South American Wine Tasting

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In concert with the Latin American Law Students Association, The Society of Wine and Jurisprudence is proud to announce our second testing of the Spring semester: Wines of South America! The tasting will be held Friday, March 14th, and official invitations have just been sent out.

We will be tasting our way through one of the most exciting of the New World’s wine regions, with food provided by LALSA to match!

Event report to follow on this very blog. In vino veritas.

 

Is Wine Getting Screwed? : The Screw Cap Debate

Posted by Michaela Laird on February 19, 2014

screw-cap

When I first began waiting tables at an Italian restaurant in California wine country, the moment when a table would order a nice bottle of wine would be an internal moment of panic.  Newly 21, my primary experience with wine came from slapping the occasional Franzia bag at a house party.  I hadn’t yet mastered the art of gracefully presenting and uncorking bottles of wine for the table, and I would have gladly foregone the increased cost of the bill and higher gratuity in order to avoid awkward fumbling with my wine key and, worst of all, the occasional, dreaded, breaking of a cork.  As I grew more experienced (at the restaurant and with my own personal experience), I began to appreciate the small ceremony of opening a bottle of wine for a customer, presenting it, allowing them to taste it, and pouring it for the table.

 

Recently there has been a slight shift in the packaging of wine that could cause my fear as an inexperienced wine opener to no longer be an issue.  Wine manufacturers are experimenting with new ways to package their wine and a growing development is the use of screw caps. Developed for wine bottles in 1959, the screw cap was initially associated with cheap, jug-style bottles of wine.[1]  But with the marketing of groups such as the International Screwcap Initiative, that image is slowly changing.

 

The International Screwcap Initiative is a nonprofit group of winemakers with the objective to “encourage and facilitate the use of screwcap wine seals by wine producers around the world; to provide a forum… facilitating the exchange of ideas, opinions and contributions to further the use of screwcaps; and to…best practice in use, promotion, and education of screwcap wine seals.”[2] This initiative began in New Zealand in 2001 and went global in 2004. Screw caps have become widely popular with New Zealand winemakers and today 85% of New Zealand wines are bottled under screw caps.  Australia is slowly following New Zealand’s example with 45% of their wine bottles today being sealed with a screw cap rather than a cork. [3]  Other countries have been slower to adopt the screw cap but the International Screwcap Initiative has member wineries in France, South Africa, Argentina, Austria, and Greece.[4]

 

Proponents of the screw cap argue that the airtight seal allows winemakers to guarantee that consumers will be opening their wine in pristine condition.  In his book, Taming the Screw, Australian wine writer Tyson Stelzer points out that screw caps prevent cork taint, flavor modification, and sporadic oxidation.[5]  Further, Stelzer argues that screw caps provide a reliable long term seal, make cellaring much more convenient, and that both red and white wines can age under a screw cap.[6]

 

However, many resist the transition to screw caps, especially those in the high-end wine world.  Many winemakers in the U.S. are unsure about the aging of wines under a screw cap, as it is still relatively untested. Also, consumers and winemakers alike resist the abandoning of the traditional ritual of uncorking a bottle of wine.

 

Only time can tell how popular this “advancement” in bottling will become.  While the screw cap’s future in the U.S. is uncertain, the one thing we know for sure is it is ultimately the taste that matters. As the old adage goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

 



[1] http://www.screwcapinitiative.com/normal.asp?navID=4&pageID=4

[2] http://www.screwcapinitiative.com/normal.asp?navID=2&pageID=2

[3] http://www.screwcapinitiative.com/normal.asp?navID=4&pageID=4

[4] http://www.screwcapinitiative.com/member_map.asp?navID=45&pageID=45

[5] For more information on these cork-related bummers: http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/Wine-Flaws-Cork-Taint-and-TCA_3346

 

[6] http://www.screwcapinitiative.com/normal.asp?navID=24&pageID=24

First Tasting of Spring: “Valenwine’s” Day

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Society of Wine and Jurisprudence is happy to welcome everyone back to CLS this Spring semester, and is proud to announce our first tasting!

This Saturday, February 15th, at the Chateau du Bros, we will be hosting our “Valenwine’s”* Day event. We will be pairing a number of wines with Girl Scout** cookies, and progress, as we generally do, to drinking and merriment.

Hope to see you there!

*name courtesy of Alex Poe

** also courtesy of Alex Poe – we bought enough to bump him to second in the troop!

The Good, the Bad, and the Mildly Inconvenient: Beverage Culture in the Western Cape

Posted by Byron Crowe II*

In the early afternoon of July 26th, I walked out of Stanza Dei Sigari, a cigar bar in the North End of Boston, and began my journey to South Africa by catching a cycle rickshaw to South Station. Two days later, after a smoke-scented train ride to NYC, an evening in the city, a 19 hour flight, and a 200 rand cab ride, I finally arrived in the Observatory neighborhood of Cape Town. Since then, life here has been nothing short of living the 3L dream. Because of my enthusiasm for the experiences I have had while here, I decided to enlighten the readers back home with some of the highlights—and low points—of beverage culture here in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

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Event Recap: Welcome Back Tasting with Chardonnay

Posted by Michaela Laird on September 25, 2013.

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Wine Tasting, 9/20/13, 6:30pm, The Lodge, Theme: Chardonnay

The Society of Wine and Jurisprudence started this year the way many people start their wine tasting career, with Chardonnay.  Last Friday we held our first tasting of the year, focusing entirely on this popular grape and the widely varied wines made from it. The event was a success, as you can see from the pictures, and we tasted Chardonnays from many different regions- from local Finger Lakes wineries to the grape’s homeland in the Burgundy region of France.  Below are a couple of our picks from the event.

Favorite Foreigner: Terra Nova Chardonnay

This Chilean wine was the surprise hit of the evening.  Appraised by our tasters as being, “smooth,” “full-bodied,” and “buttery” this crisp and fresh-flavored wine left a positive impression on all.  And at only $7.99, it also wins our “Best Bargain” award.

http://www.vinosterranova.com/eng/index.htm

Easiest Going Down: Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2011

The most popular wine of the evening was a Californian.  From an up-and-coming region for Chardonnay, this medium-bodied wine was praised as being “balanced” and “crisp” with a “fantastic dry finish.”

http://www.ednavalleyvineyard.com/our-wines/chardonnay.html

Final Take-Away: One grape, many flavors. And the new members learnt just how much fun we can have!

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How to use this blog: Events

Hey everybody,

This is your Chief Blog Editor, Chris, with a brief update. For those of you who don’t know, our first tasting of the school year is Friday, September 20, focusing on Chardonnay. I’d just take this opportunity to point your attention up to the events link on the navigation bar on top of the site, where you’ll see the full event entry for that Chardonnay Tasting tomorrow evening with all of the details.

As we get going this year, we’re going to have a fuller slate of events posted, with contact and sign-up information available for future events. Keep checking back, and you’ll get a good view of what the Society is doing and how to get involved.

So keep your eyes open, and that’s enough from me. I’ll leave you to read Theresa’s excellent post on tasting wines below, and tell you to check back in soon; we have some excellent pieces coming in our continuing introduction series, and a post from our former Wine Czar Byron, who’s in South Africa right now and has quite a bit to say about it.

How to Taste Wine

420672_2836276950540_1604260635_nPosted by Theresa Cederoth on September 12, 2013.

Drinking wine is not the same as tasting wine.  Even those of us who have been wine drinkers for years may never have stopped to appreciate the full experience of our beverage.  To truly taste wine, you need to slow down and pay attention to your senses of smell, sight, and touch, as well as taste.  You don’t need to be a wine expert to become a proficient wine taster—all that’s required is a little focus.  Here’s a cheat sheet to guide you through the basic aspects of wine tasting.

Step 1: Control Your Tasting Conditions

Start with a clean wine glass, since the taste and smell of dust or detergent can affect the wine’s flavor.  (Along similar lines, avoid strong perfumes while wine tasting.)  Whenever possible, choose a good wine glass.[1]  The glass should have a large bowl so that you can swirl and aerate the wine, and the rim should bend inward to help funnel the aromas to your nose.  A clear glass, rather than colored or printed, will give you an unimpeded view of the wine (which becomes important in Step 2).  The rim should be thin, as wine flows more cleanly and evenly over a thin rim than a thick rolled one.

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Wines of South Africa

south africaCC image courtesy of orkomedix.

Posted by Byron Crowe II on May 9, 2013.

Although wine may not be your first thought when you think of Africa, it is home to one of the top ten wine-producing countries in the world.  South Africa, a large country on the continent’s southern tip, has a rich history of wine production. The first South African wines were made over 300 years ago by Dutch Colonists using wild grapes that grew along the southwestern coast.  Today, South Africa has garnered international acclaim for the wide variety of fine wines produced in its unique, southern-Mediterranean-esque climate.

The Grapes

While white grape varietals dominated South African production as late as the 1990s, there is now a greater amount of balance between red and white production, with 45% of hectares planted being red varietals. The top white varietals include Chenin Blanc—referred to locally as “Steen”—Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.1  The most-planted reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage, and Merlot.2 Continue reading