Term of the Week – May, 2012

In keeping up with a feature I started on here in February I am trying to log a “term of the week.”  It could be from anywhere, wine, beer or spirits.  The hope is this will be a helpful feature making you all more and more familiar with the wide world of beverage alcohol.  However I will be the first to admit this is not a unique idea.  There are many blogs that have helpful definition sections, plus between apps and websites there are a copious number of ways in which you can get the definition you are seeking.  But you came here.  Plus the hope is I can provide definitions to terms you may not already know or have ever thought about.  I also won’t be simply copying formal definitions from dictionary’s.  I will try to provide descriptions that are helpful and easy to understand well also providing some insightful context.  Enjoy.

May 7th:
Acidity: So this should be a pretty straight forward definition since acidity is exactly what you think it is.  It’s the sour sensation you get in wine.  It’s felt on your cheeks and it makes your mouth water.  But what is it doing in wine and why do we want it there?  First let’s clarify one thing right away.  Acidity is not found only in white wines.  Red wines actually have plenty of acidity too.  Red wines from Northern Italy for example are loaded with acidity.  It has bunch of purposes in everyday wines and is sought after in wine making all over the world.  Take those Northern Italian wines again for example, acidity in wine helps cut through the acidity in food.  Tomatoes for instance which are a staple of the aforementioned Italian cooking.  It also helps cut through fatty and oily foods, which is why high acid white wines are a classic fairing with fatty fish.  However one of the most important things acid does in wine is help with its aging potential.  No, not all wines are age worthy my friends.  One of the things an expert will test for when determining how long a wine can sit is how much acidity it has.  The acidity will mellow over time and blend with the other flavours to help the wine age and improve with time.

May 14th:
Champagne: In today’s feature I thought I would dive into one of the most well recognized, expensive, and notable wines in the world.  Everyone has heard of Champagne whether you like wine or not.  Hip hop artists have helped make Dom Perignon one of the most well established and popular alcoholic beverages around.  So what is Champagne? Well to be precise Champagne is a region in the North of France.  It so happens that the most famous sparkling wine happens to come from this region.  Much like facial tissue is often simply referred to as Kleenex, sparkling wine is often incorrectly referred to as Champagne.  Technically Champagne is nothing more than sparkling wine produced in this defined region of France.  Despite the fact that sparkling wine is made the world over using the same methods as Champagne it can’t legally be referred to as anything but sparkling wine.  What makes it so special?  Well for starters it is very good wine and recognized as such by critics everywhere, so quality certainly counts.  It’s also rich with history and wine making practices which have stood the test of time.  Plus it has received some tremendous marketing support including the aforementioned fixation which exists in popular culture everywhere.
Here are some other fun/interesting facts about Champagne for your next dinner party:
– it is made with a blend of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varieties
– the world famous “Cognac” is a region in Champagne
– sparkling wine that declares it is made in the “traditional method” (often indicated on the label) are telling you it is made using the traditional Champagne production methods

– Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman 

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