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The Ohio Wines Information Pack

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Ode to Catawba Wine

This song of mine
Is a song of the Vine
To be sung by the glowing embers
Of wayside inns,
When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers.
 

It is not a song
Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
Nor the Isabel
And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys.
 

  Nor the red Mustang,
Whose clusters hang
O'er the waves of the Colorado,
And the fiery flood
Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado.
 

For the richest and best
Is the wine of the West,*
That grows by the Beautiful River, +
Whose sweet perfume
Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver.
 

And as hollow trees
Are the haunts of bees,
Forever going and coming;
So this crystal hive
Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing and humming.
 

Very good in its way
Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
But Catawba wine
has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious and dreamy.
 

There grows no vine
By the haunted Rhine,
By Danube or Quadalquivir,
Nor on island or cape,
That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River.
 

Drugged is their juice
For foreign use,
When shipped o'er the reeling Atlantic,
To rack our brains
With the fever pains,
That have driven the Old World Frantic.
 

  To the sewers and sinks
With all such drinks,
And after them tumble the mixer,
For a poison malign
Is such Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil's elixir.
 

While pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.
 

And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.
   

*At the time this poem was written, Ohio was "the West."  

+The word "Ohio" means "Beautiful River" in the language of the Indians who lived along it.

 

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Chapter 1: Getting the Most out of Wine

Why and How to Taste

A good wine is whatever wine you like. But how you determine what you like is a process called wine tasting. Wine drinkers should follow several steps when evaluating a wine. Knowing the steps will help you appreciate the beauty and complexity of wine.

In order to get more out of your wine drinking experience, you need to consider the wine in three stages: look, smell, and taste. If you do not trust your memory, it is handy to write down your impression of each wine. Use a simple notebook, or an elaborate cellar book to provide the date, place, details from the label, price, where it was purchased, and the size of the bottle.

Look

In good light, begin by looking at the wine against a plain, white background. Hold the glass by the base or the stem and tilt the glass approximately 45 degrees. Look down on the wine and view the clarity, the color, and the hue of the wine. Also notice how much color graduates from the center of the glass to the rim.

Wine should always be clear and bright, never cloudy or hazy. Whites vary from almost colorless, to hints of green or yellow. The sight of a brownish tinge is a sign of too much oxidation. Oxidization is the process in which the wine comes in contact with oxygen. If a wine is said to be oxidized, it generally refers to the faults resulting from excess contact with oxygen. Reds tend to tell more in terms of age and quality by their color. Reds become paler with age. The rim of the glass is where to look to get a feel for the age of a red wine. The paler and more brown, the more mature.

The following table shows the differences in the color of wine as it ages.

White Red Blush/Rose'
Young nearly colorless purple pink
White/green purple/red pink/red
yellow/straw ruby red
Mature gold brick red/orange
deep gold mahogany orange
Over The Hill amber brown amber

 Swirl

Continuing to hold the glass by the stem or base, swirl the glass to get the wine moving. The main point in doing this is to aerate the wine, so it releases its smells and aromas. However, before you smell, remember to take a look at the wine. The way that wine clings to a glass and then trickles down tells you something. In wine circles it is referred to as the phenomenon called "legs." A wine that trickles back slowly and in distinct streams is high in alcohol, sugar, or both. A wine that breaks quickly and raggedly may be old, light, or dry. (Be careful that you have a clean glass, as detergent and lint can interfere with the surface tension of the wine.)

 Smell

Raise the glass to your nose and sniff. Swirl the wine in the glass again, and then smell more deeply. The first thing you will notice is wine does not always smell like grapes. The most common scents in wine are floral, fruity, spicy, vegetative, or wood odors. Over 500 aromatic compounds have been identified in wine, derived from the grapes, fermentation, and maturation. The fruity aromas come from the grapes. The more complex aromas such as yeast, butter, or oak come from the fermentation process. The aromas produced as wine matures are often very subtle and difficult to describe. As found in Appendix A, The Noble Wine Wheel is a reference tool for analyzing the smell of a wine.

Taste

Take a generous sip, enveloping your mouth with the taste. Savor the different flavors and move the wine around gently inside you mouth, to expose the wine to all of your taste buds. Swallow the wine when-you feel you have experienced the flavors and feel of the wine. Next, pay attention to the aftertaste. It should remain pleasant and linger.

If you are at a large tasting, it might become necessary to spit the wine after experiencing it in your mouth. This allows you to keep a clear head. A spittoon may be provided. In addition, wine tasters find it necessary to cleanse the palate in between different wines. This can be accomplished with plain water, or the use of bread and cheese. Cleansing the palate makes it easier to distinguish the different taste sensations associated with the different wines. Also, when tasting a number of wines, always drink whites before reds, dry before sweet, and old before young. This system allows your palate to adjust according to the qualities of each wine.

The Art of Serving Wine

With so much pompous information floating around on the proper way to serve wine, the following tries to put some of the etiquette in layman's terms. Some aspects of serving wine are more important than others, and should be followed strictly, while others are strictly personal choices.

Glassware

The color, style or type of wine may be matched to the type of glass. Some glass shapes and sizes enhance the wine drinking experience. However, that does not mean that you cannot make exceptions, or prefer the look of a certain glass or piece of stemware. It is very impractical to think that a person would have enough stemware to warrant using the proper glasses with every Occasion. If you are that lucky, then go with it and follow the strict guidelines. For most people, a nice set of white, red, and champagne glasses usually will suffice. For those who want to know the standards, the following information will help you with your wine and glass pairings.

For still wines you should aim to have fine, plain, colorless glass. Using chunky, cut or colored glass will not allow you to see the wine properly. Secondly, the glasses should be generously sized. Roughly a sixth of the bottle should fill half of a glass, with slightly smaller glasses used for white wine than for red. Plenty of room in the glass allows for aeration of the wine. As for shape, the bowl should be round and elongated, tapering at the top, so that when the wine is swirled to release its aromas it can be easily contained in the glass.

For champagne, the traditional flute shapes preserve the bubbles arid the subtle bouquet. The champagne saucer does little to preserve either and the bubbles and bouquet are lost very quickly.

However, the key to any glass is cleanliness. Sparingly use a mild detergent and dry with a lint-free cloth. A dishwasher is even better, but make sure not to load it with other grimy dishes. Make sure to store the glasses upright in a closed cupboard. The best glasses in the world are of no special use if they are not cared for properly. Detergent, dust, lint, and strong smell can all hinder a glass.

Refer to Appendix B for illustrations on types of glassware

Temperature

Everyone knows that white wine should be served chilled and red wine should be room temperature. But who sets the standards for what temperature is "chilled" or "room temperature"?

In general, white wines should be served between 43 to 52 degrees. Remember that it is always better to err on the low side, since chilled wines warm up quickly in the glass. The quickest way to chill a bottle of wine is to plunge it into a bucket of ice water.

Room temperature, for red wine, does not mean today's central heat standard of 70 degrees. Instead, a comfortable 64 degrees, the traditional European wine cellar temperature, is acceptable for full bodied and tannic red wines.

Decanting

Most modern American wines are filtered at the winery and do not need decanting. However, when serving a bottle of mature red wine, chances are, that the process of decanting will enhance the wine. Decanting is the process in which the sediments of a wine are allowed to settle in one place in the bottle, and then the wine is extracted from the bottle, leaving the sediment behind. Some producers are now taking the initiative to point out on the label the likelihood of whether or not the bottle will need to be decanted. Decanting should not be viewed as a negative; instead, it should mean that none of the wine's flavor has been filtered out.

Although the task of decanting may seem intimidating, it is really much easier than it appears. Simply allow the unopened wine to stand upright for at least a day before serving. Raise a candle or other bright light to the bottle to view the sediment deposit in the bottom. If the sediment is still falling, allow the bottle to stand longer. Choose a decanter that will generously hold the bottle's contents. Pouring slowly, watch the wine as it travels through the neck of the bottle. As soon as the wine appears cloudy, stop pouring.

To check the wine after decanting, again hold a candle upright under the carafe. The wine should be free of bitter, unsightly sediment. After decanting, serve the wine in large glasses. This allows ample room to swirl and fully enjoy the aroma, color, and body of the wine.

Serving Order

There are many factors when deciding which wine to serve when. Menu plays a key role in helping make those decisions. In general, you should try to serve whites before reds, young before old, and dry before sweet. These guidelines are very flexible and should be used simply as a starting point. The ambiance, menu, and personal preferences should also help define the wine choices.

The Matching of Wine and Food

The formal standards of wine and food pairings are very rigorous, very precise, and do not allow for much creativity. The basic guidelines follow the traditional color formula, red wine with red meat, dry white wine with fish and white meat, and sweet white wine with puddings. Although this system works for some people, it lacks any room for the imagination. In this era of casual lifestyles, the best wine and food pairings are the ones' which you most enjoy. However, some simple guidelines are helpful.

Whether or not you have decided what color wine you would like to be drinking, matching the weight or body of the wine to the food is a good starting point and should take precedence over the color formula. In addition, be extra cautious with foods or sauces that were made from wine or wine stock. The general rule is to drink the same type of wine that the dish was prepared with. But remember to take into consideration the other textures and flavors in the dish. You neither want to overpower them, or sell the wine short. The balance should be complimentary and present both food and drink in a positive light.

The flavors of the food should definitely play a role in choosing wine. You should decide whether you would like to compliment the intense flavor of the dish or contrast it with something lighter. The most common flavor intensities include acid, sugar, and salt. A dish with a definite element of acid, will usually need a wine with acidity to match, otherwise the wine will taste flat. Salty dishes may need a touch of sweetness in the wine. Choose a red with obvious fruit undertones or an actual sweet white. When discussing the sweetness of a dish, it is hard to discern the degree of sweetness. The sweetness might come from an integral part of the dish, or from a sauce or garnish. With the latter, a slightly sweet wine will compliment the sweetness in the sauce, with out over-powering the other taste sensations in the dish.

The texture of food is often the culprit of changing the taste of a wine. Many foods are known to coat the mouth, hindering the sensitivity of the taste buds. Such foods include certain cheeses, eggs, chocolate, vinegar, artichokes, spinach, oily fish, and spicy foods. Although all of these foods have the potential to change the taste of wine, it is not necessary to eliminate them from the menu. Simply try to compliment the food with a crisper wine, but remember, with a coating food, it is probably not the best time to open a cellar treasure, since the total experience of the wine will be lost.

For novice wine drinkers and experienced connoisseurs, the best advice is that if you like the food and wine combination, than you should follow it. It is all a matter of personal taste.

Preservation

Once a bottle is open, the air immediately begins to change the wine. The first effects are favorable, i.e. breathing, but ultimately air will begin to change the wine into vinegar. The crudest, yet most common, solution to saving an open bottle of wine is to put the cork back in and put it back in the refrigerator or cellar. You cannot expect old or delicate wines to survive this way, but most young whites and light reds will last a couple of days. The wines will lose a little freshness, and the taste will be flatter, but they seldom become undrinkable.

If you know that only half of the bottle is going to be consumed, as soon as you open it, decant half of the wine into a half-bottle, then re-cork it and put it back in the refrigerator or cellar. Of course it is much better to drink the other half of the bottle as soon as possible, but it can last for up to a week using this method.

Since the late eighties, the wine industry has focused on devising ways to reserve unfinished bottles. Wine-conserving gadgets work on two basic principles: remove the air from the bottle to leave a vacuum and put an inert heavy gas onto the surface of the wine. The results from both methods seem to be quite erratic. For the die-hard preserver, the Vintage Keeper is a far more sophisticated and expensive inert gas device, and seems to have favorable responses. The simple solution? Drink or share any special bottles in one sitting.

 Storing Wine

In today's modem society, few people have the luxury of having a cavernous or subterranean wine cellar. Most wine drinkers have less than perfect storage arrangements, but that does not mean that wine should not be protected from damaging conditions. There are several factors that determine the success of an aging bottle: temperature, light, humidity, movement, and placement.

Temperature

With central heat and air, our standards of room temperature have changed dramatically. The comfortable 70F that is common in most homes today can wreak havoc on wine. An ideal storage temperature ranges between 45F and 55F. You can store wine to within a degree or two of freezing, but be careful that the wine does not actually freeze, or you will potentially have a spoiled bottle of wine, a protruding cork, and a mess. At the other end, wine can be stored up to 68F. but remember that the higher the temperature the more rapidly the wine will mature.

Try to avoid large temperature variances. Constant temperature is the key to proper storage. A cooler spare room is ideal, as long as the temperature does not spike when guests arrive. Similarly, outdoor buildings and attics are usually poorly insulated, allowing for dramatic temperature variances.

With all that said, there are places in the common home that are acceptable for wine storage. Choose the spot carefully, and monitor the temperature often. North facing walls, old fireplaces, and upstairs cupboards can all provide a comfortable location for wine storage.

Light

Light, both sun and ultraviolet can cause problems for wine. Luckily, most wines come with a natural defense...a colored bottle or colored cellophane. In addition, you can take extra precautions and simply the cover the wine with a blanket.

 Humidity

The relative humidity of the air can cause problems for wine. Most cellars are kept at a high humidity. This is easily noticed by the moist, damp, stench of the air. Low humidity can cause the cork to dry, allowing oxidation to occur inside the bottle. Ideally, relative humidity should range between 55 and 70 percent. The only real consequence of high humidity is the gumminess of the labels as the moisture breaks down the paper and glue.

Movement

Wine does not take well to constant movement or vibration. It should be kept still, preferably on a horizontal wine rack. Bottles should always be stored on their sides to keep the wine in contact with the cork. Today's market is flooded with racks of different shapes, colors, and materials. Some manufacturers will even custom design racks to fit your specifications. Normal bumping and transportation will not ruin a bottle of wine; however you should allow a bottle that has been shaken up the chance to recover. A few days should do the trick. Be especially careful of red wine that contains sediment. Make sure it has had a few days of stillness before you try to decant.

Other Cellar Options

If you are set on storing very expensive or especially, old wines in a cellar, there are a few options. To begin with, you can purchase a cellar for your home. They are very effective, but they are also space consuming and expensive. Another option is to rent cellar space. There are now self-storage systems where you rent a temperature controlled vault and come and go with your wine at your discretion. But for most people, a simple wine rack in a cool, damp place will suffice.

When is a Wine Properly Aged?

Although we have some idea as to what goes on inside a sealed bottle, there is no scientific formula to determine when the bottle has reached its best. The rate and degree of progress varies for each wine, and remains a mystery too most.

There are a few comforting factors. Talking about a wine "reaching its peak" is very misleading. There is no single moment when a wine is at its best. Instead, wine reaches a plateau where it imperceptibly continues to change, neither improving nor deteriorating. The questions still remain as to when the plateau will be reached and how long the wine will remain at the plateau.

In general terms, the finer the wine, the longer it will take to reach its plateau, the longer it will stay there, and the slower it will decline. Most "great" wines have good acid content with heavy tannins in their youth. The lesser the wine, the less time it will take to reach its plateau, the less time it will stay there, arid the faster it will decline. Moderate wines, no matter how high priced, or decorative the label, will seldom improve with much keeping. In the short term they may certainly lose their edge of youth, but beyond that, they lack the tannins and acids to evolve and gain with age.

In today's fast-paced society, wines are being made for earlier consumption. The wine makers realize the need for instant gratification and understand the limited capabilities for wine storage. In turn, they are creating wines that can be consumed earlier, while losing none of the nuances of a fine aged wine.

For those who still feel the need to age wine, there are a few tools of the trade. Vintage charts and maps are printed to help guide the consumer. Choose a good vintage and follow the advice of the experts who track the progress of wine. Always keep in mind that wine is a personal taste and you should drink it when you most enjoy it. And remember part of the fun in drinking wine is the mystery that surrounds and constantly changes the bottles.

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Chapter 2: Ohio Grape and Wine History

The History of Ohio Wine

The history of wine making can be traced back to the early 1800's. Nicholas Longworth, a lawyer from the Cincinnati area, saw the potential of the Ohio River Valley to become a major producer of wine. In 1820 he planted the first Catawba grapes. This domestic variety was hearty enough to withstand Ohio winters and the wine produced from it won quick consumer acceptance. The light, semi-sweet wine was different from the other strong American wines of the day. Soon there were many acres of vines growing in the greater Cincinnati area and by 1845 the annual production was over 300,000 gallons. By 1860, Ohio led the nation in the production of wine. As crop diseases, such as black rot and mildew, began to plague the grapes, the Civil war left the grape growers with little manpower. This led to the demise of wine making in southern Ohio.

As the southern vineyards wilted, a new Ohio growing area emerged in the Lake Erie Islands. The islands had a unique climate; the waters surrounding them provided a long growing season and insulated the vines from spreading disease. German immigrants who brought the traditions of wine making with them settled the islands. By the turn of the century, thousands of gallons of wine were being produced by dozens of wineries on and near the islands. Vineyards were soon planted along the entire southern shore of Lake Erie. This narrow strip of shoreline soon became nicknamed the "Lake Erie Grape Belt."

Then Prohibition struck the United States and brought disaster to the Ohio wine making traditions. Some family businesses turned to making wine for sacramental purposes, others produced juice, and still the majority of land was turned into industrial land and housing developments. The general grape-oriented economy of the area collapsed.

When prohibition was repealed in 1933, a few wineries reemerged, but they had a lot against them: the majority of vineyards were in a state of disrepair, government restrictions hindered their wine making traditions, and the few lasting vines had been converted to produce juice grapes. Ohio's one time status as the top wine producer was gone, and with it a long road to recovery.

The turning point for the Ohio Wine industry came in the early 1960's with the planting of French-American varieties in southern Ohio, encouraged largely by The Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. The hardy, disease-resistant grapes produced wines similar to the older European vinifera varieties. Their success in the south encouraged plantings in the Lake Erie Grape Belt. Since 1965, more than 40 new wineries have been established across the state and each spring wine makers continue to plant French-American Hybrids and vinifera varieties.

In 1975, a group of innovative wine makers formed the Ohio Wine Producers Association. Their purpose was and still is to bring together the grape growers and the wine makers. Through the efforts of the O\VPA, individual members stay better informed on governmental action, technical advances, and research and development programs effecting the grape/wine industry.

The Ohio General Assembly and Governors, James Rhodes and Richard Celeste established another vital program in 1981. In cooperation with wine makers and grape growers, the Ohio Grape Industries Program was created and charged with the development of marketing and research programs to encourage the continuing revitalization of the fresh grape and grape wine industries.

In the decade of the nineties, one of the significant threats facing the industry was a lack of quality Ohio grown wine grapes. A major effort to increase acreage was initiated under the leadership of Governor George Voinovich. Tax credits, vineyard planting grants, arid the hiring of a state extension viticulturist are having a positive impact on the total number of wine grape acres being planted.

The results can be seen through the continued success of Ohio wines in national competitions. In the early 1990's an Ohio Riesling won Best of Show at the prestigious Sari Francisco State Fair Wine Competition. That award was a tremendous boost for the Ohio Wine Industry', and a new era of respect emerged. Other gold medals in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and across the nation have reinforced Ohio's position as one of the major wine regions of the world.

 Appellations of Origin

Appellation on wine labels denotes the geographic origin of the grapes used to produce the wine. Appellation was originally created to help educate the consumer and encourage the continued development of quality standards in a certain producing area. Grape growing regions are known by their political subdivision or by a specifically designated viticultural region named because of unique climate, soil, topographical, and historical conditions.

In the United States, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms of the United States Government (BATF) regulate appellations. This government agency has jurisdiction over all the wineries in the US. Accepted appellations for American wine include: the United States, a specific state, up to three contiguous states, a county, and up to three contiguous counties in the same state. A specific viticultural area based on geographical history and unique growing conditions was first recognized by the BATF in 1978.

In order for a winery to use a specific American Viticultural Area on a label, 85% of the wine must be produced from grapes grown within the confines of the viticultural area. In contrast, a single county or state appellation requires that 75% of the grapes be grown in the viticultural area. The strictest guidelines apply to wine that denotes "Estate Bottled" on the label. For estate bottling, the winery must be located in the viticultural area, all of the grapes must be from the same viticultural area from vineyards that the winery owns, and the wine must be bottled in the same viticultural area. Vintage wine is wine labeled with the year of harvest of the grapes. In order to use a vintage label, at least 95% of the wine must have been derived from grapes harvested in the labeled calendar year and the wine must be labeled with an appellation of origin other Than a country.

The French appellation system was designed to safeguard the reputation and the quality of the best wines in France. In comparison, appellation in the United States is not a government endorsement of quality. Rather, it provides objective standards to qualify wine to a make a representation of geographic origin. Today, 25 of the 50 states participate in presenting an appellation of origin.

In Ohio, there are five recognized viticultural appellations. The Lake Erie Appellation includes grapes grown near the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania. Two appellations within The Lake Erie Appellation include Isle St. George, and Grand River Valley. The next is the Ohio River Valley Appellation, which borders the Ohio River from Wheeling, West Virginia to Cincinnati and continues on to Evansville, Indiana. The fifth is the Loramie Creek Appellation in Shelby County, bordered by Loramie and Tuttle Creeks and State Route 47. Unfortunately, the Loramie Creek appellation currently has no operating winery in its jurisdiction.

There is a move currently to denote the Great Lakes Region as an appellation. Some agricultural representatives feel this region is unique because of its cool climate and other similar growing conditions. They feel that wine makers forced to call their products "American" for the mere fact that they used wines produced from two non-contiguous states with the same climate conditions are at a disadvantage over regions which happen to fall within the same state or contiguous states. For most consumers "American" means California wines blended with wines from another lesser locality. For the Great Lakes Region, it is precisely that assumption that they wish to abolish. They would profit greatly from the establishment of their own regional identity.

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Chapter 3: Ohio Wine Facts and Information

Wine Information

The Grape Berry

The grape is defined as a small, round, juicy berry, growing in clusters on a vine. \Vine is simply the fermented juice of the grape. The berry itself is comprised of several parts to form the composite volume. These parts include: skin, pulp, stems and pedicels, and seeds.

The skin comprises 8% of the fruit. It adds color, flavor (bitterness and astringency), arid aroma to the grape. Much of the tannins in red wine and all of the color comes from the skin. The pulp is made from 80% juice and 4.2% suspended solids. The stems and pedicel account for 3% of the cluster. The seed is 4.3% of the composite berry. Crushing the seed is not desired because it adds bitterness.

Aging Wine

Wine can be either barrel aged or bottle aged. Wines meant for continued aging are immature, rough, and reflect the simple fruit of the grape when taken from their fermentation tanks. The transformation from a young to a mature wine begins in the barrel and is completed in a bottle.

Barrel aging allows a slow penetration of air to the wine, permitting aging to occur. In Conjunction, it adds oak character to the complexity of the wine. During oak aging, the sharp, fruity fermented wine softens into more appealing and refined flavors. The traditional 60-gallon oak barrel is the optimum size for balancing wine aging, through air penetration, and oak character acquired by the wine. A larger barrel or tank lacks sufficient wine to wood contact, while a smaller barrel contributes too much oak before the wine has had adequate time to mature.

Most wines today are made to be drunk young. More often than not, wine is drunk too old than too young. This mentality comes from a time when the wealthy were able to age ports and burgundies in their cellars.

Wines that need bottle aged will taste unintegrated. As they mature in the bottle, their components will mellow, enriching the bouquet and flavor, and allowing the separate elements to come together as a whole.

 Barrels and Barrel Shaving

Aging red or white wine in new oak barrels, or barrels that have only had wine in them for a few years, has a significant effect on the bouquet and texture of the wine. Wine barrels are made by bending wood staves over a fire. As a result of the fire, the inside of the barrel can sometimes become toasted. This toasting can lead to the toasty or smoky taste in wines. Wine makers often match the amount of "toast" (heavy, medium, or light) to the style of wine they are producing. Additional flavors from the oak barrels include vanilla, from the vanillin in the wood, and spicy tannin, which provides a sharper definition to some styles of wine.

Wine can be both fermented and aged in oak barrels, or it can simply spend one of the processes in oak. All barrel methods produce a nice oak taste in the wine. Wines that have been both aged and fermented in oak usually have less obvious vanilla tastes and are less astringent than those that are bulk fermented and only aged in oak. One theory to explain this phenomenon is that the yeasts present during fermentation neutralize the wood tannin to some extent.

The newer a barrel the stronger the oak taste. The new oak taste can also be accomplished with older barrels that have been shaved. Barrel shaving renews and prolongs the oak extraction, is very cost effective, and is a fast and efficient method of revitalizing the barrels.

Companies that shave barrels follow a few simple steps to complete the process. Initially the heads of the barrels are removed. An operator removes the spent wood and tartrates by using a process called routing and exposes fresh oak. The surface is then sanded and cleaned. Next, the heads are planed to expose fresh wood and leave a smooth surface. The barrels are then retoasted over an oak fire to the wine makers specifications and reassembled. The end result is an almost new barrel, at a fraction of the cost.

Toasted oak chips are used as another economical alternative for adding oak flavor to a wine. The chips are made froth the same wood as the staves in a barrel. The chips are uniformly toasted to a medium toast.

The best known oaks are from France and the southern United States. American oak is the cheapest, ranging in price from $180 to $300 for a new barrel, and most widely available. It has the sweetest and most obviously vanilla flavor. Of the French oaks, the wood from Nevers in central France is the slowest growing, and the closest grained. French oak tends to give a firmer, dryer texture than the American oak that is more openly grained. Consequently, French oak barrels start off around $500 and go up from there.

 Harvest or "Crush"

Harvest season is the best time to visit a winery. It is the only time of the year when you can get a sense of what wine is and how it is made. If you have ever wanted to see grapes being unloaded into the crusher or smell the hardy aroma of grapes and juice fermenting, you must visit during the harvest. A lot of people do not realize that most wineries only ferment grapes a few months in the fall. The rest of the year, the wine is simply aging.

In Ohio, the grape harvest begins in mid-August in the southwestern part of the state, and continues through October along the shores of Lake Erie. Most wineries harvest for approximately eight weeks. Some still rely on the hand-pick method, while others employ picking machines. Either way, you are sure to see and learn a lot about wine by visiting during harvest.

What a Wine Label Tells You

As the years progress, Americans are becoming more and more eager to learn about the wines that they purchase. As Americans become more adventuresome in their wine selections, they look to the label for more information. The label includes such information as the brand, vintage, appellation of origin, and alcohol content of the wine. A better knowledge as to the information on the label will provide the consumer with easier choices. The following information is to help you discern the verbiage on the label.

1.Brand - The name used by the bottler to identify the product. Any brand name is acceptable as long as it does not mislead the consumer.

2.Vintage - A vintage date on the label indicates that 95% or more of the wine was produced from grapes grown that year. If a vintage date is shown on the label, an appellation of origin, other than a country, will also be shown.

3.Appellation of Origin - Appellation of origin is another name for the place in which the majority of grapes used in the wine are grown. It can be the name of a country, state, county or geographical region called a viticultural area.

4.Viticultural Area - A United States viticultural area is a well-defined grape-growing region with similar soil, climate, history, and geographical features.

5.VarietaI Designations - Varietal designations are the names of the dominant grapes used in the wine. Examples include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Seyval Blanc, Riesling, Vignoles, and Pinot Noir.

6.Names or Trade Names - Names or trade names and addresses of the bottler. These are often whimsical or reflective of a regional geographical feature.

7.Estate Bottled - A label indicating "Estate Bottled" means that 100% of the wine came from grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery, located in the viticultural area. The winery then crushes and ferments the grapes, ages, processes, and bottles the wine in one continuous operation on the same viticultural site.

8.Alcohol Content - A statement of alcohol content in percent by volume appears on most labels. As an alternative some bottlers prefer to label wine with art alcohol content between 7 and 14% as "Table Wine" or "Light Wine".

The Creation of Wine Bottles

For years, people have spent countless hours admiring arid critiquing wine labels, vintages, appellations, and grape varieties. Wine tasters examine, smell, sip, and savor a multitude of wines, however, until recent years, the container has been overlooked. The modem bottle is a nearly perfect container, easy to seal, convenient to store, inexpensive, arid durable. This has not always been the case and the history of wine containers is an enlightening saga into the early roots of wine.

The ancient wine makers relied upon containers made of stone, earthenware, wood, and leather. The early Greeks and Romans stored and transported wine in amphoraes, tall two-handled pottery jars with thin necks that held up to 30 gallons of wine. During the Dark Ages, wooden casks were developed. More durable than the arnphoraes, the casks tended to leak and were prone to rotting in damp cellars, in addition, the wood reacted with the wine, improving it by adding desired complexities. But extended storage in the casks often resulted in too much of a good thing, rendering the wine oakey or earthy.

Glass blowing was known to the Egyptians as early as 5 0-40 BC, but the development of the first wine bottle did not take place for another fifteen centuries. The first wine bottles were developed in western Europe for the wealthy. They were very thin and fragile, and used primarily to transport wine from the cask to the table. The primitive bottles were in the shape of a bulb with a long neck, and had to be supported in wooden or metal frames. Often the bottles were wrapped in decorative cloth or wicker for support. This feature is still used today on the famous bottle of Chianti.

It was not until the middle of the 17th century that the English developed a heavier, dark pigmented glass. It was blown into a bulb shaped bottle with a strong slender neck. The stronger neck made it possible to use a cork as a bottle stopper and led to the experimentation of bottle aging and secondary fermentation.

The bottle remained balloon shaped well into the 18th century. By then, it was clearly established that certain wines benefited from bottle aging and the practice of cellar aging began. This brought about the need for a bottle more adaptable for cellaring. The original globe design gave way to a cylindrical shape and bottoms became flat making the bottle more stable for both standing and laying horizontally.

One downfall of the early hand-blown bottles was the lack of uniformity. In addition, the sizes varied according to the skill and design of the glass blower. As early as 1662, attempts were made to regulate the size of the bottles. It was not until the introduction of bottle molds in the 19th century, that it was possible to produce bottles of consistent size and shape.

 Today, we have bottles of all shapes and sizes. Some wineries are content to package all of their wine in a single style of bottle. Others prefer to match the bottle with the type of wine it contains. It is all a matter of preference. Since the shape of the bottle does not affect the taste of the wine, bottles are often used as marketing tools.

The color of the wine bottle is more important than the shape. Colored glass protects the wine from the damaging affects of the sun and ultraviolet light. Dark greens and browns provide the greatest protection. On the other hand, wines that are bottle aged for long periods of time are often found in very dark, heavy bottles. In the last few years, a wide range of colors and shapes have been introduced by some wine makers, who are interested in marketing unique packages to their customers. There are no guidelines, or specific rules governing which bottles must be used for which wine. The final decision rests with the vintner and the choices of the wine makers are as varied as the wines themselves.

Throughout the years, the wine bottle has transformed into not just a container, but an integral part of the wine. It is has evolved to be not only a protective covering preserving the character arid complexities of the wine, but also a marketing tool to attract the eye of potential customers.

Glass Information

Wines can vary greatly in taste depending on the size and shape of the glassware used. Some wine drinkers prefer a certain glass because of its style. Others match a certain glass with a certain wine, because it represents the wine well. The choice is yours.

The traditional flute is often used to serve sparkling wines and champagnes. The flute allows the drinker to enjoy the experience of lively bubbles through the last sip. Additionally, the traditional white and red glasses hold the ideal capacity and offer great drinking pleasure in a classical glass. There are thousands of different glasses, brands, and styles available for today's wine drinkers. Appendix B depicts samples of some of the more common glasses and their uses.

Since 1970, the International Standard Organization has defined the shape and dimensions of a universal wine tasting glass. The INAO (Institut National d'Appellation d'Origine) glass is now the compulsory tool for sensory evaluation of wine in any contentious tasting. The INAO glass also has the approval of the World \Vine and Vine Organization. The egg shaped bowl is designed to fully appreciate the concentration of aroma and allow the drinker to swirl the wine without spilling. Appendix B illustrates the INAO glass with measurements.

Opening and Pouring

Common corkscrews and cork pullers (also called ah-so's) can be found in wineries, department stores, and beverage outlets across the country. The best corkscrews are those which ease the cork out vertically. Hazards occur when the cork is brought out an angle, or if the cork has become dry and brittle. Foil cutters can be used to remove the foil seal around the cork. The use of foil cutters is on the rise, as wine presentation has become almost as important as the wine itself. Illustrated in Appendix D are examples of a foil cutter, a corkscrew, and a cork puller.

Opening Wine

There are four simple steps in opening a bottle of wine. First, cut the foil or plastic band that seals the top of the bottle. Secondly, wipe the mouth of the bottle before the corkscrew is inserted, and again after removing the cork. Draw the cork out with a good corkscrew. To ensure good removal, insert the corkscrew exactly in the center of the cork, clear through the cork, and pull slowly.

Opening Champagne

To open a bottle of sparkling wine or champagne, first wipe the bottle with a napkin to remove excess moisture from the ice. Next, loosen the wire hood by untwisting the loop of wire around the cork. Then, remove the wire and the top foil in one motion. Hold a thumb on the top of the cork to keep it in place. Holding the cork in one hand, gently twist the bottle to allow the inside pressure to force the cork out. Be sure to direct the cork away from people and/or objects to reduce injury in the event that the pressure per square inch is too strong to contain the cork. Hold the cork lightly as it is removed to prevent it from flying.

Pouring

The best way to avoid dripping wine on the tablecloth is to give the bottle a slight twist before raising its mouth from the pouring position. Never completely fill a wine glass. Usually between 1/2 and 2/3 full is appropriate. Air space in the top of the glass is needed to allow the wine's bouquet to be better appreciated.

Appendix B Glassware

Appendix B
Glassware

Red                                               Young                                       Vintage
Burgundy                                  Bordeaux                              Champagne

White                                            Riesling                                     Vintage
Burgundy                                                                                            Port

St. George Crystal, an American manufacturer of 24% full lead crystal stemware, offers the officially accepted INAO wine glass.  The quality of the INAO glass enhances the pleasures of wine tasting. 

Appendix C Corkscrew, Foil Cutter and Ah-So foil.gif (61693 bytes)