Main points of the wine lecture

Main points of the wine lecture - Summary and study guide...

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Unformatted text preview: Summary and study guide to the wine lecture 'Use these pages as a study guide. However, I do go into a bit more detail than I expect you to carry in your head with regard to names of places and grapes. Even so, look for the general principles at work, because I do feel free to test you on them. For example know: red versus white; why champagne is special; Chateaux in Bordeaux but N egotiants in Burgundy; older is not always better as in Beaujolais that needs drinking early; the why of glass shape but not the details of shape; place names identify the wine in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but varietals organize the rest of the world; all the best wine is grown in close to a Mediterranean climate; what is a fortified wine, and how and under what circumstances does fortification affect the sweetness; why does fermentation usually stop; why does grafting matter? The general process Grapes come in different varieties that can only be maintained through grafting onto the plant onto a root stock. In the middle of the last century European root stocks were being wiped outwith Phylloxera, an aphid insect. Fortunately American viticulturists were using an alternate variety for the root stock that was resistant, and European vineyards were saved. The reason we do wine here in the course is that only after scientific agriculture of Classical times is serious viticulture possible. The Romans took wine making to the regions that, until the last few years, were the sources of the best wine in the world. Different varieties, all of which can only be preserved by grafting, do better in some regions. Also, they respond to environment such as soil moisture and temperature. This is why details of which vineyard and region make a difference. Also a vineyard will have a wine master who will hold character constant by blending, which is a good thing, not a cover up. Know the process that makes wine and be prepared to compare to beer and bread. The grapes are crushed. White grapes make white wine. Red grapes that are crushed and immediately lightly pressed make a white wine that is light orange or pinkish. Red wines are left to begin fermentation with the stalks and skins still mixed with the juice. The subsequent pressing is heavier to bring out the color and extract the tannins in red wines — the heavier the redder. Rose wines are made from red grapes with a slight delay before a medium pressing. The pressing passes into a fermentation vat. The yeast is on the skins and is only added where (as in Michigan) there are health regulations that demand washing and sterilizing the grapes. Cloudy fermented wine moves to a sedimentation vat where solids drop to the bottom. After most solids have gone to the bottom, the wine is moved through a filter to the storage vat where it can stay for years. Maturation occurs here. If, as in some Chardonnay wine, there is a desire to introduce an oak flavor into the wine, it stays in oak barrels longer. Fom'fied wines have brandy added to them to bring the alcohol level up to 18%. Sweet fortified wines have their fermentation process stopped by the brandy early so there is still much 148 sugar unfermented. Sweet fortified wine includes Parts from Portugal, Cream sherry from Spain, Marsala and Vermouth from Italy, Madeira from the island of Madeira (Madeira is like Port but heated as in the sun on the deck of a ship). Dry fortified wines have their fermentation stopped by running out of sugar, and the brandy is added. French Vermouth and dry Fino Sherry are dry examples. Amontz'llado is a medium sherry. In dry unfortified wines, running out of sugar stops % fermentation. In sweet unfortified wines the yeast is poisoned by its own alcohol production. Hard liquor is made from heating a fermented material so that alcohol and flavors become vapor. The fumes condense in a cooled tube and the distillate comes off the still. If the starting material is wine, the liquor is brandy - Cognac and Armagnac in France. Fruitier brandies are made in Spain and Greece, the American brandies following that tradition. If the starting liquor is a corn mash, then the product is Bourbon or Sour Mash Whiskey. Scotch starts with a malted barley brew heated over smokey peat flames. Scotch acquires that smokey flavor. Malt Scotch only has barley brews in them, Vat Malts (eg. Glentromie) being blended (but still malts as opposed to "blended scotch"), Single Malts coming from a single still. Most take a decade to fifteen years mature. Lowland malts are mild tasting (Glenfiddick works to the American preference for light taste), Highland malts still have rich flavor but with more smoke (Glenlivet), while Islay (Lagavulin) and Skye (T alisker) Malts made on west coast islands are a riot of smoke. Blended scotch has other grains in the brew, and those imported into America are particularly light tasting for the local palate. Buying wine and taking it home Maturation continues in the bottle as acid is neutralized and flavors blend. When laying down wine in a cellar, look for constant temperature, dry conditions and no vibrations. Cellar temperature is 50° F. When serving white wine, chill it to the mid 403° F. Serve red wine at room temperature (a European room at 65° F). White wine warm does not taste good, and red wine too cold is a waste of flavor. Do not keep wine in the refrigerator; you chill it once, just before you drink it. Older wines with a big flavor, as in ports, sometimes throw a sediment in the bottle. One needs to decant these into a decanter over a candle, so you can see sediment coming out and immediately stop decanting. Smaller bottles mature faster than bigger bottles. Bottles come in different shapes in France depending on the region; eg. tall straight sides means Bordeaux, while curving shoulders means a fruitier Burgundy. Outside France other producers use the French bottle shapes to indicate the style, which will be a reflection of the French style that is closest. For example Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blends across the world come in Bordeaux shaped bottles. Drinking wine involves glasses, some of which like brandy and champagne make mechanical sense, but many of which are just a labeling system for the person pouring the wine. Big red wines require being left open for half an hour to let it "breathe." Oxygen gets in, and some of the fuse] oils come out. Pour with the label upwards only about half a glass full — leave 149 room to swirl and for the aroma to collect. First swirl and sniff. You will appreciate the nose, a sometimes complicated set of aromas. Hold it up to the light - many wines are pretty, and you may be able to tell things in advance by color. Take a good sip, and role it around your mouth. Here, you are looking for taste - there are only four tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salt. A well balanced wine covers your whole tongue with taste. Then suck air in over the wine, even bubbling it through it on the first taste. Then close your mouth and breathe out through your nose. The smell centers in your nose detect a complex of flavors. Note that flavor is more complex than taste and is separate from it Wine Geography In France one looks for "Appellation control", indicating tight control over the origins of the wine, with local pride and reputation holding up high standards. "Mis en bouteille au Chateau" or on the proprietor’s premises (bottled in our cellars) also indicates higher quality control based on the family defending its name and reputation. In France there are two regions (Bordeaux and Burgundy) that produce the great wines, and several others with their distinctive types. Bordeaux wines come as dry reds and sweet or dry whites. In France the wines with higher quality control are noted as Appellation Controlled according to region over which blending can occur. The Medoc is the region within Bordeaux in general whence most of the great reds derive. Thus Appellation controlled Medoc means that blending across the region can occur. On the other hand, there are narrower Appellations within Medoc like Margaux. The grand crus wines come from Chateaux ranked in the middle of the last century according to five classes. There are five Chateaux first crus which are wonderful and very expensive. For you and me, we will do better to get something special but in less demand. In the sweet desert wines of Sauterne or Barsac, another region within Bordeaux in the wide sense, Chateau d’ Yquem is wonderful and out of our range, but Chateau Coutet is similar and is a third the price. Chateau only means a farm house, but it is the name that attaches the wine to the place. Look for a chateau you know and like, or if you find one you enjoy, remember it. Part of the price you pay is for consistency. In Burgundy, the other region of great French wine, there are fruity reds and whites, in contrast to the more austere style of Bordeaux reds and dry whites. There are two regions here, the Cotes de Nuits and the Cotes du Beaune. Inside these are villages which give their names to blends from across the village's vineyards. The Appellation control could be for one of the Cotes or for special wines for aparticular village. The names to which the quality and reliability applies is the shipper, called the Negotiant (negotiator). That name is a family name which will take responsibility for blending according to their standards. To get what you liked last time, or remember one you have just discovered from Burgundy, Beaujolais or the Cotes de Rhone, stick to the negotiants and the Appellation control, like you would remember the chateau in Bordeaux. While high class reds in Bordeaux will mature in 12 —15 years and hold up from 13 to 25 years, great Burgundies peak in 5—10 years and begin to fade in 7 to 15 years. Beaujolais come from 150 immediately south of Burgundy, come from the Gamay grape, and can be drunk from 4 months to no more than 5 years. Better years of a given type usually take longer to mature and last longer. So do better classes of wine of a region or style. A great wine at maturity has wave after wave of wonderful flavors. Other regions of note in France include the Cotes du Rhone, farther south below Beaujolais. These are very good value, mostly reds. They too are identified by shipper. The Loire is in the North west and is again good value for reds, whites and rose wines. A chateau system works in the Loire, but less formally than in Bordeaux. Alsace is next to the German border and makes wines in the German .style (see below). Champagneis a region in north central France. Champagne is made is vats, but if made in the champagnoise style, is put into bottles while still fermenting. That gives it the fizz. The bottles are repeatedly, gently turned a quarter turn (riddled) resting at 45 degrees with the neck pointing down. Sediment falls into the neck. After a few years of this, the neck is plunged into cold brine to freeze it. The temporary cap is removed, and the frozen sediment plug is fired out under pressure. Au Nature is then corked immediately, Brut has sugar added up to 1.5% but remains genuinely dry, extra dry goes up to 3.0% sugar (which counter to its name is getting sweetish) and plain dry champagne is not dry at all, being downright sweet at 4.0% sugar. American standards of blending between years are higher than French, so vintage in France as made by Chandon (Moet Chandon in France) is made the same in N apa valley but cannot be called vintage. In general, American standards of naming require higher percentages of what is the name on the bottle than anywhere else in the world. We tend to drink Champagne too early, and often another 6 months will make a big difference. Vintage champagne peaks at 10—12 years, but most of the character comes in the years when it is riddled with the sediment in with the wine (eg. 6 years for Chandon Reserve). Asti Spumante is a very sweet Italian sparkling wine with lower alcohol content, well liked in America and by me on a hot day. Spanish sparkling wine is good value for other days and occasions (I got married with ten cases of Spanish, and some good Wisconsin beer). At the time of writing here in 1995, pay $5.00 for Asti; $7.00 for Spanish; do not go below $9.00 for American and generally expect to pay $14.00 for the good French houses now in California; French is $20.00 up but $25.00 will get a very nice one (Hey, it's only champagne, so don't go paying $70.00 to impress ignorant friends). No matter how untrained are your friends' palates, do not inflict a $3.50 American on them with great big bubbles that the French call "toads eyes.” German wines come at three levels. Table wine can be blended across wide regions and are on the dry side. Quality wines require blending across narrower regions. Qualin wines with Predicate are the highest class, are the strongest and require very narrow geographic regions for the origin of the grapes. The lowest Predicate is Kabinett and is the main harvest. Kabinett is the least sweet appellation and can be drunk in a couple of years. Spatlese is a late harvest and they tend to be sweet. Auslese is a late harvest where only fully ripe bunches are harvested; its alcohol level is higher and it is sweeter again. Beerenauslese is a late harvest of individual grapes. Only overripe grapes are chosen,'with some of them infected with the noble rot, making them very sweet. The highest class is Trochenbeerenauslese. It is made from grapes that are dried 151 like raisins, with many infected with noble rot. That wine is syrup sweet, rich and only for very special occasions. Eiswein is picked and pressed at -6° C. The pressing has a slush of ice on top. This is scooped off leaving behind a sweeter and stronger juice behind with which to make the wine — a Spatlese Eiswein is more like a Beerenauslese and will cost about the same. Italian and Spanish wines, like German and French are defined by region, each with their own Special systems of organizing classes. The grapes are different again, and the warmer climates there make for warm fruity wines. Rioja is the most celebrated region in Spain (they are down in quality as of twenty years ago). Italian grapes are of a fruity acidic variety. Italian food often benefits from Italian wine. Austria follows the German model. Elsewhere in the world the organizing principles are not regions, although the place a wine is made is usually written on the label. The organizing factor is the grape types. These are called varietal wines. Napa Valley in California makes some very special wines, but the West coast in general produces high volume and excellent quality. The variety giving the wine its name must make up 75% of the total the US. Zinfandel is a dark red variety of the European grape species, but is only grown extensively in America; the reds are often made too big and dark, but it is still distinctive about half way between a Burgundy character and a Bordeaux. White Zinfandels are sweet and inconsequential. » As to other varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon is full of heavy, bitter tannin. Merlot is blended with it to .take the corners off in France, and is emerging as a velvety variety in its own right. Cabernet Franc is the central variety in St Emilion in the Bordeaux region, and is a softer twin to Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauvignon blanc is a dry slightly fruity wine. Chardonnay is buttery and often has an oak flavor. Riesling in Germany is the default white grape giving a light fruity, flowery wine. Riesling in America means an inferior, heavier producing variety. To get the real thing go for Johannesburg Riesling over here. Gewurztraminer is a favorite spicy, white, late harvest in Alsace, Germany and Austria. In America it is sometimes sweet like Europe, but may also be dryer. Americans put the percentage of residual sugar on the label so you can gauge if it is to your liking before you buy the variety (Fetzer makes a workable desert Gewurztraminer that is dirt cheap). Americans are blending varieties more, and the Europeans are now giving more data on percentages of grapes on their labels; so each learns from the other. Watch Australia for Petite Sirah (a heavy fruity grape), Chardonnay wine and some excellent Port type wines in which they take a special pride. Chile is coming of age, with imported technology from California; some good Cabernet Sauvignon there. Central Europe is giving some excellent value. Nothing great, but a lot of very drinkable wine for under $5.00. There is good wine everywhere, but not all of it has a wide reputation. For example, a Corsican once asserted to me vigorously, "We really do have some good wine in Corsica." Well, I never said they didn't, but you can tell he was feeling slighted by French snobbery, poor man. 152 Bay afBiscay 'a w“ .- at .. BOURcoifiVE « / A .. J “i? _ "3*" 153 rance is indisputably the greatest wine producer in the world — not the largest, but certainly the finest all-rounder. Italy makes more wine - and tips much of it into the wine lake — Germany makes wines that are more exquisite in the delicate fruity style, Spain ' .and Portugal make superior fortified wines. But France dominates, and indeed created, all the other great classic styles. It now. rarely has a complete monopoly of any one type — though Beaujolais’ Gamay is perhaps an exception — and there are many wines that France does not try to emulate, the Barolos of Piedmont, Califomia Zinfandel, possibly even the Semillons of Australia's Hunter Valley. But France is still the world’s wine-producing mentor, not least because it got off to an early start. ' So, claret, Burgundy, Hermitage, Beaujolais, Sancerre, Sautemes, Alsace and Champagne have all had the benefit of years of wine! making tradition. Sometimes the tradition has been too entrenched. Progress tended to slip behind the world’s newwine countries in the ’605 and ‘703, but this decade has seen a lot of French regions pull up their socks. California and Coonawarra, New York, New Zealand, Tuscany and Tenterden may all make worldclass wines, but their prototypes are still French, classic and classy. H2! 154 ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/14/2011 for the course ORGANIC CH 341 taught by Professor Idk during the Spring '11 term at Wisconsin.

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Main points of the wine lecture - Summary and study guide...

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