Sunday, April 25, 2010

French Colleges May Soon Require Wine Appreciation Classes

The French are seriously debating making wine appreciation are REQUIRED college class.
It looks like a scan from the wine growers to promote wine consumption. This is from Time Magazine

Now the authors of a recent government study have come up with a controversial way to teach young French that famous savoir vivre in sensible drinking: hold wine tasting sessions in college cafeterias.

Commissioned by the French Higher Education Ministry, and co-authored by a pair of respected French gastronomes — former director of Paris Sorbonne University, Jean-Robert Pitte, and television presenter Jean-Pierre Coffe — the report, published in March, includes a range of proposals on how to improve students' diets and consumption habits. Pitte and Coffe believe a university education shouldn't stop at the cafeteria door, and that alcohol should be on the syllabus too, in the form of lunchtime tasting classes. "We thought it was good to begin to instill a sense of responsibility in students, and teach them to how to appreciate good wine in great moderation," Pitte told France INFO radio last month. "And to show them that it is pleasurable and healthy, and part of our national heritage."

Read more:,8599,1984065,00.html#ixzz0m2yQyEVW

In my view this is a case where politicians and commercial interests should keep themselves out of the classroom. It is interesting to consider that French colleges are more subject to this interference because they get so much more government aid.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wine Grape Authentication

It is hard to know whether the grapes we buy are what they claim to be. Beyond looking at the label on the side of the crate there is little anyone can do to be sure. Recently Gallo bought Merlot grapes thinking they were buying Pinot Nior grapes. 

If one is a big vineyard, one could hire a lab to analyze the grapes, although I tend to think it is smarter to visit the farmer. If you are a little guy, what hope do you have?

Chemists at Ege University in Turkey looked at grape authentication, and found a number of solutions that involve heavy instrumentation. The best is restriction length fragment polymorphism RLFP, which involves extracting DNA, and treating it with enzymes to cut it at determined points, and then analyzing the length with an agarose electrophorsis gel. There are more advanced versions of this technique. Most species identification is done this way, as are many paternity tests. It is hard to find a lab that will run samples, but one is Marin Biologics.  There was a technique involving electrophoresis of the grape juice, which I found interesting since one can do it after pressing.

Having said all this, there is no good way to ensure that your grapes are what they say they are. The reputation of the vendor is important, but even the big vintners even buy mislabelled grapes from time-to-time.  Gallo caught the scam. How many other scams go undetected?

My recommendation is to look at the grapes when buying, and pick ones that you like the appearance of. Don't pay too much because you can't ever be sure of what you are buying.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

2009 Riesling Not Ready Yet

Being Easter, I wanted to celebrate by trying some of the new wine, and my reds are definitely not ready. I was hoping that my 2009 Riesling would cooperate.

I opened it, and transferred it to a smaller demijohn and some gallons. The wine has a pleasing reddish color because I left the skins with the juice overnight. That is not so unusual, my books says that people sometimes do that, but it made the wine darker than most people's Riesling.

The problem with the wine is that it is still harsh. It is not undrinkable, but it is not smooth yet. The flavor improves with aeration, but not completely.

Last year's white, a pino grigio, has mellowed since last year. I am hoping patience will be the key. I am going to age the wine in the garage while it is still cool to try to get any precipitate to drop out.