Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 38, February 2006   
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Issue 37, January 2006 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 39, March 2006

The Taste of Wine


 In the beginning, they were sweet, dense and syrupy, so that they were diluted with water before drinking. Later, came out dry ones as well as lively ones with cheerful effervescence. Then, the happy bubbles became famous and considered as noble, becoming a fashion and sign of high class. In their beginning, they were sweet, then dry. Therefore, after having overcome a period of less interest, it was the time of barrique - or better, a way to use the barrique - and the fashion of being similar to wood at all costs, a fashion which today tends to become less and less popular, but that still has its followers. The taste of wine changes. As it occurs in the nature of the development of habits and fashions concerning human beings, the same is for wine which - against its will - follows this rule, too. If in ancient times, wine has to have a sweet taste to be good - sometimes a little sour as well - today this rule does not have the same kind of approval. Likewise, it is also true that - being highly probable - the wines produced at the time of ancient Greeks and Romans, would not satisfy our taste at all.


 

 The contrary - of course - is also true as well: it is pretty hard ancient Greeks and Romans could share the enthusiasm we have today for dry wines - with a full body and complexity - with evident hints of wood. Times, fashions and tastes change. And time, which inexorably goes by, will introduce - for sure - new tastes and new fashions in the world of wine. Should we have a crystal ball, we could predict the future of the taste of wine, but frankly, we prefer the idea of waiting and see this new “surprise”. After all, who could ever bet - 30 years ago - that in later times would become famous and appreciated wines with strong organoleptic qualities of wood? If we look back in time, trying to remember the facts of those periods, the first pioneers, who tried to introduce barrique in the vinification process, were banned - in a sense - from the world of enology, as they were considered crazy and even responsible for a cultural massacre against wine.

 But if we see how things are today, these figures are today considered the fathers of the new and modern enology, taken as reference and model for their wines and - although most of them are still alive - they also conquered a place of honor in the history of enology. Whether they were also responsible for imposing a certain taste of wine among consumers, it is pretty difficult to say as well as being not very sustainable. Responsible for the introduction of a new fashion in wine it is more likely probable, but - after all - consumers are the ones who determine the success or the failure of a fashion. Commercial and speculative factors certainly play a fundamental role, but in case fashion should be mostly based on these presuppositions, it would disappear in a short time. Anyway, the taste of wines with wood flavors is still alive and frequently looked for by consumers, a sign that it is not only a matter of fashion, but also a matter of having met - like to say - the taste of our times.

 Defining the taste of wine is something hard to explain, especially for the fact that wine represents something absolutely personal to everyone and with which everyone have a personal relationship. Saying the taste of wine - or anyway the wine, in every aspect and for everything it may mean - must have specific qualities in order to be good, it is something that belongs more to presumption and arrogance than to reality. For many people, a good wine could be white and pretty crisp, for others it could be, on the contrary, red and robust. Anyway, there are certain reference models with which it is possible to form a specific image of the taste of wine, which can be objectively considered as good by most of consumers, in other words, a wine statistically good. Producers are of course aware of these statistics and on them they widely base the taste and the style of their wines.

 However, statistics cannot guarantee a stable success, because consumers - obeying to the nature of human beings - continuously change their tastes and preferences. An example for all is the so “loved-hated” barrique, precious enological tool which - since always or at least in the last years - has been subject of many arguments, both good and bad. Some years ago, barrique was in fact seen as an essential tool for the production of high quality wines. Today, instead, many producers tend to use it less and less, getting back to the use of large casks. A trend confirmed also from what the consumers express about their taste and there are many who believe producers make today an excessive use of barrique in their wines. Paradoxically, some years ago, many consumers would have preferred producers to use the barrique more. It will be the abuse of barrique - exasperated also from trendy and commercial factors - to change the opinion of consumers. Today, they say the organoleptic qualities of barrique influence too much on the taste of wine.

 Probably, this is also the sign the taste of wine is changing again and today the trend is to prefer a wine expressing the qualities of grapes instead. There are more and more people who have a preference for wines, also being robust and complex, but substantially offering aromas and tastes of flowers and fruits, both to the nose and to the palate. Is the era of wines with wood nuances over? Of course not, also because wood has been and it will be a factor of primary importance in the production of many wines. Although it is difficult to predict, it could happen in the next years that wines, uniquely made in inert containers - such as steel tanks - can conquer a dominant position in consumers' preferences and tastes. What we can tell today about the taste of wine - by considering the opinions of consumers - is that there are many to prefer crisp and fruity white wines and robust and complex red wines, in which barrique, or in any case wood, is not excessively intrusive. This seems to be the new direction taken from producers, certainly in their interest, but - obviously - in the interest of our taste, too.

 



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 38, February 2006   
The Taste of WineThe Taste of Wine MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 37, January 2006 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 39, March 2006

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.

 

I was very curious about sparkling wine production and in the pages of your publication, I have found the answers I was looking for about this subject. Many compliments. However, there is a point I do not still understand: if we start from a base wine of 10-12%, the alcohol which develops during refermentation, does not increase the volume of the wine? It is impossible the work of yeast is only about the production of carbon dioxide without producing any alcohol. Thank you for your reply.
Davide Mazzoli -- Rimini (Italy)
Dear Reader, first of all, we would like to thank you for your appreciation about DiWineTaste: we are happy to know in the pages of our publication, you could satisfy your curiosity about sparkling wine production. As you have rightly observed, during the refermentation in bottle, the yeast does not produce carbon dioxide only. Technically speaking, carbon dioxide is a byproduct of the fermentation of sugar, and the main product being the alcohol. During the refermentation in bottle, both dioxide carbon and alcohol are being produced, the latter contributing to increase the alcohol volume of the wine. Base wines, used for the production of sparkling wines, have very special organoleptic and chemical qualities, including a high acidity and a lower alcohol volume than regular table wines. In general terms, at the end of the refermentation in bottle, alcohol volume of the wine increases in the measure of 1.2-1.3%, therefore compensating the lack of the base wine and then reaching the typical volumes of most of table wines.



What is the difference between raisin wine and sweet wine?
Arthur Martins -- Seattle, Washington (USA)
Sweet wines represent a generic category to which belong all sweet wines having the organoleptic quality of sweetness and produced according to different enological techniques. Raisin wines - belonging to the category of sweet wines - are produced with dried grapes only. The withering of the grapes can be done naturally, by leaving the clusters on the vine, or leaving the clusters - after harvesting - in sufficiently aerated rooms. In both cases, grapes lose considerable quantities of water, concentrating - at the same time - the quantity of sugar, which gives the wines their typical sweetness. The lesser quantity of water allows the production of wines with a fuller body and more consistency than those produced with fresh grapes. Raisin wines - in France known as Vin de Paille and mainly produced in Jura - are typically produced in almost every region of Italy, by using different kinds of grapes, white and red ones, aromatic and non aromatic grapes.



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