The personal website of

Master of Wine

Roger C. Bohmrich

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"Answers to Wine Questions from Real People" 

Click here to find the book on Amazon Kindle


Over the past few years, I have been answering questions about wine from visitors to LocalWineEvents.com, the world’s largest website of its kind. I've just published the expanded second edition of my book containing more than 280 questions and answers organized thematically into 18 chapters. There are new footnotes to explain and expand on certain replies. To illustrate pertinent wines and add visual interest, there are color photographs of bottles from my personal cellar.


It's easy now for a reader to refer to a specific subject of interest, or simply to read a variety of questions to learn more about wine in all its fascinating dimensions.

 

I wish to thank Eric V. Orange and LocalWineEvents.com for their permission to reproduce the material from the website in this book.

Here are sample questions which have appeared together with my answers...I encourage you to take a look at more on

 

LocalWineEvents.com

History of using oak for Chardonnay

When did it become customary for winemakers to oak Chardonnay? Was there ever a period of time when the predominant method was something else?

The custom of using oak to ferment and age Chardonnay-based wines was developed in Burgundy, home of this grape variety. It is difficult to know precisely when barrels came into use in this region, but it certainly has been common practice for centuries. At first, a watertight wood barrel, in a size one person could manage to roll and tilt, was simply a practical choice. Gradually, techniques were developed, most likely by trial and error, to magnify the contribution of barrel fermentation and maturation. For Chardonnay in Burgundy, this included stirring the lees (bâtonnage in French) to enrich the wine. For most of history, wood vats and barrels were reused for many years; now, it is the norm to have a proportion of new wood for every vintage of a premium Chardonnay. Modern winemakers agree as a rule that Chardonnay, which is comparatively neutral in flavor, benefits from contact with wood. At the same time, some producers - by personal choice or to reduce cost - prefer to limit the percentage of new oak, or, in some cases, to avoid it altogether. Fermentation in inert tank is a widespread technique, although a wood imprint may still be obtained with chips or staves. Limiting the added flavors of oak also mimics a particular style of Burgundy Chardonnay, the one associated with Chablis (even there, however, a degree of new oak is now in favor for premier and grand cru wines). The barrel production regime which evolved in Burgundy for Chardonnay is the one normally favored all around the world for this variety, complemented by a handful of "no-oak" styles.

Drinking temperature for ice wine

I have a few bottles of ice wine from Austria. At what temperature should we be drinking these wines?

Determining the ideal temperature for ice wine - or any wine for that matter - depends upon numerous considerations, among them your own personal preferences. As with so many aspects of wine, there are many variables, so saying that this style should be drunk at, for example, 48° F is just too simplistic. I would chill the bottle for an hour or so in the refrigerator before pulling the cork and pouring a taste. If the wine is too cold, the beautiful aroma will be masked or muted, the sweetness will be suppressed, and the high acidity will be emphasized. The good news is that an overly chilled wine will warm rapidly if left in the glass, and the bottle as well can be kept at room temperature for a short period. If the wine is too warm, the aroma might be exaggerated and the sweetness very obvious. Just put the bottle back into the refrigerator for another half hour. Trust your own judgment to decide how this particular ice wine shows at its best. After all, that's part of the fun and individuality of wine!

Question about "cru" in Champagne

What does it mean when a Champagne is made from 40 to 50 crus?

This is a very interesting question as it refers to the complex procedures which define a true Champagne (that is, from the eponymous region of France and nowhere else). The word "cru" appears in the terminology of several French wine regions and tends to indicate a specific quality tier. In Champagne, to make things more challenging to understand, cru is also synonymous with an individual village within the region, of which there are 320. There is also a quality hierarchy: 42 of these villages are ranked as premier cru, and 17 as grand cru. The grapes for most Champagnes are purchased by houses and do not come either from their own estate or an individual vineyard. Rather, they are selected from multiple villages (or, in other words, crus). Some producers argue that their Champagnes are more complex because the raw material represents a multiplicity of vineyard origins, and there is certainly a case to be made for this idea.