Wine an overview

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Thumbs up for screw tops? “I think screw top wine is just as good. We’re finding a lot of our heavier, more expensive wines are coming in screw tops or use synthetic corks. I do think it loses the wow factor of being able to uncork a bottle of wine but I think people have accepted that now.”
Emma Tompkins, Operations Manager at Vroni’s Wine Bar in Glasgow, said.

Wine is going ‘au natural’ this year. Natural wine is made without chemicals and involves barely any technological intervention in the grape growing and winemaking process. According to Alliance Wine, a bottle to look out for is Sin Soulful from Spanish producer Abel Medozas.

Distribution of wine sales in the UK in 2016, by colour according to Statistica
White – 47%
Red – 42%
Rosé – 11%

The last three months according to the WSTA (Wine and Spirit Trade Association), has seen sparkling wine sales in UK pubs, bars and restaurants go up 19% to £97m.

Did you know Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine, is made exactly the same way as champagne, with the same sweetness classifications and categories? The difference is (other than the location) that it is made traditionally with indigenous Spanish grapes.

According to Berry Bros. & Rudd, in the UK, 36% of regular wine drinkers now drink prosecco compared with 29% in 2013.

Scottish wine drinkers are still seeing red. Emma Tompkins from Vroni’s said, “Last year there was a trend with Malbec and it still hasn’t faded away. Rioja and Malbec are still the most popular reds. We’re still selling typical grape varieties but people are more open to where they are coming from. There’s a lot of quirkier wines from Bulgaria and Romania that are coming into play. For example, the Romanian Pino Noir Cosmina on our wine list sells very well.”

The 2016 UK Chief Medical Officer’s revised drinking guidelines suggest drinking no  more than 14 units of alcohol per week. In terms of high-alcohol wines (14% ABV), that’s – One and a third bottles; four 250ml glasses; around six 175ml glasses or just under eight 125ml glasses.

According to Alan Brady, Head Sommelier at Hotel Du Vin in Glasgow, Sauvignon Blanc still reigns in Scotland. But drinkers are beginning to turn from the popular New Zealand varieties to something less tropical, like a French style with lighter citrus lemon flavours.

Those in the trade say Brexit will undoubtedly drive up prices in the wine industry. “Everything will suddenly cost the suppliers more – to physically get goods to the UK will cost more. I don’t think we’ll fully see the effect take place until February next year but prices will go up,” said Les Somerville, Director of Sales, Scotland and North East England at Enotria & Coe.

Over £80m worth of fizz was sold in UK pubs, bars and restaurants in the last 12 months – a rise of 13% on the same period last year.

One tonne of grapes makes around 60 cases of wine, or 720 bottles. One bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes.

Don’t think of Prosecco as poor man’s Champagne according to Catalyst Brands the only similarities between the two products are that they are both sparkling! Champagne is produced from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, produced in bottle and aged before release. Most Champagnes take a large part of their characteristics from the contact with the yeast in the bottle that gives toasty, biscuit flavours. Prosecco is made from Glera grapes which have totally different flavours to Champagne grapes, produced in a tank and is best enjoyed at its youngest and freshest. Producers like Bottega produce everything fresh to order, keeping their grape must at zero degrees throughout the year until it is required for fermentation. The tank fermentation means that the yeast does not add any flavour to the Prosecco, which is deliberate.

Sherry is no longer a drink of your grandmother’s past, it’s the next big thing and also one of the best food matching wines around. Sherries can be light and dry (like Fino), oxidized (like Oloroso) or sweet (like cream sherry). Phoebe LeMessurier from Alliance Wine recommends Manzilla’s Equipo Navazos.

Scotland’s first wine was released last year by Christopher Trotter, from Aberdeen, who set up his own vineyard in Fife four years ago. Sadly it was branded “undrinkable” as he failed to chill the grapes quickly enough, which allowed oxidisation to occur.

Wine grapes rank number one among the world’s fruit crops in terms of acres planted.

The smell of young wine is called an “aroma” while a more mature wine offers a more subtle “bouquet.”

In ancient Greece, a dinner host would take the first sip of wine to assure guests the wine was not poisoned, hence the phrase “drinking to one’s health.”

Alledgedly, the most expensive wine ever sold was a Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992, which sold for a whopping $500,000 in 2000 at a Napa Valley charity auction.

Bottega created their metallic bottles originally for their flagship Platinum grappa, in 2000. This was then introduced to their sparkling wine range. They were the first to market with this innovative packaging.

Women are actually better at tasting wine than men because they have a better sense of smell.

Celebs who have launched their own brands of wine include Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who unveiled their Miraval Rose last year. Wonder what it will be called now.    

Alan Brady, Head Sommelier at Hotel Du Vin in Glasgow, says a rise in craft beer is actually encouraging Scottish wine drinkers to become more adventurous. He said, “With the craft beer and craft cider scenes being very strong, there’s more inclination to go for different flavours and textures rather than having a set wine, as people want to experiment more. I think there’s more of a wine culture developing in Scotland as a whole. Customers are more up to speed on trends and different grape varieties and are willing to try something new.”

Did you know a wine-powered car actually does exist? It’s a vintage Aston Martin owned by Prince Charles.

Customers who won’t touch wine might not just dislike the taste, they could suffer from Oenophobia – the official term for people who have a phobia of wine.