Showing posts with label Wine Spectator. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine Spectator. Show all posts

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Yao Ming, tall wine lover

While Wine Spectator reports that Burgundy is replacing Bordeaux as the most sought-after wine in Chinese auctions, one Chinese man is bringing California Cabernet to the party.

France has a 47% market share of bottled wine imports in China, so selling California wine to a nation enthralled with French wine may seem like a tall order.  The Wall Street Journal says former NBA star and Chinese legend Yao Ming feels up to the task.

Yao Family Wines is being launched solely for the Chinese market.  Made by Napa Valley winemaker Tom Hinde, the Yao Cabernet will sell for the equivalent of $289 American, per bottle.  Yao aims to put California wine on a higher plane in China, but despite his fame there, it won't be a slam dunk.  Wine from the United States currently ranks sixth in Chinese imports, behind France, Australia, Italy, Spain and Chile.  

Yao does not own any vineyards presently, so the grapes will be sourced for his line.  He does, however, have plans to purchase some Napa Valley land in the near future.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Wine News

It's becoming increasingly more likely that when you order a glass of wine in a restaurant, it will come from the tap on a keg.  A recent Wine Spectator article cites a growing trend in restaurant wine service to pour by-the glass options from a keg rather than from a bottle.

This trend is underway all across America, but is particularly noticeable in California and New York dining spots.  Kegs aren't just for the bargain brands, either.  There are quite a few top-shelf wineries delivering their wine to restaurants in kegs.  Wine Spectator notes that customer reaction has been positive, with many diners expressing surprise at how good the wine tastes from the tap.

From a restaurant's view, there are many benefits to serving keg wine.  The wine stays fresher, longer than it does in bottles.  The kegs can be reused, so the cost of the bottling is eliminated.  Less storage space is required for kegs than for an equal amount of wine in bottles.  Shipping costs are less and there's no worry about broken bottles.  Also, a customer will never have to send a wine back due to cork taint.

The environment catches a break, too, since the reusable kegs mean that no bottles have to be recycled or thrown out with the trash.

It's thought that millennials are driving the popularity of keg wine.  The younger segment of the wine crowd seems to like trying new things and they are more green-conscious than their elders.

Wineries do need to purchase the equipment which will allow them to sanitize the used kegs, and distributors need to make sure the restaurant is set up with the right kind of delivery apparatus.  Once those elements are in place, roll out the barrels.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011


Wine News

Resveratrol - a chemical found in grape skins and other fruit - has been linked to all sorts of health benefits in a number of studies over the past decade.  A Wine Spectator article now suggests that while resveratrol may well have an impact against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia, the recent idea that it may help increase lifespan is getting a suspicious eye from researchers.

Studies showed that resveratrol activated proteins called sirtuins - which regulate cell metabolism.  Those studies are being discounted after more studies showed that the increased longevity brought on by sirtuin activation is possibly due not to
resveratrol, but to a different mutation which occured during the experiments.

This is bad news for the pharmaceutical companies that have poured millions upon millions of dollars into resveratrol as a "fountain of youth" drug.

David Gems, a geneticist at University Collge London, says, "We found that sirtuins don't actually increase lifespan in the animals that we looked at, the nematode worms and fruit flies.  This suggests that even a drug that did activate sirtuins would not slow aging."

Resveratrol is still seen as a viable agent against some diseases, so drinking red wine in moderation is still considered a healthy thing to do.  The notion that wine contains a "silver bullet" to combat aging, however, is no longer widely held in the scientific community.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011


Wine News

Always on the lookout for another reason to enjoy a glass of wine, I see that the field of research has offered us another reason to pour.

Wine Spectator reported on a Spanish study which is looking into the possibility that compounds found in wine may help reduce UV damage to our skin from over-exposure to the sun.  Such a discovery could mean a lessened risk of sunburn and aging skin, not to mention skin cancer.

The study does not offer any idea of just how much wine might need to be be consumed to provide a dosage adequate for skin protection.  External application won't work, according to a German study cited in the same article, so don't bother pouring wine over your body before a trip to the beach.  Anyway, external application of wine is often the result of too much internal application.

Scientists think the Spanish study may be useful to researchers, but they point out that the skin can also benefit from other foods.  Tea, coffee and tomatoes may also help save your skin on a sunny day.  They advise, though, that it's still a good idea to rely on sunscreen for UV protection.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011


Old World vs New World

Do you worry about whether or not the wine you drink measures up to European standards?  Wine Spectator contributing editor Matt Kramer wondered that recently as he was sitting in a bar in Salzburg sipping a Zweigelt.  Aah, the life of a wine writer.

Kramer, in a Wine Spectator article, points out that in the past three decades great advancements have been made in winemaking the world over.  European wines were once thought unmistakably superior in quality to wines from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and, yes, America.

In the article, Kramer goes on to suggest a scheme for judging New World wines against European ones.  Variety, originality, technical prowess, finesse and vocabulary are the criteria he came up with for measuring wines from different regions head to head.

It's not a bad idea - sports fans have always relied on a list of criteria to rate a team from one era against one from another.  Such comparisons help pass the time while drinking at the bar, but they rarely produce definitive results.

Why should it matter?  What is to be gained by trying to pick a winner between the 1927 Yankees and the 1976 Reds, except the burnishment of fan pride?  Actors often complain about the competition they are thrust into by the Academy Awards.  Why should there have to be a winner if the nominees all did a great job of acting?

Are European wines better than California wines?  The ultimate test is your own palate.  There's plenty of room in the big ol' world for great wine from everywhere.  Others have said it before me, but it bears repeating: drink what you like.  Your favorite wine is the best wine in the world, and nobody can argue that away from you.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011


Wine News

A new report seems to surface weekly on further findings of the health benefits of wine.  Wine has been reported to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, clogged arteries, kidney stones, dementia - it has even been credited with prolonging life itself.

We know for sure it makes life more enjoyable, but now, according to an article in Wine Spectator, wine may help reduce bone loss in men over 50 years of age.

An Australian study found a correlation between red wine consumption and improved bone mineral density in men over 50.  Keeping your bone density high helps stave off osteoporosis.  The article cites the Surgeon General's figure of 44 million Americans who have osteoporosis and his prediction that half of the 50-plus set will have weak bones within ten years.

The researchers figure it may well be the contents of the grape skins which are beneficial to bone strength, and they also noted the possibility that silicon in beer could be a contributing factor.

At any rate, the scientists say a lot more research will be needed, and the head of the team said he wasn't in short supply of volunteers.

Be careful how much red wine you consume to keep your bones strong.  Over-indulging in alcoholic beverages contributes to a higher rate of bone fractures in older people.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Wine News

There's another report citing health benefits of drinking wine. Wine Spectator magazine reports the results of a study conducted in southern and central Italy, in which it appears a lifetime of drinking red wine reduces the risk of developing essential tremor.

Essential tremor is the name for the uncontrollable shaking developed by some elderly people, which may be associated with Parkinson's disease.

The study shows that drinking four or five glasses of red wine per day for 30 years or so reduces the risk of tremors by 85%.  Those who consumed three glasses a day over that same time frame showed a 65% lower risk.

While the study credits the antioxidants in red wine for the protection, it cautions that the results are not definitive.  The sample was only 200 people, and 22 of them did develop essential tremor during the study. 19 of those fit the profile of the low-risk category.

The article quotes the authors of the study, "Case-control studies are generally prone to several kinds of bias.  Larger ad-hoc studies are still needed to assess the role of alcohol drinking as a protective factor for developing essential tremor."

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Wine News

Reports of the health benefits related to alcohol consumption - particularly wine consumption - seem to pop up regularly.  Here's another one, which appeared recently in Wine Spectator magazine.

A German study has found that light to moderate drinking seems to help stave off the effects of dementia, even in people older than 75.  According to the article, "on average, the daily consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of dementia by nearly 30 percent compared to nondrinkers.  Additionally, the risk is another 30 percent lower for people who drink between one or two servings per day."

These are the findings from a three-year study of 3,200 patients.  Although the sample is small, the researchers put a lot of credence in the numbers, and so does the medical community.  The magazine says the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research found the results of the German study convincing.  The Forum also notes that "Happy people with many friends have the most opportunities for social drinking and, in this study, alcohol consumption was significantly associated with factors that are protective for the development of dementia: better education, not living alone and absence of depression."

Despite these issues, the study shows the risk of dementia to be lower among light to moderate drinkers, and lower still among those who drink wine.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Wine News

Wine scientists at the University of California at Davis have developed a way of identifying which grape varietal a wine is made from by looking at the “fingerprint” of the wine’s tannin.

In an article in Wine Spectator, Dr. Eric Anslyn says the process involves an array of chemicals with which the wine’s tannic structure reacts.   “It really relates to the DNA coding of the wine,” says Dr. Anslyn.

Another UC-Davis scientific bigwig says that identifying a grape’s DNA is easy - well, by scientific standards - but until now, no way existed of getting to the DNA level of a finished wine.

The discovery of this process was actually a happy byproduct of scientists looking for something else.  The researchers were actually trying to study the way mammals taste and smell to develop new ways of diagnosing disease.  They chose tannins in wine as the focal point because they are complex and because wine is popular.

The scientists have yet to try the method on blended wines or aged wines, but they expect to do so in the future.  Also, the error rate has not been determined, but even in its preliminary state, there are indications that this process could be a leap forward in medicine as well as wine.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Wine Trends

American spending on wine was greater than ever in 2010, according to an article in Wine Spectator.  The U.S. wine industry posted its 17th straight annual gain, with an increase in sales of 0.9%.  The numbers come from a report in The U.S. Wine Market: Impact Databank Review and Forecast, 2010 Edition.  The report shows that Americans spent over $40 million on wine last year.

The magazine cites the report as showing that large producers had the most to gain, increasing their sales by almost twice the overall number.  WS figures this means that wine drinkers were looking for more value in last year’s bad economy.

According to the report, Franzia led the way as the nation’s largest case producer, while E & J Gallo nailed down the top spot as the country’s largest marketer overall.  Gallo was also one of the fastest-growing brands, along with Barefoot Cellars and Sutter Home.

WS also reports that good upward moves were made by Ménage à Trois and Cupcake Vineyards.  The fastest-growing sparkling-wine brand was the Italian Verdi.