Posts Tagged ‘During’

Couple-selecting-wine-horiz-orig-640x427

The freedom to choose and drink wine.

 

Wine is old, ancient, neolithic. It has been consumed throughout recorded history. Yet wine as we know it today is relatively new. Where it originated, what it tasted like and represented, and how it was transformed over time are explored in Paul Lukacs’s fascinating new book, “Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures,” published in December by W. W. Norton & Company.

One thing is clear from Mr. Lukacs’s work: most wine for much of history was vile, nasty stuff. If an ancient critic had etched a tasting note to describe the wine that most people drank, it might have read, “Wretched, horrible, vinegary, foul.” Yet people drank it anyway, because they had no choice. Other beverages like water and milk were disease ridden. Wine might have tasted awful, but alcohol was a built-in disinfectant.

It was not until the Renaissance, writes Mr. Lukacs (who, when not researching wine, is an English professor at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore), that familiar notions of discrimination came to be. Only then did wine connoisseurs, a minute group to be sure, begin to associate particular styles and qualities in wine with specific places, an early idea of terroir. And only then did astute wine drinkers begin to perceive that some wines could be appreciated intellectually and emotionally rather than just physically, and that the best wines conveyed a sense of balance, length and depth.

But it was really with the Enlightenment in the 18th century, when a series of revolutions began that would transform our understanding of grape-growing, wine production and wine storage, that wine began to resemble what we now take for granted.

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Frozen Canadian grapes!

Frozen Canadian grapes!

 

In the Ontario town of Beamsville, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Niagara Falls, a small crowd of bundled-up figures crouched in a moonlit vineyard on a frigid January night, picking a crop of hard-frozen Gewurztraminer grapes.

With stars shining overhead and ice crystals glittering in the air, the temperature had dropped to minus 10 Celsius, or 14 Fahrenheit. Conditions were nearly perfect to harvest fruit for this year’s ice wine, a Canadian speciality.

Malivoire, one of the Niagara region’s boutique wineries, picks its ice wine grapes by hand. For this annual rite of winter it relies on a corps of more than a dozen volunteers, selected by a lottery, to get the grapes off the vine and crushed at just the right moment.

One of those chosen for this year’s harvest was Susan Smith, 64, a first-time picker who said she was attracted to the mystique of ice wine.

“This experience is something I’ve wanted to have for a long time,” she said. “Having those juicy, fragrant little bunches in your hands and being out under the stars.”

COMPLEX, FRUITY

Ice wine is almost a nectar that is rich with the flavours of apple, peach and apricot. Its hints of honey, nuts and, maybe, a dash of caramel provide a refreshing counterpoint to a blue cheese or fruit-based dessert.

“There is nothing else quite like ice wine … It’s a guilty pleasure,” said Eric Nixon, who works at Malivoire, adding that the wines – which sell for about double the price of most non-vintage Champagnes – are often associated with special occasions.
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