The winning wines at this year’s competition are memorable for several reasons: The whites were fresher, the rosés crisper, and the red wines seemingly more elegant than I recall them being in 2015.
Wine culture in Itata Valley, the northernmost of Chile’s three southern wine regions, exemplifies what is known as “evolution in isolation.” Experiencing no phylloxera and only a modest incursion of international grape varieties, this isolated region has held on to its heritage grapes and ancestral winemaking practices seldom found beyond its borders.
Of the California wineries celebrating their 50th birth year in 2022, six gathered to mark the occasion with a retrospective tasting at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. Each dazzled us with three wines while reflecting on five decades of harvests and providing a snapshot of their current vintages.
In an effort to expand my perception beyond my daily work with beverage alcohol, I tackle the evaluation of chocolate and fragrance a few times each year by judging hundreds of products as part of an unpaid panel.
By now, most informed wine consumers have accepted the fact that sulfur isn’t the root cause of wine-derived headaches and instead place most of the blame on alcohol. Meanwhile, what has been identified as a source of adverse reactions to no- and low-sulfur red wines, particularly by histamine-sensitive consumers, are biogenic amines. What are they and why can they be a problem?
As a species, we’ve been eating and drinking to intentionally alter our states of perception ever since. For generations, the indigenous peoples of the Congo, Nigeria, and Ghana have used the fruit (and leaves) of Synsepalum dulcificum, a shrub indigenous to West
and Central Africa, in ethnomedicine. The taste-altering properties of this flavorless, bright-red berry—dubbed “the miracle fruit,” it’s about the size of a coffee bean—make for a fascinating sensory experience.
While perceptual learning plays an important role in evaluating wine, there’s another phenomenon related to perception that arises from the wine itself: perceptual interaction. When our olfactory system
is confronted with complex aromas, we often perceive them as a single aroma due to odor blending in a process known as
configural perception (our perception of the smell of coffee as a single aroma is just one of many examples).
After tasting the Piper-Heidsieck Hors-Série 1971 ($499), a rare, late disgorged Champagne that spent 49 years resting peacefully on its lees, I was inspired to delve deeper into the role yeast autolysis plays in the flavor development of sparkling wine.
Now the days of comparing a
glass of Northern Rhône Syrah to
a strip of peppered bacon appear
to be coming to an end.
Get US Market Ready host Steve Raye talks with Slow Wine Guide USA National Editor Deborah Parker Wong about her journey and work as an educator, journalist and much more. The 2021 Slow Wine Guide USA is available on Amazon.com.