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The Korea Times THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1998 13 Wine, From Vineyard to Palate By Ken

The Korea Times

The Korea Times THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1998 13 Wine, From Vineyard to Palate By Ken Kim

THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1998 13

Wine, From Vineyard to Palate

By Ken Kim

Times Wine Writer

W ell, those of you who have been keeping up with my wine columns may now see a little light

at the end of the dark tunnel of wine culture. Hopefully, it is easier for you to buy a bottle of wine at the super- market or wine shop after reading my articles. But you probably still don't know exactly how the wine got there

- how the grapes were crushed, the

wine bottled, corked and finally, aged. This column is about the nitty gritty story of the making of wine: the jour- ney from the rustic vineyard to candle- lit dinner table. As you can imagine, fanning of any kind means hard work. At the vine- yard, you have to deal with tempera- mental mother nature, which can be particularly unpredictable when it comes to timing. In the case of the Burgundy region of France, weather is the major challenge. During the time of grape-ripening in late summer, it is crucial that the grapes get constant sunlight and continual heat. Without them, the grapes will not have enough of a sugar level in them to ferment into fine wine. So sometimes, the schedule of har- vest may be extended in the hopes that the grapes will ripen against the run- ning clock of nature. But by doing so, the vintner risks exposing his precious grapes to the harmful early rain of fall. In addition to the weather, natural habitats like deer on the ground and birds in the air are constant threats to the well-being of grapes. Grape grow- ers do things like putting up electric fences to keep the deer away and plac- ing fish netting over the entire vine- yard to combat birds . These wild ani- mals would love to eat the grapes before they reach you and me! After all this hard work, grapes are harvested in the fall. Vineyards in new grape-growing countries like Califor- nia and Australia have high-tech machines harvesting their crop where- as regions like the Rhone Valley, southern Burgundy and Mosel in Ger- many are still reaping by hand just as

and Mosel in Ger- many are still reaping by hand just as The vineyards of the

The vineyards of the Mosel - often terraced to make cultivation possible

- are some of the steepest in the world, but the angle gives them good exposure to the sun.

world, but the angle gives them good exposure to the sun. they have for centuries. That

they have for centuries. That is the only way because vines are planted on such steep slopes that mechanical equipment is unusable. In fact, the hill- sides are so steep that pickers have died falling off the slopes. In the minds of many wine experts, vines planted in such inhospitable spots as these steep slopes produce better grapes and thus, better wine than vines grown on flat land. Because vines must struggle by hanging onto steep slopes, they produce less wine grapes but of a special quality. Let's move onto see what happens to the grapes once they are safely picked. Harvested grapes are trucked to the winery. Although port or dessert wines are still made the quaint old-fashioned way - grapes are crushed by stomp-

ing bare-footed grape-pickers - to get the deeper color, most wines are com- posed of grapes that have been crushed and pressed by high-tech machines. Unlike white varietals, red grapes are dumped into the crusher and then fer- mented in a large steel tank, called the "fermenting vat." Once the fermenta- tion is over, usually in two weeks, the resulting mush will be pressed. The process of pressing separates the juice from the skins. The pressed wine, if you will, tastes very bitter and strong, especially with such varietals as Cabemet Sauvignon. This part of the wine-making procedure always reminds me of the domestication of wild horses - the wild grapes are tamed to a refined flavor. All that is left is for the wine to age. Red wines

take longer to age due to the heavy tannin in the grape skins. The process for white wine is pretty much the same except that the grapes are peeled before they are crushed - white wine is white precisely because it is produced without the grape skins. The process of peeling the grape skins is very important because if the skins aren't properly removed, the resulting wine wouldn't have the sparkling transparent glow. The making of white wine is more delicate and difficult because it doesn't give much room to maneuver. The transparent color makes every mistake readily apparent to the eye. But more importantly, you have to balance the right proportion of alcohol, sugar and acidity (bitterness). White wines with- out the perfect mixture of these can only be blended with other mixtures. Red wines, on the other hand, give much more room to work with because of the aging process. Most red wines


wines because of its tannin content. Importantly, red wine is more flexible in color and makeup because it is not transparent like the white. Another consideration is the oak wood barrels. Most white wines are rarely aged in oak barrels. Wine makers can carefully control the aging process in order to manipulate the taste which is another aspect of red wine's flexibility. The chemical makeup of wine is changing even after they are bottled so it is very important to have them stored in a properly conditioned ware- house until they are consumed. In the cellar, wines need to be laid and undis- turbed. The cellar also must be dark, cooler and humid. The ideal tempera- ture is between 7 and 21 degrees Cel- sius. It is best not to leave half empty bottles for more than two days and opened bottles should always be refrigerated. This is why the average size of bottle is just about the right quantity for two to consume along with a normal course of meal. White wine must be chilled to bring freshness and sweetness like fruit juices because of its volatility which is calmed when it is not chilled. Howev- er, red wine can best be served at room temperature.

need .to be aged for longer than

Wine Suffocates in Bottle, Researchers Say

CHICAGO (AP) - The next time someone who fancies himself a wine connoisseur insists on open- ing the cabemet a couple of hours before drinking it to let it "breathe," tell him to put a cork in it. Scientists say the bottle opening is so small that letting the wine stand uncorked doesn't make much difference. The theory is that allowing a wine to "breathe" dissipates unsavory gases that may have formed and increases the wine's contact with oxygen, aging it a bit more. Two researchers decided to put that theory to the test after getting into an argument on the subject

over dinner.

Dr. Pier Giuseppe Agostoni, a cardiologist with the University of Milan, wanted to uncork the wine and let it breathe. Dr. Nirmal B. Charan of the VA Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, said it wouldn't help.

So the two devised an experiment. They opened five bottles of cabemet sauvignon. They took sam- ples of the wine and tested it. Then they let the bot- tles sit and took more samples two, four, six and 24 hours later. The upshot? Charan was right. Letting a bottle breathe - even for a whole day

- made little difference.

The oxygen level in the wine went up, but the car- bon dioxide level hardly changed, said Charan, whose study was presented in Chicago on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Lung Asso- ciation and the American Thoracic Society. The researchers' conclusions,' however, didn't

convince some wine experts.

"It's been experimentally and scientifically proven. The problem is they are wrong," said Ran- dall Grahm, owner of the Bonny Doon winery in Bonny Doon, California. "Sometimes the wine will

have a very hard character. A little bit of air will seemingly soften and mellow the wine." Grahm recommends uncorking a bottle of red wine at least a half-hour before drinking it. But for the best results, he said, the wine should be poured into a glass or a carafe. On this point, Charan's research backs the con-


Just two minutes of swirling the wine in a glass brought the average oxygen partial pressure to the same level as in the air and reduced the carbon dioxide partial pressure by 90 percent. And it tasted better, too. "The theory of swirling isn't just to put stains on your shirt," said Sterling Pratt, wine director at Schaefer's Wines, Foods and Spirits in Skokie, Illi- nois. " It is to expand the surface area of the wine in the glass so that more wine comes into contact with the air."