Wine Facts

A 2-minute prepared speech on some aspect of wine!

Wine Facts – June 6 2017  – Presenter :  Carole Bertrand

To Decant or Not to Decant…That is the Question!!

There are two main reasons to decant wine…
One is to separate the wine from the sediment, the other is to aerate the wine.
Decanting softens the tannins and lessens the astringency of wines.
Many wines, old and young can benefit from this procedure.
It’s a trend that is even extending to champagnes and sparklings !

It all comes down to a matter of personal taste. Worth a try!!

Wine Facts – June 20 2017  – Presenter :  Mo Murdoch

The Okanagan Valley, Making a Difference in Canadian Wine History

One of the top ten wine regions in the world is not the Okanagan. However, I think it is, so I’m going to tell you a bit about it.

The Okanagan Valley wine history started back in 1859 when a French missionary by the name of Father Charles Pandosy planted the first vines to make wine for church sacramental purposes.

Following that many more vines were planted and wineries opened until the early 1900’s when prohibition started and most of the vines had to be pulled and the wineries closed.  Luckily in the late 1920’s, early 1930’s prohibition ended; vines were planted again and more wineries were opened.

Fast forward to the 1980’s when the next significant development happened in the Okanagan Valley wine history.  The Canadian government started a vine-pulling scheme where they paid vineyards to pull out their non-vinifera vines and replace them with vinifera vines.  The vinifera vines produce a higher quality, more typical wine grape used in the areas of the world known for the best wines.  This change significantly improved the Okanagan Valley wines, making them more desirable locally and worldwide.

Today the valley has more than 200 vinyards and more than 120 vinyards, of which I plan to visit as many as I can.

Wine Facts – July 18 2017 – Presenter: Shammy Ramasamy

The Clarity of Wine

When you reach for your glass of wine and realise that your wine is murky, would you drink it or get a different wine?

A wine with too much suspended matter can appear cloudy and dull. The Clarification Process is when insoluble matter (most commonly tannins, tartrates, or proteins) is removed from the wine making it ‘clear’ and ‘bright’ and. This is typically done after fermenting and before aging or bottling.

Filtration is one clarification method where various filter pads or membranes are used to trap the larger particles as wine is poured through them.

Another method is Fining. This is when substances (fining agents) are added to the wine. The insoluble particles in the wine bind themselves to the fining agents becoming bigger and heavier thus being forced out of suspension for easy precipitation.

What may surprise you, as it did me, is what some of the fining agents used by mainstream wine makers are:

• Isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes)
• Chitin (fibre from crustacean shells)
• Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP)
• Bentonite (impure clay formed by the weathering of volcanic ash)
• Carbon
• egg whites
• gelatin
• Casein (milk protein)
• Skim milk

Supposedly, these are all removed from the wine before bottling and aging!

Wine Facts – August 1 2017 – Presenter: Erika Johanson

Port Vs. Sherry

Both port and sherry are fortified wines. Port comes from northern Portugal; sherry comes from southern Spain. Sherry is made from only white grapes; port is made from either white or red grapes.

The main difference between the two is the fortification process. Sherry is fermented to completion, then it is fortified with grape spirit, which is 170 proof alcohol that is distilled from wine. Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, all the sugars turn into alcohol.

In contrast, port wine is fortified halfway through its fermentation with grape spirit, which stops the fermenting process so that not all of the sugar is turned into alcohol. This is why it is a sweeter tasting wine as there are some sugars that have not transitioned into alcohol. Sherry is bolder and doesn’t retain the same pungency that port drinkers tend to prefer.

Port was brought into England in the early 1700’s by importers who recognized that a smooth, already fortified wine would appeal to English palates and would coincidentally survive the trip to London.

Sherry arrived in England in the mid-1500’s. During one of his conquests, Sir Francis Drake got a haul of 2,900 barrels of sherry, which he brought back to England.

So there you have it!

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