Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Wine was first brought to South America by the Spanish and once again purely for religious reasons. Wine arrived in North America via the colonist fleeing from religious persecution to start a new life in the new world. Not surprisingly there were many Catholics in the mix and as I’ve mentioned before wine is deeply rooted in Catholicism. California is the largest producer of wine in the USA at the moment. The wines in America are named after the grape variety used rather that in France where they, of course, named them after the region of origin. Initially, wine was shunned as it was thought of as too European and of course not welcome in the newly founded United States of America. Even if they had been keen to make wine they had little time with which to do so as they were rather busy taming the new world they lived in. The popularity of wine hasn’t grown much and the US public still remains largely beer drinkers and only a 30 percent of the population has come to realize the far superior experience of wine drinking. Of that 30%, a whopping 75% of the wine they drink is made in America. As you can see there is still a slightly an isolationist approach to wine in America. Australia had similar problems with producing wine earlier on as they too were a new country and had even more hostile surroundings to tame.

 The only advancement that has been made by these countries is the way they make their oak barrels for the aging fine wine. It was thought that French oak was the best for imparting its flavour into wine. This was mainly because American oaks (as well as oak from many other countries) had been used to make barrels, but the effect of the wood on the wine was far too great. It was later discovered that it wasn’t the wood that was the problem but the way the barrels were made. As the Americans were more accustomed to making whiskey barrels they dried their wood in a kiln, unlike the coopers who let their wood air dry for at least 24 months before using. The other difference was that the Americans sawed the wood into staves whereas the coopers split the wood. These differences to the technique used immediately made a substantial difference to the wine produced. After this discovery, the Americas and Australia were finally able to start making some quality fine wine. Which is perhaps still not quite as good as the finest French wine but they are getting there and in the future may even give the French a run for their money.


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