Every time I go to one of Vicki’s wine tasting classes I learn so much. She spends the first 30-40 minutes presenting on a specific subject matter and then the wine tasting begins. This past week we learned about wines from Australia. If there’s one overarching theme that I’ve learned it’s that those Australian’s are hustlers man. The efficiency with which they produce wine is just insane.
In the midst of learning about wines from Australian I actually learned a lot about wine making on a whole, so I wanted to share some of those details with you today.
5 Things about Wine Production
- The top wine-producing countries in the world are France, Italy, and Spain. Italy and France constantly go back and forth for the number one spot.
- Over 50% of the world’s cork comes from Portugal, but screw caps are significantly cheaper (which is super useful when you’re hustling). While you can’t allow wine bottles in screw caps to age for many years, these days, most wines aren’t aged for long periods of time. And as for which one’s better? You’ll have to take to the internet on that one, seems to be a raging debate.
- An oak barrel used to age wine can cost $1,000. These barrels can only be used twice before the effect of the oak on the wine is negligible. Bottles of wine may say whether new or old oak was used in the making of the wine. Also, there are two different types of oak: French and American. The American oak has a looser grain, which means that it imparts more flavors in the wine. As for which one is correct, it’s personal preference, but fun fact, the Spanish prefer American Oak.
- If you constantly irrigate the soil, the vines will produce large, highly water-filled grapes. Soil that is not irrigated and receives less water produces smaller berries that are higher in sugar content. Because the equation to make alcohol is sugar + yeast > CO2 + alcohol + heat, having more sugar can create a higher-alcohol content wine. In the instance that you begin with large, water-filled grapes, you will need to perform additional processes to the grapes to reach higher alcohol content.
- In the late 19th century a group of European botanists brought a bunch of American vines to Europe. Little did they know, the American vines had phylloxera, little insects that eat and destroy a plant’s roots. The American roots were partially resistant, but over two-thirds of the European vines were destroyed. In the mid-1900s they thought to graft the European vines on top of the American roots, and since then that has been the preferred method of growing vines in Europe.
I love learning all of these little tidbits of information. It makes my trips to the liquor store much more interesting. For example, now I know if I’m ever looking for a Shiraz to head straight to wines from Argentina. So good.
Anyway, if you’re interested in joining Vicki for her next class, you can learn about wines of the Loire valley and wine terminology on Thursday, May 14 at Gallery Twenty-Two. Learn more by visiting the Vinocity website here. (I’ll unfortunately be on vacation (I know, boo-hoo Chrystina), but you can be sure that you’ll see me at the class in June.)