Wine 101

Written by Andres Montoya on .

Andres 1 copyEditor's note: Please welcome Andres Montoya of The Wine Barn. Andres will be writing about all things wine for the flog. sj

From appearance to finish, age to varietal, region to terroir, oak to steel, Robert Parker to wine Spectator points, these are all words from the world of wine you may have already come across in a restaurant, wine store, or special event. Whether you consider yourself a beginner, advanced, or wine nut, the following Wine 101 facts will help you when deciding on a new bottle, even demonstrate basic wine etiquette at your next business social or special date, and always for your own knowledge and appreciation in the subject of wine. 

Grape and Earth. Wine is made of grapes, varying in varietals from all over the world. When a wine smells like vanilla or tastes like raspberries, these are characteristics that come from viticulture to fermentation to aging. No artificial flavors are added to wine. All the amazing descriptions given by connoisseurs and masters of wine come from the winemaking techniques, the region where the grapes are grown, and its terroir which is the soil, rocks, and minerals in the earth under the vineyard. 

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival -- Presented by Chase

Written by Scott Joseph on .

epcot terraTrick'n Chick'n, a vegan item new to this year's festival.The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Presented by Chase kicks off today and runs through November 12, one day longer than usual. It’s the standard setup that has worked so well for the last 17 years, with...

Wait a minute. Hold on. Presented by Chase? 

It seems that is the new official name, making what was already a mouthful of a title something that requires an extra breath to say fully.

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the Chase who is presenting the festival is not some rich guy but rather the bank, formerly known as Chase Manhattan. I can only assume it at this point because there is no other mention of Chase on the official EIF&WF(PBC) website other than in the banner at the top of the page.

Australian Shiraz Represents Best of Both Worlds

Written by Sheri Varasdi on .

dd_shiraz_smSometimes a place is best known for one thing. In Barossa Valley, Australia, it’s wine.  And if we’re talking about Australia and wine, well then it’s safe to say we’re talking about shiraz. Most wine drinkers understand that shiraz and syrah are one in the same, and there are some interesting myths as to how the differences in the name of this grape came about. But the myths are not as important as why this ancestrally-grown Rhone valley grape found a New World home in the southern Australian region of Barossa.

Some things are just meant to be. While for years the grape known as syrah has been lending a host of varying qualities to French blends like Cotes-du-Rhone, Hermitage and the ever-popular Chateauneuf-du-Pape, syrah takes on a whole new personality under the New World influence of Australia and South Africa, where it is now known as shiraz. While California is considered New World in terms of wine growth and production, many Californian winemakers choose to use an Old World, or decidedly French approach to producing syrah. And oftentimes, they blend it with other Californian-grown Rhone varietals such as Grenache and mourvédre. Interestingly, in the warmer growing regions of California, syrah is usually bottled in a blend, while syrah from the cooler regions of California and Washington may be bottled as a single varietal. Yet shiraz from the warmer Australian climate exhibits strength enough to stand as a single varietal wine, and is most commonly bottled this way.

But it was not always so.  According to legend (or Wikipedia,) Shiraz wasn’t always the most popular grape in the vineyard.  James Busby may have brought the clippings-which-would-come-to-be known-as-shiraz over to Australia; however, in the 1970’s, vines containing shiraz and Grenache were mercilessly ripped from the ground in a plot to make room for the increasingly popular white varietals of the time. (Remember the history of rosé and White Zin?) Shiraz didn’t begin on its road to peak popularity until the 1980s and 90s when certain brands made the varietal popular again and a federal tax break was rewarded to those planting new vineyards.

Rethink Pink with Charles and Charles

Written by Sheri Varasdi on .

charles_and_charlesRosé. Blush. The pink stuff. Descriptors like these are enough to make any manly man cringe and any serious wine drinker raise a brow. But if the first thing that comes to your mind is white zinfandel, then this might be a good time to take another look at rosé wines and dispel the myths that have surrounded them for so many years.

Myth number one: rosé wines and blush wines are one in the same. False. According to Wikipedia, the term “blush” was actually coined by a wine writer named Jerry D. Mead upon tasting a pink wine made from cabernet grapes in Sonoma Valley, 1976.  The name of the winery that produced that particular “blush” wine was Mill Creek Vineyards, and its winemaker, Charlie Kreck, took Mead’s suggestion and trademarked the word “blush” in 1978.

Moris Farms Morellino di Scansano Reflects Tuscany’s Rustic Charm

Written by Sheri Varasdi on .

MorisApril is perhaps best known for two things: rain and Easter. Not only in America but in many other countries as well. While the rain falls from gray skies and the sun attempts to peek out and shine a ray of warmth, so millions of believers emerge from their winter dens to celebrate spring and Christ’s resurrection from the tomb. It’s all about rebirth and renewal; the celestial and the earthly beginning anew. And one country that is most steeped in celebrations during the month of April is Italy.  Of course the Vatican in Rome is home to the pope, the world’s most famous catholic, but celebrations of all sort blossom and blaze throughout many Italian cities.

If you’re wondering what exactly Easter has to do with wine (and henceforth this article,) well then you may have never been to catholic mass. We’ve all heard the story of Jesus transforming water to wine, and we all understand the idea that the ritual of baptism symbolizes the cleansing of the soul and the washing away of sin to be born into a life with Christ--or something along those lines. The point is: the fact that Easter is in April and close to the spring equinox should surprise no one.  Rain, eggs, blooming flowers, newborn litters of fluffy bunny rabbits and little yellow peeps-- it’s all quite indicative of rebirth and renewal. And wine has its place too.