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Wine Knowledge

Re(a)d All about It!

Jill Gwee sees red in this issue and unleashes the first part of her findings on wines from this spectrum of the rainbow

R

ed wines offer more intense aromas and flavours than white wines. To the beginners, red wines may be overpowering, particularly if they have a fuller body, higher alcohol and tannin content, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Beginners, who are simply seeking great flavours at good value, are often intimidated but if they start on the right note, they will uncover a trail of exciting flavours and a much more interesting drinking experience!

Colour Through its Ages
The reds are more intense than whites because in the wine making process, the reds rely on fermenting the juice with their grape skins to extract the colour, flavour and tannin. The anthocyanins, produced in the grape skins to protect the grape from ultraviolet light, give the skin its dark colour. The development of the anthocyanins accounts for the range of predominantly red shades in the wines. Young wines have free anthocyanins that manifest as intense elements of blue. These eventually blend with red to create shades of purplish-blue. Gamay primeur wines and six- to 18-month-old Beaujolais Nouveaux will have this colour. With age, the anthocyanins combine with the tannins to create elements of yellow as seen in a wine that is starting to age (three to seven years). The colour later turns deeper overall, verging on brown.

The grape variety from which the wine is made determines the depth of the colour. Cabernet Sauvignon yields a deep ruby colour while a same-aged Gamay is of a lighter cherry shade.

Assault of Inexperienced Palates
A beginner having a go at a Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time may find his taste bud under assault. Tannins, found in the grape skins as well as the seeds and stalks, are the culprits. They can also be derived from the wood of the casks used to age the wines. Tannins have a characteristic astringency that puckers the mucous membranes of the mouth. They thicken the saliva and can make the wine seem dry on the palate. Excessive tannins lead to bitterness that can sometimes turn off the beginning wine enthusiast.

In our next issue, I will introduce some lighter-bodied red wines that are ideal for newbies. Lighter-bodied wines with their smooth, soft texture and a fresh tangy finish are a gateway to fuller-bodied wines. These light reds can also lick the wounds of those buffeted by the astringency of heavy reds.

Tannin Content from Place to Place
During fermentation, if the winemakers leave the grape juice in contact with the skins for a longer time, the wine becomes more tannic. The grape’s tannin content is influenced by sunlight intensity which is strongly related to latitude – French grapes will have different amount of tannins compared to Spanish or Italian ones. Therefore, Spanish reds tend to be thicker textured and more tannic with a spicy edge, and French red varietals show herbaceous, sweet red fruit and round tannins, while a lean, less overt fruit with an extra note of dry tannin finishing in a chalky tannic manner is associated with Italian reds. Australian reds increase in tannins as you move inland, away from its coast.

The length of day also determines the grapes’ tannin content. Winemakers, through canopy management, can control the amount of light to achieve a certain amount of anthocyanins and tannins in turn impacting on the wine quality produced.

Fruitiness
The fruit character is one of the key components to look out for in a red wine. A young red wine is marked by its youthful fruit and impetuous tannins. Depending on the type of wine, the floral and fruit series are first to emerge in a young red – scent of roses mingling with aromas of cherries and strawberries. Carbonic maceration can add an aroma of bananas. This wine can be a source of immediate pleasure or pleasure in store depending on whether the wine is destined to be drunk at once or to be laid down. Youthful reds have more fresh fruit flavours while an aged wine has a complex bouquet of wood, vanilla, cedar and toast because these wines are often cask-matured. Beginning wine tasters are often less attracted to these flavours in an aged wine. But over time, wine enthusiasts will learn to appreciate the complexity of aged wine, particularly when paired with the appropriate food.

Wines from different regions will also display different fruit characters. New Zealand has fresh bright fruit wrapped in medium body and intense fruit flavours. South America offers fresh, intense, fruity flavours and tannin that is easy on the gums. South Africa sits halfway between the new and old worlds with the medium-bodied nature of Europe and the bright fruitiness of the new world.

Food Pairing
To pair a red wine successfully with food, the easiest approach is to look at France, Italy, Spain and Germany where food and wine have developed in tandem over centuries. Some classic pairings will be osso bucco with Barolo (made from Nebbiolo), lamb with Merlot (a right-bank Bordeaux such as Pomerol or St. Emillion), filet mignon with Béarnaise sauce and a left-bank Bordeaux (which are Cabernet Sauvignon intensive) such as Margaux or Pauillac. A red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) is classically paired with duck. For the festive season, a turkey that is served cold is good with Beaujolais (made from Gamay). For a lighter palate, a fun choice is Chianti (made from Sangiovese) and pizza or pasta with marinara sauce. If you like tapas and more seasoning, Rioja (a Spanish Tempranillo blend) is great with skirt steak and roasted red piquillo peppers. In the next part of this feature, I will highlight Asian foods that go well with the various reds which we would be exploring – from light, smooth reds to full-bodied reds.

Health Benefits
The French experience low levels of coronary heart disease despite a high-saturated fat diet. Many nutritionists have speculated this French paradox to be the result of red wine consumption which is integral to their culinary culture. The source of red wine’s health benefits appears to be the proanthocyanidins which are the most abundant flavonoid polyphenols in red wine – up to one gram per litre is found in some traditional style red wines, particularly the deeply coloured reds. Proanthocyanidins, also known as OPCs, are found in many plants, and grape seeds and skin. Their effects include neutralising oxidants and free radicals, depressing blood fat and inhibiting destruction of collagen. These influences, along with other mechanisms, are beneficial in venous and capillary disorders, including venous insufficiency, capillary fragility, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Some research indicates that the vascular benefits of red wine drinking depend on the presence of oligomeric proanthocyanidins. Additionally, studies have shown that OPCs may prevent cardiovascular disease by mitigating the negative effects of high cholesterol on the heart and blood vessels.

Although the OPCs content in red wine differs from each grape variety and the vineyard environment, the winemaker holds the key to what ends up in the bottle. The OPCs content is affected by the contact time between the liquid and the grape seeds during fermentation when the alcohol concentration reaches about six per cent. Depending on the fermentation temperature, it may be two days or more before the slow extraction begins. Grape skins float and seeds sink, so the number of times they are pushed down and stirred into the fermenting wine also increases extraction of OPCs. After fermentation, many reds are left to macerate with their seeds and skins for days or even weeks in order to extract all the colour, flavour and tannins. Wines that have a contact time of less than seven days will have a relatively low level of OPCs. Wines with a contact time of 10 to 14 days have decent levels, and those with contact times of three weeks or more have the highest.Grape skin also contains resveratrol where studies on rats have also shown that it can reduce tumor incidence by targeting different stages of cancer development – inhibiting certain enzymes, promoting cancer cell death and preventing the development of blood vessels needed to feed a tumor.

Although no beverage can supplement the perks of daily exercise and a well-balanced diet, moderate wine consumption (one 5-ounce glass a day for women, two 5-ounce glasses day for men) can confer a host of the above-mentioned benefits. Over-imbibing carries a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, till you read the next part of this feature in our next issue, eat well, exercise and drink moderately. Salut!

Red meats are suitable with tannins which are normally present in younger reds such as Shiraz, Carbernet or a blend of both.

红的初学体验

Jill Gwee在这里谈的是红酒,以及他从各个角度对红酒所做的研究和心得。以下是他研究结果的第一部分。

红酒的芳香和味道,比白酒来得更醇厚。对于初学品酒的人来说,红酒或许会过于强烈,尤其是那些酒精和丹宁含量较高的红酒,如赤霞珠葡萄酒。只想要品尝物超所值好味道的初学者,往往很容易因此而退缩。但是,如果开始时他们就站在正确的起始点上,一路上就能发现到许多意想不到的好味道,品酒的体验将更加精彩!

色泽随时间转变
因酿制过程的不同,红酒一般会比白酒来得更浓稠。在发酵的过程中,连皮的葡萄会释放出颜色、味道及丹宁,这决定了红酒将呈现出的味道。葡萄皮所产生的果皮花色素可保护葡萄免受紫外线光的侵害,让果子保持其深色泽。大多数红酒的色泽都取决于果皮花色素成份的演变。新酿红酒中的果皮花色素呈现出的是强烈的蓝色,与红色混合后就形成了紫蓝色。Gamay primeur红酒和6到18个月酒龄的Beaujolais Nouveaux的色泽正是如此。随着时间增加,果皮花色素和丹宁的混合物将逐渐转变成黄色,从酒龄3到7年的红酒中就可看到这种转变。之后,颜色会变得越来越深,接近褐色。

葡萄品种也是决定红酒色泽深浅的一个因素。由赤霞珠葡萄酿成的酒会呈深红宝石色;而酒龄相同的嘉美葡萄酒则是呈浅樱桃色。

受“攻击”的初学体验
初次品尝赤霞珠葡萄酒的人会感觉味蕾犹如被“攻击”了一般,葡萄皮中的丹宁、葡萄种子和藤枝正是“罪魁祸首”。它也可能是酿酒用的木桶所造成的。丹宁的粘滞特性会致使口腔粘膜“竖”起,使唾液变浓缩,让红酒喝起来感觉干涩。过多的丹宁会带来苦涩味,这可能让一些初学者却步。

在下一章,我将介绍一些酒体较轻、适合初学者品尝的红酒。轻红酒口感顺滑、柔和、含清新柑橘味,是属于入门级的酒类。酒体轻盈的酒也能抚平口中因烈酒粘滞性所造成的不适感觉。

丹宁含量因地而异
在酿制过程中,如果酿酒师让葡萄皮浸在汁中越久,酒中的丹宁成份就会越多。葡萄丹宁的含量会受到光照的强弱的影响,而光照强弱就跟所在的纬度息息相关,比如说,法国葡萄和西班牙及意大利葡萄中的丹宁含量就有所不同。因此,西班牙红酒会比较浓稠,丹宁含量较高,还有辛辣的感觉;而法国红酒则因其甜葡萄而含有饱满的丹宁;至于意大利红酒,因其葡萄较小、被遮蔽,使得丹宁在酒中呈现犹如粉笔的干涩感。在澳洲,你会发现来自内陆地区的红酒会比海岸地区的红酒含有较多的丹宁成份。

阳光照射的时间也决定了葡萄中的丹宁含量。酿酒师可通过设置罩棚,来控制照在葡萄上的阳光量,以此达到控制果皮花色素和丹宁含量的目的,继而影响红酒的品质。

酒中果香
选择红酒时,葡萄的特性是其中一个重要的考量因素。酒龄浅的红酒,所含的果子仍未变陈,丹宁正在积极发挥作用。依酒的种类而异,花香和果味一般是“年轻”红酒最先显露出来的特征,例如夹带玫瑰香、樱桃和草莓味的红酒。通过二氧化碳浸泡技术,还可让酒增添香蕉的香气。这种类型的酒可以为人们只制造出愉快的感觉。“年轻”酒散发出较多果味;而陈年佳酿的味道就复杂得多,由于长年储存在木桶里,酒味参杂着木、香草、雪松等的味道。这种陈年酒味一般不能引起初学者的兴趣。然而,过了一段时间,爱酒者必定会学着欣赏陈年酒的美,尤其喜欢用它们来搭配美食一起享用。

酒中果香的特性也会因所来自的地区不同而有所差别。纽西兰葡萄酒清香,酒体中度,果香浓郁。南美葡萄带来的是清爽、浓郁的果味和丹宁,入口时不会干涩。南非葡萄酒的特性则是介于新旧世界两者之间,它既有欧洲葡萄酒的中度酒体,又带有新世界葡萄酒芬芳。

食物搭配
要选择能搭配红酒的食物,最入门的方法就是选择法国、意大利、西班牙和德国式餐点,因为这些国家的进餐配酒文化已经流传至今好几个世纪了。一些经典的搭配包括:意式炖小牛腿配Barolo葡萄酒(用内比奥罗葡萄酿制)、羊肉配Merlot(波尔多右岸Pomerol或St. Emillion葡萄酒)、Béarnaise酱汁腓力牛排配波尔多左岸红酒(赤霞珠葡萄)如Margaux或Pauillac。勃艮第红酒(黑皮诺葡萄)配鸭肉。享用圣诞大餐时,冷食的火鸡与Beaujolais(用嘉美葡萄酿制)是最佳搭配。在比较随性的场合,可以将Chianti(用桑娇维塞葡萄酿制)搭配比萨或红酱意大利面。如果你喜欢西班牙小菜tapas或调味料多的食物,可将裙带牛排和香烤piquillo红甜椒搭配Rioja酒(用西班牙添普兰尼洛葡萄酿制)一起吃,必定能满足口腹之欲。

在接下来的章节,我将重点介绍适合搭配红酒的亚洲食物,从口味较轻的、顺滑的,到口味浓重的红酒都囊括在内。

对健康的益处
尽管体内饱和脂肪的量高,法国人患上冠心病的几率却非常低。很多营养学家都认为,已经融入法国烹饪艺术的饮酒文化是促成这个现像的主因。富含黄减性多酚类的原花青素(proanthocyanidins)存在于红酒中,相信因此为人体健康带来好处。在一些传统红酒中,尤其是那些色泽深沉的,每一公升就含有接近一克的原花青素。原花青素也叫做OPCs,存在于很多植物、葡萄籽和皮中。它的作用包括中和氧化剂和自由基、抑制血脂升高、减少胶原蛋白受到破坏。这些功能如果在人体机制中发挥作用,将有助于改善静脉毛细血管疾病,如静脉功能不全、毛细管脆弱、糖尿视网膜病和黄斑变性疾病。一些研究则指出,红酒对心血管的好处取决于原花青素是否存在。还有一些研究显示,原花青素是通过减缓心脏和血管中高胆固醇的不良影响,来达到预防冠心病的效果。

虽然红酒中原花青素的含量会因葡萄品种和生长环境的不同而有所差异,但红酒的质量其实还是可由酿酒师来控制。当酿制过程中酒的浓度达到6%时,酒液和葡萄籽接触时间的长短会影响原花青素的含量。依葡萄发酵时的温度而异,释放原花青素之前所需的时间可能需要两天,或者更多。葡萄皮在酒液中会往上浮,而葡萄籽往下沉,进行搅动和使之下沉动作的次数越多,原花青素的释放量就会越高。发酵完成后,酿酒师一般会让葡萄籽和皮继续浸在酒中数天,甚至数星期,以让它释放出所有颜色、味道和丹宁。浸泡少于7天的酒,所含原花青素的含量会来得较低;浸泡10至14天的酒,其原花青素的含量相对而言会来得较适中;而那些浸泡长达3星期的,含量则可能达到最高点。

此外,葡萄皮也含有白藜芦醇(resveratrol)。从在老鼠身上的实验可看到,这种成分可在癌症的不同阶段帮助抑制肿瘤的生长,控制某种酶分泌,杀死癌细胞和阻断可供应营养给肿瘤的血管生长。

虽然没有一样饮料能够代替运动和均衡饮食,但适量地喝一些红酒(女性一天一次5安士,男性一天两次5安士),还是可为健康带来一些好处。要注意的是,喝过量反而会提高心脏病和中风的风险。因此,当你还未读到下个章节前,只要保持饮食、运动正常,酒也喝得适量就行了!

good food goes with

good wines

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“A meal without wine is like a day without sun” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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