Gourmet Wines

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Don't be fooled by hoity-toity websites that refer to themselves as "gourmet wine-sellers." The word "gourmet" in that sentence is a show-off. Unless you're paying a buck-ninety-five for Boone's Farm, any wine made with care has the potential to be seriously pleasing to the drinker. And serious pleasure derived from food and drink is what being a gourmet is all about.

So, what are the characteristics that make a wine fine? Well, it's not the bottle's price. Many wonderful wines, full of flavor and charming character, can be found for less than $15 dollars a bottle. One does not have to be a Rothschild to be able to afford a perfectly good wine.

The most important thing in wine making, the one essential factor, is the health of the grape used in the making. A healthy grape is the result of careful tending, soil rich with nutrients, and superb growing conditions which suit the grape in question. Healthy grapes, in their natural form, have greater flavor, smarter color, richer texture, and pleasantly sweet and spicy aromas. Wines made with such grapes are immediately superior to those grown in chemical and pesticide-rich environments. Many grapes, grown in overlarge, uber-commercial "grape factories" often emerge as spindly, shrunken, pale fruits--which then require further chemicals to make them taste the way they should have in the first place.

Wines Made from Organic Grapes: Tasting the Fruit of the Vine

One way to ensure that the wine you purchase is made with superior care and craftsmanship is to sample the offerings of wine producers that practice organic farming techniques. Organic farming techniques eschew the use of pesticides and synthetic chemicals, opting instead for organic compounds that benefit not only the grapes, but the immediate environment, and the health of the wine-drinker. Note that, in the world of wine, organic wines are not the same as those which are produced by organic farming techniques. Due to confusing legislation, for a wine to be labeled "organic" it may contain no added sulfites. Sulfites, unfortunately, are a naturally occurring substance, which, when added in small doses, make the wine more stable and enjoyable--with absolutely no ill effects of any kind.

For the best drinking experience then, look for wines which are labeled "made with organic grapes," as opposed to those wines which are labeled purely "organic." The product contained within is much more likely to please. These wines, made from organic grapes, allow the wine drinker to fully taste the fruit of the vine, and all her attendant, mellow aromas and fragrances, without being forced to ingest artificial enhancers, or unknowingly consume quantities of pesticides. Organic grapes let the natural flavor shine through, and certainly that is an essential component of any "gourmet" experience.

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