Posts Tagged ‘is’

We can only wish ...

We can only wish …

 

Let me be clear. I don’t make wine. I have never made wine. Everything I may know about making wine comes first from books and secondly from correlating what winemakers say about making wine with how their wines taste.

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of “learning”, and I can now say with full conviction that there is no one way to make wine.

I have heard all the theories, listened as winemakers proclaimed everything from biodynamics to barrel aging, from high acid to high approachability as the only answers, the “right” answers.

I have had to hold my tongue with some difficulty as winemaker after winemaker disparaged their peers whose wines I have praised in print. “Added a little water”? “Added acid”? “Used more than 25% new oak”? All verboten.
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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.

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Almost all table wines are vintage wines – meaning all their grapes were harvested in the same year. However, Australia, New Zealand and countries in the European Union are permitted to include a portion (15 per cent) of wine that is not from the specified vintage year.

Fortified and sparkling wines are often labelled non-vintage (NV), meaning that the grapes are blended from different vintage years in order to maintain a consistent “house style”. If you see a French Champagne labelled with a vintage year, it’s likely that the growing conditions produced such outstanding grapes that the producer was motivated to produce a single-vintage wine.

Weather conditions
So how does vintage affect the taste of wine? It’s mainly about the weather. Wine regions have their own micro-climates that influence many aspects of the grape-growing season. A good vintage year sees the right weather conditions produce a high-yielding crop, with perfectly ripe grapes that are neither too sweet nor too acidic. Creating this perfect balance of flavour is what determines a good vintage year and therefore a good – and sometimes great – quality wine that will age well.

The weather conditions during the year of ripening are important. For example, if it’s a particularly rainy season, the grapes can swell up and lose their flavour. They can also be at risk of developing fungal diseases that could potentially ruin the entire crop. Wet, rainy seasons generally produce wines with high acidity – not great for the ageing potential of the wine.

Frost is another risk factor for grape growers, especially in colder European countries. In some areas, the risk is so high that growers use heaters in the vineyards to keep their grapes warm.
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Chances are that at least once in your life you’ve found yourself at a restaurant, sitting next to someone who claims to know everything about wine.

They usually hold their glass up toward the light to see the color of the wine, talk about tannins, grape variety, soil quality… Of course, the most expensive wine always seems to be the best one.

But recently, several studies have shown that the price itself of a wine can actually influence its taste.

In 2001, Frederic Brochet carried out two experiments at the University of Bordeaux. In one of them, he got 54 oenology students together and had them taste a glass of red wine, and a glass of white wine. They described each wine with as many details as they could. What Brochet did not tell them was that both glasses were actually the same wine. He had simply dyed the white wine red – which did not affect its taste. In the second experiment, he asked experts to assess the quality of two bottles of red wine. One was very expensive, the other one was cheap. Once again, he had tricked them, filling both bottles with the cheap wine. So, what were the results?
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Many filtering/fining agents are animal-based, but alternatives exist
 
 
At first glance, wine produced from grapes or other fruit would by definition be vegan. Vegan refers to a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products. But the recent launch of the Vegan Vine Wine Club called that into question.

As it turns out, many wines are not strictly vegan because animal-derived products are used for fining or filtering. Common filter/fining materials including isinglass (fish derived), gelatin, egg whites or milk protein caseins—even if only trace amounts remain in the finished beverage—are “not appropriate for the vegan lifestyle,” according to Gary Smith, principal of Evolotus PR, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based agency that works with many animal-protection organizations and nonprofit groups. “Even a lot of long-time vegans don’t know this,” said Smith, a practicing vegan for many years.

“Each vegan has to deal with the minutia,” Smith continued. “You buy organic veggies, but your cat can’t go vegan: It’s not healthy. Everybody makes their own decisions. It’s impossible to live in the world and not harm animals. You do the best that you can.”

Clos LaChance, the Murphy family’s 60,000-case winery in San Martin, Calif., decided to make it easier for vegan imbibers. After a discussion with a vegan cousin during a family vacation two years ago, Clos LaChance created The Vegan Vine and began to market Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends under the label. With enthusiastic distributors, and the energetic promotion efforts of partner and ambassador John Salley, a former NBA champion, Vegan Vine has already sold through some 5,000 cases.
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3 Glasses a week improves your memory.

3 Glasses a week improves your memory.

 

Champagne usually marks a memorable occasion for most of us – but scientists are now claiming three glasses a week can help to ensure it’s a memory that lasts.

Researchers say that a healthy dose of bubbly can help against brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Jeremy Spencer, a biochemistry professor at Reading University, said anyone over 40 would be wise to drink two or three glasses a week.

‘Dementia probably starts in the 40s and goes on to the 80s,’ he said.

‘It is a gradual decline and so the earlier people take these beneficial compounds in champagne, the better.’

His team say the source is a compound called phenolic acid, found in the black grapes, Pinot noir and Pinot meunier, both of which are used for champagne.

 

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How is Red Wine Made?


See how red wine is made with an easy-to-understand infographic. How is red wine made? Harvest grapes, smash them up and watch as yeast transforms the grape’s sugar into alcohol!

THE BASICS
The basic concept behind winemaking is very simple, but the process can vary greatly depending on who makes the wine and what techniques they prefer to use.

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Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux is to turn its carbon emissions into toothpaste.

Speaking to the drinks business at an en primuer tasting of the estate’s wines last week, co-owner Daniel Cathiard revealed details of the unusual plan.

“Our aim is to be as green as possible, so we’re going to capture the carbon emitted during the fermentation process and turn it into bicarbonate of soda to be used in toothpaste,” he said.

“We don’t want to waste anything here, so why not make the most of our carbon? We produce a lot of C02 at the winery and we want to be like a forest and capture it,” he added.

Cathiard told db that he would turn the carbon from a gas into sodium bicarbonate and sell it on to pharmaceutical companies for use in toothpaste.

He plans to make his first batch of bicarbonate of soda this year.

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The various sources of tannin in wine.

 

In wine, tannin is a textural element that makes wine taste dry.

Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit skins. About 50% of the dry weight of plant leaves are tannins. As a characteristic of wine, tannin adds both bitterness and astringency as well as complexity. Wine tannins are most commonly found in red wine, although white wines have tannin from being aged in wooden barrels.

  • What Does Tannin Taste Like?

Tannin tastes dry and astringent and you can feel it specifically on the middle of your tongue and the front part of your mouth. Unsweetened black tea is a great example of nearly pure tannin dissolved in water.

  • High-Tannin Foods

Tea Leaves
Walnuts, Almonds and Nuts with Skins
Dark Chocolate
Cinnamon, Clove and other spices
Pomegranates, Grapes and Açaí Berries
Quince
Red Beans

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An Sotheby's employee holds a rare Jeroboam of Château Mouton Rothschild from 1953 on Jan. 17, 2012 in LondonPhoto by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

An Sotheby’s employee holds a rare Jeroboam of Château Mouton Rothschild from 1953 on Jan. 17, 2012 in London
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

 

Some are excellent, others undrinkable.

Testimony began this week in billionaire William Koch’s lawsuit against Eric Greenberg, who Koch claims sold him some very expensive counterfeit wine. (Mike Steinberger wrote a detailed investigation of the case for Slate in 2010.) Some of the bottles went for nearly $30,000, which has Koch so miffed that he refuses to settle the case. If you spend $30,000 on a bottle of wine, can you expect it to be better than a $20,000 bottle or a $10,000 bottle?
Not really. Full disclosure: The Explainer has never tasted, and has no discernible prospects of ever tasting, a $10,000 bottle of wine. The wine experts he consulted, however, emphasized that the difference between wines in this price range is not quality, but rather prestige, rarity, and age. Upon opening, some four- or five-figure bottles of wine “justify” their price—at least to experienced wine critics and people who can conceive of paying $30,000 for 1.5 liters of fermented grape juice. (A 1947 Cheval Blanc, for example, blew away Slate’s wine critic.) Other bottles have slid far beyond their peak, losing their volatile fruit flavors to age and, frequently, improper storage. Occasionally, giddy wine lovers uncork an ultra-expensive wine only to find that it has turned to vinegar. As wine enthusiasts say, there are no great wines, only great bottles. However, just like a high-roller going all in at the poker table, some wealthy wine lovers perceive value in unpredictability.

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