Posts Tagged ‘wine tasting tours’
It’s true that for some, Germany may be better known for its beer than its wines. And in some ways those people may be right – German beer is well-known among those who love beer and those consider it to be the BMW of brew, no pun intended. However, the beautiful weather along the Rhine River and breathtaking regions of Germany make it prime for wine production, and the truth is that German wines are some of the finest in the world. Germany is the ninth largest wine producer in the world, and makes some 1.2 billion bottles annually. This is despite the fact that German vineyards take up less then one-tenth the area of the vineyards of France, Spain, or Italy.
German beer is known for being thick and hearty, and German wines are not very different. They are typically a bit drier and less fruity than most other wines produced; they also have a higher acid content. Reisling is the most popular wine produced, although the cheaper table wine of Liebfraumilch is also a favorite of those who want a hearty wine while watching their budget. This is one of the few wines of Germany that is mass-produced; the rest are typically produced very painstakingly.
Because of the climate of the country, red wines are difficult to produce, so most of the darkest of the German wines are typically blush or rose. There are however some very high quality pinot noir wines, and other varieties of red wine, that are produced in the country, and they are often considered some of the best in the world.
While Germany is somewhat limited in the types of grapes that can be made for German wines, the biggest problem that seems to be presented from the land is the steep elevations that make it almost impossible to harvest those grapes mechanically. Most German vineyards still are harvested manually. Most winemakers do not hesitate to continue this tradition, as they are used to the hard work and labor that is needed to produce the best of wines.
The Germans have never been ones to shy away from the hard work also needed to consistently improve their product. German wines are no different. The plantings of grapes for red wines has seen an upsurge in some years, and then a downturn in others, all in response to customer demands for better and more exotic tasting wines. Germans are not to be put off by how difficult it is to grow the wide variety of grapes that are needed for the varieties of wines that the world loves.
So it seems that while Germany may also be known for its beer and polka, there’s no doubt that its wines deserve just as many accolades as its fermented cousin. While you may not want to try to order some at Oktoberfest, a celebration typically reserved to celebrate beer brewing, you may very well want to try some German wines the next time you have the chance.
If you’ve never heard of Greek wines, you must not be a real wine lover or historian. While there are many countries today that produce wines that are more popular and perhaps more appreciated, it’s thought that winemaking actually originated with the Greeks thousands and thousands of years ago. At that time, wines from Greece were produced in individual homes right along with everything else that was considered everyday foods, including bread, butter, cheese, meat dishes, and so on. Wine was considered a standard staple of the dining table and not something that was reserved for special occasions. It’s thought that during the Roman Empire, these wines were traded extensively as Rome opened up merchant routes all along the Mediterranean regions.
Wines of the Past
There have been many political upheavals and other problems that have kept Greece from competing in the global wine market; however, today they are just as competitive as wines from any other region of the world. This is a necessity as there has actually been a decline in recent years of domestic consumption of locally produced wine. Greek vineyard owners have, out of necessity, found themselves competing on the world market just to stay economically feasible. Those that produce wines have found that they have needed to introduce foreign grape varieties to their vineyards in order to stay competitive. In 1963, their first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was planted, and the 1960′s and 1970′s saw an ever evolving revolution in the area of wine making.
Reasons for Success in Making Greek Wines
One of the reasons for the success of wines from Greece is of course the climate of the country. With its warm and dry summers and mild winters, it makes for near perfect grape growing conditions. Also, there are literally hundreds of indigenous Greek grapes from which vineyard owners may produce their own unique brand, and foreign varieties do quite well when planted or grafted into existing vineyards.
It’s also interesting that many true wine connoisseurs are always on the lookout for exotic brands and varieties to try, something different than the standard French or Italian fare. In this regard, many upscale wine lovers are turning to Greek wines as they are truly unique in the world of winemaking.
Today you can easily find wines from Greece available in any local wine store or liquor shop. They are also available online from specialty importers. As Greek vineyard owners continue to appreciate the beautiful and perfect climate they are blessed with, it is certain that more and more world class Greek wines will continue to be available and will be competitive on the world market.
If you’re a wine lover and wish that you had more time to really shop around for just the right bottle or to find a new one that you’ve never tried before, you may want to seriously consider joining a wine club. Just like “book of the month” or other such clubs, wine clubs are organizations that research, select, and ship off to their members a new bottle or selection of wines once every month or so.
Wine clubs may sound like they’re best for the rich and snooty, but one of the great benefits of it them is that you don’t need to do the painstaking research about each bottle or vintage before you purchase it. The organizers of the club are no doubt true wine lovers themselves, and appreciate doing the legwork when it comes to reading up about different vineyards, years, and so on before selecting just the right wines for their members.
These are also great options for those who are just starting out in their love affair with wines, and may not know how to get started with selection, what makes a good vintage, and so on. Shipments of the selections that arrive from your club are usually going to have an information sheet included on why it was chosen, what makes it a superior bottle of wine, and so on. A novice can read through the information before sampling the wine so that he or she can really know what to look for when it comes to taste. This will also help familiarize someone with the many different terms that are used in connection with wine, so that he or she can better read a restaurant menu and make a selection.
If considering joining a wine club, there are a few things to keep in mind. Find one that doesn’t tie you into a long-term contract. Many wine tasting clubs operate by letting you choose how many months you’d like to continue for, and allow you to discontinue at any time without penalty or cost. You typically just get billed for the wines as they arrive, or one at a time beforehand.
A really good wine tasting club should also give you some varieties and options as to the types of wines you’re interested in. For example, suppose you’re partial to just red wine or white wine, or want to have only imported German or Italian wine, or just wine from Napa Valley. Many wine clubs even have champagne clubs if you prefer the bubbly stuff!
There’s no limit as to the cost of good wines, however, an average club will usually start at around $30 per month and go as high as $100 for wine, or higher depending on the selections.
Be sure that you understand all the “fine print” beforehand so that you don’t meet up with any unexpected charges. Most members of wine clubs report being very happy with their club and many have found them to be a great way to learn about wine and sample some of the best every single month.
Portugal may not be the first country you think of when you’re looking for new wines to sample. However, Portuguese wine production outdates many other countries; the Portuguese have been trading wine with the rest of the world since the early 18th century.
There are legends that tell of wine being produced in Portugal from as far back as 4000 years ago. Of course, the production was much different than it is today, but it is possible that Portugal has been producing wine since the time of the Phoenicians.
Distinctive and Exceptional
Nearly every wine drinker knows that the finest wines produced in Portugal have traditionally been port and Madeira, two fortified wines enjoyed all around the world. There is much more to the wines of Portugal, though, and every variety is as impressive as these well-known beverages.
Portugal has several different wine regions, each producing and using its own distinctive grape varieties. In fact, this is what makes Portuguese wine so unique among other wine-producing countries. The wines produced in Portugal are made from native grape species, and they are all distinctive to the area. There are government safeguards in place to ensure that all wine produced in Portugal is of the highest quality possible.
Many different types of wine come from Portugal, though not all of them are well-known in other parts of the world. Europe, especially England, is well acquainted with most of Portugal’s finest exports, but they have yet to gain the same popularity in the United States.
The Alentejo region is in southern Portugal. The wines produced from the alentejo grapes are fruity, soft whites with a distinctive acidity. This is one of the most preferred wines for consumption within Portugal.
The Região Demarcada da Bairrada produces white and red wines, but the most popular wine from this region is a sparkling white wine which is quite commonly found in Portuguese restaurants.
Colares Sand Wine
Near Lisbon, wine grapes are grown in sandy soil that is in short supply today due to the expansion of the city. Colares sand wine is produced in both red and white varieties, and has a distinctive fruity taste.
The Regiao Demarcada do Dao is in northern Portugal, and it produces some very unique wines from several varieties of Portuguese grapes. These are widely thought to be the finest table wine produced in Portugal.
Moscatel (Muscat in English) is one of the oldest varieties of Portuguese wine. It is a fortified wine that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years.
Port wines are fortified wines that can be enjoyed in either red or white varieties. This is one of the types of wine that made Portuguese wine known and loved around the world.
Vinho Verde is produced in northwest Portugal and does not go through an aging stage. It is the second most exported Portuguese wine, just after port.
Something for Everyone
As you can see by these brief descriptions, the wine of Portugal is varied and complex. You are sure to find a variety of Portuguese wine that agrees with you and your discerning palate.
If you’re unsure of the meaning, winter wines are those that are preferred during the cold winter months and that will help take the nip out of the air, giving you a toasty warm feeling all over. These are wines that are considered full-body and lush, as opposed to the light and refreshing wines you would enjoy during the summer months. If you’re a wine lover, you understand the appeal of the wines of winter, and find that they’re easily preferred over the standard winter beverages of hot cocoa or tea. Sure, those are all well and good, but how do they taste with a fine selection of cheese and olives?
When considering your options, you would probably prefer an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon or an earthy Chateauneuf-du-Pape. These are both complex wines with a hearty aroma and reassuring body. Neither needs to be very expensive, as they are both typically very fine choices regardless of vintage or name brand.
Reisling is another fine choice when it comes to winter wines. While still crisp and fruity as you would expect from a summer choice, it is intense with a typically rounded finish – perfect for those late winter lunches when you’ve slept in decided to spend all day inside. While still served slightly chilled, it’s a perfect match for seafood or shellfish, or for when you want to just nibble some cheese in front of the fire.
Consider a good port as another choice when it comes to hearty wines. Aging these in wines in oak barrels means adding distilled grape spirits, often cognac, in order to boost the alcohol content. White port is also a good choice, and is served cold or slightly chilled; these range from dry to very sweet. Port is such a popular choice when it comes to winter wines that there are actually rules of etiquette that once surrounded its serving; typically the bottle is passed “port to port,” meaning that the host pours a glass for the person to their right and then passes the bottle to their left; this is repeated until the bottle makes its way around the table. Of course, if it’s just the two of you, it may be a good idea to be a bit more modest about this practice and save some for later!
Burgundy wines are also fine choices for winter, as they are typically the heaviest or most full-bodied wines there are. If you’re looking to stay away from chilled wines and want something to keep you warm that’s not too sweet but still full of flavor, burgundies are probably your best choice.
Winter wines are good options for the cold months when you’re looking to try something new and want to get away from the overly fruity and sweet wines of summer. When you’re stuck indoors and are looking for ways to keep yourself warm, you should definitely give your wine tasting some renewed attention with any of these options.