Saturday, November 28, 2009

Simply Seventy

Saturday! With plenty of time to kill, this loser organized ALL her recipes to a freakish degree (I'm beginning to feel more and more like Monica over here). I also spent time tucking into Andrew Jefford's Wine Course. For anyone even slightly interested in wine, I highly recommend this book. Although interesting, I wasn't reading it simply for pleasure. This Wednesday we have our wine exam. A bottle of Champagne and a case of wine will be divvied up among the top scorers. Let the games begin.

Again, if you don't give a hoot about wine, don't worry about finishing this post! But here are some interesting tips I picked up from my reading:

- Tannins come from tree bark and leaves, and are tasted most noticeably in tea and wine. High tannin levels give a structured, "clinging" texture on your tongue, teeth, and gums. Interestingly enough, this sensation becomes less abrupt and in-your-face when you add protein to the equation. So, that is the rationale behind pairing a full-bodied red wine with some steak, or pouring milk in your heavily steeped Earl Grey.

- In the mid nineteenth century, American vines brought to Europe carried with them a root-eating insect virus called Phylloxera. This pesky bug, to which American vine roots were immune, laid the smack-down on the roots of European vines. It was sort of like the Black Plague for vines. Luckily, desperate wine growers eventually figured out that they could graft their ancient European vine trunks onto new American (and immune) roots. Thus, American vine roots saved European wine as we know it. U.S.A! U.S.A!

- Many consider Chateau Petrus (a Merlot) the greatest red wine. It is certainly one of the world's most expensive!

- The roots of old vines can grow up to 50-65 feet underground!

- The French word "terroir" is a sort of umbrella term used to describe all the natural elements that affect the grape vines: the soil, the climate, the altitude, etc.

And, finally, some Grape Variety "Buzz Words":

- Chardonnay: vanilla (from the oaked barrels), oak, lemon/lime, melon, butter, cream

- Sauvignon Blanc: grass, leaves, nettles, gooseberry, minerals (in cooler climates), stone

- Riesling: minerals, slate, flowers, apples, grape, grapefruit, citrus peel, peach, acidity

- Cabernet Sauvignon: sturdy, tannic, blackcurrant, "big-boned"

- Merlot: plum, black cherry, blackberry, chocolate (when aged in oak barrels)

- Syrah/Shiraz: pepper, cherry, blackberry, smoke

- Pinot Noir: a light wine, raspberry, plum, floral, balanced acidity and tannins, "graceful"

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