Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 20, June 2004   
The Charm of WineThe Charm of Wine MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
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The Charm of Wine


 Wine - as it is commonly known - has been, in the course of centuries, a beverage of primary cultural importance in every place where the vine was present. Its importance, as well as its magic and charm, has always had a strong influence on social, cultural, religious and traditional life of people. The charm and the evocative aspect of wine have been such that in many cultures this beverage was considered as sacred and used for the celebration of religious rites, frequently its consumption was exclusively allowed to the ministers of the many religious cults. Its symbolic and ritual importance is still kept and alive today: a good example is represented by the celebration of Eucharist in the rites of Christian religions. However wine also played a role of primary importance in the celebration of festivals and social meetings, such as the renowned symposia and Dionysiac orgies of ancient Greeks and bacchanal festivals of ancient Romans.

 Soon after wine also became a distinctive sign of many social classes, leaving its sacred and religious role, it represented for many centuries - a distinction that can be still noticed today - one of the many characteristic elements of the prosperous social classes as opposed to the poor ones. It is enough to think about Champagne - so to mention one of the many possible examples - that since the very beginning of its history it has always been present in the tables and in the houses of the many noble classes and of the ones who had conspicuous economic possibilities, whereas it was completely absent in the glasses of the poor social classes. This distinction and role have greatly contributed to the charming of Champagne while giving it the indisputable role of the wine of great class, so to say, a “rich men stuff” that has always evoked charm and mystery in the ones who had only heard of it while leaving the rest to their fantasy and imagination.


 

 The charm of certain “impossible” and ”unreachable” wines is still common today and it is - now as it was then - fed by both commercial and speculative reasons, as well as by aspects of social identifiability. The charm of wine is also the one produced by words capable of evoking emotions and suggestions, in particular for those wines people have only heard of them and that were never poured in their glasses. Moreover, there is the charm of words about wine - sometimes too sumptuous - spoken by some persons who struggle himself or herself in order to appear as an expert in the hope of being distinguished from the others, while forgetting, maybe voluntarily, that wine, in order to be truly understood, is to be tasted and it must not be read or listened in the confusion of a flooding of useless words. After all the charm of wine is also the intimate relation which originates from what it is inside the glass and the person who trusts his or her senses in order to understand it, therefore creating an intimate and personal relationship.

 There is also the charm of wine as a social and socializing beverage, a strong characteristic the beverage of Bacchus has always had, perhaps, like no other. Maybe it is because of the evocative traditional and historical meaning that wine has kept in the course of centuries, or maybe it is because of its capacity of “promoting cheerfulness”, anyway it is enough a simple glass of wine in order to make pleasing and friendly both the talking and the company, while remembering - always and however - that the pleasure of these moments has moderation as its best ally. Not so long ago, when it was still common the habit of producing home made wine, the charm of this beverage began with the harvesting, when relatives and friends gathered and worked together while relieving fatigue and the heat of the sun with generous glasses of wine and with cheerfulness. This simply is one of the many effects wine has in social life of people, the beverage of Bacchus has always been present - and it is still present - in many social activities of human beings, from leisure to work.

 Wine is also connected to the charm of the memory of pleasing moments, a characteristic which certainly is common to any other circumstance and any other beverage. Maybe every wine lover at the sight of a specific wine, as well as during its tasting, remembers and associates a specific moment of his or her life - sometimes also important - in which that very same wine was present. Even that certainly is part of the charm wine can evoke in the ones who appreciate it. Talking about special moments it is almost impossible not to mention that in such occasions wine is practically and always present, ready to emphasize the importance of a solemn and joyful moment. It is enough to remember, for example, the charm sparkling wines have during the celebration of parties and of special dates. Lets admit this straight, even though this is the result of a common and traditional habit, a too common habit, anyway a celebration does not look like a real celebration in case there are no bubbles to cheer the glass - and the taste - of participants.

 Countless citations and historical facts remind us that during solemn and crucial moments in the history of humanity wine was present to emphasize the importance of an agreement or the making of a decision. These circumstances - something we can be certain of - have certainly contributed to give wine the charm men and women recognize to it and to which they joyfully abandon themselves. What makes wine so charming is its extraordinary capacity of being always different and always surprising - while still remaining wine anyway - where the charm of a place, of a grape, of a vintage - as well as the mastery of the one who made it - are revealed in a glass always telling different stories to the ones who have the curiosity and wisdom of listening. How many stories and how many talking have their origin in a group of friends sharing the same wine while talking about it all together! Even that is part of the charm of wine.

 Whether it was the result of scrupulous and conscious events controlled by the human genius, or simply the result of accidental and natural circumstances, or even the gift of benevolent gods, it is indisputable wine has kept in the course of its history its surprising charm unaltered. Its role in the activities of the human genre has always been of primary importance and its charm will probably continue to accompany the activities and circumstances typical of human beings. Wine has also given pleasing moments to wise men - certainly full of charm and magic - as well as a punishment - the ridiculous and deprecation of drunkenness - reserved to the foolish who only recognize in wine the charm of thoughtless and distracted abuse. Probably the charm of respect this beverage deserves also contributes to augmenting that magic made of delicious aromas and tastes which men still continue calling, since more than two thousands years, wine.

 



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 20, June 2004   
The Charm of WineThe Charm of Wine MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 19, May 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 21, Summer 2004

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 our editorial or fill in the form available at our site.

 

I often hear talking about “brett” smell. What does this mean?
Andrew Norman -- San Francisco, California (USA)
The term “brett” is used in the English wine parlance to refer to brettanomyces, a kind of yeast which usually develops both in grapes and in rooms where wine is being made and stored. This yeast, that in high quantities gives wine negative aromas and tastes, is extremely hard to defeat and the most efficient prevention adopted by producers is to limit its development as much as possible. Preventions adopted in order to avoid the development and formation of brettanomyces in wine consists in special filtering processes. The perception of brettanomyces is pretty subjective: for some it contributes to increase wine's aromatic complexity, for other even the faintest trace of this yeast is the sign of evident faults, whereas other cannot even perceive it when it is present in small quantities. Brettanomyces gives wine manure, stable and saddle aromas, characteristics that when present in small quantities can also be pleasing for someone as well as also being a precise productive choice of a winery. When they are present in high quantities, these aromas are predominant and the wine is considered - and here every wine lover agrees - faulty and spoiled by brettanomyces. Even taste is altered by this yeast and wines in which it is present tend to have a pretty sour and acid aftertaste. Moreover it should be remembered that wines strongly spoiled by brettanomyces tend to worsen with the aging in bottle.



What is volatile acidity?
Maurizio Giannoni -- Grosseto (Italy)
Volatile acidity is one of the factor making the so called total acidity of a wine together with fixed acidity. Volatile acidity is made of acids whose presence is variable according to natural, chemical and physical factors and that - as opposed to fixed acidity - they can evaporate therefore lowering their quantity. The main acid which makes it is acetic acid - which is always and however present in a wine - and in small quantities it contributes both to the development of aromas and flavors. When it is present in excessive quantities, wine gets the typical aromas and tastes of vinegar, therefore it is considered as a serious fault. Acetic acid is determined by the presence of acetic bacteria, that attacking alcohol they transform it into acetic acid and water, and it usually develops during fermentation. The light perception of vinegar aromas in a wine signals the beginning of the development of acetic acid that will lead to acescence when the wine will get the typical characteristics of vinegar.



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