Wine Quiz: The Answers

Last time, I set you a wine quiz to test your knowledge and, hopefully keep you amused for a little while.  Those who tried the questions are, I’m sure, keen to know the answers and find out how well they did.

Question 1: The grapes used to make Prosecco are grown in vineyards about 50 miles north of Venice so answer (b) is correct.

Question 2: Margaret River is in Western Australia and so grapes from there could not be included in a bottle labelled ‘Wine of South-East Australia’.  Answer (c) is the one you were looking for.

Question 3: The highest altitude commercial vineyard in the world is Colomé Altura in northern Argentina at 3111m (10206 ft) above sea level.  Answer (d) is correct.

Question 4: Answer (a) Sicily – it not only produces the most wine of any Mediterranean island, it also produces more than the total of the other 3 islands named in the question taken together.

Question 5: Rosado, Blush and Chiaretto are all terms for rosé wine.  The odd one out is therefore (d) Tinto, which signifies a red wine in Spain and Portugal.

Question 6: I share my birth year with the first vintage of Penfolds Grange, so, although I would like the answer to be either (a), (b) or (c), the correct answer is (d) 1950s (and I’ll leave those of you who are interested to Google the actual year!)

Question 7: the ‘Chateau’ part of the name may sound French but Musar is actually Lebanon’s most famous wine.  You were looking for answer (c).

Question 8: Vintage Champagne must age for a minimum period of 3 years before it can be sold, so the most recent vintage you might find to buy now, in early 2021, is (c) 2017.  Earlier vintages will, of course, still be available but the 2018 and subsequent vintages are still ageing.

Question 9: The word ‘Trocken’ in German means dry so answer (c) is correct.  But beware: you might also see the word ‘trockenbeeren’ on a label which translates as ‘dried berries’ and a wine made from dried berries will usually be sweet.

Question 10: you are looking for answer (d) Luxembourg.  Citizens of that country consume an average of more than 60 litres of alcohol per person per year.  By comparison, here in the UK, the figure is 24.

So, how did you do?  If you got 9 or 10 correct: you are a Grand Cru wine quizzer; 7 or 8: Premier Cru; 5 or 6: Cru Bourgeois; 3 or 4: Vin Ordinaire; Less than 3: so long as you enjoy your wine, does it really matter?

Hope this quiz kept you amused and interested. Take Care and Stay Safe.

A Wine Quiz

With the current Covid restrictions likely to continue for a few more weeks at least, I thought you might like a little wine quiz to keep yourselves amused and your brains active during these difficult times.  I’ve given you 4 possible answers for each of the questions.  It’s just for fun and there are no prizes.  

  1. The vineyards used to make Prosecco are closest to which of these Italian cities?  (a) Milan (b) Venice (c) Rome (d) Turin

2. Wine from which of these areas could not be included in a bottle labelled ‘Wine of South-East Australia’?  (a) Adelaide Hills (b) Riverina (c) Margaret River (d) Barossa Valley

3. The highest altitude commercial vineyards in the world are found in which country?  (a) Algeria (b) Switzerland (c) Georgia (d) Argentina

4. Which of these Mediterranean islands produces most wine?  (a) Sicily (b) Sardinia (c) Corsica (d) Crete

5. Which of the following is the odd one out?  (a) Rosado (b) Blush (c) Chiaretto (d) Tinto

6. The iconic Australian red wine, Penfolds Grange, was first produced in which decade?  (a) 1980s (b) 1970s (c) 1960s (d) 1950s

7. Chateau Musar was first introduced to the UK public at the Bristol Wine Fair in 1978, but where is it produced?  (a) France (b) South Africa (c) Lebanon (d) Israel

8. By law, producers of Vintage Champagne must age it for a period of time before sale.  What is the most recent vintage of Champagne that you might find to buy now, in early 2021?  (a) 2015 (b) 2016 (c) 2017 (d) 2018

9. The word ‘Trocken’ on a German wine label indicates what sort of wine?  (a) Aged in oak barrels (b) Sparkling (c) Dry (d) Delicate and slightly sweet

10. Based on alcohol consumed per head of the population, which of the following countries contains the keenest drinkers?  (a) UK (b) Denmark (c) Croatia (d) Luxembourg

I’ll give you the answers next time.  Happy Thinking and Stay Safe. 

Rosé – in February?

It’s often said that rosé is the perfect wine for summer.  So, why am I writing about it on a bitterly cold February day?

A couple of nights ago, we were about to cook some lovely tuna steaks that we’d bought from our local fishmonger.  The sauce we had prepared to go with them – a mixture of tomatoes, basil and capers – was slowly cooking away and smelt heavenly.  The flavours reminded us of Mediterranean holidays and of the sort of dishes we had enjoyed eating there.  As we were reminiscing and drinking in the smells, Hilary, my wife, suggested how well the dish would go with a glass of wine.  It didn’t take long for me to agree, even though it was a Wednesday and we don’t normally open a bottle mid-week, apart from on special occasions.

With those aromas and our thoughts, the wine just had to be from the Mediterranean.  And with tuna and that type of sauce, a rosé was the obvious choice – even though the weather outside was distinctly un-rosé.

Santa Tresa Rosé (Majestic, £10.99) from Sicily is attractively smoky with soft raspberry fruit flavours and a clean, fresh finish, typical of so many rosés you find around the south of France, Italy and the Mediterranean islands.  It is also beautifully dry which made it an excellent accompaniment to our tuna in sauce.  A blend of 2 high quality local grapes – Nero d’Avola and Frappato – both of which can also make delicious red wines; for the rosé, the juice spends just a few hours in contact with the skins to give a lovely delicate pink colour before being gently pressed and for the fermentation to complete – the juice alone – as it would for a white wine.

So, rosé may be the perfect wine for summer – but it’s also perfect for forgetting about winter and dreaming of better things.

Whole Bunch

One sharp-eyed reader spotted the words ‘Whole Bunch’ on the label of the Bellingham Roussanne I blogged about a couple of weeks ago and wondered what the significance was.  There’s a clue in the small print which mentions ‘gentle treatment’, ‘soft handling’ and ‘delicate extraction of the juice’. 

It all starts in the vineyard:

When grapes are harvested by hand, the pickers usually cut off whole bunches, not just individual grapes (you can see the stalks in the picture below); the main exception to this is when high quality sweet wine is being made, when the harvesters will go through the vineyard several times, only snipping out the ripest grapes from the bunches each time.  Machine harvesting is different: this works in the same way as shaking a tree to get apples off, so just the grapes are dislodged and caught in a net – the stalks stay on the vine (although this method also yields some leaves, bits of twig and anything else that’s loose on the vine, which has to be sorted out later).

Now let’s move to the winery.  Normally, if whole bunches have been picked, they will be tipped into a machine called a Crusher/Destemmer – which does just what the name suggests: gently crushes the grapes to begin the fermentation process and removes the fruit from the stems.  Bellingham – and many other producers – do things a little differently; they miss out the destemming and gently press the whole bunches to release the juice.  The stems not only form a cradle round the grapes, protecting them from harder pressure, they also act as runways enabling the juice to be collected more easily.  The idea being that higher quality juice produces better wine.

An extended version of this process is also used for some red wines and is particularly suited to varieties such as Pinot Noir.  Here, after crushing, the whole bunches are tipped into the fermenting vessel – tank or barrel depending on the winemaker – and the stems remain in there with the grapes until the fermentation is complete and the wine is drained off leaving the solid material behind.  The stems add tannin (so this method isn’t used with thick-skinned varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon) and so increase the complexity of the wine – and hopefully the drinking pleasure.

That explains, in brief, what we mean by ‘whole bunch’.  So much from 2 simple-looking words.