All posts filed under: Education

Sicily’s native grapes and the dawn of Italian wine culture

Archeologists researching the dietary habits of prehistoric Sicilians have discovered that wine was on the menu 6,500 years ago. The discovery made by a team of archeologists led by Dr. Davide Tanasi of the University of South Florida pushes the timeline for established viticulture in Italy back from the latter part of the Bronze Age (1600–1100 BCE) to the Copper Age (4500–3500 BCE). While excavating a site on Monte Kronio in the Agrigento province in southwest Sicily, Tanasi found tartaric acid and its salts both of which are natural by-products of winemaking on unglazed pottery dating to 4500 BCE. It’s believed that the Mycenaean Greeks established viticulture in Sicily during the Bronze Age but the discovery has unearthed a much earlier point of origin for Italian wine culture. Native varieties being trailed in the experimental vineyards at Donnafugata’s estate in Contessa Entellina. PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG As the history of winegrowing in Sicily continues to evolve so do the efforts of forward-thinking producers who are working to preserve the island’s native grape varieties. Sicily’s indigenous …

The trilemma of primary, secondary and tertiary aromas

Primary wine flavors (the combination of aromas and tastes) come from the grape variety itself and are almost always fruity except when they’re not. Secondary aromas are those associated with post-fermentation winemaking and include yeast, lees, yogurt, cream, butter or cheese and a full spectrum of flavors derived from oak. Tertiary flavors are defined as deliberate oxidation, fruit development, bottle age or any combination thereof.

Bitterness: Examing the chemistry behind the taste sensation

Humans are particularly sensitive to bitterness. Thanks to a small but novel family of 30 genes, we can perceive thousands of bitter compounds. Our ability to discern bitter tastes evolved as a way to keep our early ancestors from eating poisonous plants. Bitterness is a taste sensation that we experience when monomeric flavonoid phenols, the compounds that are responsible for bitterness in wine, reach the bitter taste receptor cells on our taste buds. As the receptors send electrochemical signals to the gustatory cortex, we experience bitterness. To what degree determines whether we consider a wine to be merely complex, flawed or faulted. Read the entire article here –Bitterness June July 2016  

Berry Sensory Analysis: A Common Language for Describing Maturity

If everyone on your winegrowing and winemaking teams shares a common language, there’s less risk involved when it comes to making crucial decisions. Few would argue that the most crucial decision a winemaker faces is when to pick. Beyond establishing intentions for the style and quality of the finished wine, making confident, proactive picking decisions relies on accurately assessing levels of ripeness. This acquired skill is on that vineyard managers and winemakers typically master through trial and error as they learn to speak the same language when describing degrees of fruit maturity and other sough-after qualities. Using the analytical method of Berry Sensory Analysis (BSA), a technique to describe the characteristics of grape maturity developed by Jacques Rousseau at the Institut Cooperatif du Vin in Montpellier, France, and introduced in Northern California by Enartis Vinquiry in 2006, winemakers can c onfidently assess fruit quality for specific wine styles and, in turn, gain more control over harvest timing decisions and production methods. Read the entire article here: Berry Sensory Analysis

Soil Survey: a crossword puzzle for the terroir obessed

Dirt.  It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the influence of terroir and its contribution to the flavor in wine is one of the most controversial and debated topics among wine enthusiasts.  I created this crossword puzzle to help my WSET Level 3 students study soil types in a creative way.  Even if you’re not a student of wine you’ve probably already encountered many of the soils I’ve included here.  So, put on your geological thinking cap and have at it with these clues Soil Survey Clues. You’ll can find the answers here. Soil Survey Answer Key

Eyes on the prize

Once you’ve made the decision to pursue a professional certification, there’s more to making the grade than meets the eye. For anyone considering, or already pursuing,one of the beverage industry’s most rigorous professional certifications — the Wine & Spirit Education Trust(WSET) Diploma—aligning your expectations and adopting strategies will make navigating the program easier and significantly more rewarding. With only 36 Diplomas awarded in the U.S. by the London-based WSET in 2008 (WSET now lists awards by year and Approved Program Provider), the benefits of sticking out this program, which can be completed in as little as two years or self-paced over a longer period, are many. WSET certification is a proven way to differentiate yourself in any job market. Diploma candidate William Emile Bond III recently accepted a position as a Northern Wildman and Sons, where his WSET status helped him connect. “As far as credentials go, it’s a valuable thing to have on your resume,” Bond says. “The hiring manager at Wildman earned his Diploma in New York, and it definitely caught his eye …