:: Wine
 

A little bit of history

The historic and religious importance of wine goes back to ancient times. It is impossible to be precise about its origin since wine appeared before writing, and its history is intrinsically connected with that of humanity. Since remote times, when it was considered a divine gift, up to now, when oenologists believe it was discovered by chance, different people from various cultures told and retold innumerous legends or facts about the birth of wine; until now, the enigma persists. However, it is known the Hittites – an Indo-European civilization, which in the second millennium B.C. established a powerful kingdom in Anatolia, today Turkey – wrote for the first time the word “wee-an”, in archaic Greek “woinos”, which originated the Latin term “vinum”.

During the Middle Ages there was a period, known as the Dark Ages, when viticulture was kept alive only thanks to the wine symbolism in catholic liturgy. At that time, the Church played an important role in grapevine development and wine production. It owned vineyards cultivated in the yards of monasteries that spread all over Europe carrying with it the wine making knowledge.

In the XVI century, wine became a part of Europeans’ daily diet because in most of Europe potable water was not reliable. In the XVII century, its consumption declined as the drinkable water gained credibility, and due to the competition with beer; champagne; distillated drinks such as brandy or gin; tea; coffee; tobacco, and chocolate. The competition stimulated the viticulturists to improve their production process, fabrication methods of glass evolved, and the cork was invented; all together with other positive advancements kept the wine competitive. In the XVIII century, French wines blossomed; some people even consider this the period when the Bordeaux flourished becoming popular. In the XIX century, Nicole-Barbe Clicquot-Ponsardin, a French woman, realized a modernization in the champagne industry gaining the preference of Europeans, and rendering the drink famous all over the world. In the same century, wines from the New World challenged the European ones. Ohio was the first North American state to cultivate grapes successfully, but soon after California took its place. In 1889, Californian wines won 20 among 34 medals of a contest in Paris.

Along with the Industrial Revolution, the wine industry passed through profound transformations, a good example is the appearance of refrigeration in 1940. The progress of science and technology in the last century favored the viticulture development; nevertheless, these advances also brought a tendency to produce great quantities even if in detriment to quality. Nowadays, the producers’ challenge is to sustain a great production, due to growing demand, without losing quality or the identity of their wines.

Tasting

Start by examining the color, which reveals much about a wine. It can be bright; clear; cloudy, or opaque and lifeless. In effervescent wines, also observe the size of their bubbles. After that, analyze the aromas. Bring the glass near to your nose, inhale gently to sense the first aromatic notes; then rotate the glass a little, inhale again to feel the hidden perfumes, and try to name the fragrances you perceived. Whenever we have the privilege of tasting a wine in its peak, the aromas explode, and the color cheers us with its beauty! Next, taste the wine. Its flavor may be acid; tannic; bitter; sweet; hot or cold. In this phase of tasting, other perfumes will appear as the higher temperature of the mouth makes the alcohol evaporate liberating different aromas. Consider whether the flavor pleases you, notice for how long the taste persists in your mouth, and visualize which plate would harmonize with the wine. There are specific rules to match wine and food; however, the most important one is equilibrium, wine and food must complement one another not superimpose each other. Accented flavors combine with red wines and most delicate tastes harmonize with white wines.

Ode to Wine – Pablo Neruda

 

“Day-colored wine,

night-colored wine,

wine with purple feet

or wine with topaz blood,

wine,

starry child of earth,

wine, smooth,

as a golden sword,

soft

as lascivious velvet,

wine, spiral-sea shelled

and full of wonder,

amorous,

marine;

never has one goblet contained you,

one song, one man,

you are choral, gregarious,

at the least, you must be shared.

At times

you feed on mortal

memories;

your wave carries us,

from tomb to tomb,

stonecutter of icy sepulchers,

and we weep

transitory tears;

your glorious spring dress
is different,

blood rises through the shoots, wind incites the day,
nothing is left,
of your immutable soul.

Wine,
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

But you are more than love,

the fiery kiss,

the heat of fire,

more than the wine of life;

you are

the community of man,

translucency,

chorus of discipline,

abundance of flowers.

I like on the table,

when we're speaking,

the light of a bottle

of intelligent wine.

Drink it,

and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.”