Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Clay Amphorae - Perhaps the next big thing for wine

Upon thinking on it, the ancients knew how to make wooden containers (barrels) fairly early on. I wonder if they chose to use clay amphorae for making and storing wine, because of some preference for the clay material? Wiki says the Celts were making what we'd consider modern wooden barrels for wine in about 350BC (how cool is that?), and Herodotus mentioned the shipment of wine in palm-wood casks to Babylon, much earlier than that.

See the attached article. A guy in the Chehalem Oregon area is making amphorae and then making wine in them. They impart earthiness and minerality to the wines (no kidding! really?). It sounds pretty interesting, really.

Here is the article I found about the modern use of amphorae for wine.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Vines sleeping under a rare blanket of snow


third great wave of snow hitting Portland, Oregon now 1pm 2-8-2014.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Basics of food-wine pairing

What a great article about food-wine pairing. Summarizing:

1. Most meat and dairy contains fat. There are three ways to choose wine to "marry" well with the fat:
a. A wine with higher acid, which balances the fat;
b. A with higher tannin (from oak aging, or from time on the stems and seeds) cuts the fat in the mouth; and
c. A wine with higher alcohol matches the heaviness of the fatty food.

I might add that wine also cuts the fat chemically--just sautee some fatty meat and remove it, leaving some fat and fatty bits in the pan, and then add wine and scrape--the wine breaks up the fat. This is simplistic, but in my mind I visualize the wine's breaking up the fat before it can be deposited in my arteries ;)

2. With an acidic dish, make sure the wine has more acid than the food. This can mean reducing the amount of vinegar in a salad, or looking for higher-acid wines. In a white wine, about 0.70% Titrable Acid (TA) is a good target level to consider; in a red, it's often closer to 0.60%. If acid gets much higher than those target levels, then most wines will need some residual sugar (RS) to balance the high acid. But bear in mind that copious fruit in a wine can fool the tongue into thinking a wine is sweet when it's really dry.

3. Salty foods call for sweet or sparkling wines. 

4. Desserts need wines which are sweeter than the dessert.



California's drought creates life or death situation for grapevines

The drought gets worse and worse in California. This is the normal rainy season, but rainfall is a tiny fraction of normal. Ditto for the snowpack.

Now, vineyard owners are concerned for the survival of their vines. Read about it here.