Skin Deep ~ The Beauty of Wine

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The glow of the candle sets the mood. You breathe deeply, then relax. You know there will be wine…except it’s going on your face.

 

 

But not like this…

Over the years we’ve read much about the health benefits of drinking wine, especially resveratrol, a naturally occurring antioxidant found in red grape skins. In the earliest days of the Tour de France, riders would occasionally stop to swig some red wine (or beer) in order to thin the blood to help them through the tougher sections of the race. How they managed to get back on their bikes to finish the climb tho…

Heart Smart

Moderate, regular consumption of red wine, which contains the highest levels of resveratrol, can help lower blood pressure,and has anti-inflammatory properties. By decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), resveratrol helps to improve overall cardiac health, as well as protecting both the heart tissue, and arteries.

A recent study by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry showed that high doses of resveratrol improved physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in lab models. Did they chug massive amounts of wine before hitting the gym? That would just make me fall off the treadmill. The subjects took it in pill form, which is much safer. All of the performance, none of the buzz.

Check out my video below for more info! 💆🏼‍♀️

Wine Skin

While much focus is placed on resveratrol in grape skins and wine, it is produced within the stalk and leaves as well as the mature grape skins. It acts like sunscreen for grape vines and other plant life, working to safeguard plants from UV rays of the sun, as well as other environmental stressors such as atmospheric toxins, and fluctuations in climate and temperature.

For humans, environmental stress from weather, sun damage, worry/anxiety, and poor diet can all lead to skin aging; free radicals are produced naturally as we age. Resveratrol, when applied topically to the skin, acts as an antioxidant, protecting the skin against exposure to harmful UVA rays, as well as providing anti-aging properties. According to Dermatology Times, a recent clinical trial of a stabilized resveratrol and vitamin E serum demonstrated improvement in elements of skin aging, including firmness and elasticity. When skin products containing resveratrol are combined with hyaluronic acid and peptides, stimulation of collagen and elastin are improved. By stimulating proteins, known as sirtuins (these repair DNA and decrease inflammation), resveratrol can increase cell life in the body, heightening skin’s defense systems to fight disease, therefore prolonging cell life. Gentle exfoliation of old, dead skin cells, and hydration are also benefits.

Much like the exercise study, resveratrol in these skin formulations is in usually high doses. Sadly, the benefits to the skin don’t usually happen if you just drink a lot of red wine. I’ve tried it.

Vinotherapy in spas utilize resveratrol in facial and body masks and creams.

It can take many forms, from having ground up skins and pulp kneaded into the skin, to the application of concentrated grapeseed oil in massage, to mud masks combining powdered grape products and mineralized clay.

Two leading vinotherapy spa products are:

Caudalie ~

* founded in France in 1993, Caudalie was one of the first companies to cultivate resveratrol in cosmetic applications in 2001.

* in 2006, made the commitment to use no parabens and create products that are natural and environmentally conscious.

Vine Vera ~

* released in 2012, Vine Vera uses resveratrol in all products, combining it with essential oils, vitamins and minerals to keep it as natural as possible.

* since not everyone has the same issues with their skin, there are 10 varied collections to address individual skin care needs.

So, to unlock the secrets of youthful skin, look no further than the humble grape. And make sure to enjoy a nice glass of wine while you’re at it.

Cheers! 🍷🍇

©TheWineStudent, 2018

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Texas: A Lone Star State of Wine

On a trip last year to San Antonio, I was fixin’ to find a bottle of Texas wine. Way better than a cowboy hat, this was a way to, literally, bring home a taste of Texas. Yee Haw! I decided to save it for a special night back in Ohio, when I would plan out a great dinner to make me think of the yelluh rose sunsets, warm evening breezes, and the scent of sagebrush. Perhaps the only way to recreate all of that would be to fly back to Texas, But maybe a sip or two of the wine would help…

(Be sure to check out the video below for more facts on Texas wine!🤠)

 

 

 

 

Holy Crop

The first known vineyards in North America were planted by Franciscan priests in Texas in 1662. They accompanied the earliest explorers, chronicling the journey, and serving the Church as protectors of the Native Americans of Texas. Their task was to spread Christianity to Native culture and to extend Spanish culture to whatever lands the Crown granted them as their field.

Farming was the main occupation of the new communities in order to become self-sufficient. Included in the crops of corn, beans, squash, melon and sugar cane, was grapes; the earliest vineyards. Orchards were also planted, producing apples, peaches and other fruits.

In the 1800’s, when European settlers arrived, they brought cuttings which progressed the domestic growing of vines, and winemaking. As time went on, though, winemaking was eclipsed by other agricultural pursuits.

Test Run

It wasn’t until the 1960’s that modern winemaking in Texas took hold, spear-headed by Texas Tech University chemistry professor Clinton ‘Doc’ McPherson, and business partner Bob Reed. Experimenting with approximately 140 grape varieties, they wanted to see which would flourish in the local climate and soil. Lesser known varieties such as Grenache, Temperanillo, Muscat and Chenin Blanc were found to grow very well.

Yet in the ’70’s many of these vines were pulled out in favor of more recognizable varieties. The focus began to center on selling the big names, like Cab Sauv, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, even though they didn’t necessarily produce the best wine.

In 2005, real growth occurred in the Texas wine industry when the state passed a direct shipping bill, allowing Texas wineries to ship directly to both in and out-of-state customers.

State laws also allowed wines to be labeled ‘Texas’ if 75 percent of the fruit that went into the bottle came from the state; 25 percent could come from anywhere else. This happened because more wine was being produced than grapes were grown to support the process. Now that there is more vigor in the industry; more agriculture is available to supply the winemaking needs, producers are working to change the law, requiring Texas-labeled wine to be made from 100 percent Texas fruit within the next five years.

Under the Texan Sun

While Texas boasts big, beautiful, warm summers similar in climate to Spain, central Italy and Portugal, the greatest challenges are hail, late spring frost, lack of water (in some areas) and Pierce’s Disease, a bacterium spread by the glassy-winged sharp shooter. Kinda sounds like a bad hombre from an old Western, “I seen ‘im, Pa. It was a glassy-winged sharp shooter terrorizin’ the town!” This critter feeds on infected vegetation, then injects the bacteria into the sap of nearby grapevines, blocking the movement of water into the vine, thereby killing it. The main effect is on the vine’s ability to produce a crop, and it doesn’t affect the wine quality, nor does it produce any health risk to consumers. But it is a significant pest, and surfaces in Texas because of the mild winters.

There are a total of eight American Viticulture Area (AVA) appellations, the two largest being Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains.

Texas Hill Country ~

• At 9 million acres, the largest AVA in Texas.

• Bell Mountain and Fredricksburg are two unique microclimates w/ this blanket AVA.

• Comprised of low, rolling hills, steep canyons, and the highest elevations drought is not an issue.

• Primarily made up of limestone soil, producing well-structured wines with low acidity.

• Variable weather, and bitter frosts make winegrowing a challenge.

• Top aromatics, especially in blends, less focussed fruit than Texas High Plains.

Texas High Plains ~

The second largest AVA in Texas.

Is located west of the elevation line, elevation rises from 3,000 to 4100 feet.

Climate is semi-arid with average rainfall of just 18’, so irrigation is necessary

Well drained soils and intense winds dry out the vineyards and help guard against frost and disease.

One of the only Texas wine regions with varying daytime temperatures during ripening season, which is integral to balancing ripe flavors and acidity.

Viewed by many as the likely hub of Texas’ future premier winemaking.

Movin’ On

According to Courtney Schiessl of VinePair, while Cabernet and Merlot had generally been seen as the go-to red wines, Mouvédre is the grape that will likely put Texas wines on the map. It is easier to grow, and because it buds late in the season, misses the danger of late frosts. Other varieties, including Tannat, Italian grape varieties Tempranillo, and Sangiovese, handle the Texan heat well without losing their acidity during the hot spikes of the summer.

The wine I brought home was a 2014 Texas Hills Vineyard Kick Butt Cabernet. Paired with a dinner of Texas dry-rub barbecue ribs, homemade cole slaw, bourbon baked beans and corn bread from scratch, this Cab was a little different than many I have sampled. It had a nice nose of dark cherry, HubbyDoug thought it had a bourbon-y undertone that gave a nice complexity. While it had the same black cherry fruity vibe, it tasted much earthier, had less acidity, and was not as boldly fruit forward as some Napa Cabs. But that’s ok. Part of what I look for when tasting wines from diverse areas is tasting the differences between growing regions; I don’t want them all to taste the same. The beauty, though, was that it developed a nice little spicy bite when paired with the ribs.

Given the long history of Texas vineyards, I was curious about the age of the vines of this Cab. Lisa Lang, from Texas Hill Vineyard said [via email] that the Cabernet vines were “the second vines we planted; they are 21 years old.” Relatively speaking, this is a young’un. 🤠

Texas Hills Vineyard produces a wide range of wines, both white and red that are a good representation of their unique growing region.

Paul Ozbirn, an advanced sommelier at Parkside Projects of Austin, said [via texasmonthly.com ] “The quality of Texas wine is steadily increasing. While there will always be some producers that lag behind the curve, which is true of any wine-growing region, most are refining their viniculture and expressing varietal character. Less oak, lower alcohols, and attention to detail in the wineries are beginning to speak volumes with varietals that may sound obscure to most, but their response to our dry Texas climate is indisputable. Aglianico, Sangiovese, and even Tinta Cão are thriving here, and present quite the exciting potential for the future of Texas wine.”

The future of the wine industry in Texas is very bright. And it seems to be positioning itself to produce some great wines that express the unique aspects of both the varietal, and appellation. By moving away from familiar varieties, and cultivating lesser-known grapes that are well suited to its particular climate and soil, they’re on their way to producing something truly exceptional, and outstanding. And very Texan.

Cheers, y’all! 🍷🤠

©️TheWineStudent, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for a Pot of Gold: My Hunt for Irish Wines

Like trying to find a leprechaun hiding in fields of green, Irish wine can be almost impossible to locate. A few years ago, I wrote about the existence of wine from Ireland; curious at the time if there even was such a thing. I hadn’t seen any bottles locally or read very much in wine magazines about them. Each year, as St. Patty’s Day approached, I’d talk to several local wine merchants about trying to find them, and each year I would hear, “If you’d only asked a little earlier, we might’ve been able to find some for you!” Arrrgh! My bad. My timing was always off.

This year, I was determined. I began my quest in mid-January, searching, not only for the wine itself, but how to get a bottle. Short of flying to Ireland to buy it, I was told that because of small shipment sizes, and varied state-to-state legalities/constraints regarding shipping international wine, my request would be incredibly difficult and expensive to fulfill. Dauntless, and into the wee small hours, I searched and found two Irish wineries: Thomas Walk Vineyard, and Lusca Irish Wine.

Be sure to click the embedded video for some more information about the wineries and cool pics of how the vines are grown!

 

Thomas Walk Vineyard ~

Originating in 1980, Thomas Walk was one of the first wine makers to successfully, and organically, grow red grapes outdoors in Ireland. Hailing from Germany, and enjoying a good challenge, he chose to bring German wine-making techniques to the Emerald Isle and its cool, damp climate. Years of perseverance and research led to the discovery that the ‘Vitis Amurensis’ (Amurensis Walk) or ‘Rondo’ varietal could thrive. Located in the Kinsale region, their vineyards eventually expanded to include south-facing microclimates, planted entirely with Rondo.

Organic and sustainable are key components in the cultivation of this wine, with most of the process done by hand. Minimal pruning ensures that grapes can be harvested from ergonomically safe and comfortable standing positions. The distance travelled to the winery from the vineyard is short, ensuring optimum freshness of the grapes which are de-stemmed and crushed the same day. No sitting around for these berries. All grapes used in the wine are cultivated only from Thomas Walk vineyards. After fermentation, the wine rests with occasional removal of any sediments, without using any additional filtering methods. Occasionally, there may be some sediment in the bottles, but this is normal and shows that the wine was clarified organically, without filters or centrifuge.

Some of the wines produced include:

• Rosé

• Velvet ~ similar to Pinot Noir

• Exubérance Clairet | Exubérance Rosé ~ sparklers made in the méthode traditionnelle’

Lusca Irish Wine ~

Named for the village of Lusk, where it is located, Lusca Irish Wine has been cultivated since 2002. To grow within the challenges of Ireland’s climate, David Llewellyn adapted a way around this: he grows his vines in ‘tunnels’ ~ metal hoops that are assembled up over the rows and draped with a polythene cover. Both fruit and foliage are well-protected from rain, thereby keeping disease and pests at bay without the use of pesticides. As well, temperature inside the cover is raised to help late-ripening fruit mature during typical cool summers. The combined effects of the tunnel and using the disease-resistant Rondo varietal has proven to be most successful.

Their wine grapes consist of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Dunkfelder and Rondo for red wine. Until recently, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer were cultivated but have since been pulled to focus on red varietals. Like Thomas Walk, Lusca’s total wine-making process, from vine to bottle, is accomplished entirely on site. And only simple, traditional methods are used; allowing the wine to clear naturally, without complex filtration. The wine is fermented and finished dry in the bottle, without any back-sweetening during bottling. All wine is hand bottled and labelled. Currently, they have a production of around 500 bottles per year, but with the additional plantings of reds, they are hoping to increase production to 2,000 bottles in the future.

As well as making wine, Llewellyn cultivates a functioning orchard producing:

• Apple Juice

• Pear juice

• Vinegar

• Cider

• Mulled Cider

Ah, luck, (with a wee bit of persistence), was on my side. With the kind help of Saileog and Rutherson from Wines on the Green | Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin, my bottle of 2015 Lusca Irish Wine Cab | Merlot arrived here in the Cleve, safe and sound, within a week.

But alas! I will not open it this year. When I asked David Llewellyn via email how long I should cellar it, he said, “ I think it should improve over the next 2-3 years or so, and remain very good for a further 2-3 years at least.”

I look forward to it!

With that, I’ll leave you with a wee Irish blessing:

“‘Tis better by far at the rainbows end to find not a pot of gold, but the heart of a friend.”

Tis also better to share a bottle of wine with that friend! 😉

Whatever drinkable you choose to celebrate St. Patty’s Day, please pace yourself, and imbibe safely.

Sláinte!🍷🍀

©TheWineStudent, 2018

Dine & Dashe 🍷😊🍷

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The perfect ending to a spectacular Monday here in the Cleve (a sunny day right now is always cause for celebrating), my friends, Shelly, Lisa and I attended the February wine dinner at Sarita in Lakewood, OH.

Featuring wines from Dashe Cellars, and presented by Whitney from Vanguard Wines, our evening began with Shrimp Madagascar paired with a 2015 Grenache Blanc. Cool climates and higher elevation help to cultivate this rare varietal. On the nose it made me think of a honey bun; bearing a subtle sweet bread-y scent. The main flavor we tasted was honey but because it was a dry wine, it wasn’t a cloying sweetness. The balanced acidity cut gently into the cream sauce of the shrimp dish.

My favorite wine of the night was the 2016 Chenin Blanc “Black Bart Cuvee”. This wine gets its name, Black Bart, not from the vineyard where it’s grown but the 500 gallon concrete ‘egg’ vessel in which it’s fermented. Concrete helps to highlight the mineral quality of the grapes, and helps to keep the lively freshness. After harvest, the grapes are pressed and fermented four weeks until the desired dryness is realized. This was paired with Scallop Crudo w/ pink grapefruit, avocado and malagueta honey that provided a sweet heat that was incredibly delicious with this wine.

Since 1996, Dashe Cellars, a family-owned winery, has operated in the urban location near Jack London Square in Oakland, CA. Going against convention, and with the conviction that outstanding wines could be found outside the traditional wine route parameter, they use natural winemaking techniques including: small lot fermentation, using indigenous yeasts, and little to no fining/ filtration.

Michael Dashe oversees the harvest and winemaking, and partners with small (including some organic-certified) growers in Mendocino and Sonoma counties to name a few. Working together, they try to achieve a balance of steep hillside vineyards, old vines, and vigor-reduced growing conditions. Steep hillsides force the grapes to struggle a bit and exposes them to better balance of sun, heat and cooling temperatures. Lower yields increase the quality and complexity of the wine. Struggle makes even grapes stronger!

As our evening progressed, we sampled Carignana (similar to Pinot Noir) with braised duck and goat cheese grits; fettuccine, bbq braised ribs (paired with two beloved Zinfandels), and finished it off sampling a selection of dark chocolate truffles and cheeses with a 2014 Late Harvest Zinfandel.

The next wine dinner takes place in April, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing a great selection of different wines, and what Chef Tony Romano will come up with next!

 

 

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Cheers!

©The Wine Student, 2018

Top Three Valentine’s Themed Wines!

It’s the weekend before the official love day, and whether you’re just celebrating you or love divine with your partner, thoughts ultimately turn to… wine!

Much like at Halloween, I noticed many labels this year sporting a serious Valentine’s vibe.

Here are three that caught my eye.

 

 

2014 Queen of Hearts Pinot Noir

Young and fruity, this Pinot has flavors of:

• Red fruit such as: strawberry, cherry and raspberry

• Cola- yes! Like the soft drink, this wine has that bright, effervescent mouthfeel (sans bubbles) that you find in cola. It made this almost refreshing in a way.

• Silky tannins

It pairs well with:

• Pullled pork, seared salmon/tuna

Roasted chicken or duck

• Cherry flan

LO-VE Wines Garnacha

Originating in Spain, but imported and bottled in Napa, this is a 95% Grenach, 5%Tempranillo. What makes this wine unique:

  • Essences of lavender
  • Strawberry, raspberry
  • Liquorice with a hint of leather

It pairs nicely with:

  • Rich, lusty stews featuring pork or lamb
  • British pub classics such as shepherds pie, bangers and mash
  • Favorite winter go-to’s like mac and cheese

2016 Finca Pasion MiAmor Malbec Ihaven’t profiled this on my Malbec Monday posts so this was nice to find! As with most Malbecs, this features darker fruit characters with some spice and:

• Essences of plum, and a little strawberry

• Blackberry

• Clove and pepper for a little caliente

It’s dinner companions include:

• Beef or venison

• Chili con carne, fajitas, beef burritos

• Pasta bolognese or with meatballs

There are many great choices out there to help set the mood but remember this: If you can’t be with the wine you love, love the wine you’re with!

Have a fun and safe Valentine’s Day! ❤️🍷❤️

©TheWine Student, 2018

Kiss My Glass!

 

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Filling my goblet is relatively easy to do: a big fishbowl for red, a larger tulip shape for white, flute for sparklers and maybe a smaller glass for ice wine. Simple, right? Nope, these days it’s anything but.

We can all agree that wine glasses are both functional and pleasing to the eye. But does the shape really make a difference? And how much of it is marketing? Does a crystal goblet actually make the wine taste better, or is it just our perception of it that makes it a different experience?

The Shape of Things

While the choice of glass is really up to the individual, wine glass shape and design have evolved over time to help showcase the unique qualities of each varietal group.

  • Red wine ~ best served in larger-sized glasses. And not just because I like to drink it in large amounts; a larger glass allows more air to come in contact with a large wine surface and develop the robust aromas and flavors. But not all wine glasses are created equal: Different shapes for different varietals are key. For example, the design of the Pinot Noir glass has a wider bowl and narrower tulip-shaped opening that works to provide a larger surface area to swirl while concentrating the essences towards the nose at the opening. Since Pinots tend to be more delicate in their bouquet and flavors, the design of the glass focuses the bouquet directly to the nose, and the wider bowl allows for better aeration on the swirl to fully coax out its subtle flavors. In contrast, the Cabernet/Bordeaux glass has a less wide bowl with wider opening. Since Cabs tend to have a more robust bouquet and flavor, they generally don’t need as much surface area to bring out the buzz; it’s already there. The Syrah glass is similar to the Cab in the bowl shape but the opening is narrow, concentrating those high notes up toward your nose.
  • White wine ~ medium-sized, tulip-shaped glass is better due to the fresher fruit characteristics that are gathered and then directed towards the top of the glass… and your nose. As with the reds, there are a variety of shapes to showcase white wine. The Oaked Chardonnay glass has a wide bowl and wider opening to allow for maximum swirlage (not a real word). Oaked Chard tends to be a hearty and is best experienced after some A&S (aeration and swirl). Unoaked Chard/ Voignier and Riesling, like Pinot Noir, needs more delicate aeration and the glass reflects this: The bowl is not as wide but the opening is. And the Riesling glass is a little narrower still, emphasizing the fruit aspects, not the alcohol, on the nose and palate.
  • Rosé ~ The Rosé design is s a little smaller but similar in shape to the white glass but with a little curve at the lip. This is to better direct the sweetness of the rosé towards the front of the tongue, which detects sweet.
  • Sparkling ~ best served in flute glasses. This shape enhances the effect of the bubbles (and the aroma), allowing them to travel through the larger volume of the wine before bursting at the top of the glass. The classic, saucer-shaped version doesn’t work as well since the bubbles are quickly lost with the wider opening, and there is less surface area to pass through.While this style paid homage to Marie Antoinette, it doesn’t serve the wine as well, especially when you want to savour an older, expensive sparkler. Some flutes are designed with small cuts in the bottom to enhance the pearl swirl effect as the bubbles ascend to the top of the glass, which is half the fun of sparkling wines.
  • Fortified wines ~ these are wines such as Port, Sherry and should be served in small glasses to emphasize the fruit qualities rather than the alcohol.
  • Ice wine ~ I’m gong out on a limb here, but I would choose a glass similar to the Rosé; smaller to emphasize the beautiful fruit but tulip shaped with a lip to direct the aromas and sweetness to your nose and then to the sweet spot of your tongue.

The common element of all glasses is that they should have enough room for swirling and nosing. When you put your nose into the glass, you want all the essences directed up to our nose.

Glass vs Crystal ~ Glass is typically how most of us in our early days begin serving wine, and we may not even graduate to crystal until we get a set as a gift. Nowadays, the two can look very similar but the difference is clear:

Crystal

  • Much heavier than glass, yet more fragile than glass.
  • Will capture light in a prism and create a rainbow.
  • Has a more melodic musical tone when you tap it or run a finger along the rim.
  • Is made thinner, and can eliminate the edge of the lip that glass can have. Little or no edge to the lip of the glass directs the flow of the wine to certain areas of the tongue, which is better to fully experience the nuances of the wine.
  • No longer contains lead oxide which was discovered to be a carcinogen ~ now lead-free crystal is standard, so no worries about ingesting harmful chemicals as you sip.
  • Hand washing is preferable.

Glass 

  • Used for centuries longer than crystal.
  • Resurged popularity when lead in crystal was discovered to be toxic.
  • Easier care, more durable, excellent for every day use, can be placed in dishwasher. More cost effective ~ prices range to suit every budget and style.

Schott-Zweisel makes a virtually break-resistant wine glass. Their Forte line is constructed using the Tritan technology where each glass is constructed with a hard, clear titanium material that reinforces the vulnerable zones at the rim, the joint of the bowl and stem, and the joint of the stem and the foot of the glass. This added strength gives the glasses increased durability (especially in my clumsy hands) and longer life.

Which has the bigger influence on your wine experience?

Crystal has more of a ‘stubbly’ texture than regular glass, allowing for more aromas to be released when you swirl. The thin rim of crystal also allows for wine to flow into the mouth hitting the most sensory areas of the tongue. The thick rim of the standard wine glass can distract from the taste of the wine and, according to Winecoolerdirect.com, may emphasize bitterness and flaws.

Keep It Clean ~ No, blowing the dust out of the glass, and saying, “ta dah” is not really recommended for keeping your wine glasses pristine. Unless you’re at my house. Wine’s delicate flavors can be ruined by even the slightest tinge in the glass. That goes for glasses fresh out of the dishwasher. Detergents and salts can leave residue in the glass that’ll kill the beauty of your wine, both in flavor and sparkle. The best way to prepare your glasses is to polish them with a soft, lint-free cloth (linen) before each use, and right out of the dishwasher. It also helps to get rid of the pesky lipstick marks that never really come off in the wash.You’ve seen the old movies where the bartender is polishing the glasses; it’s not just to find something to do before the trouble starts.

In the End, Do What You Like 

If you do even a quick search for wine glasses, you’ll find an abundance designed to suit every varietal, style, and price point. You can get a little lost in all the choices. But I like to think finding the right wine glass is a little like finding the right companion, the key is finding one you really love, and one that feels so good to hold.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2018.

Wines for a Brave New Year!

 

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As an icy wind howls and grips most of the Mid-West (and parts of Canada) this weekend, we need to be brave. Part of being brave is keeping an eye on the horizon, and the sunnier skies that will emerge once the storm has done its worst.

When a new year begins, we all have a tendency to want to move beyond the old habits and embrace something new. And that means occasionally moving from the safe, tried-and-true wines we know, towards those we maybe have overlooked.

According to Forbes.com, the biggest trends for 2018 include:

  • Increase in wines from “lesser known but traditional wine regions” including Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Georgia.
  • Red blends, especially from Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur.
  • Big bottles ie magnums in both wine shops and restaurants.
  • Increases in premium wine sales ~ no more three buck Chuck at the table.
  • Wine with a conscience : organic, sustainably farmed, natural, and biodynamic wines will be on the rise.
  • In keeping with purposeful wines, experts predict a surge in wine purchases to support the California winemakers rebuilding from the devastating fires in ’17, especially from Napa and Sonoma regions.
  • Revisiting Chilean wines especially Pinot Noir from Casablanca and cool mountain Syrah.
  • Expect to see more rule breaking: drinking whites, sparklers and rosé in the winter, and bold, full-bodied reds in the summer.
  • Wine in cans ~ more and more producers are selling canned wine with the advent of Can Van Mobile, a canning line that can be assembled within a small or large winery within an hour. And let’s be honest, canned wines are easier to take in your backpack on your picnic than glass bottles.

Vivino’s take on the upcoming 2018 trends is just a little bit different:

  • Sweet, or dessert wine ~ in their 2018 Wine Style Awards, Sauternes took the number one spot, which is surprising since many will eschew sweeter wines for dry.
  •  Zero-sugar movement ~ in stark contrast to sweet wines upswing, wines such as Brut Nature (zero sugar) are also gaining in popularity. More and more health conscious wine drinkers want to cut out the sugar in their choices. Look for Brut NatureZero Dosage, or Sauvage on the label, which indicates that sugar is fermented to a level of ‘zero’.
  • Prosecco, Cava and Cremant ~ consumers want to continue the New Year’s party by enjoying sparkling wines all year! Prosecco leads the way, but also opens up the field for Cava (Spanish) and Cremant (sparkling French wine from outside the Champagne region).
  • Uruguayan wine ~ especially Tannat, a concentrated, full-bodied wine that comes in many forms: robust red, spicy rosé, and even sparkling red.
  • Small Production Wines ~ smaller, not as well known wineries in regions like Oregon (Vivino saw increases of 10 percent), and Washington, especially Gramercy Cellars are gaining in popularity by keeping their production small and quality high. Sometimes these wines are difficult to find, because many in the know buy them up quickly and quietly, but they are worth looking for.

And in North East Ohio, one wine tops the forecast:

  • Rosé ~ Shaun Hardon, Certified Specialist of Wine for Heidelberg Distributing Company in Independence, Ohio said via email that he sees rosé’s star continuing to rise. “I started seeing a growing popularity for rosé about six years ago but last year was eye opening! Based on what I’ve seen and heard, it looks like the popularity will continue to grow this season. And it is no longer just the bone dry Provence style anymore. I’ve noticed restaurants looking for something a little different from countries other than France.”

It looks like 2018 is going to be very bright indeed. With so many wines, regions and styles to explore, it’s a good thing there are 353 days left!

If you have to venture out this weekend, please be safe!

Cheers! 🍷

©TheWineStudent, 2018