Wine Blending: Why Certain Grapes are Blended

Winemakers not only have the opportunity to create delicious tasting wines from different grapes around the world, but the experienced ones can mix several together to make a unique blend that only lasts for so long. Today we’re going to learn all about the are of wine blending and which ones you should be on the lookout for.

How are Blends Created?
For centuries, expert winemakers have learned about the many variations of grapes, which are best made into wine separately and which can be blended later on. During ancient times, wine grapes were plucked and made into wine together to create a field blend. Port wines are one of the few wines out there that are still made using this method. Once the wine is stored away in tanks or barrels, the blending process begins. During this time, as the aroma is quite overpowering, winemakers depend on the taste and texture to create wind blends.

The Art Behind Blending
It takes multiple years to an entire lifetime before someone masters the art of wine blending. Winemakers will usually combine the uses of technical analysis and their taste buds. Some blends take as many as 50 tries before the recipe is deemed perfect. However, that specific recipe can only be used throughout one season, as the next year’s grapes will vary in ripeness due to new weather conditions. Unless grapes are grown in a perfectly controlled environment with no variations, it’s impossible to replicate the recipe perfectly as each year passes.

Famous Wine Blends that Work
There’s a common theme amongst wine blends in today’s market. Cabernet is typically blended with a Merlot, while Syrah is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre. It’s rare to find other blends, as they’d stray from both tradition and climate conditions. The grapes that grow together typically go best together, as they’ve adapted to the same climate conditions.

Bordeaux Blend
This category of wine usually refers to red blends from the Bordeaux region of France, as 95% of the grapes grown there are red. The top varieties of Bordeaux blends include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

Rhȏne/GSM blend
Rooted in the Southern Rhȏne of France, most refer to this category as the Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre (GSM) blend. A total of around 19 grape varieties, including white grapes, are blended together to create this red wine.

Others
As France isn’t the only player in the wine blending business, there are other regions creating interesting and unique blends. Using diverse vine varieties and unique climate conditions, there are many opportunities to develop different regional blends. Common blends include Italy’s Super Tuscan Blend, Greece’s Rapsani Blend, Washington’s CMS Blend, and Portugal’s Douro Tinto Blend.

At Seven Degrees Liquor store in Edmonton, Alberta, our specialists provide customers with the best wine, craft beers and spirits in the area. For a great price, you can explore our wide collection of high-quality wine. Be sure to visit our Edmonton wine and beer store for expert advice and free product tastings.

Ways to Stay Healthy While Drinking Wine

If you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, don’t beat yourself up about indulging in a glass of wine every now and then. Here are six ways you can stay healthy without having to give up drinking wine.

Know the Calories Within

When shopping around for low calorie wine, you’ll find that most bottles contain 130-175 calories per glass. However, the human body digests wine differently than it does food due to the toxicity of the substance. Not all of it gets converted into energy, as the rest is released through your bladder. Basically, your body won’t absorb as many calories as it would if you ate a pint of ice cream.

Don’t Drink Before Eating

It’s been shown that drinking wine before a meal can increase your appetite, specifically when consumed 30 minutes prior to eating. It’s best to drink your wine during the actual meal, sipping slowly instead of going through glass after glass. Avoid drinking wine on a full stomach as well. While you’ll be less likely to feel the effects of the alcohol, your body will absorb more of the calories associated with the drink.

Stick with Dry, Red Wine

It’s also been shown that red wine contains more antioxidants than other wine varieties. If you’re truly looking to get healthier while still indulging in wine every now and then, it’s important that you pay close attention to the alcohol level. Try to keep it lower than 13.5% ABV for the best results.

Don’t Drink too Late at Night

When you drink a glass or two of wine before bed, you’ll see the same effects that occur when you eat carbohydrates too late at night. Your body will focus on breaking that down while you sleep instead of burning off fat. You’ll also find you’ll get a better night’s sleep if you stop eating or drinking two to three hours before bedtime.

Don’t Cheap Out

You’ll need to put value in the things you drink when you’re trying to change your habits. Spending more money on a bottle of wine will make you more likely to savour it over a longer period of time. You don’t want to spend money on it constantly, like you might with a cheaper wine, so make sure it’s preserved properly and make it last.

Separate Drinking and Home Life

If the temptation of something you crave is too far away, the chances are you’ll be less likely to indulge in it. Don’t worry, it’s what makes us human. If you currently are or are planning to go on a strict diet, then it will benefit you to remove all sources of temptation from your home. We’re not saying you have to stop drinking wine! But you’ll only be able to do it when you go out rather than have it readily available to your 24/7.

At Edmonton’s Seven Degrees Liquor store, we provide customers with a wide variety of high-quality wines, spirits and craft beers, all at an affordable price. Be sure to visit our Edmonton wine and beer store for free samples or to talk to one of your many expert employees.

A Very Short History of Beer

Where Did it Begin?

The brewing process of beer was first documented by the Ancient Egyptians on papyrus scrolls around 5,000 BC, making it the oldest recorded recipe in history. The first brew contained ingredients such as dates, pomegranates and indigenous herbs. By today’s standards, it’s likely to be a harsher beer to drink. It was often used for religious ceremonies by the Pharaoh, who would direct the brewing schedule as well as its distribution.

However, it’s been said that the Mesopotamians were actually the first to brew beer. They just never wrote down any recipes. If this is to be true, the first beer would have been brewed around 10,000 BC. The only evidence they left behind of brewing the beverage was malted barley scraps, along with bowls that contained a residue similar to beer.

From the Middle East to Europe

Beer inevitably made its way through the Middle East into the Mediterranean and Europe. It was then that beer became an integral part of daily life, especially for the Northern European countries of Germany, Belgium and, eventually, The British Isles. There was an abundance of barley crops that provided a large number of raw ingredients for brewers to utilize. The beverage was valued amongst the community for both its nutritional value and its safe consumption when compared to their drinking water, which was often contaminated by human waste.

Early Middle Ages

This is when modern beer was thought to be born, thanks to Northern Europe. Brewers would use malted barley as their chief source of fermentable sugar and continued doing so for hundreds of years. The use of hops as a flavouring and bittering agent weren’t commonly used until the twelfth century. Until then, herbs and spices were implemented in order to balance the malt flavours of the beer.

German monks began using wild hops in their brewing process around 1150, and the use of the ingredient caught on. The hops not only acted as a natural preservative for the beer, but it also added a nice bitterness that was desired by avid consumers. Monks were the most innovative of brewers during the Middle Ages, most monasteries having a brewery on site. Monks are credited for creating many brewing innovations, including the concept of cold storing beer to improve the flavour.

The British Isles

Beer was an integral part of British life, which is why many beer styles today come from Britain, including pale ales, porters and stouts. Brewed in England and Ireland for hundreds of years, the British army would deliver daily beer rations to soldiers. When the British empire occupied a majority of the civilized world, the Royal Navy would deliver beer to soldiers across the empire.

The New World

With the arrival of the first European colonists also came beer. The first permanent structure that was built once they landed at Plymouth Rock was a brewery, as they’d run out of beer upon arrival. That was the start of America’s passion for brewing beer. By 1810, New York City alone had 42 breweries. While almost all American beers were based off British styles, that began to change towards the mid-1800s. A wave of immigrants from Northern and Central Europe brought new beer styles and flavours. The pale, hoppy beer was soon joined by the dark, heavier ales that are still popular today.

While American beer production rose from the late-1800s to the early 1900s, it came to a halt with the 1920 Prohibition. For the next 13 years, brand loyalty disappeared, making room for new players that are still active today.

At Seven Degrees Liquor store in Edmonton, Alberta, we provide customers with high-quality wines, craft beers and spirits at a great price. Visit our Edmonton beer and wine store for a free sample and expert advice.

Warming Up By Drinking Red Wine in the Winter

Now that we are well into winter, it is time to find ways to stay cozy and warm until the spring thaw. While gloves, hats, and scarves can keep the cold out reasonably well, they cannot lift our spirits after a long commute in a snowstorm. That is where red wine comes into play. Even though it cannot literally warm us up, everyone always feels warmer and cozier after a glass or two. Red wine can be enjoyed during any time of year, but there are a few reasons its consumption is especially fitting in the winter.

Comforting

Few things compare to the feeling of taking the first sip from a glass of red. It tastes rich, inviting, and goes down smoothly. Curling up on the couch after a long day at work followed by a snowy commute is only made that much more therapeutic with red wine. It is comforting knowing you have a bottle of red waiting for you once you get home.

Hearty

When the temperature drops outside, the recipes people prefer tend to get richer. Instead of light salads, people opt for bowls of stew and plates of hearty pasta. A sweeter and spicier wine is needed to complement these types of dishes. Winter reds will have rich and dark tones of flavour and taste distinct. They can even be added to meats and sauces to enhance their flavouring.

Mulled Wine

A toasty mug of mulled wine has warmed the bodies of Nordic and Germanic people for centuries. It is enhanced with spices like ginger and cinnamon for a robust flavour profile. Mulled red wine can only truly be enjoyed during the dead of winter. It is a great drink warm up with that does not have the caffeine of coffee or tea. Simply warm up your favourite Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or Zinfandel and add ginger, cinnamon, and honey. It is the perfect way to warm your hands up again after shovelling your driveway or walkway.

Seasonal Wine

Some wines taste better in the winter than the summer and vice versa. Save your sangrias, rosés, and whites for the spring and summer when you want to cool down. A rich, dark Pinot Noir goes down better while sitting under a blanket in front of a fire or heater. Reds come in a variety of price ranges, which means you are sure to find one that suits your budget.

If you are in search of the perfect red wine to complement a meal, make mulled wine with, or to get cozy, stop by Seven Degrees. We have a wide selection of winter reds that are sure to make the coldest days seem a bit warmer.

All About Orange Wine

You are likely familiar with red, white, and rose wines but did you know there is an orange wine as well? It is a bit of a misnomer though since it is not actually made from oranges and it does not refer to a mimosa either, which is a blend of orange juice and sparkling wine. Orange wine is entirely different. It is a type of white wine that is made by leaving grape seeds and skins in the mix, creating a drink that is deep orange in colour.

What is it?

First, you take mashed up white grapes and put them in a large cement or ceramic vessel. The grapes are then set to ferment for four days or even more than a year with the seeds and skins still attached. It is an entirely natural process that uses little to no additive – not even yeast sometimes. It tends to taste different from standard white wines because of this process with a sour taste and nutty flavour from oxidation. The term orange wine was first coined by David Harvey, a British wine importer. He initially described it as a non-interventionist style of white winemaking. There is also an Italian Pinot Grigio made this way called Ramato, which means auburn in Italian.

What does it taste like?

There are several notes orange wine can take on, but it is typically described as bold and robust. You will notice aromas of sweet jackfruit, hazelnut, Brazil nut, dried orange rind, bruised apple, juniper, sourdough, wood varnish, and linseed oil. It will taste big, dry, have tannin similar to red wine, and sour like a fruit beer. It can taste surprisingly intense when you first try it.

Food Pairings

Orange wine is bold and, so, it pairs well with equally bold dishes like Moroccan, Ethiopian, Korean, Japanese, and Indian cuisine. Try it with fermented kimchi (bibimbap), fermented soybeans (Natto), Injera (a sponge-like pancake), or curries. There are a variety of meats orange wine pairs well with from fish to beef because of its tannin, bitterness, and nutty tartness.

Where is it from?

The orange winemaking process is quite old, dating back 5,000 years in modern-day Georgia (the country). Back then, orange wine was fermented in large vessels called Qvevri, closed with stones, and sealed with beeswax. The ancient process resurfaced about two decades ago and had become modernized since. It is still quite rare to come across orange wine, but several countries have grown more interest in this style.

Most orange wine is found in northeastern Italy along its border with Slovenia, which also produces it as well. There are also orange winemakers in Georgia, Austria, France, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States.

Stop by Seven Degrees to try an orange wine from Canada. We have an Amber Pinot Gris from Sperling Vineyards made in Okanagan Valley. It is certified organic with no added sulphites. You will notice aromas of earl gray tea, stone fruits, and jasmine with a fresh, dry finish. Our wine connoisseurs can help narrow down our vast selection of wine, beer, and spirits to suit your particular palate.