Posts Tagged ‘the’

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 …

 

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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The Bourbon brand, Jim Beam.

The Bourbon brand, Jim Beam.

 

The drinks business has compiled a list of the current top 10 spirit brands by global volume sales.

While the majority of entries in this year’s top 10 retained their 2012 ranking, there was a new entry from innovative Bourbon brand Jim Beam, while movers in the pack included German digestif Jägermeister and Irish cream liqueur Baileys.

The ability for brands to refresh and reinvent themselves was a core contributing factor to our top 10’s success this year, with new flavoured variants being released thick and fast in the vodka category, and Bacardi giving two new flavours a go on the rum front.

White spirits put in a strong performance this year, but was it enough to stave off the seemingly unstoppable charge of super Scotch Johnnie Walker, voted the number one brand in The Drinks Business Power Brands 2013 list?

 

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I saw a he-said, he-said argument about sexism in wine media this week and it got me to thinking about the state of sexism in the wine industry.

About 20 years ago, the wine industry was male-dominated at every level. Today, women winemakers are common, and some wineries have advertised specifically looking a woman to take the post. Women general managers are more rare, but they exist.

Women sommeliers were rare as recently as 10 years ago, but don’t seem so anymore. One place I don’t see a lot of women is in wholesaling, which is the most consistently profitable occupation.
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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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 Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich

 

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich, portrayed in a 2000 film about her fight over the pollution of a California town, has been arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated.
Brockovich, 52, was arrested at Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, on Friday night after breath tests showed her blood-alcohol level was just over twice the legal limit.

She was seen struggling to moor her motorboat at the Las Vegas Boat Harbour, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife said.

“She was not sure how to manoeuvre the boat into the dock,” Mr Lyngar said. “It’s a simple thing if you can think clearly. But if you add alcohol and unfamiliarity of the area, it can all cause serious problems.”
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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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The drinks business has compiled a list of the current top 10 Champagne brands by global volume sales.

While there are few dramatic changes to this year’s rankings – the slide by Piper Heidsieck was widely forecasted as a result of the brand’s recent repositioning – what does stand out is the decline in sales seen by so many of these major players in the Champagne category.

For many consumers, especially in more traditional markets, Champagne stands firm as the ultimate celebratory drink. However, this slide in sales appears to be the result of two aligning forces: ongoing economic difficulties in some of the category’s biggest markets and the growing competition Champagne faces from an increasingly ambitious sparkling wine market.

Read on to find out which brands are dominating today’s Champagne market.

Read on …

Kate Hudson, not just an actress...

Kate Hudson, not just an actress…

 

Actress Kate Hudson and her rock star fiancé Matt Bellamy of Muse have become the latest in a steady stream of celebrities to enter the wine business.

According to Life & Style magazine, the couple were so pleased with their 2010 HudsonBellamy rosé that they now plan to start selling it into bars and restaurants.

The pair are reported to have offered friends and family the chance to buy cases before it goes on sale to the public, describing the wine as “crisp, bright and perfect for upcoming summer.”

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A big drug firm seems less interested in resveratrol-related research; grapes offer heart benefits

A new study provides good news for breast cancer survivors—there is no need to give up wine drinking in moderation. According to a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, drinking before and after breast cancer diagnosis does not impact survival from the disease. In fact, a modest survival benefit was found in women who were moderate drinkers before and after diagnosis due to a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, a major cause of mortality among breast cancer survivors.

Previous research has linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, though the nature of the link and exact risk of consumption patterns is unclear. For this study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, about 5,000 participants with breast cancer were questioned about alcohol consumption habits.

The researchers found that the amount and type of alcohol a woman reported consuming in the years before her diagnosis was not associated with her likelihood from dying from breast cancer. They also discovered that women who consumed three to six drinks per week in the years before their cancer diagnosis were 15 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers. Moderate wine drinkers showed an even lower risk, the study states.

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