This is the quote famously attributed to a French monk called Dom Perignon when he first tasted the sparkling splendour that we now know as Champagne and which many believe to be the moment that bubbles were born. However, whilst Perignon is important to the world of fizz, he wasn't the creator.
Effervescence in wine has been written about since the Ancient Greeks and Romans although back then they thought it was to do with the Luna cycle and the spirit world, but in 'relatively' modern history the purposeful making of sparkling wine did start in France just not where you would imagine.
The oldest recorded sparkling wine is Blanquette de Limoux (roughly translated as white of Limoux) based on the Mauzac grape, invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Carcassonne in 1531. It would seem that those monks just love a glass or two of sparkly stuff!
They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended, referred to now as the rural or ancestral method.
Fast forward a century and an English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation 6 years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautville and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented Champagne! Merret even presented a paper at the Royal Society in 1662 describing what is now called methode champenoise or should that really be methode anglais? Either way I was lucky enough to try lots of it on my recent adventures to Bollinger and Veuve Clicquot.
A lesser known wheel is this, the Australian Mouth Feel Wheel. Created by a research group, it describes the 'terminology for communicating the mouth-feel characteristics of red wine.'
I personally find it harder to describe how the the wine feels, in comparison to its aroma, but hey ho practice makes perfect, so crack open that bottle!
Below you will find the wine aroma wheel, which is an integral part of any wine lovers arsenal. Originally developed by Ann C. Noble a sensory chemist at the University of California's Department of Viticulture and Enology (the science, production and study of grapes and wine respectively).
Whilst some may argue that it is now a bit dated and therefore doesn't pick up on some the newer nuances that today's wine drinkers do i.e. guava or papaya it is nevertheless still a very useful tool in starting to understand, describe and trust your nose.
Next time you have a glass, take a sniff try and see if you can pick up on any of the descriptions.
Most of the worlds vines are grown within the latitudes of 30 -50 degrees both in the south and north hemispheres. Latitudes are important because they affect how long the seasons are and the temperature.
Lower latitudes have early springs and late autumns which therefore allow the grapes to ripen slowly and develop flavour, aroma and sugar. The downside being that if the temperatures get to high the sugar levels in the grapes rise and lose acidity.
Higher latitudes have shorter cooler summers but longer hours of daylight. Too cool and the grapes won't ripen, but if the temperature is just warm enough the long days allow the grapes to develop all their goodness.
All vines are part of the Vitis genus which is derived from the Vitaceae family. The Vitis genus includes approx 60 species and they are usually seperated into two sections, Euvities and Muscadinia. From the Euvites sub-genera comes the main species of vine that is responsible for most of the world's wine production Vitis Vinifera. This gives us some of the classic grape varieties such as:
Red Grape White Grape
Cabernet Sauvignon Chardonnay
Garnacha Tinta/Grenache Noir Chenin Blanc
Pinot Noir Riesling
Sangiovese Sauvignon Blanc
There are a few species that are also important to wine production such as Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia and Vitis berlandieri which are often used for their strong rootstocks that Vitis Vinifera can then be grafted onto. This makes it more resistant to cold weather and Phylloxera - a microscopic insect that destroys the roots and leaves of the grapevine.
The history of wine is actually anything but brief, with archaeologists having found evidence of its existence from about 7000BC.
The oldest winery that has been discovered to date is located in Armenia with its wine press, fermentation vats, jars and cups dating back from 4100BC.
Now I'm not going to go into the eras of wine making throughout the ages. Firstly I don't know that much and secondly you probably wouldn't read it anyways. Suffice it to say that man and wine have been friends for a long time.
In future brief history of wine articles I shall just give you quick overviews into the main areas of wine/ wine making and who knows these little titbits of information might come in handy for a pub quiz one day!