kottke.org posts about wine

How climate change is affecting wineMar 27 2013

Food and beverages where terroir is a big factor will be the first to be affected by climate change. This is already happening in the world of wine...wine production is happening in Denmark, French wines are changing flavors, and some places may become too hot to grow grapes at all.

As new frontiers for grape growing open up, the viability of some traditional production areas is under threat from scorching temperatures and prolonged droughts.

And in between the two extremes, some long-established styles are being transformed. Some whites once renowned for being light and crisp are getting fatter and more floral while medium-bodied reds are morphing into heavyweight bruisers.

(via @CharlesCMann)

The secret language of sommeliersFeb 19 2013

For the NY Times, Ben Schott compiles an extensive list of wine-related jargon.

WHALE . PLAYER . BALLER . DEEP OCEAN

A serious drinker who will regularly DROP more than $1,000 on a single bottle. When on a furious spending spree, a WHALE is said to be DROPPING THE HAMMER. BIG WALES -- or EXTRA BIG BALLERS (E.B.B.) -- can spend more than $100,000 on wine during a meal.

Schott expanded on this list in a companion blog post:

But, vocabulary aside, the central thing I learned from these talented people is that if you are dining in a restaurant which employs a Sommelier, you should never, ever order your own wine.

If you know little or nothing about wine, they will guide you to a bottle far more interesting and suited to your food than you could possibly pluck from the list.

And if you are a wine aficionado, you will not know more than the Somm about their list - or what they are hiding off-list in the cellar.

See also What Restaurants Know (About You)

Where does all the wine come from in Game of Thrones?Dec 12 2012

You need predictable and changing seasons to grow grapes and the Game of Thrones world features long unpredictable seasons...so where does all that wine come from?

The seasons in George RR Martin's medieval fantasy are a random, unpredictable mess. They could last anywhere from a few months to a decade and there's no way to forecast them. As the story opens, the characters are near the end of a long, ten-year summer. They also worry about the coming winter, which will cause mass starvation if it also lasts years on end. This wonky climate is an irreplaceable part of Game of Thrones. Westeros would not be remotely the same without it.

But grapevines have a life cycle that depends on regular seasons. In winter, grapevines are dormant. Come spring they sprout leaves. As summer begins, they flower and tiny little grapes appear. Throughout the summer the grapes fill up with water, sugar and acid. The grapes are finally ready for picking in early autumn, then go back to sleep in winter. This cycle is why wineries can rely on a yearly grape yield. Obviously, in Westeros, something must be different about how grapes work.

(via bb)

How wine corks are madeOct 09 2012

My son thinks corks grow on trees...not sure whether to pop his bubble on this or not.

How Corks Are Made

It all starts in the forest. Cork oaks are harvested every nine years, once they reach maturity. It doesn't harm the tree, and the cork bark regrows. Most cork forests are in Portugal and Spain.

Lorem ipsum on French wine labelNov 28 2011

Oof...a wine by Roland Tissier has lorem ipsum on the label.

Wine lorem ipsum

(via stellar)

A taxonomy of wine labelsJun 10 2011

The major types of wine bottle label include Animals Doing Things, Indie Designer, and the Euro-Trash A-hole.

A rare sighting, the A-Hole label is usually more than a label. Often, the whole bottle is some unique shape. Look! I'm a wine bottle in the shape of a shampoo bottle! Deal with it! Whatever. What to Expect: I wouldn't know, for I do not condone this sort of behavior. And neither should you.

(via @hodgman)

iPad wine listSep 20 2010

Restaurants using wine lists on the iPad are reporting increased sales; one restaurant says sales are up 11%.

Mr. Kendall, 43, described himself as a bit of a wine poseur. He has vacationed in Italy and Napa Valley and has a cellar at home, but he cannot remember a label from meal to meal. He knows just enough, or perhaps just little enough, to become suspicious whenever a waiter recommends a vineyard he does not know.

"In the back of your mind," he said, "you're always thinking: 'O.K., is this some kind of used-car special? Did they just get 200 bottles of this?' "

But Mr. Kendall said the ratings he found on the iPad -- by the wine writer Robert M. Parker Jr. -- carried credibility. He decided that the price of the cabernet franc was justified by Mr. Parker's award of 92 points out of 100. "I found a bottle of wine that I never would have tried, and it was wonderful," he said.

A blind wine tasting with Robert ParkerNov 20 2009

Robert Parker, the world's foremost wine taster, tasted a bunch of bottles from Bordeaux 2005 (a great year for Bordeaux) and couldn't tell which one was which and ranked them differently than he had before.

Blind tasting removes preconceptions about wines while maintaining the ability to rate wines in a peer group setting. Wednesday night, Parker upended the order of his published ratings of the wines and, in the process, could not correctly identify any of these wines. In print, he awarded L'Eglise Clinet, a Pomerol, a score of 100 points. While he did call it his second favorite wine of the night, it is interesting to note that he could not pick out this wine in the lineup (he thought the actual L'Eglise to be Cos, a wine that is not only from across the river, but from St. Estephe, an appellation known for the extreme tannic structure of the wines). In that same vein, he mistook Lafite, a Paulliac, for Troplong-Mondot, a new wave St. Emilion. Blind tasting can be ruthless in its outcomes.

Jonah Lehrer elaborated on the outcome of the tasting.

When we take a sip of wine, we don't taste the wine first, and the cheapness or redness second. We taste everything all at once, in a single gulp of thiswineisred, or thiswineisexpensive. As a result, the wine "experts" sincerely believed that the white wine was red, or that Lafite was actually Troplong-Mondot. Such mistakes are inevitable: Our brain has been designed to believe itself, wired so that our prejudices feel like facts, our opinions indistinguishable from the actual sensation. If we think a wine is cheap, it will taste cheap. And if we think we are tasting a grand cru, then we will taste a grand cru.

Davy Jones' wine cellarNov 19 2009

Over at Edible Geography, Nicola Twilley collects some information about wine and beer recovered from shipwrecks, some of which has been sold for thousands of dollars per bottle.

It appears the ocean floor, if treated as a single entity, might actually be the world's largest wine cellar -- a sunken treasure trove of lost vintages awaiting rediscovery. Like squirrels digging up acorns, wreck-divers and salvage companies stumble upon another forgotten cache every few years.

Climate change tasting menuSep 17 2009

New Scientist reports that Czech beer tastes worse than it used to due to climate change.

Climatologist Martin Mozny of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and colleagues say that the quality of Saaz hops -- the delicate variety used to make pilsner lager -- has been decreasing in recent years. They say the culprit is climate change in the form of increased air temperature.

Winemaking regions are shifting due to climate change as well.

Nicola Twilley proposes a Climate Change Tasting Menu that highlights food and drink demonstrating the effects of human activities on climate.

The starter would feature new products that have only recently been cultivated locally, thanks to climate change -- Devon olive oil perhaps, accompanied by a nice glass of Kent rosé. The main course might be controversial: test-tube grown imitation meats and vegetables that recreate the flavour and mouthfeel of species that are already lost or threatened with extinction by climate change.

The $1 million bookAug 21 2009

A book listing the top 100 wineries in the world will retail for $1,000,000. To be fair, the purchase price also includes 600 bottles of wine from said wineries. (via eat me daily)

Scholium Project winesSep 10 2008

Winemaker Abe Schoener, instigator of the Scholium Project, sounds crazier than Sean Thackrey. Schoener says he makes wine by accident, through a process of trial and error, and is unapologetic about his less drinkable wines. When Eric Asimov wrote about his dislike of one of the Scholium Project's wines, Schoener responded thusly:

"I am so sympathetic to your reaction to my wine," he wrote. "I don't think that you said anything unfair about it. It is a kind of behemoth." He suggested that a roast chicken and a minimum of four people would make such a big wine more bearable.

Most winemakers tend to rival politicians in their efforts to stay on message and spin catastrophe into triumph, but Mr. Schoener freely and cheerfully discusses his failures, which made me receptive to his invitation to try some of his other wines. He makes 10 or so different wines each year, and a total of about 1,500 cases.

I had one of his wines at dinner a few months ago; it was really good. The wine shop around the corner from us sells a bunch of his stuff...time to go pick some up, I think.

Fake restaurant wins wine awardAug 20 2008

Beware gatekeepers on autopilot. As part of the research process for an academic paper on wine awards, Robin Goldstein submitted an application for Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence using a fake restaurant and a subpar wine list.

I named the restaurant "Osteria L'Intrepido" (a play on the name of a restaurant guide series that I founded, Fearless Critic). I submitted the fee ($250), a cover letter, a copy of the restaurant's menu (a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes), and a wine list. Osteria L'Intrepido won the Award of Excellence, as published in print in the August 2008 issue of Wine Spectator.

Most of the wines on the "reserve" list had previously been panned in the magazine. Ouch. (via eater)

Update: Wine Spectator's executive editor has responded to what he calls an "elaborate hoax" on the magazine's message board. The response is somewhat defensive, defiantly unapologetic, and, in the end, a pretty effective defense of the magazine's position. In particular, they did take steps to verify the restaurant's existence, including several phone calls to the provided phone number, reading (fictitious) online reviews, and visiting the restaurant's web site. (via diner's journal)

Champagne, an English inventionJun 11 2008

Venez vite, je goûte les étoiles!

Attributed to French monk Dom Pierre Pérignon upon his discovery of Champagne. It's typically translated into English as:

Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!

Although Pérignon made important advances in sparkling wine production, a reproducible process for making sparkling wine (of which Champagne is one variety) was actually first described by an Englishman, Christopher Merret, some thirty years before. In a paper presented to the Royal Society, Merret noted that the addition of sugar to wine would result in a second fermentation, which made the wine sparkle.

Merret came to sparkling wine through his interest in glass. The process of secondary fermentation had been known since before medieval times but was not reproducible because the glass bottles would explode under the pressure. Using stronger English glass and sturdy corks, Merret was able to dependably reproduce the sparkling effect and publish the technique for anyone to do the same. A bit less glamorous than "drinking the stars" perhaps, but a deft illustration of the scientific method nonetheless.

BTW, Moët and Chandon, producers of the Dom Pérignon brand of Champagne, still perpetuate the myth that Dom Pérignon invented the method for making sparkling wine. From the DP web site:

Make "the best wine in the world." It took a visionary spirit and exceptional daring to set such an exalted ambition at the end of the 17th century. But vision and daring were second nature to Pierre Pérignon. Before him, there was only what was known as the wines of Reims, of La Montagne and of La Rivière, according to their origins in the Champagne region. With amazing intuition, Dom Pérignon was the first to see the fabulous promise of luxury. He took very ordinary wines and gave them body, spirit and grace. Through his efforts Champagne wine entered a new world.

Whatever helps you sell the Champers, I guess.

How do you describe a smell orMar 21 2008

How do you describe a smell or a taste? John Lanchester discusses that and a recent book of perfume reviews in this recent New Yorker article.

The language of taste has, therefore, reached something of an impasse. On the one hand, we have the Romantic route, in which you are free to compare a taste to the last unicorn or the sensation you had when you were told that you failed your driving test-and others are free to have no idea what you are talking about. On the other, we have the scientific route, which comes down to numbers, and risks missing the fundamental truth of all smells and tastes, which is that they are, by definition, experiences.

Jürgen Stumpf owns three wineFeb 12 2008

Jürgen Stumpf owns three wine bars in Berlin that operate on the honor system.

For the price of 1 euro (about $1.50), you rent yourself a glass and get to sample as many of the wines as you want. At the end of the night you throw some bills or coins into a big jar, the amount based on what you think is fair.

This post about the carbon footprint ofNov 12 2007

This post about the carbon footprint of wine contains an interesting map at the bottom. It's a map of the US with a line splitting the country in two. West of the line, it is more carbon efficient to drink Napa wine while to the east of the line it is more carbon efficient to drink French Bordeaux. You can almost see the coastline of the eastern and Gulf states struggling westward against the trucking route from California. The Vinicultural Divide?

Crushpad lets you make your own wineApr 17 2007

Crushpad lets you make your own wine from the comfort of your own home. "Crushpad offers a web-based system called MyCrushpad that allows you to monitor and manage your wine remotely.You'll be able to create your winemaking plan online, see pictures of your grapes while they're still on the vine, access the dozens of statistics (like sugar, acids, fermentation temperatures, etc.) our winemakers use to make decisions about handling the fruit. You'll be able to check on your wine at every stage from the vineyard to the barrel to the bottle no matter where you are."

A list of possible Red Sox-inspired wines.Apr 13 2007

A list of possible Red Sox-inspired wines. Matsusake, Two-Buck 'Tek, Coco Cristal, and Big Papinot Noir all sound delicious.

The Taste3 conference has put some videosFeb 26 2007

The Taste3 conference has put some videos from their 2006 conference up on YouTube. All three talks they posted are worth a look: Dan Barber of Blue Hill, global warming and wine, and Bryant Simon on Starbucks.

Park Smith is no ordinary wine collector...Feb 14 2007

Park Smith is no ordinary wine collector...he's got 65,000 bottles in a cellar measuring 8,000 square feet.

Finalists for the 2007 version of the annualFeb 12 2007

Finalists for the 2007 version of the annual competition held by Design Within Reach to design the best chair out of a champagne cork. Check out the finalists from 2004 and the winner from 2006. (DWR's site has a bit of a permalink problem, so I can't find contest results from previous years.)

Is it worth paying $700 for a bottleJan 30 2007

Is it worth paying $700 for a bottle of wine? Well worth it, says Slate's wine columnist, for the right bottle. "My father took a sniff of his glass, and he immediately registered a look of shock that called to mind the expression on Michael Spinks' face when Mike Tyson first landed a glove on him in their 1988 title fight. Unlike Spinks, however, my father managed to remain upright. I took a sip of the wine and quickly pronounced the same verdict I had rendered 20 months earlier: 'Holy shit.'"

Tremble funnyman Todd Levin dons the Non-Expert'sJan 19 2007

Tremble funnyman Todd Levin dons the Non-Expert's hat over at The Morning News to explain how to buy wine. "FANCY SERIF FONT + PARCHMENT LABEL + SOMETHING YOU KIND OF REMEMBERED FROM THE MOVIE SIDEWAYS + $12-$16 PRICE TAG = SUCCESS"

Top 100 wines of 2006 according to Wine Spectator. (via lists 2006)Dec 28 2006

Top 100 wines of 2006 according to Wine Spectator. (via lists 2006)

Hiroshi Tanaka demonstrated his "fast aging" techniqueJul 17 2006

Hiroshi Tanaka demonstrated his "fast aging" technique for wine at the Taste3 conference. I tasted some of the "after" wine and it was better and smoother than the "before" wine. A promising technique, especially for cheaper wines and spirits.

Jay-Z is banning Cristal champagne in hisJun 16 2006

Jay-Z is banning Cristal champagne in his clubs after some "racist" comments by the champagne house's managing director in The Economist. I think Jay-Z is confusing race with culture here; I can't imagine two cultures that are more different from each other than American hip hop and French champagne production. Despite his hesitancy about discussing a culture unfamiliar to him, I thought the director essentially said that they aren't worried about the bling lifestyle association because it's ultimately good for business. (via bb)

Cork'd is a community for wine loversMay 17 2006

Cork'd is a community for wine lovers that lets you catalog what's in your wine collection, what your friends are drinking, and discover what you should be drinking. (It's a little like Flickr or del.icio.us for wine.)

eGullet has serveral publicly available online classesApr 20 2006

eGullet has serveral publicly available online classes you can take, including this one on wine tasting. Looks like a great resource.

Influential wine critic Robert Parker gave 90 to 91Mar 23 2006

Influential wine critic Robert Parker gave 90 to 91 points (out of 100) to a wine made by porn star Savanna Samson, denoting it as "an outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character". I'll leave you to make your own jokes about the wine's "great body" and "long legs".

Speaking of wine blogs, Wine Library hasMar 16 2006

Speaking of wine blogs, Wine Library has a video blog about wine. Not sure about the spit bucket thing on camera tho... (thx, erik)

The Pour is a wine blog byMar 16 2006

The Pour is a wine blog by the NY Times wine guy, Eric Asimov. Asimov joins Frank Bruni on the food and bev blogging front for the Times. The Pour includes a list of links to other wine blogs and resources as well. Nicely done.

Waiter Rant on how to order wineJan 03 2006

Waiter Rant on how to order wine without looking like an asshole. "When I see someone [smell the cork] I know I'm dealing with a complete amateur. Guess what you're gonna smell? Cork!"

The SF Chronicle has a list ofDec 20 2005

The SF Chronicle has a list of the top 100 wines of 2005.

Update: This list covers only wines from CA, WA, OR, and ID, not from the whole US or world. (thx, rich)

Meg recaps our daytrip to the MekongNov 27 2005

Meg recaps our daytrip to the Mekong Delta. If you go, partake not of the rice and banana wines. Holy antifreeze, Batman!

Winerd (wine + nerd, get it?) is aOct 14 2005

Winerd (wine + nerd, get it?) is a board game that involves wine tasting and looks like a cross between Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and Asshole.

Cheap wineOct 14 2005

The Morning News lists some of their favorite wines that sell for under $10.

Pairing wine with fast food. How aboutSep 07 2005

Pairing wine with fast food. How about a 2003 Pinot with your Kentucky Fried Chicken or a nice Cabernet to go with your Taco Bell Burrito Supreme? Need more pairings for fast food? Try here, here, or here.

A company called Enologix uses spectroscopy andAug 10 2005

A company called Enologix uses spectroscopy and chromotography to predict wine scores with a high level of accuracy. Critic Robert Parker introduced wine scoring (here's his perfect score list) but some say that his dominance is not such a good thing.

So, you wanna go into the wine business...Aug 05 2005

So, you wanna go into the wine business.... Well, listen up kid, here's some good advice from someone who's been there.

The NY Times picks some good bottlesJul 27 2005

The NY Times picks some good bottles of wine for under $10. For those of you who want to move up from the Two Buck Chuck a little.

Steve makes prison wine out of moldyJul 08 2005

Steve makes prison wine out of moldy bread, ketchup, grape juice, raisins, garbage bags, and tube socks. "It's hard to believe this started out as a bag of fruit snacks and grape juice. Yet somehow these ingredients went from sweet and child-like to harsh and alcoholic quicker than Lindsay Lohan."

How to open a bottle of wineJun 30 2005

How to open a bottle of wine when you don't have a corkscrew.

How four little paragraphs about wine inJun 30 2005

How four little paragraphs about wine in Time magazine caused such a ruckus in France and Napa Valley.

In defense of drinking expensive wineJun 21 2005

In defense of drinking expensive wine.

If you get the right bottle, agedMay 17 2005

If you get the right bottle, aged champagne can be quite tasty.

Steve Leveen suggests that people stop finishingMay 16 2005

Steve Leveen suggests that people stop finishing books they aren't enjoying. Compares books to wine, says that we should "taste" a variety of books and only "drink" the ones we really like.

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