Wednesday, October 8, 2014


ñ The most popular corkscrew, the wing-type, is cheap and easy to use, but it frequently mangles corks and leaves small pieces of cork in your wine. It also tends to pull out just the middle of an old, dry cork. Far superior are the Screwpull, which is also easy to use, and the waiter’s corkscrew, which requires just a little know-how to use effectively. No matter what type you use, you should also have a two-pronged (Ah-So) device to remove problem corks.
ñ Zinfandel first appeared in the United States in the 1820s when Long Island nursery owner George Gibbs imported several grape vines from the Imperial collection in Vienna. One of the vines was Zinfandel. (The current thinking is that Zinfandel originated in Croatia where it is called Plavac Mali.) In the 1850s, Zinfandel made its way to California.
ñ An Italian white wine called Est! Est! Est! got its name from a medieval story. A bishop was planning to travel the Italian countryside and asked his scout to find inns that had good wines, marking the door “Est” (“It is” or “This is it”) when he found one. The scout was so excited about the local wine found in the area that he marked one inn’s door “Est! Est! Est!” Another version of this story is that a priest was on his way to minister to a congregation in the boondocks. Upon discovering the wonderful local wine, he sent the message “Est! Est! Est!” back to Rome, renounced the priesthood, and spent the rest of his life enjoying the wine.
ñ The auger or curly metal part of a corkscrew is sometimes called a worm.
ñ Graves is thought to be the oldest wine region in Bordeaux.
ñ The Puritans loaded more beer than water onto the Mayflower.
ñ In terms of acreage, wine grapes rank #1 among all crops planted worldwide.
ñ Although “château” means castle, it may also be a mansion or a little house next to a vineyard that meets the requirements for winemaking with storage facilities on its property.
ñ Château Petrus is the most expensive of the Bordeaux wines. Its price is as much due to its tiny production as to its quality. Petrus is made from at least 95% Merlot grapes.
ñ The Egyptians were the first to make glass containers around 1500 B.C.E.
ñ The 1855 Classification of Médoc châteaux listed only the best properties. “Best” was defined as those properties whose wines were the most expensive. The top estates were then divided into five categories (the “growths”) based on price.
ñ Margaux is the largest of the Médoc appellations.
ñ Pomerol is the smallest Bordeaux appellation.
ñ “Grand Cru” is French for “great growth” and designates the best. In Burgundy it refers to the best vineyards which usually have multiple owners. In Bordeaux its meaning varies by the specific region, but it always refers to properties under a single ownership.
ñ Rose bushes are often planted at the end of a row of grape vines to act as an early warning signal for infestation by diseases and insects like aphids. A vineyard manager who notices black spots or root rot on the roses will spray the grape vines before they are damaged.

ñ In Empire, California, some 400 copies of Little Red Riding Hood are locked away in a storage room of the public school district because the classic Grimm’s fairy tale recounts that the little girl took a bottle of wine to her grandmother. --- Roger Cohen, New York Times, April 23, 1990   [The crazies aren’t limited to Kansas.]

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