Archive for August, 2009
A taste for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay or a liking for Merlot or Shiraz can indicate more than just a preference in wines. It could also reveal personality traits.
New research showed that drinkers who preferred a sweet taste in wine were more likely to be impulsive while those who chose dry varieties had greater openness.
According to the Australian researchers, participants with a sweet taste preference were significantly higher in impulsiveness than their dry preference counterparts.
Researcher for Sheffield Hallam University added that apart from impulsiveness and openness, no other personality trait was significantly different between the two groups.
“There is some support for the notion that sweet preference develops early in humans and thus could drive the development of impulsiveness,” said the researchers
They tested the wine preference of 45 people from Sheffield in South Yorkshire and divided them into two groups — those who liked sweet or dry wine.
Each group was also given personality tests to evaluate their impulsiveness, empathy, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
The researchers said there is some evidence that a preference for sweet tastes fluctuates throughout life. It seems to be heightened during childhood and then declines in late adolescence.
South Africa is a weird and wonderful place, and has spawned some truly gifted pioneers and inventors, as well as possessing some unique and marvelous, biological and geological attributes.
Below is a list of some interesting facts about South Africa
1. South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 10 mm) and the largest (the baobab).
2. There are only 12 countries in the world that supply tap water that is fit to drink, and South Africa is one of them. Our tap water quality is third best overall in the world.
3. The Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 850 metres. First place goes to the Angel Falls in Venezuela at 979 metres.
4. There are 18 000 indigenous vascular plant species in South Africa of which 80% are uniquely South African.
5. Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world – and the largest green one. The Grand Canyon in the US is the biggest, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia the second, but both are dry as bones.
6. South African grasslands have 30 species per square kilometre, greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.
7. According to recent studies, the star-watching town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape is one of the most geologically stable places on Earth, yet it has a 66-million year old volcano, not yet officially extinct.
8. The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
9. Walt Disney serves South African wine exclusively at its 73-acre Animal Kingdom Lodge in the United States.
10. South Africa has the longest wine route in the world, the R62 wine route
11. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts and the nuts and oils are exported to countries across the world.
12. South Africa is the only country in the world where you can order something called monkey gland steak at a restaurant without the risk of a real internal organ being placed before you. It was invented many decades ago by overseas chefs as a pointed insult, aimed at the brash inhabitants of Johannesburg who poured Worcestershire and tomato sauce over everything.
13. No other country eats as much kingklip as South Africans do (also known as Congrio, Ling and Rockling in other parts of the southern hemisphere).
14. The world’s first heart transplant was done in South Africa in 1967 by South African Dr Chris Barnard.
15. South Africa also has the world’s most progressive and admired water legislation, and it is making a real difference on the ground. Since 1998 when the so-called “Blue Revolution” began, four million more poor people have access to clean water.
16. South Africa is ranked number one in the world for its floral kingdom
17. South Africa’s Coastal Management policy is one of the best in the world with the country being the first outside Europe to gain Blue Flag status for its coastal management.
18. South Africa is the sole producer of the Mercedes Benz, C Class, right hand drive vehicles
19. General Motors South Africa will be the only manufacturing site outside of the United States to build the Hummer H3 vehicle.
20. South Africans are natural inventors, giving the world those breakwater dolosse and the automatic pool cleaner.
21. The Population is 45 million.
22. Gauteng has the most advanced infrastructure in Africa.
23. South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.
24. South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.
25. South Africa is five times the size of Japan and three times the size of Texas.
Since 2001, India has possibly been the fastest-growing wine market worldwide, and one that is viewed with an enormous amount of interest by winemakers everywhere.
Sales of wine in India have shot up from a paltry 340,000 cases in 2001-02 to about 1.5 million cases in YE March ’09 – a growth of nearly 25 per cent per annum.
Never mind that per capita wine consumption (including that for “cheap” wines) is still a meagre 9 ml, compared to 370 ml in China and 2.1 litres in Brazil. This merely indicates the potential for growth in the future. Conservative estimates forecast total wine volumes growing “10 times in 10 years”; by 2015, total wine sales in India should almost be 40 million cases. This is still a fraction of China’s present 54 million, but nothing to be sneezed at.
Growth in wine consumption is being driven by many factors: changing lifestyles, habits and attitudes (particularly of young adults and women), catalysed by the growth of TV and the Internet, and increasing disposable incomes. The growth is also being fuelled by a wider availability of decent-quality wines, both those produced in India and imported from abroad; by an increased number of people from overseas travelling to and staying in India; and the perceived social and health benefits of wine.
Also helping are changing government attitudes to the industry. A National Wine Board has been set up; the 2001 Maharashtra Grape Processing Policy has spawned some 50 new wineries in that state, while the 2008 Karnataka Wine Policy promises to do the same there.
A 2007 study by consultants McKinsey & Co predicts that the total number of households with incomes of above Rs 5 lakh per year will grow from 3.6 million in 2005 to 42.6 million by 2025. A significant number of these “strivers” and “global Indians” will want to drink wine. And no doubt some of the 95 million households in the next income bracket (“seekers”) will also be wine consumers.
There are, of course, many challenges to marketing wines in India, not the least of which are high prices due to high import tariffs and a bewildering multitude of state-level taxes as well as the high cost of both producing wine locally and marketing the stuff in the teeth of stiff competition from the spirit and beer majors for shelf space and listings on-premise.
But that will change. Higher volumes and investments in the industry will reduce the costs, which, in turn, will lower prices. This will stimulate investments and volumes further – a “virtuous upward spiral”.
Award-winning wine brand, Kumkani, put a fashionable foot forward as it embodies African elegance when partnering with the glamorous ARISE Cape Town Fashion Week, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last week (20 – 23 August 2009).
With its striking packaging which incorporates bright colours reminiscent of African traditions, Kumkani’s striking looks were the perfect match for ARISE Cape Town Fashion Week.
The company of wine peopleTM‘s Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, Chris O’Shea, said: “We are proud to sponsor our award-winning, premium wines for an event of this stature. It aligns perfectly with our uniquely South African brand, Kumkani, and we are pleased to present our flagship wines to consumers.”
The fashion week featured the crème de la crème of the local fashion industry, with renowned designers such as Gavin Rajah, Klûk CGDT, Stefania Morland, Craig Port and David Tlale showcasing their collections, as well as up-and-coming designers.
Guests who attended the ARISE Cape Town Fashion Week had the opportunity to sample African elegance at its best with varietals such as the Kumkani Infiniti Methode Cap Classique, Kumkani Lanner Hill Sauvignon Blanc and Kumkani Triple J Shiraz on offer.
If you’re serious about drinking wine, chances are you’re serious about cellaring it too.
And if you’re serious about storing it, you’ll know that under the stairs isn’t the best place for your precious collection.
Make sure you keep it somewhere where the temperature is stable from day to night and season to season. This can be a purpose-built facility or private cellar. That failing, avoid windows, external walls or anywhere near a kitchen. Between 12-18 degrees Celsius is optimum, and based on the average temperature of the great European cellars.
Keep humidity between 65 and 75 per cent. Inadequate humidity will cause cork shrinkage and oxidisation and too much humidity will damage labels and encourage mould growth.
Store wine away from vibrations. This includes subwoofers, speakers, air-conditioners and hot water units. Vibrations affect chemical reactions in the wine.
Keep wine in the dark and avoid sunlight at all costs.
As the title reads, this Wine Tourism Handbook is South Africa’s Ultimate Guide to the Cape Winelands full of useful and practical information you can use to visit wine regions, cellar doors and restaurants with the help of maps and contact details for the wineries and more.
First thing the book does for someone like me who has been to South Africa before is it transports you instantly to the beautiful Cape Winelands region where small mountains adore as the backdrop for most of the vineyards and make them look picture perfect.
For a first time visitor, the book is an excellent companion and a complete guide to help understand the South African wines. It includes the history, the grape varietals grown, the environmental issues involved. It helps you understand the labels, wine styles and all the regions, Districts and Wards.
It also gives useful advice on the cellars where one can taste wines, tips on wining and dining and various wineland activities to help you make the trip well rounded. It does not purport to be exhaustive but is extremely practical for a first time tourist or even repeat visitors. For someone who is not much into wine, it might even convert them into wine lovers and value-add to their trip. It is truly a practical 101 type or course book on South Africa as a wine destinations.
Although the information on accommodation is too abridged, it does highlight specific wineries to visit due to their significance-historic or otherwise as also several places for stay because of their special charm. It does list the basics for a tourist though.
The Guide has been organized to help you traverse the various wine routes and not according to the regions. It starts with taking you through the Coastal routes-starting naturally with Constantia, Darling, Durbanville, Franschhoek, Paarl, Somerset West, Stellenbosch, Swartland, Tulbagh and Wellington. The accompanying maps are very clear and give specific location of the wineries in these Districts and Wards.
From there it takes you to the inland wine routes starting with Breederkloof, Klein Karoo, Northern Cape, Olifants River, Robertson and the capital of co-operative wineries- Worcester. Mountain Routes include trips to Aguilhas & Elim, Elgin & Bot River and walker Bay.
The book is in full colour and art paper with lots of pictures that make a very conducive reading. Perhaps for financial reasons, it is full of sponsored winery ads. Before it takes you to various wine cellars where tasting is possible, it helps a first time taster learn the basics of tasting sitting on your armchair in the privacy of your home.
Read Subhash Arora’s review: indianwineacademy.com
New rules came into force in the European Union (EU)’s wine sector as part of a package of reforms designed to make the industry more competitive. Producers will now be allowed to label bottles with grape variety and vintage and the range of legal winemaking practise has been broadened to include all methods permitted by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.
According to a report in packaging, more radical action will be needed to revitalise the sector, which in the 18 months since the package was first agreed, has continued to lose out to more competitively priced offerings from New World producers. The increased freedom to label wines by grape variety, a practice that is currently permitted only for some of the highest quality wines, will simplify branding and marketing for many smaller producers.
Rather than having to sell a wine based on a vineyard’s location in a little-known area of France or Italy, for example, producers will be able to take advantage of consumers’ hugely increased awareness of particular grape varieties.
New World wines have already done much of the work in making certain grapes, such as Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc, popular and this move will allow European producers to catch up with this trend. With wine consumption falling in many EU countries, emerging markets such as India and China are seen as crucial for sustaining growth in the wine sector.
Easier to understand labelling will undoubtedly help make EU wines more consumer friendly. To compete with New World wines, however, EU producers will also have to adopt some of the industrial techniques that have allowed New World producers to create a product that is better value and of a more consistent quality. This is unlikely to be achieved until the full package of reforms agreed in December 2007 is fully implemented.
Under the deal, farmers have already been subsidised to dig up 175000 hectares of vines, which will allow unprofitable vineyards to leave the sector before a host of subsidies are phased out by 2012. More importantly, by 2015 at the earliest and 2018 at the latest, successful producers will be given the freedom to increase the size of their vineyards as they wish.
At present the EU’s oversupply problems mean that even successful producers are prevented from planting too many new vines. This opens the door for the emergence of more European ‘super brands’ to compete with New World brands such as the US’s Blossom Hill and Australia’s Jacob’s Creek.
This move should also mean that vine planting is tied to commercial success rather than a skewed system of agricultural subsidies, meaning that the power of the market should eventually phase out wine varieties for which there is little demand. This should also be helped by the total removal of subsidies for ‘emergency distillation’ of unwanted wine into industrial ethanol from August 2012. With this move, the EU has made it clear that it is no longer willing to prop up unprofitable producers as it has done for so long.
I came across this interesting article regarding a dispute about the age old ‘spoon in the champagne bottle’ trick.
It’s an old wives’ tale that dangling a silver spoon down the neck of a champagne bottle will preserve the bubble.
Or is it?
Some people swear by it while others think it’s a load of tosh. So, although we had never (knowingly) left a bottle of bubbly unfinished, a group of curious MCC quaffers decided to see if this was true.
A case of sparkling wine later and we set about designing the experiment.
- -Opening two bottles.
- -Pouring a standard glass from each and photographing the wine in the glass.
- -Drinking the wine and recording our impressions – this was a terribly important step and one we had to repeat often.
- -Returning the bottles to the fridge, one with a spoon in it and one without.
- -As the bottles cooled down over the next few hours, recording the temperature in the bottle before repeating the process until the bottles were empty.
Of course, at each photograph-and-taste stage we also needed to open a control bottle afresh – just so that we had a comparison of course.
The experiment was repeated with many bottles over several weekends. It was a struggle, but we’ll do anything for science.
Once we had exhausted the crate (and a few extra bottles bought in), we scanned and digitally processed the photographs and then (i) counted the bubbles in each glass and (ii) measured the size of all the bubbles. All we can say here is thank heavens for software!
From the data, we could plot a bubble size distribution graph. This sounds impressive, but it is actually just a histogram with bubble size (diameter) along the bottom and the number of bubbles on the vertical axis .
There were two very interesting results that we found when we did this.
Firstly, the shape of the curve did not change and was a characteristic of the wine that we used and it didn’t change, regardless of how flat the wine was.
Secondly, and for this experiment, more importantly, the number of bubbles was higher when the spoon had been dangled in the glass when compared to bottles with no spoon.
This let us conclude that indeed, hanging a metal spoon down the neck of the bottle DOES preserve the bubbles!
Sure a cork or champagne stopper is better, but of you have lost the cork, or your partner has not had the foresight to give you a champagne stopper, a spoon will save at least some of the sparkle.
So now we have an answer, and like all good scientists, we need to explain it.
What we think is happening is that the spoon is acting as a radiator and when it hangs in the bottle, the air inside the neck of the bottle cools faster than the air inside a bottle without the spoon. Because we had measured the temperature drop inside each bottle we could confirm this.
Now, colder air is denser than warmer air, so the bottle with the spoon gets a ‘cold plug‘ on top of the wine sooner than the bottle without the spoon. The weight of this colder denser air means that less gas can escape so the bubbles are preserved. In addition, cold bubbly keeps more of its carbon dioxide in solution than warm.
Do you have any theories on the spoon and champagne theory? Let me know.
French vineyards are on the brink of disaster unless dramatic measures are taken to reduce global CO2 emissions, Greenpeace has warned.
Leading figures from the French wine and culinary world have teamed up with the environmental group in writing an open letter, which has been published in the influential French newspaper Le Monde.
‘French wines, elegant and refined, the jewels of our common national heritage, are in danger,’ the letter said.
‘Climate change is rendering our vineyards ever more vulnerable.
‘Summer heat waves, recent hail storms in the Bordeaux region, new diseases arriving from the South, such irregularities will soon become far worse still,’ it warned.
‘If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases, vineyards will be displaced 1,000km beyond their traditional borders between now and the end of the century. Terroirs will not survive.”
They call directly upon President Nicolas Sarkozy to push for an ‘ambitious’ climate change agreement at the upcoming United Nations’ conference.
According to the letter, the developed nations need to strike a deal to reduce their CO2 emissions by 40% between now and 2020.
Wine drinking may not be a competitive sport but the rivalry between countries to see who leads the world with the most influential palate, which wineries are leading their region, and which supermarket’s buying team is ruling the roost is just as intense.
Perhaps the most brutal way to examine the world of wine is by country.
The big news this year is that France is on the slide. The French were once the undisputed masters of the art, but their wine exports to the UK recently slid from second to third position, with the US in second and Italy in fourth.
For the nation that regards itself as the birthplace of wine, this is a royal spanking. France has amazing prestige in Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy, wondrous diversity in the Loire, awesomeness in the Rhine, aromatics in Alsace and some serious value emerging in the Vin de Pays category – look for brands such as La Difference. But the French system of labelling by place rather than grape still leaves a lot of UK wine fans bewildered.
Australia remains king of the UK export market, but my tips to watch out for over the coming season include New Zealand, Chile and South Africa.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk
the company of wine peopleTM and Percy Fox & Co have agreed that Percy Fox & Co will become the exclusive UK distributor for leading South African brand, Arniston Bay. The agreement will take effect from Monday 10th August and will also include the Welmoed, Kumkani and Versus brand portfolios.
These brands will provide a powerful new South African dimension to the Percy Fox & Co portfolio that already includes Blossom Hill, the UK’s No 1 wine brand, Piat d’Or, the No 2 brand in the French category, the Chilean wines from Santa Carolina and leading Champagnes Heidsieck & Co Monopole and Pommery from Vranken Pommery Monopole.
Percy Fox & Co and the company of wine peopleTM have great ambitions for the next stage of development for Arniston Bay in the UK. It is already a strong brand with true momentum, recording MAT volume growth of 41% (July 09 Nielsen) in the buoyant South African wine market, currently the fastest growing category in the UK. The partnership aims to drive growth by developing consumer engagement and extending distribution channels in both the on and off-trade.
Barney Davis, brand and business development manager for the company of wine peopleTM, will continue his role and work closely with the team at Percy Fox & Co.
Hermann Böhmer, CEO of the company of wine peopleTM, commented on the agreement: “We believe that in Percy Fox & Co we have found a like-minded partner that brings significant extra reach and influence in the UK market. Their extensive experience of building brands in the UK, together with their focus on the consumer and customer, mean that Percy Fox & Co is ideally positioned to build on the strong momentum Arniston Bay has developed over the last twelve to eighteen months in partnership with Ehrmanns, while their reach allows us to develop our other brands such as Welmoed and Kumkani.”
Simon Lawson, Percy Fox & Co director & general manager commented on the agreement: “We are delighted to announce this partnership. We believe the strength and potential of Arniston Bay makes it an ideal fit with the existing high performance Percy Fox & Co portfolio. It has natural synergy with our current wineries, and we are looking forward to working with the company of wine peopleTM to drive the brand forward. Arniston Bay already occupies an enviable position as the fifth fastest growing brand in the UK off-trade, and we believe that Percy Fox has the resources and expertise to build on this momentum and realise the brand’s full possibility in the UK”.
A recent study from the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) shows that British wine drinkers are shifting in colour as they turn to the competitors of red.
Over the first trimestre of 2009, red wine lost six points, being the favourite drink of 72 percent of wine drinkers, whereas the number was 78 only three months before. The share of red wine in the wine consumption of wine consumers decreased in the same period from 44 percent to 40 percent.
The obvious offset of this trend is the rising rates of competitors ‘white ‘and’ pink ‘. The consumption of white wine in the United Kingdom rose in three months from 40 to 43 percent, while rose climbed 16 percent to 18 percent.
White wines are in a winner’s mood. Within this category, the success of Pinot Grigio suggests that the Italian version of a French grape has been on the right market at the right time; in return, it boosted the performance of all white wines. In October 2008, 47 percent of wine consumers mentionned they had emptied at least one bottle of Pinot Grigio over the trimestre ; in April 2009, the figure has already risen to 54 percent. Thus, this variety is now sharing the number two position of the British hit parade of white grape varieties with Sauvignon Blanc at , after the still inaccessible Chardonnay.
Some say the shift is a matter of season, others point at a structural shift towards lighter wine styles. Other studies in the United Kingdom suggest that a growing number of consumers go for red wines during ‘formal occasions’, and prefer to keep their light and crispy white wine sip for more’ casual ‘settings.