Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 27, February 2005   
Wine and FruitWine and Fruit MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 26, January 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 28, March 2005

Wine and Fruit


 One of the most frequent comments expressed by our readers in the letters we receive, is about the usage of casks and barriques in wines. Many complain the fact that too often the organoleptic character “forced” by wood in wine is exaggerated, therefore making many wines similar to each other even in case they are produced with different grapes. Moreover, many of our readers ask whether it still makes sense to talk about fruity character in wines when too often this organoleptic quality is simply covered or masked by the effects of the aging in wood. Moreover - still according to the comments of our readers - the habit of exaggerating with the use of cask and barriques is becoming pretty common even in white wines and - they say - in particular in those wines which do not have enough character to stand to the meeting with wood.

 Premising the subject “taste of wood in wines” has always had its convinced supporters - as well as convinced opposers - it is always and however good to remember that when talking about the taste of individuals, no theory is absolute or agreeable. There are wine lovers who like the character of wood - even in case it is strongly present - and others who do not tolerate any presence of wood in wines, even in case it is just a little. De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum (there is no dispute about tastes), taught us our ancestors lived in the Middle Age - no matter it is an ancient saying it is however and still valid - however, in this case, we believe it is more appropriate to remember that In Medio Stat Virtus (the virtue is in the middle). The advantages and benefits of casks in wine making are absolutely indisputable and in particular for some wines: this does not mean that a more intense or extreme use is highly beneficial to wine. It would be advisable an intelligent use of cask, where the “intelligent” word means something different according to one's own preference. After all, too much and too little are absolutely relative concepts.


 

 Taste and benefits of wood in wine apart, perhaps something true in the comments of our readers really exists. Sometimes the organoleptic qualities of wood are so strong to cover the very nature of the grape and - at the same time - some defects that even the less experienced noses could detect. Moreover, no matter it is absolutely true every type of wood used for the construction of casks gives its proper aromas to wine - the aroma of American oak is different from Allier oak - it is undeniable the excessive use of wood contributes to equalize the characteristics of wines. In this sense, our readers are probably right when they say whether it still makes sense to talk about fruit in wines. By premising the definition of fruity wine is pretty generic - while recognizing the common use of this expression - it usually refers to a wines whose aromas and tastes directly resemble the ones of fruits. No matter its definition is generic and vague, it is however desirable every wine is fruity, because - we should not forget - it is produced by a fruit, the grape, therefore the opposite would be very preoccupying.

 Some wines, deprived from their fruity character, would become absolutely anonymous and would lose any kind of interest in case they would be aged in cask or barrique. It would be enough to think to what the renowned white wines from Alsace or Riesling from Rhine would become in case producers would decide to have these wines intensively aged in cask. They would lose all their personality and uniqueness and would be confused in a pretty large group of anonymous wines all similar, all the same. However the quantity of wines aged or fermented in wood casks - even whites - is so high that this could make us think besides the undeniable beneficial effects of this tool, there also are other reasons. Maybe it is good to ask ourselves whether the so called fruity wines still make sense or whether they still meet the taste of consumers. Producers frequently remind us their most commercial successful wines are the ones aged in casks. If we consider this factor and we uniquely see this according to a commercial point of view, producers simply try to satisfy market's requests. After all, we cannot complain to them the fact that besides the pleasure of making wine there should also be a profit.

 Let's be sincere. Without having the intention of accusing anyone, how many times we heard of a wine having superior and important qualities just for the simple fact it was “passed in barrique”, and even by creating the magic - as well as horrible - adjective barriqued to be exclusively used for the best wines? Many more times than we heard this for fruity wines for sure. We repeated this so many times - as well as for making things clear - we have nothing against the cask or the barrique. It would be truly stupid to begin a battle against this because - and above all - the effects of the passage in wood of wines are undeniable as well as positive. Moreover, many prestigious and renowned wines would not be what they are without the positive contribution of the aging and the fermentation in cask. As we decided to be sincere, it is undeniable the contribution of wood gives wine very pleasing and positive organoleptic qualities, of course, when this factor is balanced and appropriate. Wines aged in wood are usually more immediate to drink and meet the taste of modern consumers easily, maybe because they are mainly attracted by the illusion of drinking something important.

 Is it then possible that for fruity wines there is no place among the preference of consumers anymore? Nevertheless it is possible to make truly amazing wines even without making use of any cask - and in many cases they are also better - while giving fruit the main role. Alsace - as to mention an example of a renowned area - would suggest so many wines that would make us remember about the magnificence and agreeability of a wine which tastes like fruit. A wine is considered good - first of all - for the lack of faults, a condition which allows its qualities to emerge and to be appreciated at their best. Without the presence of supplementary helps - such as the cask and its aromas that could cover many defects - making a great wine means - first of all - to make it in an unexceptionable way, with no faults and with the availability of excellent environmental and productive conditions: it is easier to say than to do. This presupposition is true - of course - in Alsace as well as in any other part of the world. Whether the use of cask and barrique is frequently exaggerated, this is certainly true - according to subjectivity, of course - anyway it is also true their use ensures a higher success among consumers. Maybe the problem of fruity wines is just a cultural issue, a common prejudice spread with precise interests in order to favor some wines and to which many believe. Maybe, in order to discover the sense and the pleasure of fruity wines again, it simply takes a better awareness in consumers as to be wondered about a wine that would make them say «Wow! It tastes like fruit!».

 



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 27, February 2005   
Wine and FruitWine and Fruit MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 26, January 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 28, March 2005

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.

 

Swirling the content of a glass is a technique commonly used for the development of aromas or bouquet. In what type of wine or distillate it is not recommended to use this technique as this also accentuates the perception of alcohol?
Thomas Cancienne -- Metairie, Louisiana (USA)
During the tasting of wines - as well as of distillates - swirling a glass allows aromas to emerge from the surface therefore making their perception to the nose possible. The aromatic molecules are generally classified according to a “weight”, that is to their level of volatility. The “heavier” substances - for example - need a higher oxygenation by means of a more stronger swirling of the glass, as well as particular physical conditions, such as temperature. It will be the glass - with its shape and geometric ratios between volume and surface of contact - to determine the quantity and the intensity of aromatic components to the nose. This explains the reason why every wine - or distillate - requires a glass with specific physical qualities in order to accentuate or attenuate its aromas or part of them. If we consider, for example, the typical grappa glass - the renowned Italian distillate - we notice its shape is pretty narrow and tall. The reduced surface of contact does not allow alcohol to excessively develop, moreover the height of the glass keeps the nose at a distance therefore avoiding its burning intensity while attenuating its perception. By using this type of glass, the distillate can be swirled while avoiding an excessive development of alcohol's aromas while continuing to appreciate the other aromatic qualities. Finally, it is good to remember that alcohol, by volatilizing from the surface of wine or distillate, also transports with it other aromatic substances therefore favoring their perception.



First of all, congratulations for your magazine which I read with interest since the first issue and which I spread among my friend as soon as I have the opportunity. I would like to ask this question: is there any scientific reason, or however recognized, in the common tradition of bottling wine during the period of waning moon?
Sergio Beretta -- Milan (Italy)
We do now know of any scientific explanation about the common tradition of bottling wine during the period of waning moon. It is however undeniable the gravitational action of the moon influences earth, such as in case of tides, a phenomenon discovered by Isaac Newton. It is however hard to believe any effect of the moon in wine, at least according to scientific criteria. Anyway, this tradition has very ancient origins passed up to nowadays - as well as all the other ones related to moon and agriculture - and he reason probably is astrological instead of scientific or practical. Since the times of the renowned School of Salerno it was recommended to bottle wine according to the course of moon, preferably in March or in August (lunarum cursum sequere, id est martium praecipue, vel augustum). It is however true - even though not in scientific terms but in practice - the tradition which recommends to decant or bottle wine during dry and cold days with high barometric pressure. In these conditions substances in suspension are more hardly found in wine, whereas with low barometric pressure, small gas bubbles tend to develop therefore transporting sediments to the surface.



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  Editorial Issue 27, February 2005   
Wine and FruitWine and Fruit MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
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