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Webmaster | 16. August 2008 @ 13:00

You've probably heard the saying that if you don't like Chardonnay, it's because you haven't found the right one. Tongue and cheek sentiment aside, it bears witness to the great variety of different wines that all masquerade under the single title of Chardonnay, some so disparate as to hardly be recognizable as coming from the same grape.

Much of this is no doubt due to the staggering popularity of the wine - the more popular a variety is, the greater number of vintners the world over will produce it, each with their own personal twist or addition. This phenomenon however is hardly limited to Chardonnay, or French wines at all for that matter. Even wines with identities that are traditionally more strongly defined may vary widely from region to region.

Riesling is one such versatile wine whose complexity, variety, and cellar longevity make it more than a worthy competitor for the title of most popular white wine.

Most people probably think of a Riesling as a fruity, crisp, light wine – maybe a touch on the dry side – and it wouldn't be a bad generalization to make. However, this remarkable grape is by no means limited to such. Rieslings run the gamut from an almost dusty dryness with piercing tartness to full-bodied and nectarous. How, then, does one single name manage to include such a variety of wines? To answer the question, we must first take a quick look at the grape itself.

In contrast to the many grapes of French origin, Riesling, as the name might suggest, traces its beginnings to the somewhat cooler hills and valleys of Germany. Rieslings are surprisingly tolerant to colder climes, thanks in part to their tough, woody vines. The grapes are relatively small, and are susceptible under certain conditions to a non-poisonous mold called Botrytis cinerea. The mold causes grapes to shrivel prematurely – the end result being the characteristically sweet, tart wine which is so removed from the dry, non-Botrytis wines.

For further explanation, we return again to the factor of popularity coupled with regional difference. A Riesling grown in Alsace, France for instance is likely to be a little sweeter and with more fruit overtones than the original German variety grown along the Mosel River, unique in its lower alcohol content and intense aroma. Other producing regions are New Zealand, whose combination of a cool, maritime climate with long sunshine hours has made it possible to produce high quality fresh-tasting Rieslings and California, whose traditional Riesling style is dry and oaky (though recently Californian vintners have increasingly been returning to the original German style).

It is interesting to note that many impostor wines masquerade under the title of Rieslings which are not, in the truest sense, made from Riesling grapes. Gray Riesling, Emerald Riesling, and Welschriesling (Italian Riesling) are all related varieties of somewhat lower quality which are often passed off as Riesling. Additionally, regional wine-dialect identifies several unrelated white grapes as various forms of “Rieslings” in different wine growing communities. True varieties are sometimes referred to as German-style or Rhine Rieslings.

Finally, Rieslings are renowned as excellent aging wines. The secret is the grape's potential to retain acidity and still achieve high sugar levels. As a result, the naturally fresh flavors of a Riesling can be preserved and even improved with age as opposed to the flattening effect that can take place in wines with low acidity and high sugar.

All in all, Riesling is an exceptional grape that yields equally exceptional wines. If you've never tried one, you're missing out, and if you have, Riesling's great variety will ensure that you never need run out of pleasing new wine experiences.

About the author:

David Roberts is a wine correspondent for www.savoreachglass.com, an online resource for wine lovers.

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Webmaster | 24. June 2008 @ 16:02

If you love wine then you must also love wine tasting. Wineries attract wine lovers like magnets because they offer the option of tasting new wines and vintages and exposing their sense of smell and taste to another variation of their existing collection. Some wineries even offer free wine tasting opportunities while there are several hotels and restaurants that are regular when it comes to holding wine tasting events. These events allow wine lovers to taste some of the most exclusive wines in the world. Now you might think that all you need to taste wine is an absence of cold and the ability to sip but wine tasting accessories are indispensable for the serious wine taster.

Wine tasting accessories are old companions of wine tasters who use them to analyze the wine for different factors like taste, color, aroma, flavor, and of course quality. Wine tasting accessories typically include aroma bottles and blotting strips that are often accompanied by manuals on wine tasting and recording books where wine tasters note down their assessments of different wines. It must be remember that wine tasting is also something that is learned and nourished through experience and if you are a novice then you will need the manuals. The assessment records are useful in providing feedback to wineries on how they may improve their wines.

Wine tasting accessories are different depending on the nature of the wine being tasted because all wines have a unique composition that cannot be generalized for the taster's convenience. Moreover, wine-tasting accessories comes in different sizes, so some kits will have more aroma bottles and blotting strips. Other tools of their own accompany some wine tasting accessories and they are manufactured using a whole range of materials to suit all preferences and personal tastes. Some wine tasting accessories come in an all-inclusive package that features equipment to test all the three major categories of wine, reds, whites, and blushes.

There are wine tasting accessories that are suitable for wineries and then there are those that are made with the single user in mind. Make sure that you ask for wine tasting accessories when you go shopping to avoid the ones that are meant for wineries. Of course, for those people who maintain a cellar containing hundreds of wine bottles it might become necessary to buy the winery related wine tasting accessories. It must be obvious that personal wine tasting accessories are much smaller and less elaborate than the other type. Personal wine tasting accessories are also helpful when you go to purchase new wine so you can taste it before buying it.

Some wine tasting accessories are even closely associated with certain brands so if you stick to one brand or are about to try a new one, see if you can find wine tasting accessories that are applicable to that brand in particular. This is especially true of the aroma bottles that usually vary by manufacturer. Nowadays, it is quite convenient to acquire specific wine tasting accessories because of the Internet. The Internet provides extensive search options as well as hundreds of websites that are dedicated to good wines and the needs of wine lovers.

About the author: James Arthur is a wine consultant for http://www.winestoragecredenzas.net Visit our site for more information on Wine Storage Credenzas.

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Health Guru : Wine Fermentation
Webmaster | 4. March 2008 @ 16:02

What is wine fermentation?

In short, it is the complex action whereby the living organism of yeast breaks the sugar down into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The action of the yeast on the sugar continues until the volume of alcohol has reached somewhere between 12.5% to 14%.

At this stage, the yeast organism is destroyed by the alcohol it has produced and fermentation ceases. This is what is known as a natural wine. Most commercial products come under this category until they have been fortified. This period of fermenting in the tub can be a dangerous time. Because of this, the fermentation process should be completed as soon as possible (even at the risk of losing a little of the wine's bouquet).

Next, we must then keep the brew warm. Our goal here is to bring about ideal conditions in which the living organism and yeast cells can multiply more rapidly. Warmth helps to ensure this. The faster they multiply, the more rapidly they convert the sugar into alcohol and therefore, the sooner the yeast destroys itself.

Do not be tempted to keep a brew hot during fermentation. During warm weather, any odd spot will do for a fermenting brew. Also, a warm spot in the kitchen or in an airing cupboard is as good as any during the winter.

After 14 day of fermentation in a warm place, the wine can be bottled or put into stone jars. This is the time to add the isinglass.

Adding the Isinglass:

Isinglass is not needed to clarify flower or fruit wines made with the recipes given at www.e-homewinemaking.com. These wines will clarify themselves quite readily within a few weeks of fermentation. Nor is isinglass an absolute need for clearing root wines. However, I have found that root wines and wines made from a mixture of roots and fruits, do clear more readily with the help of isinglass. For this reason, some recipes will instruct you to "proceed with isinglass and bottling".

When put into wine, isinglass forms an insoluble cloud which surrounds the minute solids in the wine and gradually forces them to the bottom of the bottle.

Besides assisting the clearing process, isinglass helps to solidify the lees, thereby rendering them less easy to disturb while moving the bottles or when wine is poured from a bottle containing lees.

There are many methods of using isinglass, but the one I use myself without fail results is as follows:

Take one quart of the wine and warm it very slowly in a saucepan. Next, crumble 1/8 of an ounce of isinglass over the surface of this wine and then stir with a fork until everything is dissolved. Then pour it into the rest of the wine in a circular motion.

Many people advise dissolving the isinglass in a small amount of water. As we've seen, ordinary tap-water quite often contains wild yeast; the very act, then, of using water might well ruin all of our efforts to keep wild yeast out of the wine.

When purchased from a chemist in 1/2 ounce or 1 ounce quantities, the amount required is easy to calculate, and this is usually plenty for one gallon of wine.

When the isinglass has been added, put the wine into sterilized bottles or jars and cover as already directed. The wine must then be returned to a warm place, and kept there until all fermentation has ceased.

If the wine were put in a cold place the yeast might go dormant and the wine would not be able to ferment. If it were later moved into a warm room, or the weather happened to turn very warm, the yeast would become active and start fermenting again. In a warm place, fermentation will not fail.

If you happen to notice that the top half-inch of wine has become crystal-clear, seal the bottles at once! This is a clear indication that fermentation has stopped. Unfortunately, we rarely get this invaluable guide.

When all fermentation has stopped and when no more small bubbles are rising to the top, the yeast is dead. Fermentation cannot begin again unless wild yeast or bacteria get into the wine and start that souring ferment that I've previously mentioned. Perfect air-tight sealing at the earliest possible stage of production is critical.

Push the cork down hard and seal with sealing-wax. If screw-top bottles are available, use these if you prefer. Personally, I never use any other kind when I can find them. Remember that the yeast is dead, so fermentation cannot begin again and explode the bottles or blow the corks unless wild yeast or bacteria reach the wine. Screw-top bottles are, then, the obvious choice.

About the author:

James Wilson owns & operates www.e-homewinemaking.com, a site providing wine-making tips, tricks and techniques. If you're interested in making your own wine, visit www.e-homewinemaking.com today and sign up for the FREE wine-making mini-course!

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Health Guru : Wine Utensils
Webmaster | 1. February 2008 @ 16:02

Ideal wine making utensils to use for boiling ingredients & juices are those consisting of good quality enamel. If possible, try to purchase wine utensils sold under proprietary names, as they are often most reliable. They cannot be chipped.

Cheap enamel utensils often contain lead in the glaze and this might be boiled into the brew. If this happened, the wine would then be dangerous.

If copper or aluminum is used, there could be a slight risk of small particles of the metal being boiled into the brew. This could poison the yeast, which would prevent fermentation.

For fermentation purposes and for soaking fruits and flowers, try using a china vessel or one made of polythene. China vessels should not be too wide at the rim as this exposes too large a surface to the air. A polythene bucket is ideal - but do make sure it is of polythene, as some plastics are not suitable. And choose a pale color or a white one. Where large batches of wine are made, a polythene dustbin makes an excellent fermentation vessel, as does a strong polythene bag, lining a worn-out barrel or similar container.

One advantage of Polythene has is the fact that it is nearly unbreakable. A polythene bucket may be used for all wine-making purposes except boiling the ingredients.

Do not use enamel vessels for fermentation and do not use a galvanized vessel for any part of the wine-making process.

About the author:

James Wilson owns & operates www.e-homewinemaking.com, a site providing wine-making tips, tricks and techniques. If you're interested in making your own wine, visit www.e-homewinemaking.com today and sign up for the FREE wine-making mini-course!

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Health Guru : Selecting the Right Ingredients for Home-Made Wine
Webmaster | 30. August 2007 @ 16:17

Tips for choosing the best home-made wine ingredients:

Fruits must be ripe, but not over-ripe. A few shriveled grapes or black currants are unlikely to harm a brew. In the case of larger fruits such as plums, the doubtful ones should be taken out.

The choice of roots (beetroot, parsnips, etc.) for wine-making purposes should not be dismissed so readily. The best, (or even the only) roots suitable for wine-making are those that are old and shriveled. Parsnips that have been stored throughout the winter or left in the soil are at their best for our purpose in March, as are old potatoes purchased in June when the new ones are coming in. They are ideal if they are well shriveled and/or sprouting. (Be sure to break off the roots before using them.)

These old roots contain less starch than the fresher ones, and we do not want starch in wines because it slows down the clearing process. Besides this, when old roots are used, they flavor the wine less, and it is not in the least bit earthy.

It is a mistake to believe that using additional ingredients, (such as less water, or more sugar/yeast), than is indicated in the recipes, will produce a more potent wine. The strength of wine is decided by the volume of alcohol in which the yeast can live and continue to do its work, and not on the quantity of any ingredients. Too much sugar makes the wine far too sweet. More yeast makes no difference at all, simply because it cannot make more alcohol than it can live in. Age makes very little difference to the alcohol content of wines. Too many ingredients will produce a liquid of too high a specific gravity and a liquid containing too many solids per part of water, (in other words a liquid which is too thick) and this will take a very long time to clear.

Because of this, you should never use more ingredients than the recipe indicates.

About Straining:

Fine muslin is best for straining mixtures produced when making root wines. Tie one piece on the tub - allowing sufficient sag - and place a second piece over this.

This top piece containing the solids can be lifted off without letting them fall into the brew. Jelly bags or similar things made of suitable material are needed for fruit juices, as will be seen in the recipes.

About Sugar & Yeast:

You should always use white sugar, and make certain that all the sugar is dissolved before adding anything (like wheat or raisins) to the brew. If all the sugar is not dissolved, the yeast might not ferment properly & some of the sugar could settle in the form of syrup and be left in the lees when they are thrown away. As a result of this, the wine could turn out quite sharp. With a lot of other ingredients in the brew, it is quite impossible to tell whether all the sugar is dissolved or not.

Baker's yeast is all we need during this stage. This can be purchased at your local bakery. Yeast is added at the rate of one ounce per 1, 2 or 3 gallons.

Do not add the yeast too early...as a temperature well below boiling point will destroy the yeast organism and fermentation will not take place.

About the author:

James Wilson owns & operates www.e-homewinemaking.com, a site providing wine-making tips, tricks and techniques. If you're interested in making your own wine, visit www.e-homewinemaking.com today and sign up for the FREE wine-making mini-course!

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