Monday, December 20, 2004


Recent enjoyable inexpensive wine, Monte Antico Toscano 2001, A Wine Spector "best value". "Sangiovese varietal" grape aged in oak barrels.

Might be worth consulting Wine Lovers Dictionary. And Wine Lover's Guide, which includes annual list of best QPR(Quality Price Ratio) wines. Wine Specialist gives ratings for wide variety of wine and beer.

D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) on label is supposed to guarantee wine is what it claims to be.

Leslie Brenner's Fear of Wine, 1995, is a bit dated for current wine selection, but has useful information on how wine is made. Recommends Simon & Schuster's Beginner's Guide to Understainding Wine for article "Wine tasting techniques", which she says is most comprehensive resource on topic. Some interesting details: all wine comes out "white" if grape skins are removed. Once grapes picked, then crushed and unskinned by machine, "free-run juice" then poured into steel or oak barrels along with yeast. Yeast eating sugar causes fermentation, with alcohol and CO2 as byproducts, the latter bubbles up and out, but alcohol remains. Liquid is now called "must", and continues to ferment as remaining sugar consumed. Yeast cells eventually die (p. 13), settling to bottom as "lees". Some wines are then fermented a second time to convert natural malic acid to less harsh-tasting lactic acid, and lending "buttery flavor and aroma". Red wines, because skins left in, contain tannins (same dessicating substance as found in tea). Seeds also contain tannins, as do planks of oak barrel. Tannins are said to give wine "backbone" (p. 16), and act as preservative while aging. Cheaper red wines remove skins after fermentation. Finer ones leave them in for week or more in process called "maceration." Leaving in the lees adds complexity to flavor (19). Oak planks lend vanilla and toast aromas.

Noble rot ("pourriture noble") caused by mold botrytis cinerea (p. 27) most famous technique for sweeting wine. Used in Sauteries (in French Bordeaux region), where foggy mornings followed by warm afternoons. .As rot progresses, grapes shirnk, sugars concenturate, and when picked, the grapes produce beautiful unusual sweet wine.

Some vintners prefer wild yeast, to commercial variety, naturally found on grapes when harvested. This may affect taste as well.

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