Make Way for Late Summer Reds

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We’ve hit the backlash point of the summer: your jorts are looking a little worse for wear, the novelty of grilled meats has all but worn off, and you’re longing for a cool breeze that isn’t accompanied by an arriving subway train. Here are four red wines to drink when you’re over summer whites and pinks (and the weather hasn’t gotten the hint yet). 

1. Sweet Shiraz

The sugar to this Australian red’s typical spice, sweet shiraz is mouth-watering and berry-filled when chilled, with chocolate notes as it comes to room temperature. Great with anything from the grill, or just sitting on the fire escape, especially with its $10 price tag.

Suggested bottle: Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz

2. Barbera d’Alba & Barbera d’Asti 

Nebbiolo’s lesser cousin, the barbera grape is grown in the valleys of northern Italy. Its light tannins and high acidity make it an obvious choice for chilling. Meant to be enjoyed young, it’s unnecessary to pay more than $30 for a decent bottle. With its sour cherry and strawberry notes, it’s great with grilled meats, a fennel salad, or anything balsamic.

Suggested bottle: Hilberg Pasquero Vareij Vino da Tavola Rosso

3. Frappato

Frappato has long been utilized only to lessen the heft of full-bodied Italian wines, but some brave young vintners have started letting the fresh fruit flavors of this Sicilian grape stand on their own.

Suggested bottle: Arianna Occhipinti’s 2012 Tamí Frappato

4. Beaujolais

Easy-drinking Beaujolais had its hey-day in the US thirty years ago. These days it’s frequently overlooked as great late-summer food wine. As great with a pile of salted tomatoes as with a juicy turkey burger, its low tannins and strong berry flavors are an easy swap for that rose you’ve been guzzling.

Suggested bottle: Potel-Aviron Morgon Cote du Py Vieilles Vignes


Kelley Peters is Kitchensurfing’s in-house wine expert, she writes about wining, dining, and breaking things at Homefaking.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Apparently herbal tea has tannins in it. I knew regular coffee, decaf coffee, and caffinated tea had it, but I had no clue decaf tea had tannins. This is a huge problem. Tannins block the absorption of Iron. When you already have low iron levels, such as myself, this is bad juju.

I am so disappointed. I now have to wait two hours to have tea before or after taking my multi-vitamin (that I normal down with tea) becasue it has iron in it.


A new organelle in plant cells!

Just published in Annals of Botany is a study by Brillouet et al. that demonstrates the existence of a novel organelle in plant cells. This newcomer to plant cellular ultrastructure, which the authors dub the ‘tannosome’, is a chloroplast-derived structure that acts as the site for the polymerisation of condensed tannins- complex molecules that we regularly encounter in the appearance and chemistry of tea, wine, and forest rivers. The researchers used a variety of techniques to observe little bits of thylakoid membrane pearling into tiny spheres- the tannosomes- that were then shuttled to the vacuole (for storage) within vesicles derived from the chloroplast envelopes. This pathway appears to operate in a wide range of tracheophytes. How exciting that even now we are still discovering important components in the cellular machinery.

(Edit: I noticed that someone expressed doubt at the applicability of the term ‘organelle’ in this case. I understand the objection, insofar as the ‘tannosome’ doesn’t look especially different from the various vesicles that whizz around the endomembrane system. However, the definition of an organelle is simply a subcellular compartment within a lipid bilayer that- crucially- carries out a specific function. While the tannosome clearly doesn’t possess quite as many distinguishing characteristics as the nucleus or the mitochondrion, it does fulfil all of the above criteria- executing a specific metabolic function by synthesising tannins and polyphenols- and arguably therefore qualifies as a minor organelle in the same way that we consider, say, glyoxysomes to do so.)

5
  1. Right now in my apartment there are two small identical boxes that arrived in the mail this morning and which we are very excited about. Our three year Blackberry contract is now dead, thank God. I am going to get all of the Instagrams.
  2. I don’t think there’s anything more heartbreaking than your baby looking at you just after having her shots with an expression that says “I am only just learning what love is, and I thought you loved me, and I thought I loved you, but then you let that person do that painful thing to me, and now I am rethinking everything my brain has told me about unconditional devotion”
  3. When I’m bored I try to write out the Japanese alphabets. One I still know, one I’ve forgotten a lot of.
  4. I’m amazed at how much Audrey loves baths. It’s becoming the highlight of our day. She laughs and splashes and makes everything in the world good again.
  5. The grape pie we got from Niagara was very very good but they left the seeds in the grapes so there was an added crunchiness that wasn’t unpleasant but which lowered it somewhat in my estimation.
Things you might've heard me say while wine tasting this weekend
  1. How about these tannins???
  2. More
  3. It’s about balance.
  4. Mmmm…Buttery!!
  5. Are my teeth red yet?
  6. Smells rustic like a wood burning fire.
  7. Every time you spit your wine into that bucket my spirit dies a little.
  8. I don’t think I’ve tried that one yet.
  9. Is this wine unoaked? I don’t even know what that means.
  10. TANNINS.
  11. Buttery.
  12. Where are the kids?
  13. Oooo…citrusy! 
  14. Gross. 
  15. BUTTER.
  16. I love tannins. 
  17. I wish this Sauv Blanc would marry me.
  18. What are tannins?
  19. Every time you spit your wine out I think about slapping you.
  20. I love you.

This is my mom’s fish, Elon, in his 4 gal.
The driftwood in there was boiled for about an hour, then placed in the tank for about two weeks, then boiled for another hour, and has been in there for about a week since then. He just had a water change like two days ago and this is how dark it is. We’re running out of ideas! Lol

Structural Stability

Steve Unwin, Senior Member Services Associate, Lot18

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(Illustration by Julia Heffernan)

My grandfather has recently taken up a cursory interest in wine. He’s well traveled, highly educated, and has enjoyed his fair share of libatious pleasures like Scotch and Champagne over the years. So imagine my surprise when he brought into question something I’ve taken for granted since my earliest days as a cork dork.

“How on earth” he said, “could you refer to a liquid as “structured?’”

“Good question” I said, and then spent 15 minutes verbally flailing as I attempted to explain the concept of a structured wine. “It’s tannins, you see. But it’s also acid…and some other stuff. It’s…”

Noting the incredulity in his face, I panicked. “Oh for God’s sake, why won’t you just nod knowingly and take the word for granted like the rest of us do?!”

With my oenological tail between my legs, I decided to do the only thing that felt right: Write some words on the Internet about it! It was time for me to work out what exactly this oft-cited, rarely explained word actually means.

Can we agree that water is the baseline for all potable liquids? Oh good – if you’d said no, I’d be worried. Water is the control, as it were, but to call a wine “structured” is basically to say that it doesn’t feel “watery.” Let’s roll with that wildly broad generalization for a second. So what would cause a liquid to feel less like…liquid?

First would be tannins. Like over-steeped black tea, a “tannic” wine will feel like it’s sucking the spit right out of your mouth. This is something water wouldn’t do, right? So we’re already moving in the right direction. These fun little polyphenol compounds will bind with the proteins in your saliva, lessening its viscosity, and causing that dry, grippy feeling we all know and sometimes love. Interestingly enough, this does a great job of counteracting the effect of the next element integral to a wine’s structure:

Acid. It’s not just for Bonnaroo anymore! Acidity, or sourness, is one of the fundamental components of taste. This sensation is primarily caused in wine by tartaric acid; something that, in its pure form, is considerably more powerful than the citric acid found in lemons. Acidity causes intense stimulation of the taste buds, salivation, and a sensation of body or weight to be attributed to the wine. Now unless your water table has fallen victim to some serious fracking, this ought to be another big step away from “watery” wine, right? Those tannins can counteract some of the salivation, so you’re dealing with some fairly nuanced interactions here.

One step further with the acid and you meet with the twins: Malic and lactic acid, otherwise known as the worst sitcom pitch in history. Malic acid is what makes green apples sour and Rieslings sing, but where we really get into mouth-feel land is lactic acid. This is the same stuff that makes yogurt tangy, and is produced via a secondary fermentation in most red wines and some big-boned whites. It creates a softer feeling on the palate, and makes for a more rich-feeling liquid. Not even the maddest of celebrity-endorsed spring waters can claim to be rich, so once again, we’re moving wine away from mere water.

Finally, there is the obvious: Alcohol. The ethanol produced by fermentation makes the wine feel heavier and more viscous on the palate. That same fermentation can create some higher alcohols like Glycerol (or glycerin) that will also increase the feeling of size or viscosity. 

Without the appropriate amount of acid and alcohol, the tannins will feel abrasive and dry (bad Thanksgiving turkey). If the wine lacks enough acidity to go with the alcohol and tannins it can feel flabby and weak (you in early March). And if it’s a white wine with no tannins, low acid, and too much alcohol, it will simply blow your palate out with booze (The Jersey Shore Effect).

You may have noticed that I haven’t even touched on flavor profile. But without an appropriate base on which to be presented, things like the loveliness of the fruit or the nuanced use of lightly toasted Hungarian super-oak just don’t matter. It’ll just be all watery.

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