Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Lesson on Wine - Monterey, California

Stretching down the Coast of California from Sonoma Valley to Santa Barbara is known as California's Wine Country.  Luckily for me, I have had the pleasure of living in the middle of this Wine Country for almost two years and on occasion I reap the benefits of having vineyards
on all sides of me!  Going wine tasting is a great way to spend time with friends but also to meet people from every kind of background and learn about things that one would not learn about on your average day!
You would not think of this every day item to be so unique, but in all reality, it is.  Most of the world's cork is grown on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain & Portugal) and is a fairly difficult staple to harvest.  Talking with a vineyard specialist, she told me that the cork comes from the bark of cork oak after about 25-30 years of growth and these trees can live up to 200 years of age producing tons upon tons of this remarkable product. Cork is considered a suberin material, which means it does not allow moisture to seep through which revolutionized food and liquid preservation.

While out on the town of Monterey. I have starting to get a grasp on wine and everything it entails, Slowly!  First and Foremost, "Don't believe everything you hear about Wine." said from a server at the Taste of Monterey which has been working in the Wine Industry for well over twenty years.

1. The higher the price does not mean better wine - The harvest of the grapes and the proper aging of the wine is what makes a good wine.
2. The Color of the bottle is important. - Green is traditionally used, not because it "preserves" the wine , it was to differentiate between the blue bottles for medicines and clear for everyday uses when glass bottles were commonly used, also green was a cheap dye to use at the time!
3. Older the better.- In some cases, yes, but only a select few. For the common Red dinner wine or the cheese and cracker white wine or the sweet Dessert wine, 3-5 years has a high chance of being a good choice for a good wine!

Stated above were a few myths about wine.  Although on the other hand, one part of the wine making process that is important is the oak barrel and it's role.  Oak is a porous wood which allows the wine to be exposed to a slight amount of evaporation, but not too much to lead to spoiling of the wine.  Also, the oak along with cork do not effect the taste of the wine like other woods or material can do.  In example of how materials can effect the taste or texture is beer that is either bottled, kegged, or in aluminum cans can all vary despite it being the same type of beer.

I had been told by each and every person on my adventures of wine tasting about finding a good wine is by tasting it!  Each person has a different reaction to different types of wine, the levels of tannin, the phenols in the wine, along with other factors, so try it! To maximize that opportunity, one can go taste a handful of wines for around five dollars, get good advice, meet new people, and of course get a little bit tipsy with friends!

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