Wine world disruption 11-30-2022

The pandemic shook the wine world—as it did everything in the world. More to the point, it accelerated trends forever changing the wine landscape. Examples: Continue reading “Wine world disruption 11-30-2022”

González Byass Viña AB Amontillado Sherry

Pale amber color; almonds, hazelnut, apricot, saline, yeast on the nose; almonds, minerality, orange peel, saline and hints a slight bitterness on the palate. Continue reading “González Byass Viña AB Amontillado Sherry”

Cheap and sweet 11-2-2022

The recent death of Fred “Two Buck Chuck” Franzia, gave me pause to think about what the average, non-wine-geek enjoys in an occasional glass. Continue reading “Cheap and sweet 11-2-2022”

Wine metaphysics 10-5-2022

Are wines made in the vineyard or the winery? The answer is both, but today more wine professionals say soil, grapes, and the skill of grape growers to deliver the personality of their acres is the essential component. Continue reading “Wine metaphysics 10-5-2022”

What does chewy mean in wine? 9-28-2022

What the heck do wine writers mean when they describe wine with adjectives like “chewy” or “crunchy” or “meaty”? Aren’t those words descriptive of chocolate brownies, raw carrots, and T-bone steaks, not an alcoholic liquid? Continue reading “What does chewy mean in wine? 9-28-2022”

Fermentation vessels 9-21-2022

Winemakers have a choice of fermentation vessels—wood, stainless steel, and concrete. What is the difference between them? Continue reading “Fermentation vessels 9-21-2022”

Wine’s glass bottle blues 9-14-2022

Winemakers are among the most conscientious stewards of the environment. When vineyards pass down for generations and some of your creations will not be consumed for decades, thinking long term and big picture becomes part of your DNA.

Several studies show glass bottles account for the largest percentage of the wine industry’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Glass production involves a large amount of heat and energy. Bottles and packing material needed to protect bottles are heavy, driving up transportation costs both in dollars and pollution.

Many wine bottles are a one-use item. Then they go to landfills where they will last for thousands of years. There is some recycling, but less than one-third of glass is recycled in the United States. Europe does better with around 75 percent. In many cases, however, recycling does not mean melting to make new glass. Much of “recycled” glass is crushed and used to make paving material.

Schemes to buy back bottles and reuse them haven’t worked well so far. Even when people return bottles, cleaning the bottles—especially removing labels—is problematic.

If you ignore environmental concerns, there remains the problem of cost. Wine bottle costs continue to spiral, increasing 20 percent in the last two years. Bottles from China, a major supplier for the U.S., face a 25 percent tariff. Many of Europe’s bottles were made in Ukraine. The Russian invasion virtually eliminated that source.

Winemakers respond by exploring options. Cans are easier to recycle, but require significant energy to manufacture and limit aging to about 18 months. Bag-in-a-box wine is environmentally friendly and costs much less to transport, but does not work for aging wine. Plastic bottles and cartons like those used for milk and juice have a similar problem. The alternatives work for wine expected to be consumed young, but not when bottle age is essential. Barolo riserva, for instance, legally cannot be sold until four years of bottle aging and is best after 10 years.

Glass wine bottles won’t go away. Reusing bottles and recycling more glass must be in the future, along with alternative packaging.

Tasting notes:

• Bota Box Breeze Dry Rosé, California: Fresh red fruits, low-alcohol, low carbs. $20-23 for 3 liters, equivalent to $5-6 a 750 ml bottle. Also comes in 1.5 ml box, 500 ml carton (similar to a juice carton). Containers are 100% recyclable.

Last round: What do you call a Frenchman in sandals? Phillipe Phloppe. Wine time.

Pinot noir, chardonnay blends 8-31-2022

Many great wines are blends. Red Bordeaux is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a smattering of other reds. Southern Rhône GSM wines are grenache, syrah, mourvèdre blends. In whites, sauvignon blanc and semillon enjoy a classic marriage. Continue reading “Pinot noir, chardonnay blends 8-31-2022”