Tannin in wine provides two things: structure and ageability. Found in the grape’s skins, seeds, and stems, tannin is a natural preservative. Red wines, with considerably more tannin than white, can thus age longer. Tannins belong to a class of complex compounds called phenols, powerful antioxidants. Some scientists believe that antioxidants offer a way to also slow fresh food spoilage by reacting with chemicals that cause oxidation. Paul Kilmartin, a professor of wine chemistry at New Zealand’s University of Auckland, discovered that plastics impregnated during the manufacturing process with discarded grape solids retained the tannin’s antioxidant benefits. Testing their effect on packaging for various edible oils, Kilmartin was able to extend the oil’s shelf life up to 30%.
Yes, thirty three of the world’s 50 most expensive wines come from Burgundy, France. According to wine-searcher.com’s annual ranking, the perennial #1 is DOMAINE de la ROMANÉE-CONTI “Romanée-Conti” Grand Cru, with an average price of $19,378 a bottle. After Burgundy, Germany’s Mosel region had the next most wines on the list with 5. Somewhat shockingly, only 3 wines from Bordeaux were among the top 50. And not surprisingly, the 2 Napa Valley wines on the list were both from Screaming Eagle. Very surprising about both Napa and Bordeaux, makes me wonder about this ranking.
This is a very interesting trend. How many of you belong to a wine club? I have only one membership currently, my Domaine Carneros sparkling club membership. I have subscribed to others, but costs can add up. Perhaps due to the pandemic, there are about 2500 wine-based subscription boxes and wine clubs tracked by Cratejoy, an online subscription box marketplace. Growing rapidly in popularity, subscription boxes are recurring shipments of products (both niche—Champagne, cigars—and general—razor blades, meal kits) curated for you and packaged in a box designed to create an experience. Many consumers use them to learn about new brands. Subscription services often offer discounts on follow up purchases of items from the box.
Public health announcement: There were 5,843 alcohol-specific deaths in England alone during 2017 according to the NHS, with 80% of them due to liver disease. Booze is also a factor in several cancers, including breast, mouth and esophageal cancer. Fourteen units per week is the UK maximum recommended intake for both men and women, and is a good rule of thumb wherever you live in the world.
The pandemic has created some unique opportunities to buy wine.
Airlines are still operating only a fraction of the number of flights they offered pre-pandemic, and alcohol is banned in many cabins to help thwart the spread of Covid-19. This is adding up to a lot of leftover booze. Now, American Airlines is hoping to sell and ship some of its excess wine directly to peoples’ homes.The company said Thursday that a new program — called American Airlines Flagship Cellars — will give customers a chance to buy wine by the bottle, in custom “curated” cases, or via a monthly subscription plan that costs $99 per month.
The damage to the state’s wine companies by last year’s fires, according to one industry analyst, may amount to as much as $3.7 billion. That’s taking into account the losses of property, wine inventory, grapes and future sales of the wine that those grapes would have made.
As we progress with a new Administration in Washington, and more Covid vaccines, let’s hope we can return soon to visit wineries again. I know I have enjoyed more than my share of good sparkling wines during the pandemic and lock down.