Posts Tagged ‘What’

 

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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One of the most disappointing moments in life is opening up a bottle of wine and realizing that it’s spoiled. While it may seem trivial to consider such an occurrence as such a detrimental moment, you have to realize that we’re passionate about wine.

Besides, it’s embarrassing to return a bad bottle of wine at a restaurant. And, it’s frustrating when you find that perfect bottle, only to come home and discover you wasted your money. Remember, we’re talking about wine that has a default flavor profile, not ranting about wines that taste horrible. So, how exactly does a bottle of wine go bad? There are several factors that can explain so.

Oxidation

Perhaps the most common fault in wine is oxidation. This occurs when the wine is overexposed to oxygen, which is wine’s worst enemy. Oxidation will lead wine to lose it’s flavor, giving it a lifeless taste and resembling vinegar. Color will also be affected. White wines will appear darker and others will become cloudy.

Environmental Conditions

There are various environmental conditions that can ruin a bottle of wine. These can occur from the wine-making process to bottling to storage. Here’s a rundown of the most common environmental problems.

  • Tainted cork, or TCA, occurs when mold grows on a chlorine bleached cork, or even in the barrel. It creates an earthy, moldy and musty aroma that masks the wines natural fruit aromas.
  • Heat exposure, or maderized, happens when the wine is literally cooked. This is a result of in-proper storage, meaning the wine has spent an excessive amount of time above  55°F.Lightstrike can be a problem when a bottle of wine has been overexposed to UV radiation.
  • Ladybird taint can turn wine rancid when bugs, mostly beetles like ladybirds or Asian lady beetle, are harvested along with grapes.
  • Brettanomyces, or simply Brett, is simply yeast spoilage. Since this thrives on wood products, like barrels, we’ll go ahead and say that this is an environmental condition. Once a winery has been infected, it’s difficult to get rid of, since it can transfer from wood to wood. The result is a wine that tastes like a barnyard or wet dog.

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The critic.

The critic.

 

Influential critics have long played an important role in our discovery of many of life’s pleasures but are noticeably absent from others. Ardent fans of the movies, theater, literature and other areas of interest often look to familiar and trusted critics for guidance in unearthing new products and adventures as they emerge.

We tend to identify with a critic’s personal preferences and subjective direction on a range of important topics and use these “critiques” as suggestions, rather than point-driven rules, in steering the way to what might be appealing to us.

So why has the wine critic’s role taken on such a different and more rigid path in the appreciation, marketing and consequent production of wine by “awarding” completely objective scores behind a subjective facade?

A critic should be a reliable source of information for those interested, by conveying seasoned personal opinions through a review. But when a point score (without published derivation or computation) is attached, the review assumes the appearance of objectivity but remains couched in the more familiar subjective style.

Certainly there are expert reviewers and writers voicing their experienced personal opinions on what’s new in the market, but have you ever seen a dress with a 96-point rating or a perfume bearing an 85-point score? I doubt it. Yet the opinion makers in these industries do get their fair share of media time and space with detailed descriptions and observations that followers can accept or reject within their own frame of reference.

I guess this all leads to the basic question: “Is the critic’s role one of opinion or judgment?” And it’s often this question, phrased in different ways, that becomes the subject of many discussions I’ve had with others in and out of the wine industry.

 

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Jesse Jane do Tequila & beer!

Jesse Jane do Tequila & beer!

From Ron Jeremy’s love of rum to Jenna Jameson’s obsession with Irish whiskey, we reveal porn stars’ favourite drinks.
When the Ron de Jeremy rum launched in 2011, one reviewer said: “I honestly don’t think that there has been a rum – or any product for that matter – that I have had more people ask me for my opinion on in hushed tones than Ron de Jeremy.”

And that is, perhaps, no great shock. The marketers of the rum have adopted a rather tongue-in-cheek campaign, with the saying: “Long and smooth, it’s perfect naked” and it’s no surprise to see Jeremy surrounded by beautiful girls as he talks about the rum. There is even a Ron de Jeremy calendar available.

But Jeremy is not the only adult star to have crossed into the adult world of drinks, Jenna Jameson, once considered the “Queen of porn”, has also released a selection of wines after buying a vineyard in California.

In many of the interviews that these adult movie stars give they are often asked what is their favourite drink, possibly because many people think that you must be drunk to take part in such a film. Although one XXX-rated star, Tera Patrick, dismissed this when asked recently what is the biggest misconception about porn stars, she replied: “That we’re easy to hit on and that everyone’s on drugs – that’s insane. And that we’re all dumb. Some people in porn are so bright. Ron Jeremy, for example, is a special education schoolteacher. I’m a trained nurse.”

Well, that’s OK then. So with misconceptions firmly squashed, let’s take a look at the favourite drinks of some of these adult movie stars.

 

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At the roots of organic wine ...

At the roots of organic wine …

 

“Do you offer organic wine?” It’s a question I hear frequently while on the wine trail.

Wine retailers, once cautious about the idea are suddenly eager to stock organic wine. A smattering of selections has burgeoned in recent years, crowding store displays. Once on the fringe, brands featuring words like nature, earth and the prefix “eco” now edge closer to the wine mainstream as consumer interest intensifies. But the simple question remains: which wines labeled as organic are really worth a look?

Not many, it turns out. Wine brands marketed as organic are seldom worth bringing home again. It’s unusual to find a drinkable red — with Organic splashed across the front label — which begs another taste.

For supporters of organic consumption, there’s a bright side; one you’ll find useful if you support some notion of organic farming and expect well-made wine to boot.

The far more exciting end of organic viticulture is the juice made from organically farmed grapes — from France, Italy and Spain, as well as from domestic producers — where organic may be barely noticeable on labels. It’s wine sold on the merits of taste and authenticity first. Validating these wines requires reading fine print, or decoding unfamiliar symbols. Quite a few estates feature organic production without fanfare or gaudy marketing campaigns. The challenge is finding them.

In the 1980s, the fledging category began to appear in stores, with wines from California among the first examples available in mass distribution. Initially the concept raised a murmur of excitement, in part because organics were considered healthier options than conventional versions. People bought organic wine as they did food, mostly to avoid a perceived surplus of chemical herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and other additives thought to be common in conventionally made wine. From the outset, however, customers encountered unstable, highly variable bottles. Many of the wines were hard to identify from the varietals listed on the labels. Opening the early organic bottles was like spinning a roulette wheel — one bottle stinky and cloudy, another one browning, dull, others grapey but odd examples. Moreover, the wines were expensive for the times. Organic wine seemed more an experiment than a reliable new category. Consumers had every right to worry about chemical additives in winemaking, but it remained that bottles had to taste as good, or better than conventional versions.

 

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Obsessive-Compulsive? Hedonistic? Or just carefree?

 

“There may be more to learn by climbing the same mountain a hundred times than by climbing a hundred different mountains.”—Richard Nelson, The Island Within

It all began while I was making one of my favorite dishes, a lemon risotto. I make it often, if only because risotto is kind of a signature dish chez Kramer, especially when we’re entertaining.

Now, making risotto is not that hard. But I’ve discovered that a good number of otherwise adept cooks are daunted by risotto because a certain “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” sense of—to borrow from wine terminology—ideal ripeness is involved. It’s not that hard. But a little repetition helps.

While making the risotto I thought of author Richard Nelson’s observation cited above. And that, in turn, made me think about wine loving.

We all know an awful lot of wine lovers. They’re winemakers, sommeliers, winery owners, restaurateurs and, not least, our fellow wine-loving friends. If you want to get a sense of just how persuasive wine is in your life, give a thought to how many of your friends don’t drink wine. My guess is that, apart from a handful who abstain from alcohol altogether
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The science of winemaking.

 

From refining a style to rescuing a difficult vintage, how outsiders can help a winery

 

WHEN MICHEL ROLLAND was named the winemaking consultant to France’s Château Figeac two months ago, a great protest was registered in certain wine-drinking circles. The St. Émilion grand cru would be ruined; the wine would be “Rolland-ized,” opined drinkers posting on a popular discussion board. One reader even declared that the move was “a disaster for all fans of Figeac.” The impassioned discussion ran to seven pages and lasted two weeks. Who would guess that a winemaking consultant—even the world’s most famous one—had the power to provoke such an outpouring of passion, not to mention a purported ability to destroy a Bordeaux estate?

Winemaking consultants range from professionals who might offer a word of advice on the final blend to those who are involved in every phase of the winemaking—from the vineyard to the bottling line. While consultants have been employed for decades, the profession has lately been the subject of much debate: Do consultants actually help elevate the wines of an individual estate, or do they simply stamp out the same wine over and over again? For example, to members of that particular discussion board, a “Michel Rolland wine” was shorthand for an “overripe, over-extracted, high-alcohol” product. But was that fair? I contacted some prominent winemaking consultants—starting with Mr. Rolland—to hear what they had to say.

 

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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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Global market research company Mintel recently estimated the spending power of the gay population to be between £6bn and £8bn per annum in the UK and US$464bn in the US.

 

With these kind of numbers in mind it is perhaps no surprise that some drinks companies have sought out the “pink pound”.

In the book Principles of Marketing, authors Frances Brassington and Stephen Pettit wrote: “Gay consumers are perceived to have a higher than average income, and almost 60% of gay men are either single or not cohabiting. Those who are cohabiting are likely to be in dual income households.” The book adds: “The lack of dependents and responsibilities gives gay consumers more opportunities for lifestyle spending with a strong focus on leisure and socialising.”

According to gay website Queerty.com, “if there are two things gays like to be at the forefront of it’s trends and liquor.” So, with this attitude and the knowledge that the Gay Times magazine claims that 80% of its readership comes from the ABC1 socioeconomic groups, compared with 43% of the general population, targeting the gay population should make sense for many drinks brands.

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