ONLINE WINE CLUB


TERRY'S BLOG

Terry's blog, updated regularly, so you won't miss anything important in the world of wine.

Longevity


Research suggests that couples who drink together may in fact live longer. A study conducted every two years over two decades involving more than 4500 married or cohabiting couples came up with this remarkable finding. US scientists discovered that couples tend to live longer if they both drink alcohol. The study was broad based examining whether or not a participant had consumed an alcoholic beverage within the last three months. The research carried out by the University of Michigan found that when two individuals have similar drinking behaviours it may be a reflection of compatibility in their lifestyles, intimacy and relationship satisfaction.

Dr Kira Birditt a research professor at the university said 'we've also found in other studies that couples who drink together tend to have better relationship quality, and it might be because it increases intimacy'. There was a caution however against using their findings as a reason to drink more with your partner. The study was published in The Gerontologist Journal and also gave mention that light drinking was linked to better survival rates compared to heavy drinking.

So with this in mind you and your loved one can also capitalise on another study which matched wines to moments in peoples lives. 2,000 wine buffs came up with the ideal match for occasions - rather than what's on the menu. After a long day at work Pinot Grigio came up as the best wine to unwind with. A medium bodied Rioja was suggested as the ideal choice when binge watching TV. Try a gently spiced Merlot when relaxing in a hot bath. If you unfortunately have to comfort a friend or relative after a messy break-up a full bodied fruity Chenin Blanc would fit the bill best. The study was commissioned by Aldi. Wine expert Sam Caporn said 'pairing wine with life events makes sense'. adding 'all grape varieties have characteristics that work better with certain moods'.

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Punching Above Its Weight


An English whisky has been voted the best in the world. Produced by the The English Distillery in Norfolk. It is a sherry cask mature single malt, bottled by hand in Breckland, Norfolk. Unpeated and matured in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Judges heralded its ‘ aromas of rich dark fruits’ adding ‘ it delivers a wonderfully balanced and rich whisky’

The producer Andrew Nelstrop took over the distillery after his father’s death in 2014. His father, farmer James Nelstrop founded the distillery 17 years ago. Barley grown locally is the base for this obviously, wonderful whisky. It retails for around £50 per bottle.

Andrew and his wife Katy run the distillery. He commented ‘We’re stunned. Whilst any whisky maker hopes to win an award, winning the big one is the realisation my father’s goal of creating world class single malt whiskies in England, and sharing them with whisky lovers around the world’.

Unsurprisingly the Scotch Whisky Association have responded saying ‘Choosing a favourite whisky is a very personal choice, and Scotch Whisky consistently wins awards around the world. We are proud it is the world’s number one internationally traded spirit.

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Highs And Lows


Sales of no/low alcohol drinks reached over 57 million litres in 2021. Around 1 litre for each adult in the UK, which was 1.06 percent of all sales worth £221 million. Their popularity continues to surge with consumers wanting a more healthier life style by reducing their alcohol intake.

Although on the face of it the trend is very positive, there is a negative side regarding no/low alcohol drinks, which is their high price. The concern is that consumers on tighter budgets are being priced out from buying them. A recent report stated that most drinks in this category cost the same or more than their alcohol included equivalents.

In the first research of its kind, a study analysed consumption of beers, ciders, wines, spirits and ready -to- drink beverages with less than 1.2 percent alcohol by volume. Around a third of adults consumed no or low alcohol drinks with one in five doing so once a month. Lighter drinkers were less likely to consume them on a regular basis than more heavy drinkers. More wealthy drinkers were likely to consume no or low alcohol drinks than those drinkers from poorer backgrounds. The study suggested that similar pricing with alcohol containing drinks put some people off.

John Holmes of the University of Sheffield which carried out the survey said ‘ it’s good to see evidence that risky drinkers are trying no/low alcohol beverages. However these drinks are expensive. That’s a problem because alcohol causes the most harm among more deprived groups. If those groups can’t afford no/low alcohol drinks, it might mean we see only a small improvement in public health’.

Figures from analysts Assosia for the Grocer magazine highlights a price hike of 23.3% for 9 popular alcohol free beers at four of the UK’s leading supermarkets since the start of December last year.

A statement from the industry funded Portman Group said ‘The concerns around alcohol alternatives which share branding with regular-strength drinks are unfounded, as research shows these brands are helping consumers cut their drinking’.

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Feeling The Pinch


The oldest restaurant in Paris, La Tour D'Argent has experienced a theft from its magnificent wine cellar to the tune of 1.3 million pounds. Their cellar has a combined value of 21 million pounds.

The 25,000 most valuable bottles, all priced over £250 and over are stored in a special area on the first floor of the cellar which has walls reinforced with battleship grade metal. A routine stock check last month revealed that 83 bottles of some of their rarest wines had gone missing.

The thieves, referred to as the ‘premier crew’ could have taken the wines any time over the last four years. The restaurant went through extensive renovations before it reopened last summer and could have happened then. A list of the missing wines includes a number of red Burgundys from the prestigious Domaine de la Romanee – Conti regarded as some of the world’s greatest wines.

La Tour D’Argent was the inspiration for the 2007 hit film Ratatouille, the story of a young rodent who becomes a chef at a famous eatery in Paris. Celebs who have dined and enjoyed vintage wine at La Tour include Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Angeline Jolie, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, Charlie Chaplin, Dustin Hoffman and Prince. Some may have ordered the restaurant’s signature dish Canard au sang or bloody duck which was the invention of the 19th century owner Frederic Delair.

So if you are in a dark lit bar off the champs de elysee and a stranger approaches, taking out a bottle of Grand Cru Petrus from his dingy duffle bag offering you it for thirty quid, you will know where it probably came from.

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Fancy A Pint?


Moves are a foot to bring back pint sized bottles of still and sparkling wine this year. According to the Department for Business And Trade the new 568ml size will offer more choice to customers. There is no plan to change the rules on selling in imperial measures alongside their metric equivalent, clearly stated on the label due to consultations which suggested that 98.7% of respondents favoured using metric measurement units.

The new legislation will also allow wine to be sold in 200ml containers, potentially paving the way for an expansion in the current wine in a can market. Pint sized bottles for champagne were sold up until 1973 when the UK joined the common market. They are reported to have been the size favoured by our war time prime minister Winston Churchill. It will be the 150th anniversary of his birth this year a definite reason to pour a pint and for the trade to stock up.

On the subject of champagne 2023 saw a change in its fortunes with an 8% decline in volumes shipped compared to the same 12 month period in 2022. Covid caused a complete drop in the market in 2020 which tumbled to 245m bottles followed by a bounce back to 320m in 2021 and a euphoric 326m in 2022, the third highest ever total. The 2023 figure dropped to 298.7m, below the symbolic 300m figure.

With manufacturing costs rising there will be an inevitable rise in prices this year and perhaps the new pint size bottle will fill a gap in the market against its more expensive 750ml relative.

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Titbits


As we approach the end of the year and this will be the final blog of the year, we have just put together an array of wine and spirit topics at random.

OWC Researchers from the University of California say an antioxidant called quercetin may be preventing drinkers processing alcohol properly, which could be the reason why red wine is more likely to give you a headache than other alcoholic drinks. Scientists have confirmed that quercetin blocks an enzyme needed to break down alcohol, with further research being carried out.

OWC A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reveals that more women regularly get drunk in the UK than anywhere else in the developed world. Due to binge drinking, more than a quarter of female drinkers (26%) down at least 6 drinks in a single session, once a month or more. This is an increase from 16% in 2015 and around double the global average of 12%.

OWC Around 1.7 million adults were likely to be drinking at a level which would be negative to their health, according to the Health Survey for England 2021. A new weight loss drug is currently being trialled which may also reduce the craving for alcohol.

OWC Try a Pickle Juice cocktail this Christmas. All the rave apparently. It originated a few years ago in Brooklyn, New York. 30 ml vodka/15ml pickled juice/100ml ginger ale/squeeze of lime/garnish with rosemary and red chilli/served with ice. Gives ‘ getting pickled’ a whole new meaning.

OWC Look out for a ‘Zork’ a black plastic stopper that twists off with a hiss and replaces the conventional foil wrapper and mushroom – shaped stopper in Sparking wines. Resealable and supposedly recyclable, it could soon be seen on English and New World sparkly wines and perhaps Cava and Prosecco.

OWC Technology has advanced so much that some producers are happily putting better quality wine in boxes. Bag-in-the box consumers appreciate the cost savings. Most boxes require less Co2 than bottles and meet greener standards more too.

OWC Champagne gets its bubbles from carbon dioxide (Co2) generated when yeasts, sugar and wine combine in a second round of fermentation in the bottle. A French study has found that the longevity of the bubbles is better in bigger bottles. A standard 75cl bottle has a shelf life of around 40 years while a three litre jeroboam can keep fresh for 132 years!

OWC Once described as a ‘ swimming pool drink ’, only to be enjoyed in the summer, There is an increasing trend for lighter wines with rose wine being popular all year round. About 830 million gallons of wine is produced annually in France with nearly 20% of it now being rose.

OWC 40 bottles of what is said to be the world’s oldest Scotch Whisky have been discovered in a clear out at Blair Castle Perthshire. Found in a hidden room, a label on the shelf stated that they were casked 1833, bottled 1841 and rebottled 1932. Castle archives log all food and drink consumed there and by whom including an entry in 1844 recording Queen Victoria drinking Blair Castle whisky during a visit. The value of them is immense.

OWC To avoid hangovers this Christmas and New Year it might be worth taking heed of a review published as long ago as 2008 by Dr Joris Verster a researcher in pharmacology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands that darker coloured drinks, which contain more congeners (chemicals that give drinks their colour and taste) result in worse hangovers. So it might be best to stick to beer, vodka or white wine if you want a clear head in the morning.

So that’s it for this year folks. Seasons Greetings from The Online Wine Club.

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Surplus Stock


The French government has recently announced that 200 million Euros will be made available to fund the destruction of surplus wine production with the aim to support struggling wine producers and shore up prices.

A fall in demand, for various reasons has led to over production and it is stated that one in three wine makers in the Bordeaux region are facing major financial difficulties. Changes in consumption habits, the cost of living crisis and the after effects of covid have caused serious difficulties for many growers. European support funding was initially 160 million Euros, which has been topped up by a further 40 million. Agriculture minister Marc Fesneau stated the money ‘was aimed at stopping prices collapsing and so that wine-makers can find sources of revenue again’ but he stressed that the industry needed to ‘look at the future, think about consumer changes ... and adapt’

The south West Languedoc region has also been hit hard by the fall in demand, in some cases the sale price being below the production price. This region is the country’s largest wine producing area, well known for its full bodied reds.

Other public funds are also available for example to encourage grape growers to switch into other products such as Olives. Europe last suffered massive over production in the mid - 2000’s, the so called ‘wine lake’ which caused the European Union to reform its farm policy to reduce over production which was being stimulated by its own subsidies.

In a recent development with growers, things have got very heated in places, with French producers not just complaining but taking action and destroying hundreds of crates of Spanish Cava in protest over cheap imports. Around 500 vintners hijacked lorries in the border town of Boulou destroying their contents in what has been described as ‘economic war’ A 79 year old wine grower from the town of Ouveillan told the press that ‘ The Spanish have lower charges and the right to put all the chemicals they want on their vines while we have the right to do nothing. As a result Spanish wine costs half as much as French wine. A hectolitre of Spanish wine costs 40 Euros whereas it is almost 80 Euros here’

Alcohol from destroyed wine can be sold for use in products including hand sanitiser, cleaning products and perfume.

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Wine Mums


Nobody can deny that bringing up small children can be extremely stressful. Experts have warned that reaching for a drink to cope with parenting could lead to problems further down the line. A study at the West Chester University in the US concluded that there was a light-heartedness around wine mum culture, where women joke about having three glasses of wine after a long hard day with a toddler for example.

The study was led by Dr Erin Hill and was centred around mums from both the UK and USA. Dr Hill commented that ‘ It helps women to bond, to feel camaraderie and social support when they might feel isolated or that they are not coping. But the potential negative effects of drinking too much alcohol are a risk and should not be overlooked’.

Researchers recruited 466 mothers and gave them a description of ‘Wine Mum’ culture – which means using alcohol to get through the day. The women were given a questionnaire about their drinking habits. Many of the mums were part of social media groups and shared their jokes regarding needing a drink to cope. Those who said they drank like a ‘wine mum’ were found to have a higher level of problematic drinking which included binge drinking, memory loss after drinking and feeling remorseful afterwards.

The research also concluded that this group of mums also had issues around food, such as skipping meals to avoid extra calories after drinking wine, or eating less so that they could feel the effects of alcohol faster after a stressful day.

Dr Hill said that ‘ The wine mum stereotype in popular culture may play a role in mothers’ decisions about alcohol use’ adding : ‘More research is needed, but it is possible drinking “ like a wine mum” may be related to problems with coping. Women really need to be self-aware about how much they are drinking’

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Wine Man’s Bluff


A recent article suggests that Men are twice as likely as women to claim to be wine experts with 30 percent claiming they have used bluster when discussing wine, mainly to impress a date or look like they have a large amount of wine knowledge when they are drinking with friends. Fred Sirieix, star of Channel 4’s First Dates, said that the air of snobbery around wine ‘makes people think they have to be an expert in order to talk about it and enjoy it, when that is simply not the case’.

It also appears that a quarter of shoppers spend more than ten minutes trying to choose which wine to buy. About a third feel overwhelmed by the sheer choice while more than half admit that they don’t know which wines they like or dislike. One in six under 25’s take more than 15 minutes choosing which wine to buy. Incredibly the time we take deliberating over what to purchase in supermarket wine sections adds up to 50 million wasted hours per year!

So if all of this seems stressful, there is a simple answer – drink the wine (responsibly). Having the occasional drink can lower stress levels. A study in the journal of American College Of Cardiology suggests that regular low levels of alcohol were found to lead to long term reductions of stress signalling associated with heart attacks and strokes. Researchers studied data of more than 50,000 Americans and brain scans of 754. Scans showed that moderate drinkers had less stress signalling in the amygdala, a brain area associated with stress responses. Light to moderate drinkers also had fewer past heart attacks and strokes.

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Temperature Control


It appears that due to climate change wine is getting sweeter. Experts believe it will become harder to establish subtle aromas due to warmer temperatures giving wine extra sweetness with fewer traditional floral or earthly flavours, giving wines a higher alcohol content. Emma Sayer, a professor at Lancaster University has stated that ‘Climate change may show up some people who like to pontificate about wine without knowing what they are talking about. They will need to taste the difference in wines made from grapes grown in different temperatures and learn about new varieties. The most expensive exclusive wines may even change, as dryer wines from grapes suited to cooler climates with the right acidity become more rare and in demand’.

The traditional way of tasting and distinguishing aroma and flavour in wine could be affected as there could be a reduction of tannins due to higher temperatures. Climate change could lead to more rain in some countries. Producers are harvesting earlier, being selective in picking the healthiest grapes and adapting their fermentation techniques to account for climate changes. It seems that we will have to get used to more varieties such as those made from fungus resistant grapes, developed because traditional vines face a higher threat from mildew.

With things hotting up many people are adding ice to their wine which is causing negative comments from traditionalists and wine snobs. One of the world’s leading chefs, Michelin – starred David Chang has commented that whenever he puts ice in wine it ‘tastes like gold’. ‘Drinking wine with ice tastes like gold. It’s so delicious. I drink on ice right now. I don’t just want to drink it in the summer now, I want to drink it year round. The reason you’re drinking it it is not for culinary snobbery, it’s because it’s a beverage. So drink it as a beverage, not as an artefact.’ OWC echoes that.

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Floral Notes


Research by scientists has revealed that our perception of wine can be enhanced by matching it to flowers at the dining table. 32 people were asked to taste two red wines in rooms containing two different types of flower arrangements, or none. One of the wines, a rich Tannat from Uruguay, a wine considered to have a harsh-mouth feel and a strong aroma. When this wine was sipped while looking at delicate flowers people rated it less robust than a milder Australian Pinot noir. The arrangement which had this effect included champagne roses and light blue delphiniums – with their delicacy thought to have brought a similar taste to the wine. Using a brighter display of flowers had the opposite effect making the wine have a more robust flavour.

The study published in the International Journal Of Gastronomy and Food Science was led by Dr Herber Rodriques from the UK Centre for Excellence on Wine Education, Training and Research said ‘Wine is one of the world’s great sensory experiences, but this new research suggests that it can be influenced by factors outside of the glass, like flower arrangements.’

The 32 people recruited didn’t know which wines they were trying and that they were the same reds each time. In every room tasters tended to rate the Pinot noir as delicate but the far more robust Tannat was incorrectly rated as more delicate than the Pinot noir when accompanied by an arrangement containing pale, light and less colourful flowers. When the flowers on the table were brightly coloured or intense blooms such as red ranunculus the Tannat was described as complex and acidic.

So if it’s flowers and wine for a romantic evening, a birthday celebration, a wedding or event the following is a recommendation for the perfect wine and floral pairing.



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TASTING CORNER

Here you will find niche wines and spirits, Some very specific to individual taste and requirements, many not easy to find on popular search engines. Several, in our opinion their absolute best in their Class.

TASTING CORNER

Here you will find niche wines and spirits, Some very specific to individual taste and requirements, many not easy to find on popular search engines. Several, in our opinion their absolute best in their Class.

Wine InvestmentGIN