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Aging wine underwater, why not?

Winemaking has been fine-tuned by trial and error for thousands of years; It’s a craft. Tradition is strong in winemakers, but every generation has pioneers eager to try something different. That’s how oak barrels were first used to ferment and store wine, and that’s how cork ended up being the standard bottle closure; progress. Research and development in the vineyards and in the cellars are more important than ever, even today, well into the golden age of winemaking. Experimentation keeps taking place on all corners of the world. One of the latest experience is to age the wine underwater.

One of the latest trends: Aging wine underwater.

wines underwater

Time has taught us that wine develops complexity of flavor and aroma with some aging, even after being bottled. That’s why many winemakers store their bottled wine, sometimes for years, before putting it out on the market.

The secret of aging is consistency. You need a dark, cool place, big enough to store sometimes thousands of bottles for long periods. The wine mellows and opens up; it matures. Underground tunnels, natural caves, dusty cellars, they’re all used often to put the wine to sleep. It’s not hard to see that the bottom of the sea has the perfect conditions for this too.

Raul Perez, an unconventional winemaker in Northern Spain, aged in 2003 some of his Albariño underwater for a few months instantly hitting the headlines. This inspired winemakers of the size of Louis Roederer in Champagne and Mira Winery in Napa to try the soggy method for themselves, and others followed.

Advantages of using the sea as a wine cellar are huge but also are the challenges. Even if storage space and cooling is free underwater, it’s costly to submerge and retrieve the bottles. And there’s the risk of damage, spoilage, and contamination.

We will have to wait to see if this ends up just a fad or becomes the industry norm. One thing is for sure, it’s just the beginning; stubborn winemakers, as they are, will continue to push the boundaries as far as they can. And we will all benefit from that.

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Ice Wine: the story

Raisins glacés qui permettront de faire du ice wine

Most have heard of it, but never truly understood it completely. The mystical Ice Wine.

There is a lot of debate about the origin of Ice Wine. Some claim it was first created in France in the 18th century, where some claim it happened in the 19th century in Germany. Regardless of the country or time period,  IceWine has been one of the most loved wines in the world. Its intense concentration and the interesting concept has people all across the globe in admiration.

The process of making Ice Wine

Grapes

The process of making Ice Wine is a daunting, yet, extremely intriguing one. The risk of creating Ice Wine is huge and leaves winemakers with the possibility of potentially losing everything. When it comes to making Ice Wine, the wine is left on the vines until the temperature drops below freezing and creates frost on the grapes. A day or two after, the rock-hard grapes are picked and pressed. However, after the berries are ripe, the rotting susceptibility is huge – and it could potentially rot of the frost doesn’t happen in time.

Once the grapes are harvested, all the water inside the berries are frozen, and all that is left, is the sweet, sugary syrup inside – and that is what is extracted once the grapes are pressed. Although the resulting liquid is minimal, this concentrated liquid is golden and delicious.

When it comes to the actual varietals involved in this process, only grapes that have a firm skin can withstand this torment. This is why only certain grapes can be used – namely Gewurtztraminer, Merlot, Chenin blanc, Riesling and Vidal Blanc.

Considering the wine needs frost on the actual vines to occur for Ice Wine to be produced, only countries like Germany, France, Austria, USA, and Canada can produce these wines. There are, however, many wine producers that work around these steps and produce imitated Ice Wine. Instead of allowing frost to occur on the vines, these producers harvest these grapes and then set in artificial frost. It is important to note that this is no the correct method and the resulting wine will not compare to the real product.

The flavour of Ice Wine

Ice Wine

Ice Wine is notably sweet, and the sugar content makes it a great wine to age. Many people consider Ice Wine a great investment since some wines age well for decades and improve greatly with this aging.

The common flavours of Ice Wine range from rich, bright tropical fruit, to more concentrated peach, melon and apricot flavours. The underlying flavour, however, that tends to follow through with most Icewines, is the intense honey flavour.

When it comes to food pairing, Ice Wine is not just a great wine to pair with desserts but is also an amazing wine to use inside or on top of actual dessert. Opt to pair it with desserts that don’t match its sweetness  – so any cheese, fruit or dark chocolate desserts are amazing companions. This dessert-wine is also great for pouring over any sponge-based desserts or even over ice-cream.

Whether the idea is to consume the wine immediately or keep the Ice Wine for years, it is something worth trying, and definitely, a wine that will have you indulged.

Wine in space, a match made in heaven

“Come quickly, I’m tasting the stars!” allegedly said Dom Perignon as he discovered sparkling wine. This was perhaps the first time both wine and astronomy were part of the same conversation. Since then, wine and space have crossed paths a few times, but as we enter space exploration’s golden age, the best is surely still to come.

Space exploration was at its peak in the seventies, the first American space station, Skylab, was under development. All the careful planning included the food and drinks astronauts would have available during long months of isolation.

This was the first time someone considered sending wine into orbit. They selected a sherry-style of wine to ease star travelers after a hard day’s work. It all sounded good, but NASA doesn’t take decisions lightly.

In 1972, the results were in. They would not include wine in the program. Wine didn’t add much nourishment to the balanced diet already in place, they said. They also noted that the program could be judged and ridiculed if they provided alcohol to the honorable spacemen.

Space prohibition is still in place today. But things might change soon.

Space rocketship

As longer travels and more ambitious programs are scheduled, a wide array of crops and foodstuffs are being considered to supply space travelers with their own grown food.

The grapevine is a resilient crop, adapted to thrive in the most hospitable places on earth. Experts could consider a dwarf vine trained in the form of a coil around a light source for future programs.

The vine didn’t have to wait long to reach the stars. In 2016, China, a major player in today’s space exploration, sent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir grape vines to space.

The aim was to trigger a mutation that made them more resistant to extreme climates. China desperately needs stronger strains that survive its arid landscape.

Mumm Champagne has taken another approach. They think you don’t need to grow your own grapes in space to enjoy a glass of wine. The prestigious company has spent the last few years and a considerable amount of money developing a Champagne bottle for zero gravity: Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar.

Challenges have been countless; sparkling wine doesn’t behave at all in zero-G (it’s a mess!). The sophisticated bottle with a piston mechanism might be the next new thing in the touristic space travel sector in expansion.

History timelines of wine and space exploration have overlapped before, but as both form part of a bright future ahead, we will use both terms in the same sentence more often. Cheers to the brave star sailors above.

Vinho Verde, the other classic wine from Portugal

Portugal has centuries of winemaking history. As it was once a commercial powerhouse, it was also the source of some of the most renowned wines in history. The country has had downfalls, but slowly but surely, it’s gaining its well-deserved place amongst the finest sources of quality wine. Port is Portugal’s most prominent wine style. It’s a classic. Douro dry reds are doing well too; they’re now considered some of the best in their category rivaling old and new world examples. There’s one other wine style in the country that deserves our attention, especially for its humble, pure nature: Vinho Verde.

Vinho Verde : a young wine

Vinho Verde

North-western Portugal is an evergreen paradise with lots of rain and Atlantic humidity. The rivers that flow from the steep mountains to the ocean also help this fertile, leafy land prosper. This is home to Vinho Verde. The name literally means green wine. Yes, the white wine has hints of green and the nose reveals herbal undertones, but it’s the wine’s youth the reason for its colorful name.

Honoring local tradition, growers train the vines in pergolas to make the best of the limited space and to protect the grapes from the ground’s humidity. The most common grapes are Arinto, Loureiro and the noble Albarinho. Blended, they create a subtle, fresh, crisp style that goes well with the seafood of the region.

Vinho Verde is cheap and is always a great value. Modest alcoholic strength and mouthwatering acidity make it an easy sipper. The nose offers green apple aromas, white flowers, and herbs. The palate often with a hint of effervescence is delightful.

The next time you’re looking for a casual white for a warm day, remember Vinho Verde. Add it to your rotation and keep a bottle in the fridge. Few wines have such a noble character; a reminder that simple is beautiful too. And you can try to buy it on the internet!

 

PS : Yes, we heard you “green wine doesn’t exist…”, and guest what… yes it does not exist! The image is a trick 😉

4 ways to buy your wine online

With the digital world today, the trend of online shopping is ever increasing. With more and more online retailers emerging, your option for buying your favourite wine online has never been so simple.

Here is our list of 4 ways to buy wine online in 2019.

Online Wine Shops

Online Wine Shop : Uvinum

There are hundreds of online stores available today that allow you to order thousands of different wines from all over the world that can be delivered right to your doorstep. This makes finding specific varietals, vintages or sales simple and convenient.  Also, there are often options that allow you to set up any notifications to notify you when any particular wines or specials occur – keeping you in the loop with any information you require.
Uvinum is one of the biggest online wine shops at the moment – with tens of thousands of wines available. Another popular European website is VinPark also includes a monthly subscription box.

Online Wine Clubs/subscription boxes

Online wine subscription box: Winc

Similar to a wine shop, there are websites that offer a monthly wine club where individuals pay a fixed amount every month and a case of wine is delivered every month. The difference however, is that the wines are often a variety of different options and are often chosen on behalf of the customers. This option allows individuals to try a range of new wines that they wouldn’t necessarily have chosen themselves – and creates a sort of excitement for the new, unexpected wine to be delivered to them. There are great websites, like Winc that ask you a list of questions about your personal taste preference and base your subscription boxes around the answers you provided. They also allow you to select the number of red and white wines in your subscription box – building your surprise box around your exact taste.

Online Wine Auctions

Online Wine Auction: Idealwine

Online Wine auctions are more for wine connoisseurs and collectors that have vast knowledge on wines and their value. These online auctions display all the wines up for auction and allow individuals to place their bids on their preferred wine. The highest bidder will be notified about their wines and have it delivered to their door. The wines involved in auctions are often of older vintages, rarity or from highly admired regions or producers.
Some of the most popular websites for online auctions include, WineBid and iDealWine.

Online Marketplaces

With online marketplace, the products available are not just specifically wine, but a range of different products. This allows consumers to buy a range of products of their choice – along with any wine they require. What makes this different from just an online wine shop, is the fact that consumers now don’t have to open an entirely new website just for their wine purchases – but can simply add the wine to their cart with their other purchases. Amazon, eBay and Etsy now include wine on their list of products.

 

Considering how easy, efficient and helpful online purchasing is when it comes to wine; it is no wonder that more and more individuals are using it as the preferred method of shopping! We are sure in the years to come; the online shopping options are going to be greater than we can ever anticipate!

French version here.

The fifty-shades of wine

Have you ever really seen the inside of a grape? Did you know that the actual juice of all wine grapes (with two exceptions) is actually translucent? Yes, that’s right, even the red ones.
So where do all those shades of red and hues of green come from? Where does the wine get its colour?

There are a number of factors that influence the colour of the actual wines and allow those beautiful colours of ruby, tawny, lemon-green and gold to appear in your glass.

White wines

Glasses of white wine

So when it comes to white wines, the purest colour is a straw colour – often rated from pale straw to a darker yellow. However, the colour becomes even darker and golden due to any time the wine spends in oak barrels. The oak barrels create a rich, creaminess and also darkens the wine.
But oak barrels aren’t the only thing that causes white wine to change colour.
Any white wines that are aged naturally change too. The longer the white wine is aged, the darker the colour becomes – and may even turn slightly brown.

Red wines

Glass of red wine

So if the juice of a red grape is white, why is the wine red?
To add the colour, flavour and body to red wine, the skins of the grapes are left on (which is where all the colour lies) and that essentially “stains” the juice red.
Each red varietal naturally has different amounts of tannin in the wines – which play a huge role in how dark or light red the wines are.
Just like with white wine, oak barrels play a role in the intensity of the colour. Wines that spend a longer time in the barrels often have a slightly deeper colour.

When it comes to the ageing effect, however, red wine reacts differently than white. With age, red wine starts to lose its colour and fade and change into a garnet, and eventually, brown colour.

Rose wines

Glass of rose wine

So if the juice is actually white, where does the pink colour come from for rose wines.

Leaving the juice on the red wine skins create not only that deep colour, but also that intense, full-mouthfeel and complex flavours.
With rose wines, the skins are merely left on the grapes when they are pressed, so the juice that seeps out is slightly tainted from the skins – without the intense, red wine characteristics. The different shades of roses are greatly influenced by the amount of time that the juice is spent in contact with the red skins. These shades can range from a pale salmon colour all the way through to a dark pink colour.

All the other colours

Glass of orange wine

Orange wine: In certain parts of Italy, orange wine is produced simply by leaving the white wine’s skins and seeds in contact with the juice.

Brown/tawny wines: With fortified wines, they spend prolonged time in the barrels and are gradually exposed to oxygen – this naturally causes the brown colour in wines.

The marvels of wine and the production thereof is something to truly admire – and armed with this information regarding the colours of wine, we hope that drinking wine is a much pleasanter experience.

 

French version here.

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