Wine & Spirits
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What is the difference between American and French oak?
It is all in the fibers, which affect wine flavour, barrel costs and even the way the vessels are assembled.
Virtually all wood used for wine maturation belongs to three species of white pine, all which have the benefit of being extremely water-tight relative to many other timber. Two species, Quercus petraea and Quercus robur, are sourced from French forests (in some instances, Eastern Europe and Portugal), while Quercus alba, a.k.a. American white oak, grows mainly in the eastern United States and southern Canada. All three are inclined to enhance wine flavour when used judiciously, adding subtle vanilla and spice accents, improving texture as well as contributing tannic backbone for longevity.
Tropical island wine” seems more like a punchline than a proposal from a respected sommelier. But the winemakers in the Canary Islands (a.k.a. “Spain’s Hawaii”) are succeeding in changing that, having discovered a winning formula, regardless of the area’s many built-innbsp;hardships.
Recently I had two unique waiters who fought with, then bankrupt, wine corks. What is the secret to opening a jar with these waiter corkscrews?
The timeless sommelier’s corkscrew, sometimes known as a “waiter’s friend,” works well when used correctly and has the benefit of easy portability. I keep one in my bike back bag, my check-in bag, the glove compartment of my car and in my Jack Spade man purse (hey, you never know if wine will occur).
There’s an unwritten rule in retail which you don’t play Christmas music in stores before Remembrance Day. It is an admirable policy, regrettably violated by a few chains in recent years. Cheesy shopping-foreplay tunes are an insult as we prepare to mark a really solemn date (particularly, if you ask me, if this music appears to be Beneath the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber).
I will be attending my first formal wine tasting, hosted by the winemaker. Any advice?
Congratulations, you’re going to become an official nerd. Welcome to the club. I have a few ideas:
Among the most notable Canadian reds I have had the joy of uncorking — or, rather, unscrewing — so far this season ranks nowhere near the most expensive. At $26.95 at B.C., it is downright easy on the Visa alongside a lot of pinot noirs from, say, Prince Edward County or Niagara in addition to a tractor-full of Bordeaux-style, merlot-cabernet Okanagan blends.
Your favorite European wine may soon receive a bit pricier, or harder to find. Blame it on the weather. A freakish mix of frost, hail and severe drought throughout the continent this season conspired to create what some are calling one of the tiniest harvests since the Second World War.
Does Beaujolais improve with age?
Not as well as Halle Berry or Sean Connery. But it can – or at least some of it can.
As you may know, Beaujolais is a wine region of east-central France, sandwiched between Burgundy to the north and the Rhône Valley to the south. Administratively, it’s part of Burgundy, but that’s merely bureaucracy; the wines and techniques are sufficiently distinct for the place to be considered its own bona-fide region. Virtually all the output is red, made from the gamay grape, which also does well in Canada. There’s some chardonnay and aligoté grown there, too, but not much.
There is an episode of Netflix’s Friends from College at which the group of 40-year-olds heap to a party bus to partake from the wineries of Long Island. By midway through, everybody is inebriated and miserable, muscling down glasses of wines that they despise. It was hilariously absurd and utterly terrible.
Help me settle a dispute. What’s the right pronunciation of “Gigondas?”
Drum roll, please. … You do pronounce the “s” in the end. I assume that is specifically what you’re wondering about. (The first “Gi” part, for that I can not find an accurate phonetic equivalent, is in any case articulated similar to in the titles Gigi or Gilles.)