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Brazil

Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America. The first vineyards were planted by Portuguese immigrants in 1532, and in 1626 Jesuit priests introduced Spanish grape varieties that failed to yield satisfactory quality due to the hot and humid climate. Much late, in the 18th century Portuguese immigrants from Azores brought varieties from Madeira and those also failed to thrive. Humidity and disease resistant American hybrids, e.g Isabella, thrived, but yielded mediocre quality wines at best.
In 1870 Italian immigrants established extensive vineyards in Sierra Gaucha in southern Brazil abutting the Uruguay border. Moet et Chandon from France started producing sparkling wines in 1970’s, and ever since many wineries switched at least some of their output to this style.
Today, more than any other style, sprinkling wine production dominates the industry. Some of the best are made using traditional varieties e.g chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier, but some very attractive sparkling wines are made from glera, Italian riesling, trebbiano and viognier, and blends thereof. Even some cabernet sauvignon and merlot are used.
Approximately 50 per cent of sparkling wines are made by the Champagne method. The biggest producers focus on brut wines, containing 8 – 15 grams of residual sugar per liter.
Brazil is spread over a vast territory and has varied climatic conditions. Rio Grande de Sul was the first region, and expanded to Planalto Catarinense just north of Porto Allegre, Campos de Cuna da Serra, Serra Gaucha, Serra do Sudeste, Campanha, and Vale dos Vinhedos, all of which are located in southern Brazil at 29 degree south latitude.
Brazil has three certified geographic regions for wine – Vale dos Vinhedos DO ( Designation of origin), Pinto bandeira ( Indication of origin), and Altos Montes (IP = Indication of provenance) Certifications stipulate grape varieties, yields per hectare, chaptalisation, and yeast species allowed.
The preferred varieties for wine production are : cabernet sauvignon, merlot, tannat, pinot noir, tempranillo, touriga nacional for reds, and chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, viognier, gewurztraminer for whites. Experiemental varieties are also planted.
The soils vary between sandy mixed with granite, and limestone, clay with pebble stones, and alluvial. New vineyards are planted on high altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level.
These regions are in the Plan Alto Catarinense abutting the border with Uruguay.
Generally, the most successful wines of Brazil are sparkling , which comply with legal regulations.
Sweetness levels of Brazilian sparkling wines are defined as follows: Nature 0 – 3 grams of residual sugar Extra brut 3 – 8 grams of residual sugar Brut 8-15 grams Sec 15 – 20 grams Demi-sec 20 – 60 grams Doce/Doux 60 +
The following sparkling wine producers are considered to be the best:
Cave Geisse
Enos Vinhos de Boutique Vallontano
Arte de Vinha
Guatambu
Vinha Buna
Domino do Brazil

INDIA’S WINE INDUSTRY

The sub-continent has been producing wine since 3000 B C .

Wine was made for the pleasure of Mugal emperors Akbar, Jehangir, and Shah Jehan in the 16th and 17th centuries who enjoyed wines from royal vineyards.

British established vineyards in Kashmir, and at Baramat Maharshtra east of Mumbai.

The International Exhibition Of Calcutta in 1884 featured wines that were well received by the public.

British were more interested in popularizing beer (mostly ales that morphed to IPA (India Pale Ale) and whisky.

In general Indians prefer beer, and those who can afford Scotch, but since 1980’s young and educated people have started taking an interest in enjoying wine.

While Kashmir is more favourably located for grape groving, Maharashtra, much further south) has the largest vineyards acreage.

India’s climate is too hot for wine grapes, and Indians enjoy eating grapes, and some off dry to sweet wines on occasion.

There are no wine laws, except one that states that the variety on the label must represent 90 per cent of what is i the bottle.

Blending is a mixed blessing.

The following regions produce wine – Nashik, Pune, Bangalore, Hampi Hills, Bijapur, and northern Karnakata (part of Maharashtra).

The grape varieties favoured are – muscat Hamburg, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, shiraz, cinsault, pinotage, clairette, sauvignon blanc, and others for experimental purposes. Vines are trained pergola style to take advantage of airflow, and to protect grapes from desiccation.

There are only few wineries, considering the enormous population, that produce white, red, rose and sparkling wines.

Most wines are off dry, or sweet as grapes lack the necessary acidity.

YEAST – IMPORTANT MICROORGANISMS IN VINICULTURE

Yeast plays a significant role in foods and has an indispensable role in all alcoholic beverages. Without yeast there would be no alcoholic beverage, and yet the public knows little about yeast.

Yeast is a single-celled fungal organism that occurs naturally on the skin of grapes, and in the air, which is called ambient yeast. Dumping grape pomace in the vineyard can modify ambient yeast cultures.

In a sugar-containing liquid and in the presence of oxygen, yeasts convert sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Romans knew about yeast and studied it. They called it saccaromyces, which means, “sugar fungus” in Latin. Cerevisiae (of beer) completes the general Latin name saccaromyces cerevisiae.

Yeast needs a carbon source, ample supply of nitrogen, a few minerals and traces of other substances or vitamins to function. The common carbon source is sugar, amino acids supply the nitrogen, and practically all the fruit juices provide the rest.
Brewers use saccaromyces cerevisiae and its many variants, as do bakers, but winemakers prefer saccaromyces bayanus,- uvarum, – pastorianus, which are more suitable for fruit juices e.g grape juice and now more and more professionals like using cultivated yeast strains to avoid stuck fermentations.

Wild yeasts (s.Hansenula, – Klockera, – Candido, and – torulopsis die when the alcohol level reaches approximately five per cent ABV, and are less tolerant to sulphur dioxide) exist on the skin of grapes, and start fermentation, then s.Metchinkowia, Pichia, take over and continue the process. Eventually s.cerevisiae start to work. For these reasons winemakers prefer using cultivated yeasts which are more efficient in converting sugar to alcohol and rarely cause a “stuck fermentation”.

Once all the sugar has been converted, the yeast dies and floats either to the surface of the liquid or to the bottom. S- Brettanomyces, – Kluyvoromyces, and – schizosaccaromyces may exist in the fermented juice, and all in sufficient quantities may change the smell and flavour of the wine unfavourably.

Yeast can be cultivated in laboratories and “tamed” to function differently, i.e in some cases the strain dies at low alcohol concentrations (3 – 5 per cent ABV), in others it can live up to (10 – 12 per cent ABV), and in yet other cases it can live up to 15 – 16 ABV and very seldom to 20.

Aside from brewing, wine making and distilling, saccaromyces species are used in baking.

There are hundreds of yeast strains, and many are cultivated in laboratories to suit different uses.

A yeast cell is composed of walls of cellulose surrounding living matter “protoplasma”. It reproduces during the fermentation process, and when properly extracted, can be used for another batch as it is done in sour mash whiskey in

the USA, and some breweries.

Dr. L. Pasteur unfolded the science behind yeast in the 19th century, although it was used for millennia before his research revealed how it functions.

In brewing, two distinct strains of yeast are used – for warm (top) fermentation of ale and wheat beers, and for cold fermentation in lager production. All brewing yeasts are called saccaromyces cerevisiae, although there exist hundreds of strains.

In some wineries the natural (ambient) yeast on the grape skin is used ( some wineries now use “wild yeast” i.e the specie on the skin of the grape and claim to achieve more appealing aromas and flavour depths), but most winemakers prefer cultivated yeast strains specifically bred to achieve consistent and desirable results.

Wild yeast changes the flavour of wine and behaves unpredictably, sometimes creating a “stuck” fermentation, which is highly undesirable. Some flavours of wild yeast are captivating, others unusual and disappointing.

Some yeast strains lend themselves more to cool fermentation and preserve the natural fruit flavours, while others (mostly for red wine) thrive in red wine and like high temperatures (25 – 30 C).

Winemakers like to use specially developed strains for their base wines, most of which have been extracted in the champagne region in France approximately 140 Kilometres east and north of Paris. They preserve fragrance and purity of fruit.

In Germany, several strains were developed for riesling and other indigenous or hybrid German grapes.

Now research in yeast is a major scientific endeavour by food manufacturers, large brewing organizations, and wineries.

VERSATILE SHERRY

When people enthuse about matching food and wine they usually refer to table wines in the range of 12 – 13.5 per cent ABV.

Yet fortified wines (sherry, port, Madeira, Marsala) have their right place in gastronomy.

Sherry in particular can be bone dry to deliriously sweet, and every shade of dryness and sweetness in between.

Port may be white dry or sweet, or red with a range of styles and recently, a lot of fine red table wines are being produced.

Madeira too can be bone dry (sercial) or super sweet.

The same is true for Marsala, invented and promoted by Woodhouse brothers from England.

Sherry has been particularly successful in England and a few producers still sale a lot i.e E.Lustau, Harvey’s of Bristol, Gonzales Byass, Sandeman, just to name a few.

Here is menu with matching sherry wines

Carpaccio of North Atlantic cod, brunoise of gherkins, lime vinaigrette and black Kalamata olives

La Ina, Gonzalez Byass

Crepe with smoked Norwegian salmon, guacamole, crayfish and spring onions

La Lidia Manzanilla,

Slices of Gulf of Mexico prawns drizzled with, extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and Maldon salt

Fino Jarana, E. Lustau

Bay of Cadiz supreme of turbot, prawns, almond sauce

Amontillado Escuadrilla, E. Lustau

Oxtail stew, mashed potatoes and ham

Emperatriz Eugenia Oloroso, E. Lustau

Hot chocolate soufflé, brown sugar and cacao powder, white chocolate mousse, mango jelly

Murillo Pedro Ximenez, E. Lustau

Many people think that a bottle of sherry, once opened, can be kept for months without suffering loss of taste. This is patently wrong.

Finos and manzanillas are both very delicate wines and must be treated like table wines; once opened consume the wine with the meal. If this is impossible decant the remaining wine into small containers and refrigerate. This way you can preserve it for a maximum of 48 hours.

Amontillado and oloroso styles are relatively robust, and can be kept for a few weeks once opened.( A month maximum). They should be at 16 – 18 C. This temperature range was standard in central Europe and often referred to as room temperature. In North America room temperature is rarely as low as 16, often more like 20 – 22C. In tropical countries room temperature may be as high 28 – 30. At these temperatures wines taste alcoholic and unpleasant.

Sweet sherries should also be enjoyed within four weeks of opening and at approximately at 18 – 20 C.

Sanlucar de Barameda is famous for its delicate manzanilla sherries, whereas Jerez de la Frontera wineries specialize in all other types of sherries.

E. Lustau specializes in almacenista sherries that are made an partially matured by individuals who sell butts (special barrels used in the region) to the highest bidder. The winery or trader ages the wine to maturity and bottles.

Generally, almacenista sherries taste better, are more complex, rarer, and more expensive, but represent true characteristics of fine sherries, and represent good value for those who appreciate fine wines.

WINE GLASSES AND DECANTERS

Connoisseurs like to enjoy their wine in purpose-designed, clear, crystal, mouth-blown stemware. Admittedly, these glasses are fragile requiring very gentle hand washing. They are also very expensive. In most restaurants wine is served in either all-purpose, machine blown glasses that do little to enhance the aromatic and flavour characteristics of a well-made wine.

In some fine restaurants, management may decide to use mouth-blown stemware for expensive and rare wines.


Wine can be drunk from any drinking vessel, but clear glass has the advantage of being completely inert, and allows the taster the pleasure of enjoying the colour, clarity, and brilliance of the wine.

Tasters always rotate the glass to “liberate” the aromas and volatile compounds of the wine. Fine stemware is always thin, large and shaped specifically for wine from particular regions, i.e Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone, Rhine, Piedmont, Tuscany, Tokay, just to name a few. There is also design differences for still, white, red and sparkling wine.

European glass manufacturers have devoted considerable resources and researched the best shape for each important type and style of wine.

There are specially designed glasses for different grape varieties i.e cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, syrah, icewine, Sauternes just to name a few.

Generally, German and Austrian manufacturers excel in wine glassware design and manufacturing.

In all cases it is highly recommended that appropriate stemware be purchased to enjoy a fine bottle of wine. However, specially designed glasses will not make a poor quality wine taste better.

All stemware must be washed and rinsed properly to ensure the absence of soap residue.

Stemware is fragile and in busy restaurants breakage causes profits to shrink substantially.

Eisch, a small German glass manufacturer in Bavaria, after long and exhaustive research, developed a line of shatter resistant, relatively inexpensive glasses that are readily available.

More importantly, Eisch has also developed and patented a breathable glass with a patented design and glass treatment that allows the wine to develop in the glass. Within a few minutes after pouring the wine, it smelled and tasted as if decanted hours ago.

I tried this newly developed glass and compared it to the taste of a conventionally manufactured glass of same design. The results were in favour of the breathable glass. But more importantly the glass is reasonably priced.

EXTRAORDINARY VALUE WINES FROM SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is the continent’s most prolific and most famous wine producer.

The technology is advanced, and wine makers are passionate in creating enticing wines.

Chenin blanc, a white grape transplant from France, grows exceptionally well, as do syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and other varieties.

South Africa’s chenin blanc wines taste appealing, are fruity, well balanced, and offer exceptional value.

Here are a few available in Ontario:

White wines

Kloof Street Chenin Blanc, 2021

$ 19.95

Chenin Blanc, 2017, Radford Dale Vinum

$ 19.95

LCBO13338

Red wines

Syrah, 2021, Porcupine Ridge

$ 16.95

595280

Pitch Black, 2017, Warwick Prof Black

$ 19.95

24250

DESSERTS – FINISHING TOUCHES TO MEALS

Humans possess a predilection for sweets from birth. Infants express their delight when given sweet foods.

Some people abandon sweet and later on prefer slightly bitter or bitter foods and beverages.

Overwhelming sugar consumption can cause diabetes, a deadly disease in the long run.

People in antiquity used to eat fruits or nut rolled in honey.

Honey was always a precious sweet as a bee produces only five ml. of honey in its life.

Archaeologists determined that preference to sweet foods started to increase around 3000 B C.

Ice cream, more precisely flavoured crushed ice, was invented in China around 3000 B C.

Marco Polo brought the technique to Europe, but it was Catherine de Medici who made an improved version of ice cream in France.

By the 1800’s ice cream recipes were widely available, vanilla being the most popular flavouring of all.

Filo dough, a specialty of Middle Eastern cuisines, was made as early as 1300 A D and stuffed with ground nuts, spices, or dates. Strangely these sweets were served as appetizers.

Desserts and pastries became popular after processed sugar became widely available.

Chocolate, in what id today Mexico was enjoyed by the Aztec nobility in liquid form.

When Spanish introduced cocoa to Europeans, it was first frowned upon as it tasted bitter, but the addition of sugar elevated chocolate to luxury food.

Today, European confectioners and pastry cooks are famous for their pies, tortes, and puff-pastry desserts, but Middle- and Far eastern

sweet delicacies enjoy popularity at home and worldwide as well.

Interestingly Chinese serve sweet soups as dessert, and enjoy only sweets as snacks with tea.

Worldwide the most popular desserts are- creme brulee, chocolate mousse, tarte tatin ( France), apple pie ( U S A ), Nanaimo bar (Canada), gulab jamun (India), baklava ( all Middle Eastern cuisines have their own versions), kardinal schnitten ( Austria), dobos torte (Hungary), strudel ( Austria and Germany), Black Forest cake ( Germany), canolli, gelato, tiramisu ( Italy), pavlova (Australia) and New Zealand).

Human ingenuity is limitless Every generation of pastry cooks has produced imaginative recipes. Some require refined techniques and artful presentations.

Old recipes survive because of their simplicity, flavour, texture and ingenuity.

CHATEAU PONTET CANET

This Medoc estate was classified as the top of the fifth growth in the 1855 Bordeaux chateau classification.

Jean Francois Pontet owned the 78 hectare chateau up to 1972.

All the wine produced was sold in bulk to negociants

The Tesseron family bought the chateau, and still manages it. Vineyards are now maintained as organic, and are composed of 63 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 32 merlot, and five cabernet franc. Under the management of Alfred Tesseron the quality improved, and today the grand vin of the chateau fetches much higher prices than its classification calls for.

The second label of the estate is called Les Hauts de Pontet Canet.

The best vintages of the 21 century are 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2015.

Pontet Canet’s grand vin in successful years are deep red, smell of ripe raspberries and strawberries, full bodied, layered, and deeply flavoured. The aftertaste is long and satisfying.

Enjoy with roast rack of lamb, grilled lamb chops, or medium hard cheeses.

A FEW WINE TIPS

Summer is for enjoyment of wine in-doors and out-of-doors, but preferably in-doors. Wine is adversely affected by sunlight, as is beer.

Here are a few tips that will serve you well, not only this season but throughout the year.
When swirling wine, don’t lift the glass.

A simple waiters’ corkscrew is all you need to open a bottle enclosed with cork. Many whites from New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina, and European countries come in screw-capped bottles.
When ordering wine by the glass in a restaurant, ask the bartender to open a fresh bottle.

Chill sparkling wines in a bucket of water with ice cubes and salt, or in the fridge for two hours. Never put a wine bottle in the freezer compartment for quick chilling.

Keep track of bad vintages from northern Italian, German, Alsace, Burgundian and Bordeaux wines to avoid disappointment.

“Corked” wines smell of wet cardboard, those oxidized look dull (reds brownish and whites brown), those affected by brettanomaycis “feral” are slightly bitter, those that smell like rotten eggs and cooked cabbage are chemically spoiled.

Most mid-priced wines today are ready to drink with a few weeks of “rest” in the cellar. Very few (good vintage Bordeaux, Napa Valley, San Louis Obispo reds, Barolos, Amarones, and vintage Ports), need cellaring.

Some cheeses enhance wine others do not! (Cream cheeses go well with fresh, acid-driven wines, chevre with dry sauvignon blanc from Loire or New Zealand, or South Africa, heavy reds with hard or semi-hard cheeses. Experiment to see what you prefer! Your taste buds will tell you.

Always use the wine you select to drink for cooking.

Most “house wines” in regular restaurants are poorly made inexpensive wines! Always ask the server to show you the bottle and make a decision accordingly. Better yet ask whether the management is willing to let you sample. The packaging of inexpensive wines, a few exceptions not withstanding, looks, well, uninspiring! You can tell with a little experience.

Never shake a sparkling wine bottle before or after opening! Chill it properly and hold it at 45 degree angle, undo the muzzle, grab the cork firmly, and turn the bottle back and forth!

Enjoy!

EVERYONE SHOULD MASTER THE BASICS OF COOKING

Regardless of your current life style (single, married, living with someone, or sharing accommodation), learning the basics of cooking is necessary for survival.

Cooking is a logical process, certain steps follow proceeding ones to achieve a flavourful and nutritionally valuable outcome.

Basic can be mastered by anyone willing.

Before starting to cook, learn about food, shopping, nutrition, hygiene in the kitchen, equipment, and dangerous food combinations.

Adequate equipment is essential. Cook top, oven (preferably gas), pots, pans, and utensils.

Buy the best equipment you can afford. Cheap things don’t last.

Here are everyone can master with a little training and experimentation.

Boiling pasta ( follow package instructions) Use plenty of water, no need to add oil. Salt just before immersing pasta. Stir, and watch careful. Pasta should cooked and enjoyed al dente 9( slightly resistant to the bite)

How to chop an onion properly.

Boiling eggs properly( place eggs in salted water. Bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Cover the pot. When the water reaches room temperature the eggs are done to perfection.

Make a vinaigrette dressing. It is the most versatile dressing imaginable and delicious to top.

Place salt and pepper in container. Add mustard and vinegar. Stir to dissolve the salt. Add oil gradually while whisking constantly.

A proportion of one to two is a good start. You can adjust oil and vinegar to your taste.

Creating a salad. ( Always combine your salad with hard vegetables e.g grated carrots, boiled broccoli fleurettes. Add colour with tomato wedges, radishes etc.

You can choose between romaine, Boston bib, shredded white or red cabbage, kale, spinach, Napa cabbage, frisee, radicchio just to name a few.

Never use iceberg lettuce.

Make a guacamole

Baking fish ( temperature 425 F+ 200 C)

Roasting chicken ( 400 F = 185 C)

Roasting vegetables ( cut vegetables according to their specific gravity. Hard ones smaller than soft vegetables.

You can use sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, beets, squash, onions, eggplants, tomatoes, or swedes. Mix all, add olive oil, salt, and pepper, herbs (oregano, parsley, coriander, thyme, basil) and roast at 400 F= 180 C. Check after 20 minutes to. Remember food still cooks after you remove it from the heat.

The best cooking techniques are:

Boiling vegetables in the least amount of water possible and reserving the water for later use in sauces etc. determine how much longer you need to roast.

Steaming, poaching, broiling, grilling, sauteeing, marination ( fish and vegetables).

Eat raw food if it is free of contaminents.