I’d never given much thought to the whole cultural questions regarding wine and the societal developments which paralleled and influenced it, but here’s one: the invention of lead glass and lead crystal, which translated into even more brilliant goblets (although it also enabled glass goblets to be etched) became in time the impetus for Champagne vignerons to turn their “hazy with sediment, viscous, and sweet” wine of the late 17th century into the clear, sparkling one we know today.
I’ll certainly be reading more about it. I’m going through Italian and French wine in Karen McNeil’s Wine Bible. It is so interesting, it almost matches the excitement of drinking the wines themselves :). I’ll be back with more posts on the wines. How the Amarone is made by the recioto method (from recie, dialect for the “ears” of a bunch of grapes, the ones that get more sun), whereby the grapes (their “ears” of the whole bunch) are dried first in special lofts for 3-4 months before being crushed, which means their aromas and sugar gets more concentrated . . . leading to a wine with 15-16 percent alcohol, or how the recioto della Valpolicella is made by the same method, only by stopping the fermentation before all the sugar turns into alcohol, which leads a rich, sweet wine. Or how there’s Valpolicella ripasso, which involves the mixing of fermented Valpolicella wine with the Amarone pomace (Valpolicella and Amarone are made from the same grape varieties) — the skins and seeds of the grapes left after fermentation.
This is a godsend for the beginner, and, while not being elitist, the “discourse” is elevated enough for the reader to feel that he/she is getting lots of excellent value for the money.
The Wine Bible is the No. 1 book in Wine & Winemaking on Amazon. But it’s not just about winemaking. It’s fun and entertaining, and really inspiring. You’ll be drinking more wine, and thinking and reading more about it. This book is definitely the place to start, I think. I haven’t been this excited about book, on anything, not just food and wine, in quite a while.
P.S. Bertani (photo) made their first Amarone in 1958. That you can read online. But it would take you ages to put together the information the way Karen McNeil has in her book. I’m not surprised she spent 10 years on it. Now that’s dedication. And it shows.