Wine maker's choice
Some like it sweet. Some like it dry. Some like it packed with fruit, 98 points high.
How do you like your wine? Just about every wine enthusiast carries in the palate's memory the profile of a perfect wine, built with the exact balance of aroma, texture and flavor, fruit and oak and acids and tannins that ring your chimes.
I visited a lot of wineries last week, and I couldn't help noticing that while just about every wine maker attributes the wine's quality to the soil, the weather and the fruit, every one has some pretty distinct ideas about how best to take maximum advantage of the fruit that nature gives him.
Wine maker "A" ferments his wine in oak barrels, talking of tradition. Wine maker "B" rejects the old, praising the clean, high-technology benefits of stainless steel. This wine maker periodically punches down the floating "cap" of grape skins in the Burgundian tradition called "pigeage." That wine maker gently "pumps over" the fermenting juice. A third leaves matters alone to take their natural course.
And so it goes: Filter the wine? "Fine" it with natural egg whites? Or use bulk pasteurized or even dried egg whites to provide the proteins that attract colloidal haze to improve the wine's clarity? Age in oak barrels? What kind of oak? Should they be new or old or a combination? From the first buds in the vineyard to the bottling process, wine makers face daily decisions that affect the finished wine.
So the next time you open a bottle of wine, thank nature for its bounty ... but offer as well a nod in the direction of the wine maker who did the job of getting the product from the grape to your glass.
For this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, we offer you the opportunity to fashion your own virtual cuvée: You're invited to build the wine of your fancy, enumerating up to five of your favorite vinous elements as we ask what you would do if you could be "Wine maker for a day." To participate, simply click to
Survey seeks your wine opinions
Speaking of surveys, you might be interested in this one: WineVision, a California-based non-profit wine-industry association, is trying to learn more about wine consumers and their opinions, hoping to help the U.S. wine industry in particular understand how to make wine more a part of American culture.
WineVision has set up an online survey that aims to determine where, when, why and how individuals began consuming wine, and where, when, why and how they are consuming wine now.
The survey is somewhat lengthy, but it's interesting. It may take about 15 minutes to complete. To take part, click to
Although it's designed for U.S. consumers, I don't imagine that WineVision would object if our readers in other parts of the world signed in. Thanks for your help ... when the results are released later this year, I'll pass them along.
The California Wine Club Goes Global!
The California Wine Club is about to embark on an exciting international wine adventure! Beginning June 1, you'll have the chance to experience a quarterly shipment of international wines that WON'T be found anywhere else in the U.S. From Italy and France to Spain and South Africa ... all over the world they've been discovering incredible wines from "mom & pop" wineries!
Quick facts to know:
International Selections only ship quarterly!
Each shipment will range in price from $50-$75 and includes all shipping, handling and import charges.
Included in each shipment is an engaging newsletter, Passport!
Case reorders will be available at a discount.
Join now, become a Charter Member and receive a free copy of The French Paradox and Drinking for Health.
Call 1-800-777-4443 to join. For more information visit the California Wine Club website at
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Friday, May 23, 2003