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Wine Regions

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champagne-wine-region-1Many parts of the world are famous for their artistic history and culture, and when it comes to wine making there are many great regions to choose from. Countless countries lay their claim to being the home of win, but with so many styles and types it’s almost impossible for anybody to know with any certainty.

What is certain, though, is that wine regions are spread across all of the continents. From the remote countrysides of France which are famous for their vineyards to the South American cities made just for wine, it’s hard to know where the real story started for your favourite type of wine. When it comes to the most famous countries in the world for wine, though, it has to be;

Portugal

Home to the reginos of Minho and Dao, these northern Portugese regions are revered for their wine levels and sophistication when it comes to the stuff. In Porto, one of the famous Portuguese cities, there are many different types of wine both served and created here. Wine is a popular drink all the time in Portugal due to the quality of the wines made here.

Spain

Another Iberian nation with a rich history in wine making, Spain is known for being home to La Rioja which is a true winemaking hotspot. From bright red wines made here to the sparkling white Cava wines found to the south, Spain is a true wine home and it goes perfectly with the climate and culture of the country itself.

Italy

One of the largest producers of wine in the world, Piedmont and Tuscany are probably the most popular locations to visit to find unique, high quality wines in the country. As lovers of good food and great tastes, Italian wine goes perfectly with meals and provides the perfect complement for pastas, meats and cheeses.

Argentina

Argentina is well known for being a wine hot spot, much like Italy, especially in the Mendoza part of the country. It’s a huge part of the country’s history and heritage and from Buenos Aires to the borders you will find an incredible level of passion and joy for wine tasting and drinking. Due to the stunning weather throughout the country for most of the year, it’s very easy to find a vineyard as there are just so many.

With so many different parts of the world taking part in wine making and the creation of their types and styles of wine, it’s difficult to see past the beauty and culture of one of humanities oldest drinks.

Winemaking

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winemaking2Wine making is an incredibly popular hobby across the world, and the actual “science” behind the creation of wine is known as oenology. Winemakers are a very common breed of hobbyist these days, providing people with a chance to really enjoy a peaceful activity while getting a pretty awesome reward at the end of it – free wine!

The process tends to be started by selecting the grapes that you would like to us, and it finishes with bottling your new wine and enjoying it down the line! The majority of wine is made from grapes, although today some other fruits can be used as well though it is rare.

The first step to making your own wine is fairly simple – you need to pick some grapes or fruits to harvest. Because grapes produce the higher amount of sugar per yield, they make the best bet for creating a wine as you need the sugar to create alcohol. It’s best to harvest your grapes when they are nice and ripe. You can do this by hand if you like to do it the old fashioned way or you can buy a machine which makes picking easier.

Next, you will need to sort out the ripe grapes from the rotten ones – you don’t want any bad grapes making it into your batch that’s for sure! Now you will need to start crushing the grapes, and you can do this with your feet is you want like the old winemakers used to. If you don’t feel that this particularly healthy, though, you can get mechanical crushers for a reasonable fee and will probably actually give you a better finish than using your feet!

Once the grapes are crushed, they are left for up to twelve hours with the air allowed to get to them to create a natural fermentation process. Although leaving it to natural yeasts can be a bit of a gamble, most winemakers prefer to take this more natural path. Now you need to wait until the fermentation process is completed, leaving you with a wine. This can take anything from ten days to one month, so be prepared to wait this one out.

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The alcohol levels will vary depending on the sugar level at the end. Wine which is made in a cooler climate will roughly be a 10% alcohol, whereas warmer climates can get closer to 15%. Some styles of wine are fermented for less time to leave a more specific taste to the wine in the end.

Once fermentation is complete, the wine must be siphoned from where it sits to a larger filter. The filter will help catch any solids left over and also make sure that the wine is perfectly drinkable. You can fine the wine a little bit more by adding things like egg white and even clay into the mix to make sure that all the solids are completely cleared. The wine can then be bottled and allowed to age over time.

As you can see, wine making is a really enjoyable hobby to have and when you get it right it can be incredibly powerful! Not only can you save yourself a lot of money on wine but you get to enjoy one of the world’s easiest to manage past-times and hobbies that gives you a direct result at the end!

Health Benefits of Wine

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The conversation between our health and the consumption of wine is a very common topic among wine experts and health professionals. Wine has always had a link to being a kind of tonic, as well as providing a series of other useful aids to our bodies over time.  However, like all alcohol drinking wine in excess is not good for you but in moderation it can actually be a fairly useful health tool to keep you fighting fit and safe.

healthThe old adage is that a glass of red wine every single day will keep the grim reaper away. Depending on who you listen to, this view can change hugely or become even more indulgent of drinking wine, so how can you tell what the actual truth is?

Red wine is the colour it is because of a chemical within it known as “resveratrol”. This chemical not only helps battle off the much maligned aging process, but it also helps keep weight gain under control and leads to a healthier, happier mind in general. The reason that red wine is better for you is that red grapes have the highest concentration of polyphenols, another key ingredients within wine. Polyphenols keep your body safe and protected from tissue damage, which can be a key leader in the development and heart disease and other serious illnesses.

Many reports, researchers and experts also point to red wine as being a pretty good way to avoid death! Reports show that those who drink red wine in moderation are less likely to suffer death in any capacity than those who don’t. this is because your cardiovascular system is improved with the introduction of red wine to the system. Who knew that alcohol could make you safer than ever?

Red wine is also a big benefit when it comes to heart disease. Because it helps to create lipoprotein, otherwise known as cholesterols big friendly brother, you can reduce the risk of blood clotting and also reduce the promotion and growth of cancerous tumours within your body. As you can immediately see, the health benefits of using red wine in moderation are there for everybody to see – it’s just important to remember that excessive consumption of alcohol has the exact reverse effect of moderate alcohol consumption.

Anything more than three glasses a day is when you should perhaps consider cutting back a little bit. If you drink too much you can increase your risk or becoming ill, but if you drink just enough you can reduce it! Something like one glass a day should be enough to keep your body clear and in good condition.

Red Wine Specification

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red_wine5Red wine is so variable; there must be hundreds of different types of red wine out there! With different grapes all over the world, it’s no surprise that we wind up with so many unique tastes and styles of wine from it. There are of course some very common flavours and styles that you are likely to come across time and time again.

Red wines come from all across the globe, with many of the most types coming from Europe. Here are just some of the most popular styles of red wine that you can find as you go testing bottle to bottle;

Cabernet Franc

Along with merlot wine, this is one of the essential Bordeaux blends of wine that is produced in the States. It’s a very strong red wine, very tannic. It tends to have flavours like black olives, violet and blueberry which really help create a unique style and taste in your mouth.

Carbernet Sauvignon

Another part of the famous Bordeaux ranges, this is made from grapes which derive from the Napa valley. It ripens very late as a grape which means it takes an expert eye to pull the task off and create the best wine from these grapes. Its dense, is a little jammy and it’s absolutely layered with different tastes and smells.

Gamay

Gamay is a very young drink, being a very bright and tangy style of red wine. It tends to taste of strawberries and raspberries, making it one of the more “traditional” wines that it has the tastes of the wine that you could expect!

Grenache

Grenache can be quite spicy, and is one of the oldest Spanish wines drunk. It’s a very early ripening wine and tends to have a low acidity level with a high alcohol intake. It’s a less intense version of the Syrah types of wine, and is extremely enjoyable.

Malbec

Malbec wines are Argentinian and it has a very sour taste to it. It’s a very specific type of wine and outside of specific clubs and labels; it’s not very common outside of America. However, once left to age it can take on a very unique enjoyable taste but this takes time and patience.

Merlot

Merlot wine is one of the most common and enjoyable red wines. It makes up a huge proportion of common red wines and at its very best is a powerful wine that can take up to a decade to age. It’s been extremely popular for at least twenty five years and shows no signs of abating or calming down.

With so many different types of red wine out there, it’s hard to know what you are drinking and what you are taking in! Red wines are much easier to tell the difference with when it comes to the smells and powers, and many people prefer to be wine tasters for red as they prefer its style and vigour to that of white wine. While it all may come down to personal taste and preference, it all depends on your own take of the wines themselves!

White Wine Specification

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drinks-white-wine_300When it comes to drinking wine, there is a whole other side to it rather than just enjoying getting drunk rather quickly! Indeed, there are many wine experts around the world who pride themselves in tasting the different flavours and styles of wine out there. We all have our favourite types of wine from red and white to more specific flavours like honey wine, so the only way to know what is your favourite type of wine is to try as many different styles as possible!

The more that you drink wine, however, the easier it becomes to actually understand what you like and why you like it. The more experience you have the more you can learn from the actual drinking of wine when it comes to discovering flavours. All wine bottles come with something known as a specification, which is an easy way for wine drinkers to read about the bottle that they are considering buying to know if the taste and style is what they are looking for.

There are eight “big” types of white wine that are regularly consumed by people, and they are;

  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillon
  • Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
  • Riesling
  • Gewurtzaminer
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Viognier

White wines can be either light, medium or full bodied depending on the type of grapes which were used and the actual alcohol content of the wine. The majority of white wines will go from 8-14% alcohol levels, meaning that depending on your brand you can find yourself getting drunk much quicker sometimes!

White wines are also a regular part of meals like lunch for people – they act as an excellent way to wash down whatever you are having. However, some heavier wines will accompany platters of cheeses and the like, too. Because white wine is a little more refreshing in taste than other products, it’s usually seen as a “food-friendly” meal companion. White wine is very acidic, too, which helps with the food side of things.

The glass that you choose to use will vary completely depending on the wine that you are drinking. For white wine in particular, you will need a separate glass altogether to what you would traditionally use with red wine, for example.

Try and use a narrower glass because it helps to make the smells of the wine group together and concentrate. Overall, though, white wine is quite easy to manage and to keep in the right form for events – if you prefer white, you better get some narrow glasses purchased!

Have a Wine and Beauty Night With Your Girlfriends

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As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Drinking Wine Can Be a Part of Your Beauty Routine, wine can help improve both your health and beauty.  Because of this (and because I like to relax and have fun!), I have started hosting monthly “wine and beauty nights” with a few of my close girlfriends.  We’re all married, work full-time, and several of us have young children, so it’s nice to be able to get away from the stress of daily life to get together and relax.

On a typical Wine and Beauty Night, I do the following:

  • Select six wines in a wide variety for tasting throughout the night
  • Have a selection of cheese, meat, crackers, fruits, vegetables, and occasional small plate meals — a nice variety, but nothing too heavy
  • Set up “beauty stations” in both my master bathroom and guest bathroom

We start in the kitchen and living room, tasting wine and food, and chatting about our day.  After about an hour, we head upstairs to wash off our makeup and change into robes before the real fun begins!  The format of the beauty portion changes based on who is in attendance.  Some of the girls are representatives for beauty companies such as Arbonne or Mary Kay, so if they present their products that evening, we typically focus on that brand only.  Other times, each person will bring one or two of their favorite products for everyone to try out.  We try everything from facial masks to nail polish to under-eye concealer.  It’s a fun way to discover new products and to talk about what’s working for us.

I highly recommend having a wine and beauty night in your home.  It’s a fun way to get together with some of your closest friends!

Dry Wines, Sweet Wines – What are the Differences?

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The term “dry” with regards to wine may seem a little confusing initially, wine is a liquid made mostly of water after all, so then what does “dry” actually mean for wines? When a wine is referred to as dry, it essentially means that it is “not sweet”. In wine terminology dry describes a wine that is the opposite of sweet. Even so, sweet is a genuine taste which your taste buds can quantify, dry describes more of a textural and tactile phenomenon perceived by the palate.

Fermenting Factors: What determines a wine as dry or sweet?

So how do wine makers establish how dry or sweet a wine is? It is during the fermenting process, where a grape’s sugar content is transformed into alcohol. Should a vintner want to create a dry wine, then he/she allows the fermenting process run through to completion, fully transforming all the sugar into alcohol. If a winemaker is aiming for a sweet or semi-sweet (off-dry) wine, then he/she will cut the fermenting process short. There’s 2 ways that a winemaker can shorten fermentation. The first is putting the brakes on fermentation by turning down the heat, to slow things. Fermentation requires a consistent, warm environment, when temperatures fall so does the rate that sugars turn into alcohol. The second method to stop fermentation short, is by adding more alcohol, a technique called fortification. If a wines fermentation process if brought to an early finish, the non-converted sugars (termed “residual sugars”) stay with the wine to create a sweeter taste.

Dry Wine Detection

2 aspects play a fundamental part in the palate’s perception of what is “dry” in a wine. They are tannins and acidity. Even though acidity is present in both white and red wines, it presents easier in white wines. It’s initially detected through salivation. When you taste the first sip of white wine with a decent acid base (test a Sauvignon Blanc for instance), you mouth will start to water immediately. With red wines that have a decent tannin content, the mouth drys out a little with the first taste. Both acidity and tannin structures of wines speak “dry” to the palate. As a side note, tannins are antioxidants that produce the health benefit of wine.

Dry Wines and the Fruit Factor

When people refer to the fruit character of a wine, they are actually referring to the secondary aromatic flavors of wine. The distinctive fruity qualities of wines, from the lightest to the most lush, from the mango to citrus of white wine, and the fig-like to cherry properties of red wine, is what is behind the “fruit factor” of wine. However, it is important to state that the acidity and tannins in wine can kill off the fruity flavors, should they become proportionally to strong. Some associate “sweet” with “fruit”, this can be a slippery slope, since every wine should possess some fruit character, but the majority of wines are not categorized as sweet-style. If the tannins of red wine are light, then the fruit can seem “forward”, more noticeable for the taste buds, the same applies for low-weight acidity. Thus, red wines that contain less tannin, created from thinner skinned grapes such as the Gamay variety or the Pinot Noir, oftentimes appear more fruit since their fruit character doesn’t have to compete so readily with tannins. Likewise, a white wine with lower acidity might push the fruity flavors to the front and therefore appear sweeter as a result of less acidity, yet when you assess the numbers, the amount of sugar is still fairly low.

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