With the beginning of a new year, I thought it only proper to start 2018 by talking about the birthplace of wine. We all know about French, Italian, New Zealand and Australian wines, etc… But what has somehow been missed by so many is Georgian wine. Georgia - the country (not the state!) where wine is so integrated into their culture that even their alphabet is inspired by grapevines!
There are so many different wine bottles out there, coming in different shapes and sizes and each bottle could give us clues of what treasure it holds. Such variety is not surprising; there are not many requirements in place for which bottle to use, not even in the Old World which loves regulations. My guess is that since certain regions started using a particular bottle, only the grape varietals that grow well there tended to be used, and thus, a bottle-to-grape match was made. In any case, there is not much holding a producer back from changing the bottles they use.
Decanting. How fancy! Even if you have no clue why people do it, decanting makes you look and feel like a pro…right?
The purpose of decanting is simple: it is done to make the wine taste better (and the looks of it all is just a bonus). However, what does a decanter really do? And are you decanting the right way, and with the right wine?
At the office, we like to experiment with decanting. We have this electrical decanter, which is supposed to have the same effect as a regular one, but with quicker results. Lately we have been discussing whether this machine works as a regular decanter and produces the same outcome—a win-win experiment, I must say. At times we have found that it really does make a big difference to the wine we drink. At other times, though, we might as well just drink straight from the bottle!
Imagine it’s a Friday evening; you have just come home after a long and busy week at work and all you want to do is to put your feet up, relax and open a bottle of wine - but you can’t find the corkscrew?! You remember the store down the street that sells wine with screw caps. You wonder if you really should go, after all wine with screw caps are just so cheap so who cares if it’s of bad quality…right?
"Oh wow, that's delicious, how much is it for a bottle?" Quickly followed by, "oh no, that's much more than I usually spend. I can easily pick up something just as good for £4 in my local supermarket." This is something we are very used to hearing. In fact, we usually end up finishing the sentence. Many of us have probably said it ourselves. But while the bit about the price may be mind-bogglingly true, how true is the claim about the all-important quality?
Ladies and gentlemen… Tonight, we are here to witness one of the most anticipated grudge matches of modern day wine enjoyment. For the millions around the world about to enjoy a good bottle of wine, for the peace of mind of surviving the next day and banishment of painkillers alike… Let’s get r-r-ready to R… Alright, that’s enough of that. Boxing references aside, there is a very real subject being raised here, which has led to a question now being asked by so many. That is, “Can I avoid getting a hangover if I drink organic/biodynamic/natural wines?”
Sparkling wine, a wine so strongly associated with festivities and celebrations; I can’t help but feel more joyful whenever I see a bottle—even more so when opening one! Ever since I was a child I have seen Champagne opened and, at times, have been lucky enough to try a sip. (Of course back then I didn’t quite like it as much as my Champagne-look-alike soda!)
There are several ways sparkling wine is made, with a variety of methods and a variety of names for the same method. Confused yet? Well, I don’t blame you! So, to make it simple we will focus on the two most commonly used methods. Meet my good friends: Traditional and Charmat.
Soil; the all-important feeding blanket that provides nutrients and water to the vines. It is easy to forget how important the soil is in determining the quality of our favourite wines (as I occasionally do myself!). The colour, texture, aromas and flavour, are all believed to be affected by the quality of soil. As it is a big component of the concept of Terroir, soil is often in the limelight in the industry, especially in the Old World.
There are a great many mysteries and subjects of intrigue within the wine world. "How much is the wine in this bottle really worth?", "does a silver spoon really help to preserve the fizz?", and, "will drinking organic wine stop me getting a hangover?" These are all interesting questions, but there is one that has always held my personal intrigue more than any other... "What exactly is Terroir?"
When I first started paying more attention to wine (that is, when I started caring about how we actually get this fantastic fermented grape juice, rather than just chugging it down…) I often came across phrases like “aged/fermented/matured in oak”. I started to realise that there was more to those words and with that, even more questions.
Questions like: what is the age of the barrel that the wine was fermented in? what method was used to toast the oak and how much was it toasted? what is the size of the barrel? These important variables affect how our treasured grape juice will taste and the aromas we smell. But as important as these are, there is another factor that is just as important – the passport the oak carries.
The two most common passports are currently French and American. So, what does this mean, other than telling us where the oak came from? Does it really matter? As it turns out – it does!