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Is 2013 a Good Year?

Carol wrote in to ask if this will be a good year. It’s a little early to tell, but here’s a vintage update:

Have you made plans to visit wine country this year?

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Micro-Oxygenation for Wine

Have you heard of “micro-ox?” Many believe it’s a viable replacement for barrel aging the wine.

How do you feel about new innovations replacing the traditional methods?

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Barrel Aging: It’s More Than Oak Flavor

Did you know that using new barrels, which contribute oak flavor to the wine is a relatively recent practice? Here’s the story:

How much oak flavor do you like on your wine?

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What is a Meritage Wine?

Dear readers,

Once again, I have to ask you to bear with me. The good new is that my husband is doing much better. Yipee!

The bad news is that I need to move this blog away from Posterous to WordPress and I’m not very good at it. Posterous was founded by my friend Sachin Agarwal. About a year ago Twitter acquired Posterous – how about that for an exciting event in one’s life??!! Way to go, Sachin!

Twitter has decided to close down Posterous and this is why I’m moving my blog. Please pardon me if it takes me awhile to make the move and get well situated on WordPress.

In the meantime, how do you say Meritage? And what is it?

Visit A Million Cooks for more brief videos from experts on the food you eat: Where it comes from, where to buy it and how to prepare it.

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A Five Dollar Cab or a Fifty?

Steve wrote in to ask why one Cabernet Sauvignon wine sells for $5.00 and another for $50.00. What makes the difference? This is a complex quesion but here goes:

Does the $50.00 wine give you ten times more pleasure?

My husband is home! He’s still very weak but it’s great to have him home again. Thanks, again, for your patience with the spotty posts and for all the good wishes. I’ll try to get back to postinig regularly again.

Visit A Million Cooks for more brief videos from experts on the food you eat: Where it comes from, where to buy it and how to prepare it.

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Bud Break in the Vineyards

What is bud break? Every spring the tiny buds (growing points) on the vines begin to swell up and  tiny bits of pinky-green new growth break through –  bud break!

I’ve already seen some new growth on some of the early varieties like Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc but the Cabernet vines I’ve seen are still sleeping in. This is a beautiful time of year, here. What’s your favorite time of year to visit wine country?

My husband is getting much better. We hope he’ll be moved to a skilled nursing facility this week, to regain his strength. Thank you so much for the kind messages and emails.

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Today’s Wine Word: Pruning

Cane_vs_spur_pruning

 

Hi! This is another golden-oldie post, but very timely. Growers who haven’t finished up their pruning need to shake a leg because the 2013 growing season is starting as we speak!

For those following my personal story, my husband has been transferred from the ICU to another floor in the hospital, which is a good sign. Thank you for the very nice emails and good wishes!

Now, for the post:

‘Tis the season. Now’s the time to get the vines pruned before they think about pushing out new growth. Pruning can be done any time during dormancy, which is usually from sometime in November unitl about mid March here.

Pruning is extremely important to yields and quality. It’s the biggest single tool the vineyard manager has to influence how many shoots will emerge in the coming weeks and approximately how many grape clusters will form. 

Its not hard. There’s actually sort of a mathematical formula for it. The grower has fairly specific numbers in mind for shoots and cluster based upon the variety, the spacing, the vigor or the situation, and his/her experience with the site. He instructs the pruners accordingly. 

The skeletal picture above tells you that, from all that lush green growth of summer, after the leaves drop in November and the bare shoots are exposed, almost nothing is left behind after pruning. 

The picture shows two common ways (among nearly countless ways) to train a grapevine. Let’s go with the top figure. See those little bumps on the horizontal “canes” or shoots? Those are buds, or growing points. When the vine wakes up, each bud is expected to push out a new shoot. And each shoot will produce two clusters, give or take. We know, from experience, that the clusters will emerge from the new shoots, but very close to the old shoot. Those two horizontal  canes were new growth the previous spring, so the clusters will hang just below the trellis wires.

As many a vineyard manager has reflected, the vines haven’t read the textbook so a bud may push out more than one shoot and a shoot may produce more or less than two clusters. There’s nothing to be done about less, of course, but if there are more shoots than anticipated they’re thinned out in April. Too many shoots cause overcroppping and crowding – which exacerbates mildew problems.

Later, after the vines flower, since too many clusters may lead to diluted flavors, any excess is cut off. So, at least among top-quality producers, the leaf canopy and the clusters will be monitored from the beginning until nearly the end of the growing season in an effort to make the season go smoothly and promote flavor intensity. 

Easy for me to say “It’s not hard.” Better to ask the pruner who won this year’s annual pruning competition! He walked away with $600.00 in cash plus a bunch of other goodies. Way to go!

And, from those bare “bones” a lush, green canopy will emerge again. Soon!

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What About Hazy Wine?

After the post on sediment in wine a few weeks ago, I got a question from Bob about haziness. Here goes: 

Do the tartrates bother you? What’s your threshold for unpretty wine?

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Why Swirl the Wine? And, I’m Still Here

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, this re-run of a golden oldie post is old news (I hope. Or maybe a refresher course isn’t such a bad idea.)

You also know that I don’t usually talk about personal things. But, the thing is that my blog posts have been a little spotty lately and I don’t want you to think I don’t care or have gotten lazy.

First, I want to thank you for reading – especially my subscribers. I put my heart and soul into my work and it makes my day when you take the time to comment or even just click “like.” 

My husband is seriously ill and that has been the absolute priority over the last few weeks and will probably continue to be over the next few. I believe he will come out of this okay. Please keep your fingers crossed.

The second priority is to keep the money flowing in so we can pay our bills, so when I’m not at the hospital I’m writing for my winery clients. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this info.

But, I’m still here. I’ll write new stuff when I can and try to keep those weekly videos up but I may go quiet for awhile or post another re-run here and there.

That said, here’s the actual post. I chose this one because it’s one of the most common questions of all. Thank you, again. Nancy

Why Swirl the Wine?

After Jim wrote, saying what a lot of people are afraid to say – that wine just smells like wine to him and he doesn’t often notice aromas like strawberry or spice –  I promised some wine-tasting lessons. It will help if you have a couple of tasting techniques under your belt first, so here we go with swirling.

With all the fru-fru associated with wine, you might wonder whether swirling is practical or pretentious. It’s not only fun – it’s very practical. I like to think of it as getting more for my money. The best way to find out why it’s smart to swirl your wine is to do an experiment. Get yourself a glass of wine. It shouldn’t be too cold – cold wine isn’t expressive, so if you’ve pulled the wine out of the fridge give it a 1/2 hour, or so, to warm up a bit.

Don’t fill your glass more than 1/3 – 1/2 full or you’ll end up wearing the wine (I wear wine on a daily basis – I’ve come to think of it as perfume). Put your nose in the glass and take a good whiff. Hope it smells good! Continue reading

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What is Organic Wine?

Emily wrote in wondering what is meant by “organic wine” and if organic is better. The term “organic” can mean two different things. Here’s a brief explanation:

Have any of you found organic wine that you’d recommend? Let us know!

Visit A Million Cooks for more brief videos from experts on the food you eat: Where it comes from, where to buy it and how to prepare it.

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