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What Are Wine Diamonds?

Have you noticed white crystals around the cork or at the bottom of the bottle when you open your wine? These are called tartaric crystals, commonly referred to as “wine diamonds.” Wine diamonds are an indicator that the grapes ripened for a long time, and that the winemaker fermented the wine slowly and with great care. Both are important precursors to crafting high-quality wines. 

Grapes naturally contain several organic acids including tartaric acid. They also contain potassium and calcium ions, which form salts with the organic acids. These salts can precipitate out of the wine to form a material called potassium (calcium) bitartrate or “wine diamonds.”  

Image from https://sorrynowine.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/cork_tartrates.jpg

Many wines undergo a cold stabilization process, which is when a wine is cooled down before it is bottled so that these white flakes “fall out” and can be separated from the wine. But, cold stabilization influences a wine’s balance and taste. (KingFrosch does not do that). As some winemakers put it, the wine is actually being ripped apart, and the rapid cooling changes the wine’s colloidal structure.  

 “It’s a natural process a wine will go through on its path to the peak of its development. When you see these flakes at the bottom of the bottle or on the cork, you can be almost certain that you are opening the wine at the right time. You should consider yourself lucky.” 

Wine aficionados in the Old World are known to seek out the bottles with wine diamonds as a sign of quality: it shows that the wine has not been robbed of its structure through unnatural chilling, and it is a sign of a well-matured wine.  

So, if you find wine diamonds in your next bottle, consider yourself rich in both quality and experience!

https://www.winc.com/blog/wine-diamonds
https://vintnerscellarbedford.ca/wine-diamonds
https://www.burntbridgecellars.com/wine-blog/2016/5/11/ask-the-winemaker-what-are-wine-diamonds

What Makes Wine Age Well?

Cheese, balsamic vinegar, and wine are examples of just a few items in a human’s diet that get better with age. 

We have to ask, though, what makes wine age well?

First, it’s important to note that because of the production process, all wine is aged to a certain extent. While certain red wines progress through the fermentation stage for years, white wines typically do not need as much time before they are bottled and sold. 

So, how can you determine which wines will age well?

One way to determine this, according to Binwise, is to pay attention to the wine’s sugar content. The higher the sugar content, the better wine will do with time. Ports and dessert wines tend to have much higher sugar levels and can age well for up to 100 years!

Higher levels of acidity can also help a wine age better and last longer. The longer a wine ages, the more it loses its acidity and “flattens,” so starting with higher levels will help it last for the long haul. 

After the wine is bottled, certain chemical reactions occur through aging and result in the formation of phenolic compounds. Tannins, the most popular for these compounds, alter the character of the wine, including mouth feel, flavor profile, color, and aroma. Wines with higher levels of tannins that are also well-balanced will smooth out over time. 

In non-fortified wines, alcohol levels can cause the wine to turn vinegary at a much faster rate. In general, the lower the alcohol level (13.5% or below) in non-fortified wines will age the best, while an ABV percentage of 17-20% in fortified wines will last the longest.

If you’re looking for varietals to age in a collection, we recommend the following from King Frosch:

Specialty Wines:

Reds:

Whites: 

The chart below is also a useful tool to help you determine which wines will age well, and which should probably be enjoyed immediately.  

Sources:

How to Age Wine & the Best Wines to Age | Aged Wine Guide

4 Traits of Wines That Age Well

Drunk, In Love, Or Both?

Happy Valentines Day, everyone! We’ve all heard the saying “drunk in love,” and if you’ve ever experienced love or drunkenness, you might be able to draw some similarities between the two feelings. Both make you feel blissful, rather invincible, and when the effects wear off, sad or depressed. As it turns out, a study published in a 2015 edition of the Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews explores the effects of both oxytocin (also known as the love hormone,) and alcohol on the brain. What resulted were nearly identical results!

Oxytocin is released during skin to skin contact, and is why physical contact with someone else feels good. Alcohol has similar effects, but instead of natural production by the body, it is the product of sugar, fermenting yeast, and starches. Both of these compounds cause lowered inhibitions and help people take that “leap of faith,” also known as “Dutch courage.” 

So, we hope you enjoy your Valentines Day and maybe even experience a bit of that “drunk in love feeling,” whichever way you choose to achieve it!

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Valentines Day Special

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What Is Icewine?

Icewine, or Eiswein, is a particularly special type of wine because it is produced under specific conditions. Though there are several variations to the origin story of icewine, they all claim that the first instance of this delicious dessert beverage was found in Germany. According to one story, an annual frost in the late 1700s struck early, before the winemaker could harvest his crop. Despite his fears of a lost year, he pressed the frozen grapes and fermented the juice. What resulted was a smaller, but sweeter yield.

Today, modern icewine making is slightly more scientific compared to how it was done during the 18th century. Grapes are left on the vines until the temperature reaches a range between -10 and -12 degrees Celsius. The grapes are then harvested and pressed (an operation that generally takes place overnight.) Because they are frozen, most of their yield is icey water, but a small portion, approximately 15%, is highly concentrated, sweet, juice. 

Typical flavors you can expect from icewines are rich, tropical fruits including lychee, papaya, and pineapple. We recommend serving your icewine chilled, either alone as a dessert, or drizzled over pound cake, ice cream, or fruit with whipped cream!

Shop our Icewines and Dessert Wines!

#18 Scheurebe Icewine

#19 Ortega TBA Late Select Harvest

#194 Diamond Series Chardonnay Icewine

References

Hancock. (2021). Everything you need to know about icewine. Retrieved 26 January 2021, from https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2018/10/everything-you-need-to-know-about-icewine/

Ice Wine, You’re So Fine (A Detailed Guide) | Wine Folly. (2021). Retrieved 26 January 2021, from https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/ice-wine-youre-so-fine/

The 2020 Wrap Up

Now that 2020 is behind us (and we have 2020 vision!) it’s time for a year-end wrap up.

Overall, the 2020 vintage produced a very high quality throughout Germany. The country experienced a warm and sunny spring, but a frost in mid-May, which unfortunately resulted in damage and yield loss in some regions.

The main grape harvest began at the end of August, which is approximately 8 to 10 days earlier than average. Good weather continued throughout the summer into September. According to the German Wine Institute, “the red varieties in particular benefited from the warm weather… [and] will get even better as they further ripen in the cellar.” The vintage was crowned on November 30th with a successful harvest of frozen grapes for ice wine.

In total, the harvest volume of 2020 is two percent lower than the 10-year average due to the aforementioned frost. The pricing is also rather stable without including the impacted regions.

Prost und zum Wohl!

What Is Spätburgunder? Hint: Think Pinot!

What Is Pinot Noir?

We’ve all heard of Pinot Noir, but what exactly do these fancy words mean? Pinot Noir is derived from the French terms Pinot for pine and Noir for black. It’s actually one of the oldest grape varieties in the world- its history related to winemaking dates back to the first century AD. Pinot refers to the cone-like shape of the grapes’ clusters, which grow tightly together in pinecone-like shapes. Due to it’s tight growth structure and thin skin, the Pinot Noir grape is actually rather difficult to grow as it is more susceptible to rot1. 

What Is Spätburgunder?

In Germany, they call Pinot Noir Spätburgunder (spät meaning late ripening, and burgunder referring to Burgundy). Though it was first documented in the 14th century, there is evidence that the varietal has been in Germany as early as the 4th century2. Due to Germany’s climate, the traditional Spätburgunder is typically lighter in color, body, and tannins, than its counterparts2. However, due to climate change, Germany’s summers are getting hotter and lately, Germany has been producing bigger and bolder Pinot than ever before. 

How do you pair Pinot Noir/Spätburgunder?

Pinot Noir is considered one of the most food-friendly red wines because of its higher acid profile and bright, sheer tasting flavors3. So, if you’re pondering which bottle of wine to take when visiting friends, hosting a dinner gathering, or just unsure which wine will go best with dinner, we recommend a Pinot!


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#400 Spätburgunder Classic, Dry

#475 12 Month Barrel Aged

#499 Barrique Reserve:

  1.  Why is it so difficult to grow Pinot Noir grapes?. (2020). Retrieved 28 November 2020, from https://www.winespectator.com/articles/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-grow-pinot-noir-grapes-47336

2. Spätburgunder. (2020). Retrieved 28 November 2020, from     https://www.germanwines.de/knowledge/grape-varieties/red-grapes/spaetburgunder/

  1. Winetraveler, L. (2020). What Are Some of the Best Pinot Noir Food Pairings?. Retrieved 28 November 2020, from https://www.winetraveler.com/wine-pairing/best-pinot-noir-food-pairing/

What Is Gewürztraminer Wine?

Origin and History

The Gewürztraminer grape is one of 18 classic noble grapes. It is a mutation of either the traminer grape from the village of Tramin in South Tyrol, or the savagnin, the parent grape of sauvignon blanc. Sources are a bit fuzzy on this point, but what we do know is that it is one of the oldest grapes in the wine world. The grape is white with pink skins and is commonly grown in Alsace, a region on the border of France and Germany.2 Because it needs a cool climate in order to develop aromas and the vine is particularly susceptible to disease, Gewürztraminer is difficult to grow. Scientists have even attempted to cross the grape with other varietals to strengthen it, but none have been successful thus far.3

Flavors

Gewürztraminer gets its name from the term Gewürz, which in German means “herb.” The wine is famous for its traditionally high alcohol content and strong, tropical aromas including lychee, pineapple, melon, ginger, rose petals, and even smoke.

Pairings

When pairing the wine with foods, you can try a wide variety of cuisines and flavors, from sweet, to spicy, to salty because of its low acidity and sweet or off-dry taste.2 This means that these wines are perfect for just about any occasion, from brunch to your Thanksgiving dinner!

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1 Gewurztraminer Wine. (2020). Retrieved 21 November 2020, from https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-187-gewurztraminer

2 Meyer, T. (2020). What Gewurztraminer tastes like: Wines to change your mind. Retrieved 21 November 2020, from https://www.decanter.com/wine-reviews-tastings/what-is-gewurztraminer-like-300561/

3 Suckling, J. (2020). Gewürztraminer Wine: History, Tasting Notes, and Pairings. Retrieved 21 November 2020, from https://www.masterclass.com/articles/gewurztramine-wine-history-tasting-notes-and-pairings#what-is-gewrztraminer

4 Gewürztraminer Wine Guide. (2020). Retrieved 21 November 2020, from https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/gewurztraminer-wine-guide/

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#610 Gewürztraminer, Dry

#611 Gewürztraminer, Semi Dry

#612 Gewürztraminer Semi Sweet

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Chances Are, You’re Drinking Your Wine At The Wrong Temperature

We’ve all heard the old adage that we should drink red wines at room temperature, while drinking white wines chilled. 

Why do we drink different wines at different temperatures?

Why is that? Chemistry! Red wines, especially those that are bigger and bolder, have tannins that provide nuance to flavor. If a red wine is chilled, the flavor may lose some of the lighter, more enjoyable nuances. Conversely, white wines have higher acidity, which, at warmer temperatures, can introduce unwanted tasting “noise.” By chilling the white wines, the flavor profile tightens, effectively muting some of that noise so that we may better enjoy the lighter, fruitier elements1 of the beverage. 

What are these recommended temperatures?

But what is “room temperature,” and what is “chilled”? Many wine experts share the opinion that Americans actually drink their red wine too warm, and their white wines too cold. Part of this issue stems from the fact that “room temperature” in Europe really means cellar temperature, which tends to be around 55F to 65F. Room temperature in the United States, however, is approximately 72F 2 . Furthermore, refrigerators typically chill food to 37F, but experts state that white wine should be enjoyed between 45F and 50F1.  This means that red wine is typically drunk 7 to 17 degrees warmer than intended, while white wine is drunk 8 to 13 degrees colder than what is recommended.

How do we reach the recommended temperatures?

So, how should we get wine to its intended temperature? Like many things, good planning plays an important role. If you have red wine at room temperature, just place it in the fridge about 45 minutes before you plan on enjoying it. If you have white wine at room temperature, place it in the fridge about two hours before you wish to drink it. You can also keep both red and white wine in the refrigerator, and then take the red out about half an hour before you wish to enjoy it3, and take the white out approximately 15 minutes before enjoyment. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the wine, the longer it should be in the fridge, and the heavier the wine, the shorter amount of time it needs to be chilled. 

As always, recommendations are purely guidelines. Wine is for your enjoyment, so feel free to experiment with temperatures and stick with your own personal preference!

1 The Do’s and Don’ts of Chilling Wine. (2020). Retrieved 15 November 2020, from https://www.winemag.com/2018/08/13/chill-wine/

2 Helmenstine, A. (2020). What Is Room Temperature?. Retrieved 15 November 2020, from https://sciencenotes.org/what-is-room-temperature/

Schultz, E. (2020). PSA: Your Red Wine Is Probably Way Too Warm. Retrieved 15 November 2020, from https://www.bonappetit.com/story/red-wine-temperature-cooler-than-you-think

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