Posts Tagged ‘Spain


Wine Primer

I find that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about wine. Far too often I hear people tell me they really like wine, but they don’t know anything about it. I also hear a lot of opinions about wines based on some percieved notions about how sweet or dry, or how dark or light a wine is. I also dislike wine snobery based on a single origin. For example, I recently had someone tell me they only drink Italian wines. I asked which type, and they said they didn’t care, it just has to be Italian. While I’m sure this is based on a good experience with an Italian wine, not all Italian wines are created equal. Also, this perspective on wine assumes all other wines are not fit for consumption, which I strongly disagree with.

Wine Basics:

Wine is basically fermented grape juice. Anyone familiar with bread baking will be familiar with how yeast works. Yeast is a living organism which, in the case of wine, occurs naturally on the grape skin (although some wine makers use lab grown strains of pure yeast instead of “wild yeast”). Yeast consumes the sugars present inside the grape, and converts it into carbon dioxide and alcohol. When the alcohol level hits around 15 percent, it kills off the yeast. Now picture the classic episode of I Love Lucy, with Lucielle Ball stomping on grapes. I bet you didn’t know all that science was going on at the same time.

As for grape types, red grapes traditionally need a slightly longer growing season, therefore wines from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Napa Valley in California tend to be made from red grapes, while colder climates tend to favour white grapes. Remember, also, that it is the skin that colours a wine, so it is possible to drink a white wine made from red grapes.

The weather can also play a major roll in how a certain vintage (year the wine was made) turns out. Frost can wipe out a crop, drastically reducing the amount of wine produced in a certain area. Windstorms, too much or not enough rain, all wreak havoc on the outcome of a crop. Consider, also, that grapes have a higher amount of sugars, acids, and water at different stages in their growth. If you were to try a grape off a vine early in the season, it would be very dry and acidic. A grape pulled from the same vine later in the year will have had time to develop more sugars (called Brix by winemakers). Too much rain before a grape is pulled will give you a very diluted, watery wine. Not enough rain will give you the opposite effect. A wine specialist will want to keep this in mind when choosing a certain wine from a certain region, with a certain vintage.

For the beginner, I would suggest trying to get familiar with whatever wines are locally available to you. Try different wines from the same wine growing region until you find one or two that you personally like. If the “experts” are raving about a wine that you find tastes bad, then don’t drink it. One of the worst wines I’ve ever tasted was an award winning fruit wine from a highly esteemed winery. I’m sorry, but if I think it tastes like cough syrup, no amount of flowery description will make it taste any better.

So what do you do with a wine you have sampled but don’t particullarly care for? Use it to cook with, of course!


International Food and Wine Festival, Disney Style

China, originally uploaded by adelphos24.

That picture was taken at the International food and wine festival at the epcot center a few years ago. Only a true food geek would admit that he was on his honeymoon.
We didn’t go to Disney World for our honeymoon specifically for the festival, it was more of an added bonus. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

The entire festival took place at the epcot center, around the world showcase exhibits. Several stalls were set up offering a small sampling of food from different countries for a reasonable price (The Disney theme parks can be very expensive when it comes to meals).

There were also demonstrations throughout the week, but we were too busy acting like kids to catch many of these.
One of the more memorable moments happened our first night. We had just left the Japan exhibit, tyco drums still pounding, and as we came around a corner, ran into a group of people doing the twist. After my initial confusion, I realized that we had inadvertantly walked into the middle of a Chubby Checker concert.
For those of you old enough to know who Chubby Checker is, yes he’s getting up there, but he can still dance. For those of you who don’t know who he is, thanks for making me feel like I’m getting up there, but I can still dance.

As far as the food went, from what I can remember, the stuff at the chinese exhibit was very good (although I can’t remember what it was). I remember having a very salty cured meat from spain, and having to drag my wife away from the perogies after the third trip. At some point I discovered a stall hosted by a brewery, and don’t really remember much beyond that 🙂

For anyone planning a trip to Disney World, I highly recommend going during the food and wine festival, if for no other reason than to keep food costs down during your trip. -the twist is definitly something white people like. – for anyone looking for a fun vacation. – the man, the legend.