Tags: Wine. Wineries. White. Red
I will be the first to admit I have a shocking memory for names and faces, there, a moment at Changi Airport when I bumped into a client I had called on for some time and spent several minutes calling him John when I realised after he had gone it was John’s partner Gordon, I suppose not being in the store was my only excuse. Therefore when a lady I had met on a boating course some three or four years ago said hello the other day it was unlikely I would remember the occasion but she was kind enough to remark that she read these articles, however, she didn’t always agree with some of the comments I made.
This was music to my ears for it means that the articles sometimes are a talking point and I would be the first to admit I certainly don’t know everything about wine and I am still learning all the time. Drinking wine has certainly changed during my time in the industry, nowadays on nearly every television show, there are occasions when someone is seen drinking a glass of wine and wine has become a talking point when people get together, far different from the beer-drinking of not many years ago. Even at the Bribie Golf Club on a Friday night most tables seem to have a bottle of wine being shared by the diners, and also quite a lot of premium wines especially red wines.
A few weeks ago, I purchased half a dozen bottles of Wynns Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the Dan Murphy stores and when I got home, I noticed one of the bottles was different to the other five, it had a cork! At first, I thought maybe it was an export bottle because many countries aren’t keen on our Stelvin screw-top enclosures and our wineries still export the wines with cork. On looking a little closer I saw the offending bottle was actually from the 1995 vintage so I had the excitement of looking forward to trying a twenty-four-year-old wine which was going to be well over the hill, just about still drinkable or a surprise and still drinking well.
As we had friends over for dinner last Saturday I decided this was an opportunity to see how this wine had developed remembering I hadn’t cellared the wine so had no idea how it had been stored over the years, whether it had been laid down or left standing up, subjected to temperature fluctuations, everything about the bottle was a mystery that was about to be revealed. As I removed the top of the capsule it was noticeable there was no wine leakage and the cork looked new and as it was pulled out of the bottle there was no wine stain anywhere, it was in perfect condition.
A quick smell of the wine to see if there was anything to worry about revealing lovely aromas of blackcurrants and suggested the wine was going to be an outstanding treat, happy days! I had left the wine standing upright for a couple of hours to allow for any sediment to settle on the bottom of the bottle and it was now time to decant the wine carefully into a decanter. I poured the wine keeping an eye on the last few drops to see if there was a vein of sediment and it looked perfectly clean not even a tinge of brown, the colour was still vibrant.
We were having beef cheeks which had been slow-cooked for nearly six hours and the match was perfect and to follow was a bottle of 2012 Penfolds Bin 28. To finish we had deep-fried ice cream balls which were accompanied by a Pirramimma Late Harvest Riesling 2013 vintage and the evening was a great success. I was in Liquorland the other week and overheard a customer mentioning the sulphites in the wines gave her headaches and decided to read up on this subject as there are some truths and myths on this subject.
Sulphites occur naturally in all wines and have been a known part of winemaking for a thousand years. Sulphites occur as part of the fermentation process, a natural by-product of the yeast metabolism during the conversion of sugar to alcohol and are completely harmless to over 99% of all people. In fact, the human body produces sulphites and there are already about 10 times more sulphites in you daily than a bottle of wine. The warnings on labels came about due to restaurants in the 1970s and 1980s protecting the spoilage on fruits and vegetables with a spray of sulphites to prevent the produce from oxidising and going brown, but unfortunately they were using up to 2,000 ppm which caused an adverse reaction in several hundred people and laws were introduced that imposed warning labels on any products with sulphites over 10ppm.
Why then do some people get headaches from red wine? First of all there is usually twice as many sulphites in white wine as there are in red but there are a host of other natural components in red wines which can cause headaches such as histamines and tannins being the main culprits, red wine contains about 30 times more histamine than white and if your body has an intolerance to histamine the number one symptom is a headache. Another cause which no-one would ever like to admit to is dehydration caused by not drinking enough water between the glasses of the wine so one way to prevent a headache is simply enjoying a couple of glasses of H2o during the evening.
The bad news for sulphite sufferers is the following products contain more sulphites than a bottle of wine, canned fruit, frozen fruit, fruit syrups, jams and jellies, cereals, chips, ketchup, mustard, relish, vinegar, deli meats, sausages, and canned soups to name just a few. This week I noticed that Dan Murphy’s were selling the Houghton Classic range for under $6 which as I have mentioned before the Houghton White Classic is always a very good wine and will actually cellar very well for a number of years, the wines regularly win medals at wine shows and would normally retail at around $12. Houghton was established in 1836 and is one of Australia’s oldest operating wineries.
The Swan Valley Winery site has a colourful history which includes tales of pioneer Scots, bandits and generations of winemaking craftsmanship. In 1937 winemaker Jack Mann created Houghton White Burgundy using French White Burgundy winemaking techniques in creating this wine which went on to sell 1 million bottles in 1972 the first wine to do so and has been an ever-popular wine to this day. Although the title White Burgundy can no longer be used on the bottle the current ‘White Classic’ wine crafted by winemaker Ross Pamment, who incidentally is only the 13th winemaker in Houghton’s rich history, maintains the style created by Jack Mann all those years ago.
I first came across Ross 50 years ago when I coached The High Wycombe under 12’s soccer team and he was our goalkeeper in a very successful league winning team, he joined Houghton as a cellar hand in 1989, joined the winemaking team in 1999 and became senior winemaker in 2009 who would have thought back in 1982 he would one day lead Western Australia’s most awarded winery today. Cheers, Philip Arlidge. firstname.lastname@example.org
This is one of the disadvantages of wine, it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.
And in the same vein but hundreds of years earlier… “It is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool, it drives the man to dance, it even tempts him to blurt out stories better not told.”