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Natural Wine
Words by Nick Ryan on 9 Aug 2016
Natural wine is the hottest thing in the world of wine right now, the boozy buzzword from Brooklyn to Bondi and all licensed points in between. The term ‘natural’ wine is problematic, more on that later, but in essence we’re talking about a winemaking movement that seeks to produce wines with the bare minimum of human intervention. That means no additions, no adjustments, no filtration or fining. Basically we’re talking about removing human intervention in the winemaking process from everything that happens between the picking of the fruit from the vine and crushing it to get the juice through to getting the resultant wine into the bottle. The juice begins to ferment not through the addition of commercially packaged yeast, but rather through the naturally occurring yeasts floating around in the vineyard and winery. The various options winemakers have to fill the gaps that the vagaries of vintage can create are also shunned, which means no added acid, enzyme, nutrient or tannin. Manic organics Any discussion of ‘natural’ wine will invariably touch on organic and bio-dynamic practices and while they’re intertwined, they’re not indivisibly so. When we talk about organic or bio-dynamic wines, we’re referring primarily to the farming practices in the vineyard, while most of the requirements for classifying a wine as ‘natural’ occur, or more accurately, don’t occur, within the winery. So any ‘natural’ wine worthy of the name will come from organic or bio-dynamic vineyards, but there will be wines produced from similarly certified vineyards that can’t be considered ‘natural’ because the winemakers responsible for them choose to be a little more ‘hands on’ when it comes to helping them along the journey from grape to glass. That’s just part of the difficulty with such absolutist terminology. Also tied up in this milieu are the wines that proclaim themselves ‘Orange’, not because they come from the central New South Wales wine region, but rather because they range in colour from the bruised umber of a hobo’s urine to a turbid tangerine akin to flat Fanta. Thrill or spill In essence, Orange wines are white wines made as if they were reds, meaning the juice is kept in contact with skins, often in oxidative environments, to allow the extraction of tannin, phenolic compounds and colour. This can make for some intriguing wines, but anyone expecting them to behave like conventional white wines might be seriously weirded out by the step up in texture and weight. Advocates for natural wine will say that the removal of winemaking fingerprints from these wines allows for the purest expression of terroir, a wine’s ability to express the true nature of the place from which it comes. In theory, this should be right, but experience tells me that’s not always the case. I’ve had natural wines that have thrilled me utterly and I’ve had natural wines that have made me wonder if I should rip my tongue from my mouth and wipe my arse with it rather than subject it to another drop. That’s part of the pleasure, and part of the problem, too. A natural division There is a political statement inherent in the whole ‘natural’ wine movement that makes me a little uncomfortable, an unfair juxtaposition that banishes all other wines that don’t fit the criteria into a bin implied to be ‘unnatural.’ I prefer the term ‘ low-fi’ that some of the best exponents use. It also has to be accepted that a more open-minded attitude to winemaking faults is required to enjoy a lot of these wines and I’m cool with that. There is beauty in the flawed as well as the perfect. But there is a worrying trend amongst the loudest advocates of natural wine to treat any criticism as simply the old-fashioned windbaggery of an old guard who just don’t get it and I think that’s wrong. A natural wine isn’t good just because it’s been made in line with the philosophies and methods that define the movement. A natural wine is good, just as any wine is, when it’s simply a delicious liquid you want to put in your mouth. The world of natural wine is one well worth exploring and some real thrills await those who seek them. Just remember, the best guide is always your own palate and a wine with nothing but a philosophy to commend it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Wine
How to host your own wine tasting party!
Gather your friends and put your collective wine knowledge to the test with a wine tasting party! It’s all about bringing that cellar door tasting experience to your home and enjoying good wines and good times. There are no rules to the type of tasting you host –  from a sit-down dinner to an impromptu barbeque, or a casual lunch. Or, you can step it up a notch and host a themed party using some of our ideas (see further below), or make up your own – just make sure it’s lots of fun! WHAT YOU’LL NEED So, what do you need to set up your wine tasting? Besides, the wines of course, you’ll also need: Wine glasses – white or red wine glasses depending on the wine being tasted Covers –  to disguise the wine bottles Water – supply still or sparkling water to cleanse the palate between wines Spittoons –  in case some guests don’t want to drink the wine once tasted Snacks – to cleanse the palate. Plain water crackers, breads, olives and cheeses are perfect Pens and note pads – to complete your tasting notes Friends – from two to ten friends, the options are endless HOW TO PLAY
Disguise the Wines Put the wines in bottle covers and mix them around so no one knows which is which and number the bottles. We suggest tasting up to four wines each session. Once you’ve assembled the glasses, bottles and the extra bit and pieces, there’s really one thing left to do – enjoy the tasting Taste Now for the best bit. Pour a wine into the corresponding numbered glass for each player. Announce the theme and let the tasting begin. Make Notes Thinking about the colour, aromas and taste, each player should jot down their thoughts on their tasting sheet. Mingle Reveal and discuss each wine, reading out your tasting notes, remembering there is no absolute right or wrong. Re-set and start again. Be the host with the most
Have fun choosing the wines for your party. Simply select from your latest Wine Selectors collection or ask your friends to bring a bottle. Tasting theme ideas There are so many themes you can chose for your wine tasting party. Here are a few different ideas to get you started. Regional rumble – taste the unique characteristics of varieties grown in various regions. Favourites – ask your guests to bring their favourite varietal making sure they’re all different. Price wars – choose the same variety and vintage from different price points and see if the price reflects the quality. Vertical tasting – choose one wine and taste several different vintages. It’s really interesting to experience the similarities and the differences from year to year. Food theme – Thai with Riesling or Gewürztraminer, tapas with Tempranillo or Sangiovese, seafood with Semillon or Sauv Blanc, the combinations are endless. New wave wines – with so many fantastic emerging alternative varietals now available, step out of the comfort zone and introduce your guests to some deliciously new drops. Practice makes perfect With each party and tasting session you’ll detect deeper, more involved aromas and flavours – after all, practice makes perfect. Get Your Own Wine Tasting Party Kit!
To help expand your love of wine and make tasting fun and easy, we’ve created a great kit, which you can use next time you’re hosting a tasting or even at an impromptu get-together.  
Wine
Wine well stored is wine well enjoyed
Words by Vintec on 4 Nov 2017
Wine well stored is wine well enjoyed. Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of wine storage thanks to our friends at Vintec . Did you know the wrong storage environment can negatively affect your wine after only a few weeks? Check out this list of all the places you might store your wine at home, and which ones you should absolutely avoid. The Ugly Surprisingly, some of the worst places that you can store your wine are in your kitchen. This includes near your oven, or next to your fridge – which dispels a considerable amount of heat during its compressor cycles. Any wine professional will tell you that fluctuating temperature is the worst for your wine. Similarly, storing wine in a consistently hot environment, will literally cook your wine, resulting in ‘spoiled fruit’ flavours. The Bad Unfortunately this category covers a lot of the places we often think are okay for wine storage, such as under the staircase, in a basement, or in Styrofoam boxes. Wine’s ideal cellaring temperature is between 12ºC and 14ºC. Storing wine under 10° will stunt maturation, while above 16° will prematurely age the wine. On top of this, low humidity environments dry out corks, which allows air into the bottle – this is really bad. The Good
So, where should you store your wine?  The best place is somewhere that has been specifically designed to accommodate the needs of your wines, like a cool natural underground cellar or a climate-controlled wine cabinet. A well-made wine cabinet replicates the conditions found in the best natural underground wine cellars by controlling humidity, temperature and UV light. While you may assume a wine cooler is a good alternative, unfortunately these generate intense blasts of cold air, creating large temperature fluctuations, and they remove ambient humidity, causing your corks to dry out. The most convenient option for wine lovers is a product specifically designed for your wines. Wine storage experts Vintec have developed a comprehensive range to suit all needs and requirements, offering wine cabinets with 20-bottle capacities right up to walk-in cellars for over 4000 bottles.  Their range includes something for all budgets and spaces, and is well worth the investment to protect your favourite drops. For more details on Vintec’s extensive wine storage range visit vintec.com.au
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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