From Our Cellars

It’s Election Season, So Tell the Truth – About Wine

Posted October 16, 2012 in The Connoisseur Says...

We’ve got November coming up pretty fast and furious.  That can only mean a few very important things, like dry turkey and horrible sweaters.  We, of course, sell lovely shirts, hoodies, and other products for wine lovers everywhere.  Perfect attire and accoutrements for Thanksgiving Day.  There is also a very important event that happens the same time every year.  On the third Thursday in November we all gather around to watch the official legal release of Beaujolais Nouveau.  We suppose that a little wine is probably in order after what we all experience during the first Tuesday in November.Nixon being quiet

It only makes sense, especially if you consider what we went through to guarantee those rights afforded us on that particular Tuesday.  When the 55 drafters of our Constitution gathered to split the tab (no easy feat in the days before calculators and gratuity charts), they paid for 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of Claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of port, 8 bottles of hard cider, and seven bowls of spiked punch “large enough that ducks could swim in them.”  And several dozen Buffalo wings.

Political Party partyWine is, after all, the elixir of life.  That’s part of the reason that we’ve called our company Wine is Life.  Wine does contain all 13 of the minerals needed for survival, so you could say that it’s for medicinal purposes.  That being said, over 60% of the hospitals in the United States offer wine, and it’s listed as a “medicine” in the Pharmacopoeia, so “Doctor’s Orders!”

So in a spirit of sharing and enhancing everyone’s general vinto-knowledge, we thought that we’d share some little-known but intriguing facts about our favorite beverage:

In addition to launching warships and preventing wars, wine has also added a bit to our modern vernacular.  Before the invention of the thermometer, brewers and wine makers were left to their own devices to determine whether or not their mixes were of the proper temperature to add in yeast.  Since we did not yet have electricity to run the little digital doo-dads on the side of the vats, they stuck their thumbs in to check – hence the “rule of thumb.”

There is another fine bit of language bandied about by cunning linguists attributable to the wine industry.  Glassmakers in Italy were not perfect.  Bottles would routinely come out cracked and flawed, and would be tossed into a heap in the corner for later use.  These “retread” bottles had to be wrapped in straw to keep them from flying apart, and were called fiaschi.  The phrase fare fiasco, or make a bottle, became synonymous with total failure.

And some nifty wine making facts:

The fiasco of fiaschiIt’s all about the oak, right?  Oak finished or die!  Sure.  There are about 600 types of oak trees in the world.  Not to get all Forrest Gump on you, but there is the scrub oak, white oak, live oak, golden oak, brown oak, cork oak…Yes, that’s right, cork comes from a genus of quercus known as a “cork oak.”  Anyhow, there are only about 20 types of oak out of those 600 that are remotely suitable for building wine barrels, and only about 5% of each of those trees is usable.  And the average age of one of these special magical trees is about 170 years old.  Hello, stainless steel.The tree says, "Ouch."

But we use this oak to age the wine and make it tastier, right?  Kinda sorta.  Older is not necessarily better.  Only about 1 out of every 100 wines is actually supposed to be aged, and the rest is supposed to be drunk with some alacrity.  Most wines, as a matter of fact, aren’t worth a bucket of spit after around 3 or so years, so drink up.

And what of the fact that price is everything?  Well, yes and no.  There comes a point of diminishing returns when it comes to the cost of your wine, and much like politics, you have to uncork the bottle and dive into the facts to know the truth.  You would be better served to look at the electronics market:  All televisions costing between $99 and $300 are basically the same.  They have comparable screen sizes, definitions, and bells & whistles.  From $301 to $700 you have the next class of televisions.  Go a little higher and you start getting really nice televisions designed for someone dropping a small fortune on a home theater.  But the difference between a $200 set and a $250 set isn’t worth the extra fifty.  And so it goes with wine.  Ultimately it comes down to what you want to drink.  Red or white?  Need something fruity or something a little bit earthier?  It’s not like it’s going to come with a fancy remote or surround sound.  Save the $200 bottles for the home theater guys and get yourself a nice little drinker.

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