My wine aficionados got together with us to sample some wines from eight different locations around the world. The wineries were mostly new to us, and certainly some of the wines we sampled were a new experience as well. The wines came from wineries in Argentina, Chile, Italy, Napa California and Spain. We had simple finger food to go along with the tasting: A couple of different hard cheeses, tasty spreads, along with a selection of fresh veggies and fruits.
Winemakers are finding a new market for their old wine barrels: aging coffee beans. According to an article appearing in the April 2017 issue of Wine Enthusiast, barrel aging adds woody, fruity, and even boozy notes to coffee beans. Here are some examples:
Hold the next glass of wine in your hand and contemplate for a moment how this wine came about. Certainly not by wishful thinking, but by careful planning and hard work, including hand labor using basic pruning tools to get the vines in the best possible shape to produce a marketable crop. This works well with small vineyards of just a few acres, but with larger vineyards that are typical of the ones in western states, especially California, modern technology is coming into use more often.
I just ordered a pound of "Black Insomnia Coffee" — stuff that is supposed to take care of your caffeine fix with just one cup. Caffeine, like alcohol, is a drug mankind has had a long association with. Nature created them to kill creatures much smaller than us; caffeine to kill insect predators, and ethanol to kill competitive microbes.
Thomas Jefferson was perhaps one of the first to say moderate wine consumption is good for one's health, and he certainly credited it to his longevity of 83 years in a time when the average life expectancy was 36. He also attributed his long and productive life to regular exercise and a generous diet of vegetables and fruits. Nice thoughts about wine being a part of a three-legged stool for a long life, but is there any science behind it? Rest easy. There is support for Jefferson's claim.
As the vines slowly come out of dormancy and begin breaking bud, this isn't the first activity to occur since last fall's harvest. The harvested grapes have completed their fermentation, a task that has been going on during our winter months. The end product — wine — is now ready to bottle for sale.
Thomas Jefferson's 274th birthday is tomorrow — April 13. Our country's third president was also the first unofficial sommelier for our country — specifically for the first two presidents and the three who followed him. His taste for wine was stimulated while serving as ambassador to France, when he started hobnobbing with Benjamin Franklin, who introduced him to French elite circles.
Uncorking a bottle of wine. Unscrewing a bottle of wine. Opening a box of wine. Which one is your preference? Is it based on tradition, convenience, quality image, or economics? Why did these alternatives to the corking of wine ever get a toehold in the market? The complete story behind the question of corking wine can be found in the book, "To Cork or Not to Cork?" by George W. Taber. I suggest it as a good background follow-up to this article.
In the 2004 movie "Sideways", Paul Giamatti's character Miles made a disparaging remark about merlot, despite his supposed wine intelligence. If he was genuine about his love of wine and not just his precious pinot noir, he would have appreciated the fact that merlot is one of the top-planted grape varietals around the world, tends to ripen early, is soft on tannins and provides a softness of its own and in lightening the impact of tannins in other reds.
Ask most people on the street which country they think has the highest export in wine sales and most will say France, Italy, or Spain. America would seldom be mentioned, but in reality, it is clearly in the running, with more than $1.6 billion in American wine being consumed in 2015. With a 78 percent jump in sales during the last decade, we are moving into a dead heat with the 'traditional 3' leaders of wine consumption. And, to break it down even further, California is responsible for 90 percent of all exported wines.