Art / Books / Books about Wine / Greece / Travel

Resin, oak, and (formerly) toast in your wine

Picasso, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild wine

Château Mouton-Rothschild’s art labels

It appears that in Ancient Egypt amphorae were coated with resin, and even when they weren’t, there was resin and clay sealing pinewood stoppers that gave wine a certain flavor and prevented it from spoiling. Today’s retsina in Greece still uses resin.

Nowadays in the New World you can find wines that are “oak aged.” This doesn’t mean they are aged in oak, but rather that oak chips are suspended the wine. I’m reading this is illegal in many countries, including the European Union.

The word toast meaning “a salutation or a few words of congratulation, good wishes, appreciation, remembrance, etc., uttered immediately before drinking to a person, event, etc.” actually comes from the erstwhile practice of adding toast to wine so as to have the charcoal of such bread reduce its acidity.

Ah, the image. Since 1945, Château Mouton-Rothschild came with art labels, many of them from greats such as Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Warhol, Chagall, Keith Haring, Francis Bacon, etc. They are quite the collector’s items.

(From a fun little book called A Wine Miscellany: A Jaunt Through the Whimsical World of Wine, by Graham Harding)

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