• Why should you learn about wine?

    I knew I wanted to learn about wine when I was 13. I was thinking about going into business as a career and thought well if I want to play the game I need to know about food, wine and coffee. First wine I tried was a warm Gallo white cooking wine. I nearly gagged. Many, many years later I’ve achieved an understanding of wine that makes me laugh at that first try.

    So why should you learn about wine?

     

     

    Because it’s sexy.

    One of the biggest turn-ons you can give is being smooth and unassuming at a restaurant. Picking a wine that makes you sit back and revel in that first sip, that makes you drift to another place when you get a hint of the aroma. This is the moment when you lean over and whisper something in your date’s ear.

    What you say I’ll leave up to you, but 70% of your work is done so don’t mess up.

    (If you really need me to give you help just send me an email realfoodwine@gmail.com)

    Because it could be what gets you that job you applied for.

    If the big man on premise takes you out to eat to discuss your possible career with the company. Pick a wine that is affordable and amazing and the job is yours.

    Because you will save money.

    If you know about wine, you won’t let the expensive wannabes trick you.

    Because I said so.

    Whatever your reason I have the tools on this website for you, and I make it palatable… sometimes it’s even better than ice cream with magic shell on it.

    Some of this material I’ve already mentioned in past posts, but I want to create the whole story.

    How exactly is wine made? Let’s start at the beginning.

    There are various methods used. One could essentially place a bunch of unbroken grapes in a strong airtight container where the oxygen has been replaced with carbon dioxide. Give it a few weeks then mash it all up and let it sit open for a while. Separate the juice and *poof* ya got some wine. This method is akin to carbonic maceration where the grapes go through an intracellular fermentation. Used predominantly in Beaujolais, France, this style produces a fresher, brighter younger wine. Most wine makers avoid using this relatively simple way of making wine because the wine produced lacks longevity.

    I spoke with a guy from Australia who used this method and he said it took him six years to perfect the art of doing nothing.

    The way nearly the entire world makes their wine is as follows….

    Grow your grapes or buy them from a vineyard. Pick said grapes when the sugars in the grape are at the preferred level.

    *side note: the sugar/acid levels within the grape are a seesaw. When sugar (called Brix in wine speak) levels go up, the acid goes down. While a winemaker can add acid after harvest, it is better to find the harmonious balance without having to do that. Another way to achieve this is to harvest twice, once for acid and then later for sugars. Emmolo in Napa does this with their Sauvignon Blanc.

    After harvest the wine maker must decide whether to do whole cluster or not. Whole cluster is when they crush the grapes in whole bunches as opposed to de-stemmed separated grapes. Whole cluster is a raw, detailed picture of the vineyard. It also often derives a higher amount of bitterness due to the excess of stems that become a part of the crush. With non-whole cluster the maker can remove the stems and also has an easier time of removing unwanted grapes.

     

     

    Then comes the juice extraction….

    In older times foot stomping the grapes was the most common approach. With the modern times came a machine that looks like a giant drill, and is called by some as a grape squeezing machine… so creative. I’m going to name it “the grape de-juicer.” Yes!

    Continuously rotating, the grape de-juicer, crushes the grapes (after bouncing along a vibrating tray with holes to get rid of unwanted debris.)

    The juice is put into a large vat with yeast (unless it is a barrel fermented Chardonnay.)

    *side note: The wine maker can chose to use the natural yeast found on grapes, but this yeast tends to be more unpredictable and can ruin a whole batch of wine if it doesn’t play according to the rules of the game.

    The juice, if intended to be a red wine, is kept in contact with the skins of the grape to impart tannins and color.

    The chemicals in the belly of the yeast change the sugar into alcohol until either there the sugar is no more or the yeast dies of alcohol poisoning.

    From here there is blending, barreling, aging, bottling, etc.

    Like a good mystery I will keep you in the dark until I talk of this next week.

    and now back to Jeff

    Jeff quit trying to fix the computer and stood up to get the teacher’s attention.  He was done writing the assignments, and was now writing some basic source code for DOS the base operating system for the computers.  “Uh,  Mr. Franzmer.”  Jeff finally said, in order to draw unwanted but necessary attention to himself.

    “What is it Jeff?”  He asked without turning away from his writing.

    “Um, my computer is acting strange.”  Jeff said, unintentionally being vague.

    Mr. Franzmer laughed a kind of mocking laughter.  “Acting strange huh.”  He put down the dry erase marker and walked over to Jeff’s computer.  By now nearly everyone in the class had turned to watch Jeff and his mysterious computer.  They were not looking because they saw what Jeff was referring to, but because they were either bored, watching the teacher for an understanding of what to do next, curious as to whether one of their fellow classmates was going to look stupid in front of the teacher, or they were just stuck in that limbo of daydreaming halfway between class and what they would rather be doing (which is where Jeff would usually be listed if the class were to be categorized into these various groups of students) and their unconscious sensory noticed movement causing their head to track Mr. Franzmer’s journey to Jeff’s desk.

    “I don’t see anything wrong.”  He said when he reached his computer.  He bent down and typed a few letters to check the keyboard.  I guess its working now isn’t it? Mr. Franzmer typed on the screen and walked away from Jeff’s desk back up to the board to finish his writing.

    “But it was..”  Jeff said, but then trailed off because the teacher wasn’t paying attention to him anymore and neither was anyone else for that matter.  He sat back down at his desk and looked at the screen.  “Push Me”  The computer read once again, only this time there was a dot in the center of the screen where the arrow was pointing to.  Jeff looked around and no one was watching.  He thought about telling Martha who was sitting next to him, but she didn’t really like him much.  Why she didn’t like him was beyond him, but it was evident from day one.  He thought about telling the teacher that his computer was acting up again, but quickly dismissed the idea for lack of a desire to be ridiculed by the teacher or the others in the class if it didn’t stay on the screen when he came to look at it again.  He tried tapping various keys on the keyboard.  Nothing.  He even tried pressing all of the keys at once using both hands, a trick that never actually did anything, but was one he always tried when the computer froze.  Nothing.  Jeff let out a sigh and then slouched back in his chair.  “This is great.”  He mumbled under his breath, and then just for kicks reached out and touched the dot in the center of the screen that was pointed to by an arrow that had the words “Push Me” displayed just above it.

    The screen sent a shock through his finger and when he tried to pull away he couldn’t.  The electric shock moved from his finger through his nerves to his entire body, and became increasingly more intense until Jeff started to get scared.  His pulse was racing and just as he was about to scream for help it stopped and the screen returned to normal.  A few of his classmates looked at him, but quickly lost interest in what he was up to now.  Jeff sat there wondering what had just happened.  His heart was still racing and the tingle of electric shock lingered.  Suddenly Jeff felt sick to the stomach.