ñ In 1945, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild began a series of artists’ labels, hiring a different artist each year to design a unique label for that vintage. The artists have included such notables as Chagall, Picasso, Miro and Warhol. The 1993 label was sufficiently controversial in this country (the stylized juvenile nude on the label offended the Political Correctness Police) that the Chateau withdrew the label and substituted a blank label instead.
ñ It is the VERY slow interaction of oxygen and wine that produces the changes noticed inaging wine. It is believed that wine ages more slowly in larger bottles, since there is less oxygen per volume of wine in larger bottles. Rapid oxidation, as with a leaky cork, spoils wine.
ñ Before harvest, the canopy of leaves at the top of the vine is often cut away to increase exposure to the sun and speed ripening.
ñ The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in wine barrels is 170 years!
ñ The lip of a red wine glass is sloped inward to capture the aromas of the wine and deliver them to your nose.
ñ “Cold maceration” means putting the grapes in a refrigerated environment for several days before starting fermentation to encourage color extraction. This is being done more and more frequently with Pinot Noir since the skins of this varietal don’t have as much pigmentation as other red varietals.
ñ Frenchman Georges de Latour came to America in the late 1800’s to prospect for gold. He didn’t find much gold, but he founded a truly golden winery: Beaulieu Vineyard.
ñ Mycoderma bacteria convert ethyl alcohol into acetic acid, thus turning wine into vinegar. However, most incidents of spoiled wine are due to air induced oxidation of the fruit, not bacterial conversion of alcohol to vinegar.
ñ The world’s most planted grape varietal is Airén. It occupies over 1 million acres in central Spain where it is made into mediocre white wine, but some quite good brandy.
ñ Bettino Ricasoli, founder of Brolio, is credited with having created the original recipe for Chianti, combining two red grapes (Sangiovese and Canaiolo) with two white grapes (Malvasia and Trebbiano). Today the better Chiantis have little or no white grapes in them and may contain some Cabernet. They are thus deeper in color and flavor and more age worthy.
ñ From 1970 until the late 1980s, sales and consumption of wine in the United States held a ratio of about 75% white to 25% red. At the turn of the Millennium, the ratio is closer to 50-50.
ñ In the year 2000, Americans spent $20 billion on wine. 72% of that was spent on California wines.
ñ In ancient Rome bits of toast were floated in goblets of wine. There is a story that a wealthy man threw a lavish party in which the public bath was filled with wine. Beautiful young women were invited to swim in it. When asked his opinion of the wine, one guest responded: “I like it very much, but I prefer the toast.” (referring, presumably, to the women)
ñ “Cuvée” means “vat” or “tank.” It is used to refer to a particular batch or blend.
ñ Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be legally released until the third Thursday of every November. The due date this year (2001) is November 15th.
ñ We’re seeing more and more synthetic corks these days, but the latest technology to prevent contaminated corks is the use of microwaves.