drinking or holding a wine about two years ago, but maybe it's time to take another look.
screwcaps versus corks).
The grape variety will determine the sugar (and ultimately the alcohol) levels, the tannins, and the acids. The vintage is all the affects of climate/weather on the vineyards, which can also influence the final wine product.
The key factors that influence the ageability of a wine are: acidity, residual sugar, alcohol levels, tannins, and ultimately the flavor and aroma of the wine.
Alcohol levels in wine must also be balanced. When I taste a wine, I feel the burn in the back of my throat, if the alcohol is not balanced. Alcohol does not change in wine over time either, so just like acid, it must be in balance.
Tannin is that astringent feeling you get on your gums, after swirling the wine in your mouth. Tannins come from the skins, seeds and even oak aging. We don’t associate white wines with tannins (except from extensive oak aging), but for red wines, it is one of the components that allows the wine to age well. Some tannins are “green” or even gritty. Unfortunately, these types of tannins rarely age well, and actually only get more concentrated. I look for ripe tannins, that will mellow over time, and contribute to a smooth mouthfeel.
As red wine ages, the red color will eventually fade to a light brick red, and ultimately brown. White wines will also move towards golden, then brown. These changes occur due to the chemical and oxygen reactions of the phenolic compounds in the wine.
When I taste a wine, I am looking for concentration of flavors and aroma. If it’s not there in the beginning, it will probably never improve. As a wine begins to age, the aromas will change to a bouquet. Where we tasted fruit in the young wine, now we might taste something more complex, with notes of dried fruit, and earth. The finish will be long and pleasant. However, there will come a point when the wine has reached is “prime” or “peak”, and will not improve any further. It will actually decay, and die in the bottle. The challenge is to try to hold a wine until it’s peak, and no further. There is no set formula for figuring this out, and for that reason, I purchase numerous bottles, and start tasting when I have guessed the optimum aging time (also you can check sites like www.cellartracker.com, and read the notes of other tasters).
In the end, balance is the key. An unbalanced wine won’t age well. When you find a wine that is balanced with great intensity of all the key factors, that is the wine you want to age. The timing, though, is at best guess, and comes with a lot of trial and error. And, of course, it should go without saying....make sure you store the wine properly.
ic connection with the holiday. What did the three wise men bring to the baby Jesus on that first Christmas, besides gold? Frankincense and Myrrh....both spices.
And where does wine come into the conversation? For over 2000 years, wine has been associated with the followers of Christ, as a metaphor for blood. What could be more traditional than wine with Christmas. But, if you want to add the spices of Christmas, then you might be interested in a traditional winter drink made of warm wine and spices. The most recognized is known as Mulled wine (British), Glögg (Nordic), Gluhwein (German), or even Vin chaud (France).
While recipes show up as early as 1390, there are so many variations, that not one recipe can be called traditional. The most common ingredients are:
One bottle of red wine (Beaujolais, Zinfandel, or Merlot)
One peeled and sliced orange and or lemon (if you use the peel, remove the white pith, unless you like bitter wine)
1/4 cup of brandy
1/4 cup honey or sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp fresh ginger
Other potential ingredients: allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, anise, raisins, cranberries
For best results, you want to slow cook the wine. Boiling will accelerate alcohol evaporation, so slow cooking is best. A crockpot is the best way to assure slow cooking, and filling your home with the smells of Christmas.
So, this Christmas, either recreate the smells of Christmas past, or create new memories for your family and friends, but most of all, have a Merry Christmas!
So, what is "Tokaji Aszú"? What is a "putt"? And, why is this an important historic wine?
Tokaji Aszú is a sweet wine from the Tokaji Hegyalja wine region of Hungary. This region is located in the north east corner of the country, next to the border of Slovakia. The main growing region is located on a plateau of south-facing slopes close to the Tisza and Bodrog river. The weather conditions are perfect of the development of Botrytis Cinerea, or "noble rot". There are a number of grapes grown in the region, but the two most important are Furmint and Hárslevelü, which will account for about 90% of the blend in the wine. The remaining grapes are: Sárga Muskotály (also known as Yellow Muscat), Zéta, Kövérszőlő, and Kabar
|Noble Rot affected Furmint Grapes|
|Gönc at Royal Tokaji|
Tokaji Aszú wines are traditionally served at the end of the evening or as an aperitif. They also pair well with white meat in sauce, game, blue cheeses, and desserts. Once opened, these wines can be kept for several weeks in the refrigerator. The wine should ideally be served between 50 and 54°F.
Vinegar [ˈvɪnɪgə]n - (Cookery) a sour-tasting liquid consisting of impure dilute acetic acid, made by oxidation of the ethyl alcohol in beer, wine, or cider. It is used as a condiment or preservative
There is a big difference between wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar (not to mention cider vinegar, and rice vinegar, etc). And, they are actually two different products.
Wine vinegar is made from red or white wine, and is the most commonly used vinegar in Europe and the United States. There is a considerable range in quality, just as with wine. The highest quality wine vinegars are matured in wood for up to two years, and exhibit a complex, mellow flavor. The most expensive wine vinegars are made from individual varieties of wine, such as Champagne or Sherry.
Where things get interesting, and where the original classroom question came up, was with Balsamic Vinegars. Traditional Balsamic vinegar is a product from Italy, produced in the Modena and Reggio Emilia regions of Italy. The names "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena" (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) and "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia" (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia) are protected names, under the DOC laws of Italy, and the new PDO laws of the European union.
|Balsamic Vinegar in cask|
Reggio Emilia designates the different ages of their balsamic vinegar by label color. A red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label has aged for at least 18 years and the gold label has aged for 25 years or more.
Modena uses a slightly different system to indicate the age. A cream-coloured cap means the vinegar has aged for at least 12 years; the magenta cap bearing the designation "extravecchio" (extra old) is for vinegar that has aged for at least 25 years.