Tag Archives: variety

Wines to drink with blue cheese

 

unpasteurised blue cheese

unpasteurised blue cheese

Blue cheeses provide the biggest challenge when matching with wine. They can be sweet, salty and spicy. These attributes clash with the tannins in red wines, producing a metallic taste. The solution is sweet wine.

Methods for making sweet wines
Quality sweet wines are made by dehydrating grapes, which concentrates the sugar. If this is high enough, then some remains after fermentation. Examples of how these are made:-

  • A fungus called botrytis cinerea, also known as ‘noble rot’, can infect individual grapes under the right conditions. The infected grapes look revolting, but taste delicious.
  • ‘Ice wine’ where grapes are left on the vine until the weather gets cold enough to freeze them. If they are pressed in this state, the juice is very concentrated.
  • Grapes are allowed to dry on the vine, or after picking, to become raisin-like.

Examples of these types of wine are:-

  • Sauternes/Barsac from the Bordeaux region. Also look for Loupiac and Monbazillac, less expensive and from the same grape varieties and region.
  • Sweet Chenin Blanc wines from the LoireCoteaux de Layon, and Quarts de Chaume. Vouvray is made in many styles, and the sweet versions are labelled Moelleux or Liquoreux.
  • Sweet Alsace wines, particularly Selection de Grains Noble.
  • Tokaji from Hungary. The more Puttonyos declared on the label, the sweeter the wine.
  • Sweet Muscats, made in many countries.

Adding alcohol to stop the fermentation:-

Grape spirit can be added to partially fermented grape juice. This stops the fermentation and retains much of the grape sugar. This method is used to produce sweet red wines. Examples are:-

  • Port.
  • Banyuls or Maury from Southern France.

Cheese links

Conclusion

Cheese and wine – a match made in heaven.

Climate change and wine

There are plenty of climate change sceptics, but it is a fact that alcohol levels in wine are increasing, and some grape varieties ripen, where they wouldn’t have 20 years ago.

Why is alcohol level an indication of higher temperatures?
Higher temperatures produce riper grapes, which have more sugar. During fermentation, the sugar turns to alcohol, so more sugar leads to more alcohol. There is an associated decrease in acidity.

Some grapes need more heat to ripen

Some grapes need more heat to ripen

Different grape varieties prefer different temperatures
The diagram shows that some grape varieties need longer heat exposure to ripen than others.

  • If the temperature is higher than ideal, the grapes will ripen, but the wine will lack freshness and acidity.
  • If the temperature is lower than ideal, then the grapes won’t ripen properly, and the wine will be tart and acidic.
  • If the temperature is much higher than ideal, then the vine simply shuts down, and nothing happens.

Which countries are most affected?
Those at the current extremes of temperature for growing vines:-

  • Much of Australia and Spain, for example, have vineyards in regions with high temperatures. They will have to adapt to survive.
  • Countries further from the Equator with more marginal climates, such as England, will now be able to grow a much wider range of grape varieties.

What can the adversely affected regions do about it?

  • Plant different grape varieties, which are more tolerant of the hot weather.
  • Train the vine branches so that leaves physically shade the grapes.
  • Allow plants to grow between the vines, as this lowers the soil temperature, and there is less reflected heat from any stones.
  • Plant new vineyards at higher altitude.