Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 8, May 2003   
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The Culture of Wise Drinking


 Wine is getting more and more appreciated among people and, with that, the attention TV and magazines are paying to it, this product, that just ten years ago or so seemed to be destined to a marginal role both of the economy and of culture, is becoming a real and proper mass phenomenon. It seems the spreading of wine had, in a sense, followed the one of TV shows dedicated to cooking, as well as the increasing attention magazines and newspapers are dedicating to cooking and wine with special columns; today, practically every TV show or column in a magazine which is about cooking, dedicates a considerable amount of attention to wine and to food matching. This certainly is a good sign, of course, but above all, it is the sign that the demand for a better knowledge and culture about the world of enogastronomy is a need of many.


 

 The same destiny had, like to say, the many propaedeutic or introductory courses about organoleptic wine tasting, they are quite popular and successful, people attend to them, people want to know more and, when consumers become more exacting and demanding, the ones who work in the enogastronomical business, such as wine shops, restaurants, wine bars and shops where wine is sold, they are forced to improve and to increase their knowledge in order not to take the risk of being excluded from the opportunity offered by this moment. The transformation has, as a consequence, involved the ones who produce wine as well, those who were mainly oriented to mass production, with scarce attention on quality, were forced to change in a significant way, if not completely, their production strategies and methodologies in order not to be excluded. Quantity in wine business seems not to give high profits anymore, saved rare and uncommon cases, what consumers request the more are quality wines, a trend that makes one think that, at last, the motto “drink less and drink better” is becoming a sort of common belief among wine lovers.

 Whenever one goes to a wine bar or restaurant, often there can be seen groups of people having their meals and matching that food with wine, a bottle in the center of the table which will probably be equally divided among four of more people, considering that from a bottle of 0.750 liters (25.3 fl.oz.) can be served an average of 8-10 normal glasses, it is more likely to think that everyone will drink something less than 200 ml of wine (6.76 fl.oz.), a quantity which is considered tolerable, particularly when consumed during meals, and, according to medical and scientific researches, it is not harmful or noxious to the body. The same also happens when groups of young wine bars goers are being observed; rather than having considerable quantities of alcoholic beverages, they usually prefer to buy a bottle of wine, preferably good wine, share the cost among the components of the group, and they just limit themselves to drink one or two glasses of wine, usually accompanied by some food, and then, hopefully, they stop having any other alcoholic beverage.

 It seems that the “fashion” of “drink less and drink better” is getting more and more popular, however, everyone knows the dramatic effects and the catastrophic consequences of alcoholism; drinking wine with no moderation, or any other alcoholic beverage, takes from the pleasure of well living to the sufferings of a cursed life. A paradox which is a real burden and concern for every wine lover and, last but not the least, for the society. This aspect should not be forgotten and, above all, it is good to remember alcohol is a toxic and poisonous substance, even though it is pleasing in tolerable quantities, however it can become dangerous. This is true, of course, when it is consumed in considerable quantities and without moderation. Alcohol, and it is silly to deny this, has made many families desperate and made disgraceful the life of many individuals. Let's not forget these facts as well.

 The pleasure of a good glass of wine, the enchanting joy of its charming aromas and the satisfaction of its taste is a pleasure, a real pleasure that we all probably know and that we can hardly renounce to it, however this pleasure remains such only and only if one possesses the right cognition and the proper lucidity in order to fully appreciate it. It should not be forgotten that drinking too much, because of the effects of alcohol, not only diminishes the psychophysical capacities of an individual, it also progressively diminishes the sensorial capacity and sensitivity; the more the wine is drunk, the less its aromas and taste can be perceived. It should be, this fact, a sort of warning the body gives to tell the right time to stop has come. This is a risk professional wine tasters know and avoid to take in order to guarantee the reliability and the correctness of their job.

 The culture of wise drinking also passes for the consciousness of what it is going to happen every time one decides to have some wine, the pleasure it can give as well as the risks that can be taken in case it is abused. Medicine has recognized, and still recognizes, the many benefits this millenary beverage can give to the human body, it is known that when wine is consumed always and however with moderation, it is capable of preventing certain heart diseases, among these heart failure, improves the circulation of blood and helps the prevention of some cancers. This is always and however true only when it is consumed with moderation. If we listen to the authoritative voice of medicine which reminds us about the benefits of an intelligent and moderate consumption of wine, it is also good to remember the equally authoritative voice of medicine which tells us about the many risks because of the abuse. Even that is part of the culture of wise drinking. It is not only looking for, buying and knowing good wines, it is not showing off a culture and a knowledge about the wine subject, it is also, and above all, remembering that moderation is an essential part of this culture. This is something that was known since ever, even in the many and wise sayings, the many sayings of people's culture, there are so many that give good advices on how to drink wine. Among the many, the famous “who does not drink wine is a sheep, who drinks it with moderation is a lion, who drinks too much wine is a donkey”, with respect for the animals which are involved in this “pill of wisdom”. If it is true we believe we are men and women belonging to the culture of wise drinking, if we think we are worth wine supporters, let's also remember to be intelligent and worth supporters of moderation, a respect that we mainly owe to ourselves and a respect we owe to quality wine producers who produce it with the intent of making something unique and particular in order to be appreciated. Culture of wise drinking is also that.

 



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 8, May 2003   
The Culture of Wise DrinkingThe Culture of Wise Drinking MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 7, April 2003 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 9, June 2003

MailBox


 In this column are published our reader's mail. If you have any comment or any question or just want to express your opinion about wine, send your letters to our editorial.

 

First of all, congratulations for your magazine. I discovered DiWineTaste three months ago thanks to the suggestion of a friend of mine, and since then I read your magazine every month. Congratulations for your job, it is certainly useful to the ones, like me, who is getting into the charming world of wine. I recently went to a reception and at the end of the meal was served some Asti Spumante in flûte glasses. In a report of yours about wine glasses, published in issue 6 (March 2003), you say aromatic and sweet sparkling wines, such as Asti, should be served in the cup glass. I told this to the person who was in charge of serving the wine and he told me the cup glass is not used anymore and that every sparkling wine must be served in the flûte. Whom shall I listen to?
Giancarlo Maccotta -- Menfi, Agrigento (Italy)
Dear Mr. Maccotta, thank you for your good words about DiWineTaste and we sincerely hope our publication will always be of your interest and that you will continue to read it. The legend goes that cup glass was created as a wish of Marie Antoniette, who was a champagne lover, and it seems it was shaped on her breast, the legend says it was her left breast because it was closer to the heart. The cup glass suddenly became popular and it became the glass to be used for champagne. To tell the truth, cup glass is not suited for “classic method” sparkling wines because of its wide opening which tends to quickly end the perlage and to excessively disperse wine's aromas. However, this characteristic is well suited for aromatic and sweet sparkling wines, such as Asti, because they help to mitigate the aromatic intensity of the grape while leaving the other aromas to emerge and to be perceived. Moreover, because these kind of wines are usually produced with the Charmat method, bubbles quality is inferior to the ones produced with the classic method, therefore this is a factor that can be neglected. Serving an Asti Spumante in the flûte, no matter this is getting a more and more frequent trend, mainly in restaurants and in banquets, means to penalize its aromas, in particular the most delicate ones and, lastly, the shape of the flûte directs the wine to the back side of the mouth and therefore does not allow the characteristic sweetness of these wines to be properly valued.



During a vacation in France I bought a wine I did not know and I found it delicious. In the label it is written “Banyuls Grand Cru”. What kind of wine is that? What are the grapes used to make it?
Marcelo Balmaceda -- Buenos Aires (Argentina)
The wine you are talking about is produced in an appellation of origin area belonging to the Languedoc-Roussillon region, in the south-west area of France, and it is called Banyuls AC. The wine belongs to the category of French Vin doux naturel and the grapes are usually cultivated in the slopes of the Pyrenees mountains, near the Spanish territory. Banyuls is a wine mainly produced with Grenache Noir grape and it is fortified. These wines must have at least 15% of alcohol by volume and must be produced with at least 50% of Grenache Noir, whereas Banyuls Grand Cru must be produced with at least 75% of Grenache Noir and must be aged for 30 months in casks. The wines are produced as semi-dry or sweet. Moreover there also is the rancio style which is purposely oxidized by leaving casks under the sun in summertime. This technique gives the Banyuls a mahogany color and rich, complex and intense aromas. Banyuls is usually served as aperitif or accompanied to desserts, however it is also very good when drunk alone.



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