used in the Russian wine industry to this day.

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It’s not the end of soda — yet. But soft drinks have peaked, while bottled water, energy drinks, and a considerable amount of premium alcohol are taking their place in our liquid diet.
One hundred and eighty gallons. It’s enough to fill 11 kegs, four bath tubs, or just one big aquarium. It’s also how much liquid you drink ever year.

The question is: 180 gallons of what?

American drinking habits have undergone a major shift in the last decade. Throughout the 1990s, soft drinks made up nearly a third of the typical Americans’ liquid diet. But in the last ten years, we’ve cut our soda consumption by 16 percent. Meanwhile, we now drink more than 50 percent more bottled water than we did in 2001 — and twice as many energy drinks.

“Soft drinks peaked around 1998,” said Thomas Mullarkey, an analyst from Morningstar. The big winners in the last decade have been bottled waters, sports drinks, wines, and then spirits, “which have picked up a quarter of a gallon per person in the last decade,” Mullarkey said, before adding, “that is a lot of extra alcohol.”

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Champagne supplier, Pressoirs de France.

Champagne supplier, Pressoirs de France.

 

After weeks of speculation that it was in financial difficulties, the Pressoirs de France group – supplier of cheap Champagne to major UK supermarkets – has gone into receivership having failed to find a new financial backer.

 

In a statement to the French press on Wednesday, owner Nicolas Dubois said the company was ‘without sufficient capital to fund its cash needs’.

Dubois, who started his brokering business in 1999, quickly become a large operator predominantly selling cheap Champagne to hypermarkets and supermarkets inside and outside France.
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wine-flight

Can you spot the difference?

 

Can you really taste the difference between a $15 wine and a $150 wine? Wine enjoyment is such an objective experience and taste is not exactly an exact science.  During a recent trip to Paso Robles I came face-to-face with my own shortcomings and the ugly truth of wine: much of what we taste is in our heads and not in the wine. I was traveling with a lovely group of wine journalists—each of us boasting some expertise in wine, some with fancy degrees behind our names and official titles. During a tasting at Still Waters Vineyards the proprietor poured two whites (the bottles were covered in brown bags) and asked us to try and discern the varietals. We all eagerly set to the task, using our infinite powers of wine-soaked observation to peg the wines being poured.

Everyone loves a challenge. We swirled, we sniffed, we wrinkled our brows in contemplation.  Some of us nodding with assurance. I took notes, finding the first white to be more floral and elegant than the second. Drawing on my years and years (there have been too many) of tasting, studying and observation, I swiftly concluded that the first wine was an unoaked Chardonnay and the second was a Sauvignon Blanc, easy peasy. Much to my mortification I was dead wrong, as was everyone else in the room. The proprietor chuckled and informed his room of bright-eyed ambitious wine journalists that the wines were actually the same wine; one was just warmer than the other. He wasn’t intentionally shaming us (not one person got it right); he was pointedly demonstrating the power of just one element in the wine tasting experience: temperature.
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