Well some surprising numbers are starting to show up in the United States, and likely the trend is similar on Canada. Millennials are now the largest wine consumers! While comprising 36% of the population they consume 42% of the wine. Gen-X’ers represent 18% of the population and 20% of the wine is consumer by them. Us old boomers, represent 34% of the population and quaff 30% of the wine consumed. The Millennials are taking over! Perhaps one of the reasons Millennials are the largest wine drinkers is that they tend to drink more glasses of wine at a sitting. They drink on average of 3.1 glasses of wine per sitting, Gen-X drinks 2.4 glasses, and us reserved boomers drink 1.9 glasses per sitting.
What do Millennials prefer to drink? They tend to chose Malbec, Moscato, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Also in this report from the Wine Market Council and reported in the Wine Spectator magazine, it was found that women consume 57% of the wine drunk in the United States. So perhaps this explains all the fancy wine names and merchandizing that the wine manufacturer marketers target this important demographic.
People will often describe a wine as being full-bodied, medium-bodied or light bodied. What is the difference? The closest analogy I like using is it can be described as like homogenized vs. skim milk. It is the weight of the wine in your mouth.
What determines the body of wine? One of the main factors is alcohol. The higher the alcohol the higher the perceived body. Alcohol increases the viscosity of wine, making it thicker in taste. That is why a high alcohol 13% Cabernet Sauvignon has more body than a lower alcohol 9% Riesling.
Generally red wine has more body than white wine. However, within white wines, certain varieties, have more body than others. Chardonnay is often more full bodied than Sauvignon Blanc and certainly Riesling. But even within Chardonnay there are difference in body. Chablis, is Chardonnay which is grown in a district in a cooler district of France, and as a result the skins of the grapes is thinner and the resulting wine has less body.
What makes for heavier bodied wines from kits? Well we mentioned the grape variety for one. The other thing is the amount of solids in the kit. So, our best kits have more solids and therefore more body. Lower end kits, those offered by big box stores have little if any solids in them and thus they can be light.
Whatever the case, be sure to tell us what you are looking for in your next kit and we will be able to find the right one for you. That is what we think we do best, finding the right wine for you!
It is important to note that Winexpert or Vineco do not explicitly use gluten-containing products in the wine kits. Even so, they do not guarantee that there is absolutely no gluten in the wine products. Some of the ingredients may have been processed in plants by a supplier that processes other products with gluten. Simply stated while no gluten is added in these products they are not produced in gluten free facilities.
An additive such as the F-Pack contains glucose-fructose derived from corn, which the manufacture can’t guarantee as gluten-free. And the yeast used in the kits is processed on a substrate of beet sugar and glycolisides. These products do not usually contain any gluten or its derivatives, yet again, because they are not in control of the yeast production, they cannot guarantee it will be gluten-free.
Twisted Mist Kits all contain gluten, and should not be consumed by Celiacs or others with gluten intolerance.
What this has meant is that many vineyards, at the behest of winemakers and tasters, have begun to hold off on harvesting grapes until the fruit has developed abnormally high sugar levels. Customers are told that a wine that is 'only'10% alcohol is unacceptable. Wines like California Cabernet and Zinfandel, which might have been 12.5-13.5% alcohol two decades ago, now regularly contain 14.5% alcohol.
One byproduct of this change is that inebriation levels increase much more quickly. Some consumers have begun abandoning North American wines for just this reason, because they don’t enjoy 'getting drunk' while merely eating a hamburger or having pasta for dinner. And the punch of the alcohol drowns out the actual tastes, aroma, and character of the wine itself.
A few years ago, well-known California winemaker Randy Dunn of the Dunn Vineyards sent a letter to wine critics and wine magazines, advocating that the average consumer as well as the wine media begin to speak up and protest this 'fad' of higher and higher alcohol. He claims that the enjoyable consumption of wine is different from mere solitary 'tasting,' comparing consumption to the enjoyment of a meal. As he says in the letter, 'Would you want to sample a soup, meat dish or other course that is so overpowering that you cannot enjoyably finish what is in front of you?'
What is lost when the alcohol content goes so high is the subtleties that have always been associated with excellent wine: the individualities from grapes grown in different regions and conditions, and the small distinctions in flavour and aroma. As Dunn says, these have been 'replaced by sameness - high alcohol, raisiny, pruney, flabby wines.'
Another byproduct, according to Dunn, is that fewer bottles of high-alcohol wines are actually sold. He uses the equation that the percentage of alcohol times the volume equals the satisfaction the drinker experiences. If the alcohol percentage increases, the volume drunk 'must go down for satisfaction to stay the same - or else we all get plastered.'
'High alcohol content' doesn’t automatically equate with 'great wine'. In fact, a wine with a slightly lower alcohol content may end up being more thoroughly enjoyed as wine (with all the character, taste, aroma, and subtlety that implies) rather than as a mere high-speed alcohol-delivery system.
Article from Winexpert
Alcohol in wine affects the taste, smell and body of wine. Alcohol is a complex sugar and therefore when alcohol levels are high the wine will taste sweet. This is why, high alcohol wines like Zinfandel (red) and Amarone taste sweeter and yet they have a sweetness rating of 0.
Higher alcohol levels will lower the acidic taste of wine. This is because wine with higher alcohol uses grapes with higher sugar levels, achieved often by picking the grapes when they are riper. These very ripe grapes are lower in acids.
Alcohol can also bring out the tannic taste of wine. Many Aussie Shiraz’s because of the hot climate are high in alcohol and this is why we describe these wines as tannic. Pucker power, mouth-drying tannic.
As I indicated in a recent blog in our Facebook site, warming your wine above 20C will result in the alcohol “vapourizing” to the point of destroying the wonderful tastes of the wine.
Personally, I prefer wines of moderate alcohol levels. I find these wines will offer greater levels of taste and complexity. Typically, but not always, European wines are lower in alcohol than new world wines.
We all know that the big “buzz” these days is pairing food with the matching wine. Well with the upcoming fresh fruit season close at hand what wines pair up well with fruit.
Fruit - Wine
Apple - Sparkling wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, White Zinfandel
Apricot - Chenin Blanc
Bananas - Gewurztraminer
Blackberries - Vieux Chateau du Roi, Riesling, Tempranillo, Zinfandel (red)
Blueberries - Sparkling wine
Cherries - Pinot Noir, Port
Figs - Chianti, Port, Sherry,
Guava - Riesling
Mango - Barolo
Peaches - Sparkling wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay
Pears - Sparkling wine, Gamay nouveau, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, White Zinfandel
Plums - Gamay Nouveau, Tempranillo
It is estimated that as many as 8% of wine drinkers suffer from Wine allergies. The Globe and Mail reported in their January 11th issue, recent news out of Denmark that could help many.
Researchers in Denmark have isolated substances in wine, called glycoproteins, proteins coated with sugar, that they think could be the root of many wine allergies. Most allergies, are due to proteins, and not sulphites or tannins which are not proteins. Wine makers maybe able to adjust their procedures to eliminate these glycoproteins, but this may be a long way off.
These glycoproteins are naturally occurring compounds in the grape plants that give the plant protection against pathogens. Plant breeders may choose to look at eliminating these glycoproteins and solve the headache. Stay tuned!
Sulphites in wine have for a long time been falsely thought to be the culprit. However, it is really only severe asthmatics that have to be wary of this substance, and that is why many commercial wines contain the warning that the wine contains sulphites. Sulphites are also naturally occurring, so, in fact all wine contains sulphites, even humans produce sulphites. Salad bars, dried fruit, and meat products (that pad on top of that Styrofoam tray in your steak from the supermarket is rife with sulphites to keep your steak red) contain far more sulphites than a glass of Merlot.
Tannins, on the other hand, can restrict blood vessels and result in headaches. These antioxidants give wine that popular astringent taste. It is more common in red wine, as red wine is fermented on the skins. Of course you will also find that astringent taste in tea and walnuts which have far more tannins than the average glass of red wine.
There are essentially 3 things that constitute defects in a bottle of wine, commercial or wine made from kits. If you notice it in a restaurant, or purchased commercial wine, send it back.
A wine is said to be corked when it has come in contact with a contaminated cork during the ageing process. The results of the contamination are almost always unmistakable. The wine will smell like a wet basement after a flood or dirty socks left in the hamper a little too long, nasty and not all enticing to the taster. On the palate, it will be astringent, lacking in fruit, with a raspy finish. Sometimes you may even notice a paint-thinner quality.
Oxygen is wine’s invisible enemy, and when a wine gets exposed to air, it becomes “oxidized”. The result is flat, lifeless wine that loses its pretty, vibrant fruit scents and tastes insipid – it will likely remind you of vinegar. The trained eye will also often notice a certain dullness in colours. In whites, it can be light to dark yellow or even brownish.
Occasionally, some residual, dormant yeasts will wake up, and a wine will undergo a second fermentation after it has been released and shipped. This manifests itself as effervescence, or fizziness, on the tongue.
Excerpt from Winexpert’s files.
How many times have you heard the comment from wine snobs that homemade wine is inferior to commercial wines? How many times have you served your own proudly crafted wine to these same wine snobs, and they are very favourably impressed. They ask what kind of wine is this and where can they buy it. You either string them along or proudly boast that you have another 25 bottles or so in the basement at a fraction of the cost your wine snob friend paid for his Chateau du la feet 2001.
But hold on, don’t be to quick to judge the wine snob. Many sommeliers, judges and so called wine connoisseurs, maybe looking for something quite different from what we enjoy best. The so-called top quality wines are typically over-the-top jammy, high alcohol, loaded with tannins, which is what wine judges are trained to look for.
However, the typical wine drinker is after something completely different. We are after something we enjoy in social settings, with friends or over a nice meal. And that’s what the kit makers realize. So they produce easy to drink, smooth wines that can be consumed young and don’t have to wait for the next generation to be drinkable.
Of course many of these highly touted commercial wines come with penalties to us wine drinkers. Firstly, they hurt the pocketbook, and to many they leave you with a nasty headache.
While the judges may dismiss your homemade wine, the ultimate judge, you the winemaker and wine drinker know what you prefer.
From: Windows On The World- Complete Wine Course by Kevin Zraly, 1999 Edition
Use this simple method as a guideline for tasting wine…
Take a mouthful of wine and 'chew it'; take in some air to release the volatile compounds, and swallow the wine. Resist judging the wine for the first 15 seconds but start analyzing it.
0-15 seconds: If there is any sugar/sweetness in the wine, you will experience it in the first 15 seconds. If there no sweetness in the wine, the acidity is usually at its strongest sensation during the first 15 seconds. Also look for the fruit levels of the wine.
15-30 seconds: After the sweetness or acidity look for the fruit sensation. After all, this is what you are looking for! By the time you reach 30 seconds, you are hoping for a balance of all of the components. At this time you should be able to tell the weight of the wine. (Is it light, medium or full-bodied?) Also think about the types of food you would enjoy the wine with.
30-45 seconds: Not all wines need 30 seconds of thought. Lighter style wines such as Riesling will usually show their best at this point. For example the fruit, acid, and sweetness of a good Riesling should be in harmony from this point on. For quality red and white wines the acidity should now blend with the fruit of the wine. At this point, you should see balance in the components.
45-60 seconds: Big wines like California and Australian Cabernets, big Italian reds like Barolo, classic red Bordeaux and white Chardonnays will continue to reveal character and balance. The later tannins and fruit should still be in balance with the early acidity. If the tannin is still overpowering the fruit the wine may need more aging.
A wine tasting party can be an opportunity to provide a fun atmosphere for friends to compare and contrast different wines. Here are a few tips to help to host a wine tasting party of your own.
Choose a Theme
Sometimes a simple theme is best. Perhaps choose a single type of wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. It is suggested you choose no more than 6 different wines to taste. Have other wine makers bring wines they have made and make it a simple competition. Prizes area great way to liven up the event.
Determining the Tasting Procedure
Blind tastings can be fun! Remove the label from the wine and simply place a piece of masking tape on the bottle with a secret code. Give everyone a list of the wines they will be tasting and challenge them to figure out which is which. For example #1 might be a 2005 Selection Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and #2 a 2006 Cellar Craft Limited Release Quartet Cabernet and so on.
Provide a score sheet that allows each taster to rate each wine on its merits. You can add the scores afterwards and determine the winner or the most popular. Creative Connoisseur has copies of wine tasting score sheets to help with your evening.
Have everyone taste each wine at the same time and discuss each wine to see the different perceptions. This can add to the enjoyment.
Wine tastings prior to a meal are a great ice breaker and can set the tone for a fun evening. It is also a good idea to have the wine tasting before the meal to avoid food tastes impacting your taste buds. And in today’s concern of moderation it allows for ample time to make for a safe trip home later in the evening.
You don’t have to have a large group to have a successful evening. Wine tastings of 4 people can be a blast.
Organizing the Wine Tasting
Remember to plan for the correct serving temperature for your wine. We can help determine that for you. If you plan to taste several different types of wines it is usually best to start with the lightest wine and ending with the heaviest. Be sure to provide simple cheese and crackers so as to not mask the flavour of the wines but at the same time allowing for the tasters to cleanse their palate.
Each guest can be provided with a wine glass and it is suggested you serve an ounce of the wine to be tasted. This allows for plenty of room in the glass to swirl the wine to reveal its true nature. Allow guests to rinse their glass between servings.
You don’t have to be a professional wine taster. Make it a fun evening!
One of the most common questions we are asked is can I use screw caps on my own wine. The simple answer is no. In order to utilize screw caps on wine a special pneumatic machine is required that runs into the thousands of dollars.
Now new evidence is indicating that screw caps are not as “good” as first indicated as this article gleaned from the London Evening Times. Wine buffs have uncorked a campaign to banish screw caps from bottles.
The move comes after it was revealed screw caps can leave some wine just as tainted as corks can. Research carried out for this year's International Wine Challenge - the world's biggest wine competition - found faults caused by screw caps are almost as common as cork taint.
Meanwhile, technological improvements have meant the number of wine bottles spoilt by corks is in decline. The findings have been seized on by wine traditionalists, who hate screw caps and say cork has served the industry perfectly for hundreds of years.
Screw caps, are seen by some wine experts as industrial and lacking the romance of a cork, right, which gives a satisfying pop when the bottle is opened. However, they have been adopted widely by supermarkets because it was thought there was much less chance of wine going off under a screw cap - a problem said to affect 10% of bottles with corks.
Now tasters at the International Wine Challenge in London claim cork taint is in decline and problems affecting wines sealed with screwcaps have been underestimated. From a blind tasting of 13,000 wines, they discovered 4% of the wine with corks had faults from oxidation or high sulphide levels - giving it an eggy flavour - compared with 2% of screw-cap bottles.
If you stretch back to your high school chemistry you’ll remember that compounds like to be stable. If they loose something they want it back or something just as valuable to them. This is what is happening to the tannin chains. They are getting pulled apart from light, oxygen, and what ever forces physically and chemically in the bottle you can imagine. When broken apart they start looking for something that will fill the void, compounds that contribute to sweetness, fruit flavor, or what ever else is around that fit’s their need.
This is why older wines will taste smoother, less astringent, and less fruity. The fruit is partially diminished by oxidative properties in the wine that will eventually create a reductive atmosphere in the bottle. Once reductive process starts happening everything breaks loose. From that point on the wine will start diminishing until its just plain nasty.