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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 12, October 2003   
Talks About Wine: Lots of Words and Little WineTalks About Wine: Lots of Words and Little Wine MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 11, September 2003 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 13, November 2003

Talks About Wine: Lots of Words and Little Wine


 Talking about wine has now become an important custom of our society, even the simple showing off of a minimal knowledge of such label or something represents a sign of distinction, or better to say, seems to be a sign of distinction, in any group of individuals. Giving the impression of being great experts about something, to appear superior to others, even with the simple, however deprecable, purpose of humiliating one's interlocutors, seems to be one of the main characteristics of people's behaviors. Wine, unfortunately, being a trendy and common subject, is no exception to that.

 In the past few years we also had the invasion of wine “super-experts” in every channel's TV shows, as well as in magazines and newspapers, that in a sense they could also positively contribute to the spreading of wine culture, and sometimes, maybe, they also contribute in a determinant way to the increasing of confusion about this subject and to have people getting uninterested, giving the impression that wine is a beverage reserved to a group of haughty and elected individuals having their mouths always full of words which say nothing and with little wine in their glasses. It is probably natural to ask oneself whether to be a wine expert is just enough to make an abundant use of words having an “effect”, a very common custom, such as the abused term “fruity”, as well as other absolutely generic and obvious terms, which say absolutely nothing about any wine and they certainly do not describe it saved when it is supported by other specific and qualified words. We truly wish a wine is “fruity”, indeed, it is a beverage produced by the fermentation of a fruit juice, grape, and therefore it would be preoccupying, very preoccupying, in case a wine would not have any aroma resembling the ones of fruits.


 

 Moreover, what can be said about those comments full of pompous and sumptuous words, full of rhetorical terms, that soon after having read or heard them, one inevitably ends up asking himself or herself whether they were talking about wine or who knows about what. Sometimes they are intentionally full of terms, even inappropriate ones, which say nothing, which are sometimes ridiculous, and even beyond that, and smiling is really the least thing everyone can do. Reading or listening to those descriptions about wine, one can also end up thinking or believing wines are all the same because of the high frequency of certain terms or expressions. Nevertheless, it is not like that. Everyone having a sufficient culture about wine and tasted, while paying attention, what he or she had in the glass, knows it is not like that. There are differences from wine to wine that make each one of them unique, such as the area of origin, or cru, wines produced with the very same grapes but in different areas, even distant few kilometers one from each other, give different wines, differences which are unfortunately ignored by some summary descriptions and definitions having the sole purpose of confusing and homologating a whole category of products.

 This trend is also found, unfortunately, among consumers which try to emulate the “super-expert”, in the hope to appear like that, by repeating and filling their mouths with the very same words. This can be seen in any restaurant paying enough attention to wine, and watching what happens when a client orders his or her wine. In the beginning, mainly when he or she is in company, tries to make the choice by using “expert” terms and, sometimes, with arrogance as well, even trying to humiliate the person who is in charge of serving wine. Then, when he or she realizes that person is sufficiently competent about wine and probably has a better knowledge than his or her, there is a change in behavior and gets lost while ending up to ask advices and help to the person in charge of serving wine.

 The same is also true for the majority of things about the world of wine, in particular, the habit and the insistence of having any wine decanted, both young and aged, according to a supposed “rule” distinguishing real connoisseurs. It seems that the more a wine is important, and for important everyone may think of what he or she wants, from the preferred wine to a very expensive one, and the more it needs to be decanted. Maybe it is the decanting “ceremony” to enchant people, unfortunately most of the times it is done in a wrong way, however it should be remembered the procedure of decanting, the term itself suggests its purpose, is used to separate wine from its sediments in order to have a limpid and drinkable liquid. Many support the idea, and they certainly are not wrong, that decanting is very useful for oxygenating a wine which has spent a very long time in a bottle and this operation would be capable of “awakening” it from its torpor. It should be considered that for some wines, in particular the ones aged for a very long time, any sudden oxygenation, such as the one provoked by decanting, can irreparably damage them and, however, it dissolves in few moments the long and patient work of time. In case it is really needed to oxygenate a wine, one should consider the many types of glasses available from any producer and, thanks to their shapes and volumes, they allow a perfect oxygenation of any wine.

 The same also happens with wines produced with the “famous” grapes, the ones everyone talks about, the only ones, it seems, capable of making good wine, as well as the supposed miracles that only the fermentation and aging in cask could make on wine. There is still a strong and common belief that the quality of wine should inevitably pass for a barrique and that should be made with certain grapes. In case a wine has pronounced wood aromas therefore it certainly has quality. In case a wine is aged in a cask therefore it is important, in case it was made with certain grapes therefore it must be a great wine. These prejudices, common beliefs, seem to be very hard to change and it is sad to see that only few people, when they are about to taste a wine, pay attention to the place of origin and to the specific area where the wine was produced, once again, it should be considered as one of the real and proper factors of quality. The only positive thing is that someone is trying to ask himself or herself about those wines and look beyond that while discovering, or better to say, rediscovering, those wines produced with local grapes from certain places and that only in those places are capable of giving the very best of them.

 Of course there cannot be any dispute about personal taste and preference, indeed, it is not good what it is said to be good, but first of all, it is good what it is liked. The concept of goodness, as well as of beauty, is so abstract and undefinable that everyone has proper ways and definitions not always agreeable by others. Anyway it should be good that everyone would have his or her concept of “good” and, in particular, it should be the result of personal tastes and preferences and not other's. The next time you hear someone saying a wine is “fruity”, without giving any other specification about its quality, besides resenting of the fact it is a term which does not help at all and does not say anything, take your glass and try yourself to taste that wine, always with moderation, and let your senses to tell you about it. After all wine is a beverage which needs senses in order to be understood; words, no matter how beautiful they are, will never be right, they can only give a vague idea.

 



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 12, October 2003   
Talks About Wine: Lots of Words and Little WineTalks About Wine: Lots of Words and Little Wine MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 11, September 2003 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 13, November 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 or fill in the form available at our site.

 

In your magazine's pages I often read about your opinion in favor of local grapes as opposed to the international ones. What's wrong in preferring wines produced with international grapes and why should the ones produced with local grapes be better?
Christofer Leighton -- Berkshire (England)
Dear reader, we do not think wines produced with local or autochthonous grapes are better than the ones produced with international grapes and we do not think we supported this hypothesis. The so called international grapes are capable of producing great wines and this is certainly indisputable. What we think is that it is often believed any wine in order to be good must be produced with these grapes without even considering that quality and goodness of wine is also the result of many factors, of which grape, in particular its quality, is certainly one of the most important ones, while it is often forgotten the fundamental role played by the area of origin where the grapes were cultivated. There is nothing wrong in preferring wines produced with international grapes (it is enough to take a look at our Wines Guide and see many wines which scored five diamonds are made with international grapes, therefore we too like them), however we think it is good, in the sake of a cultural richness, to know, and to recognize, also the vast heritage of autochthonous grapes that every part of the world can offer and that only in those places are capable of giving the best of them. This is true, of course, provided there are other indispensable conditions for making good wine as well. In case we consider Cabernet Sauvignon grape, and the very same considerations are valid for any other grape, either international or not, alone it is not a guarantee of quality. In case this grape it is being cultivated in a very speculative way, therefore with high yields, in an area not very suitable for viticulture and with unfavorable microclimatic conditions, the result will be a mediocre wine. Indeed the same grape, properly cultivated, will be capable of giving wines having a very different quality and the area of origin will make a unique and fundamental factor, not reproducible elsewhere.



As autumn is about to come there is also the return of nouveau wines which are usually available after some weeks from harvesting. How are nouveau wines produced?
Luca Cappelli -- Ascoli Piceno (Italy)
Nouveau wines, of which Beaujolais Nouveau, or Beaujolais Primeur, is the most famous example, are produced with a specific technique called carbonic maceration. This process, based on the researches and experiments French Michel Flanzy made in 1936, consists on intracellular fermentation of grapes in tanks filled of carbon dioxide. Grapes are put in these tanks, while paying scrupulous attention of not breaking berries and to leave them intact. Tanks are then sealed and filled with carbon dioxide which starts the fermentation of sugar inside of berries and therefore a little quantity of ethyl alcohol is produced. Moreover, this fermentation allows the extraction of aromatic substances from the skin as well as a very little quantity of tannins. The duration of the process depends by temperature and can be from one to three weeks and at the end of this period grapes are being removed from tanks and vinified. Wines produced in this way are usually very aromatic, with very deep colors and little quantities of tannins, therefore not astringent; characteristics which allow a service at low temperatures, just like white wines. Grapes typically used for the production of wines with carbonic maceration are red, whereas white berried grapes are not usually processed with this method because they produce some unpleasing aromas. In France, by law, nouveaux wines are commercialized from the third Thursday of November, whereas in Italy the commercialization is allowed from the 6th of November.






   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 12, October 2003   
Talks About Wine: Lots of Words and Little WineTalks About Wine: Lots of Words and Little Wine MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
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