CSW Workbook Preview!

CSW Wine Map Exercise - ItalyWith a pending publication date of March 1, 2014…we are putting the finishing touches on our new CSW Workbook!!  This comprehensive study tool will feature 29 map exercises and over 150 pages worth of materials designed to help the serious student master the copious amount of information contained in the new CSW Study Guide. (It should be fun, as well!)

As a preview of coming atractions, we offer you this sample Wine Map Exercise covering the main cities and wine regions of Italy.  Click the links below the picture to download a pdf of both the map exercise and the answer key.

Stay tuned to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom for updates and more information on the soon-to-be-released workbook!  Good luck with your studies!

Click here to download a copy of the CSW Wine Map Exercise – Italy

Click here to download a copy of the Answer Key – CSW Wine Map Exercise – Italy

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

It’s Official: Cabernet is King!

Photo:  www.adelaide.edu.au

Photo: www.adelaide.edu.au

If you are a Cabernet Sauvignon lover, rejoice! According to a new report issued today (January 6, 2014), Cabernet Sauvignon is now the most widely planted wine grape variety (by vineyard area) in the world.

This piece of news is actually the result of decades worth of research conducted by the University of Adelaide; funded by Australia’s Grape and Wine Research and Development  Corporation. 

The report, entitled “Which Winegrape Varieties are Grown Where:  A Global Empirical Picture,” is purported to be the first complete database of the world’s winegrape varieties, compiled using data from over 44 countries.

The database and its narrative, which has more information than most of us have ever even dreamed of, is available for free download, courtesy of the University of Adelaide:  just click here.

According to the report, the top ten wine grape varieties grown worldwide are currently:

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Merlot
  3. Airén
  4. Tempranillo
  5. Chardonnay
  6. Syrah
  7. Garnacha Tinta
  8. Sauvignon Blanc
  9. Trebbiano Toscano
  10. Pinot Noir

Red Grapes 3.3Other interesting pieces of information include the top five winegrapes that have increased in vineyard volume over the past ten years, which are:  Tempranillo (#1), Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay (#5).  Accordingly, the five grapes that have declined the most in vineyard volume are Airen at #1, followed by Mazuelo, Grasevina, Garnacha Tinta, and Trebbiano Toscano.

The report (all 670 pages of it) is a wealth of information – so much so that you should wait to download it until you have a large block of free time!

For More Information:  The University of Adelaide , Australia’s Grape and Wine Research and Development  Corporation

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Is that Kona in your Coffee?

Hawaii Big IslandCoffee was first introduced to Hawaii in about 1813, via an ornamental coffee tree brought to Honolulu by Don Francisco de Paula y Marin, the Spanish physician to King Kamehameha the Great.  Soon, it became an agricultural mainstay of the islands, along with sugar cane and pineapple.

However, several circumstances combined to reduce the amount of coffee grown on the Hawaiian Islands, including the coffee blight of 1858, the result of an insect infestation; the world coffee crash in 1899, and the labor-intensity of coffee agriculture.

Of the small amount of land growing coffee in Hawaii today, the most famous region is Kona.  Located on the western slopes of the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kona district contains the heart of Hawaii’s “coffee belt,” which is about two miles wide and at the highest point measures 2,000 feet in elevation.  The area has a microclimate ideally suited to growing coffee, in part because the prominent volcanoes provide rich soil and help block the rains that fall prominently on the eastern side of the island.  The small size of the growing area and the high quality beans it produces contribute to a high price and a high demand.

Coffee on TreeThere are two types of Kona coffee, each with several grades.  Grades are determined by size, density, moisture content, and defects.  Type I grades are Extra-Fancy, Fancy, Kona #1, and Prime.  The grades for Type II are Kona #1 Peaberry and Kona Peaberry Prime.  The term “peaberry” refers to the shape of the bean.  Normally the fruit of the coffee plant contains two beans that develop with flattened facing sides, however, if only one of the two seeds is fertilized, the single seed develops into an oval (or pea-shaped) bean.  Kona is, along with Tanzanian Coffee, one of the two main types of coffee associated with peaberry beans.

These grades originated in the 1980s, when the word Kona was used on a wide variety of products.  In order to protect the region of origin and control the quality of the product, the Hawaii Department of Agricultural created the grades and required inspection of beans, proof of geographic region of origin, and proper labeling of its coffee.

Coffee labeled as Kona must be completely from the Kona District and include the identifier “100% Kona Coffee,” a phrase trademarked by the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture in 2000.  Kona Blends are allowed and may be a combination of Kona and beans from other regions, but must contain at least 10% Kona beans with the percentage of Kona beans clearly displayed.

As with other coffee regions, the producers and the state have had to be very protective over the Kona name and label, as some third-party companies were found to be labeling Central American coffee as Kona.  These mislabeled beans made it to coffee-store chains such as Starbucks and Peet’s, who upon learning of the issue contributed to a settlement and agreed to buy future beans directly from Kona farmers.

If this story sounds similar to those you have heard regarding wine, brandies, types of cheese and other agricultural products, you are correct!

If you would like to learn more about coffee, you may be interested in SWE’s Beverage Specialist Certificate program, which in addition to coffee, includes information on wine, beer, spirits, sake, tea, bottled water, and ready-to-drink beverages.

 

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Post authored by Ben Coffelt  – bcoffelt@societyofwineeducators.org

Cash and Prizes: Recap Quiz for December 2013

Wine Tasting Red Wine Glass Happy New Year from SWE!!!

To celebrate the new year, we are offering a special prize for this month’s recap quiz….a FREE sitting of the CSW or CSS Exam, including a Study Guide.

Questions for the recap quiz come exclusively from the educational material posted to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom for the month. This month’s quiz has 10 questions that cover the topics and information included in our posts for the month of December 2013.

To refresh your memory, our posts for the month of December were:

  • Wine Book Review – “The Nose” by James Conaway (December 5)
  • The Legacy of Peter Jahant (December 8)
  • The Egg Nog Riots of 1826 (December 10)
  • Coda di Volpe – The Tail of the Fox (December 14)
  • The Ice Wine Fiasco of 2011 (December 19)
  • Cheers to the Kir Royale! (December 24)
  • U.S. Distillery License #1 (December 28)

scantronEveryone who takes and passes the quiz with 100% of the questions correct by January 10, 2014 (midnight CST) will have their names put into a drawing for the prize! You can take the quiz over and over again if you like…it’s all about the education!

The winner will be notified via email on January 11.

Click here for a link to the quiz.

If you have any questions, contact us at:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org .

Update:  Congratualtions to Denise H. of Nashville, Tennessee who won our Recap Quiz Contest for December!  Denise is new to the study of wine, but is going to take the CSW Exam in June!! Good luck, and congrats!

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U.S. Distillery License #1

11932270_ml (1)Applejack, a type of brandy made from apple cider, was one of the most popular beverages in colonial America.  Applejack was historically made by a traditional method known as freeze distillation, involving leaving apple cider outside to freeze, and chipping off chunks of ice in order to concentrate the alcohol content.   The term applejack derives from jacking, a term for freeze distillation.

In 1780, soon after the American Revolution, the new nation’s first distillery permit – U.S. License #1 – was granted to a producer of apple brandy, Laird’s Distillery of Scobeyville, New Jersey.  Laird’s had been producing applejack since 1760 and supplied brandy to George Washington’s troops during the revolutionary war.  Laird’s applejack was later used as currency to pay road construction crews during the colonial period.  1933, Laird & Company was granted a federal license under the Prohibition Act to produce apple brandy for “medicinal purposes”, allowing the company to resume operations prior to repeal.

Applejack is still produced by Laird’s distillery, albeit using modern distillation methods.  The distillery is now located in Virginia near the source of their apples but the historic New Jersey site is still maintained for use in maturing and bottling the spirits. Laird’s Applejack is a blend of 35% apple brandy and 65% neutral spirits.

applejackThe company also produces Old Apple Brandy (aged for 7 ½ years), 12 year old rare apple brandy, and Laird’s Bottled-In-Bond Straight Apple Brandy (100 proof).  For many years Laird’s was the only producer of apple brandy in America, however, several other distillers in the United States, notably the Germain-Robin craft distillery in California, are now producing apple brandy.

Despite the history, the terms applejack and apple brandy are now used synonymously in the United States. Demand for apple brandy declined in the 1960s, but the spirit is seeing a renewed interest among mixologists.  The classic cocktail made with applejack is the “Jack Rose,” a blend of applejack, lemon juice, and grenadine.

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Cheers to the Kir Royale!

Kir RoyaleIf you are looking for a festive cocktail to serve this holiday season, you can’t do much better than a Kir Royale.  The recipe is simple:  put one tablespoon of Crème de Cassis in the bottom of a flute, top up with Champagne and, if desired, garnish with a lemon twist. As you can probably imagine, there are dozens of variations on the classic recipe, and you can find versions of the Kir that include cranberries, frozen raspberries, Prosecco, and Chambord, among other things.

The Kir originated in the region of Burgundy. It is named after a local priest, Canon Félix Kir.  Canon Kir was a war hero of the French Resistance, and is remembered for helping 5,000 prisoners of war escape from the Nazis during World War II.  During the war, he was eventually captured by the Nazis, seriously wounded, and condemned to death; but despite it all, he managed to survive the war.

In 1945, Canon Kir was made a knight of the Légion d’honneur and, soon after, was elected the Mayor of the town of Dijon.  He remained the mayor of Dijon until his death in 1968.

Tribute to Mayor Kir

Tribute to Mayor Kir

Mayor Kir, like many people in Burgundy, enjoyed the local custom of combining two local products – a wine that we would call Bourgogne-Aligoté, and the locally produced liqueur known as Crème de Cassis de Dijon – into a refreshing aperitif.    The resulting drink was known as a blanc-cassis. Mayor Kir was a big fan of the beverage and was often seen in public drinking a blanc-cassis.

Mayor Kir, as you might imagine, was very popular in his community and very keen to support local products as well.  Thus, he lent his name to the drink mixing Bourgogne-Aligoté and Crème de Cassis de Dijon and soon people all over Burgundy were enjoying a Kir before dinner.

The combination of local flavors became so popular that it spread all over France, with several regional variations along the way.  The legend says that once the idea of the drink reached Paris, café society mixed their cassis with Champagne, and the Kir Royale was born.

À votre santé! 

Note:  It’s important to note that while Crème de Cassis is a generic product and made in many locations, “Crème de Cassis de Dijon” is a product specifically of Burgundy, made using “Noir de Bourgogne” black currants.

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

 

 

The Ice Wine Fiasco of 2011

Germany State Building WinterWho knew? There was, according to at least one German newspaper, an “Ice Wine Fiasco of 2011.”

Under German law, grapes for Eiswein may only be harvested when the temperature is –7° C (19° F) or colder. The grapes must then be harvested before they thaw, usually in the early morning hours, and pressed while still frozen.

In 2011, it did not get cold enough in many of Germany’s vineyards to produce a true Ice Wine, and as a result, a good deal of the grapes spoiled on the vine. And yet, 470,000 liters of ice wine were declared.

According to Ulrike Höfken, the Environmental Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, a large percentage of the Ice Wine declared in 2011 was rejected by State Inspectors.  The main reasons cited for the rejection of the wine was inaccurate reporting of alcohol content and  excessive amounts of volatile acidity.  At the heart of the matter was the suspicion that the wines had been illegally doctored with added sugar, water, flavors or glycerin.  Most of the wine estates involved deny such claims and many have filed lawsuits, the results of which are yet to be determined.

germany vineyards snowIn order to avoid a repeat of just such a fiasco, a new law has been enacted, covering the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  Rhineland-Palatinate is home to six of Germany’s thirteen Anbaugebiete, including the Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Mosel, Nahe, Mittelrhein and Ahr.

The new law requires wine growers to declare the amount of grapes, type of grapes, and the location of said grapes that are intended for use in  ice wine by  November 15, before the harvest.  Previously, growers had until January 15 of each year to make their reports to the Landesuntersuchungsamt (LUA), otherwise known as the State Agency for Consumer Protection.

According to the LUA, the new law will help to preserve the reputation and quality of German Eiswein by allowing State Inspectors to monitor the grapes and their suitability for use in ice wine before the harvest.

For more information, click here (use Google Translate if necessary).

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

 

Coda di Volpe – The Tail of the Fox

Red FoxCoda di Volpe is a relatively obscure golden-yellow grape variety, used since ancient times to produce medium to full-bodied wines in and around Campania in southern Italy.

The name “Coda di Volpe” can be translated to “tail of the fox.” The name is believed by some people to refer to the long, pendulous shape of the bunches, which if you squint really hard and turn your head to the side, resemble a fox’s bushy tail.

Coda di Volpe is thought to be the grape variety used in the famous Falernian wine produced in Ancient Rome. Falernian, considered the finest wine of its kind at the time, cost as much as four times as much as ordinary wine and was beloved by the poets and Caesars alike.  It was most likely produced from late harvest grapes, as it was very high in alcohol – perhaps as high as 15%.  Pliny the Elder alluded to this when he described it as “the only wine that takes light when a flame is applied to it.”

In more modern times, Coda di Volpe is widely used in the white wine blends of Southern Italy, including Solopaca DOC and Vesuvio DOC.   The Vesuvio DOC is famous for its “Lacryma  Christi” wines, the white version of which may be produced from a blend that includes Coda di Volpe (a minimum of 35%), Verdecca, Falanghina, and Greco di Tufo. However, the wine is often produced from 100% Coda di Volpe.

The name of this wine, translated as “Tears of Christ,” is drawn from a legend of biblical history.  According to the legend, God cried over Lucifer’s fall from Heaven, and grapes grew where his tears fell, and the grapes came to be used to make Lacryma Christi.

Wine produced from Coda di Volpe are often described as medium to medium-full bodied, fruity (citrus, peach, pineapple) and spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon) on the nose, and with flavors of grapefruit, lemon, and almond.  The grape tends to be low in acidity, which is one reason why it does so well in the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius, which can help impart higher levels of acid.

White Grapes Coda di VolpeBeginning in the 1980’s, wineries in Campania began making single-varietal wines from Coda di Volpa, and it has grown both more widely known and popular since that time.  100% Coda di Volpa wines are now used in the DOC wines of Irpinia and Sannio and Taburno, among others.

According to Jancis Robinson, et al, in the new tome Wine Grapes, the name of the grape is actually “Coda di Volpe Bianco;” the term “bianco” used in order to differentiate it from “Coda di Volpe Nera,” a red grape also known as Pallagrello Nero, and of no particular relation.

Accepted synonyms for Code di Volpe Bianco include Alopecis, Falerno, and Guarnaccia. Coda di Pecora, meaning “tail of the sheep” was, for a long time, thought to be the same grape, but recent DNA analysis has shown it to be a separate, unrelated variety.

Reference for quote from Pliny the Elder:  The XIIII Booke of the Historie of Nature, Containing the Treatise of Trees bearing fruit, by C. Plinivs Secvndvs

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

 

 

The Egg Nog Riots of 1826

egg nogPerhaps no other drink is as closely associated with the holidays as eggnog.  Beloved for several centuries, eggnog as a drink has stayed relatively the same over the years.  The ingredients are simple: eggs, cream or milk, spices (especially nutmeg), sugar, and alcohol.  However, this seemingly basic drink has a long and somewhat storied history.

Eggnog became a popular drink in England and the Colonies near the end of the 18th century.  Originating in England, it is believed to have begun as a derivation of a drink called posset, which was a hot drink made with eggs, milk, and ale or wine. Eggnog became a favorite among the English aristocracy, who were the only group that had regular access to milk and eggs in England at the time.  The English preferred their eggnog mixed with Sherry or Madeira.

In America, where food was more available, eggnog became a standard drink. As the American colonists had easy access to rum, it became the standard mixer for eggnog.  This led to the nickname of “grog” which was a term that would be applied to rum based drinks of many types, but came to regularly refer to eggnog.

Once the Revolutionary War began, rum was more difficult to obtain.  As a response, whiskey became the main alcoholic mixer for egg nog.  Once the war ended, a wider variety of alcohols were enjoyed.  George Washington’s recipe called not only for rum, but also for rye and sherry.

egg nog 2The Egg Nog Riots:  On an infamous Christmas Eve in 1826, ten West Point cadets smuggled eggs, milk, nutmeg, and two gallons of whiskey into their dormitory.  This was despite (or, perhaps, because of) the strict anti-alcohol polices of the academy. Led by future Confederate president Jefferson Davis, the cadets threw themselves an egg nog party.

As with most college parties, things soon got out of hand, and the revelers drew the attention of a teacher, Captain Ethan Allen Hitchcock.  Just as he arrived, Davis realized the trouble coming and shouted. “Put away the grog boys, Old Hitch is coming!”  Hitchcock attempted to end the party and return the cadets to their rooms.  The students rioted in response and the event led to the “Eggnog Riot” or “Grog Mutiny” which resulted in the largest expulsion of cadets in West Point’s history.

So this season, raise your whiskey and egg nog in celebration for the holidays, a new year, and the nineteen cadets who were expelled 187 years ago as a result of our favorite seasonal beverage.

For further reading see: “The Egg Nog Riot” Michelle Legro, Lapham’s Quarterly 

“The History of Eggnog” by Nanna Rognvaldardottir

Click here for the Maker’s Mark Recipe for Eggnog.

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Post authored by Ben Coffelt  – bcoffelt@societyofwineeducators.org

The Legacy of Peter Jahant

Map via www.lodiwine.com

Map via www.lodiwine.com

If you are studying for the CSW Exam, you might recall that the Lodi AVA, located in northern California, has seven sub-regions:  Alta Mesa, Borden Ranch, Clements Hills, Cosumes River, Mokelumne River, Sloughhouse, and the smallest of the seven, Jahant.

I’ve always been intrigued by the interesting name of the Jahant AVA, so this morning I decided to do a bit of research. This is a small area and  information is somewhat difficult to come by, but I did find out who the area is named for, as well as quite a few interesting details about the soil and climate of the area.

The area’s namesake is a former gold prospector turned family farmer named Peter Jahant. Peter was born in France in 1827 and moved to Akron, Ohio with his parents when he was six years old. In 1850, lured by gold fever,  23-year-old Peter took off with for Sacramento with three or four friends, intending to prospect for gold. After a few years of variable success in gold mining , he bought a livery stable and settled down. He eventually married and established a family farm in the Acampo area. In 1912, Peter Jahant’s son, Charles, planted 130 acres of grapes on the original family farm and gold prospectoradditional purchased land. The Jahant name is well-entrenched in the area, with Jahant Road, Jahant Stables, and Jahant Slough (a stream) all part of the local landscape.

The Jahant AVA is located in the center area of the larger Lodi AVA, about 7 miles south of the city of Lodi.  The region is bordered by the Dry Creek River in the north and the Mokelumne River in the southwest.  There are currently 8,000 acres of the area’s total 28,000 acres planted to grapes.

While the Jahant sub-region has a slightly cooler, dryer, and windier climate than the surrounding areas, the main difference, and the defining factor in establishing the boundaries of the area, is the soil.  The distinctive pink soil, referred to as “Rocklin-Jahant,” is a mixture of sandy loam and clay left by river flooding within the last 20,000 years. The clay component makes the soil excellent for retaining water  to the point that dry-farming is possible, even during the summer.  These dry-farmed vines produce grapes of great concentration, deep color and firm tannins; the nearby Sacramento Delta provides enough cooling breezes to maintain a good, balancing level of acidity.

Tempranillo,  Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel are among the most widely planted grapes of the Jahant AVA.  The Viaggio Estate Winery and Michael David Vineyards both have vineyards in the area.  White grapes also do well; the Lange Twins Family Winery has a lodi grape vinevineyard in the area planted to Sauvignon Musqué, a clonal variant of Sauvignon Blanc that produces grapes with a more pronounced floral aroma – and less of the herbal/cut green grass character – of a typical Sauvignon Blanc.

For more information about the Jahant AVA, click here. 

Click here for the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org