Classifications

Everything you need to know about wine classifications.

Wine Recession

While we’re all familiar with the worldwide financial recession, did you know we’ve also been experiencing a wine recession? Well, fear not, apparently the wine recession is set to end this year.

Back in 2008, consumption of wine peaked at a level of 25 litres per person – the equivalent of 1.61 billion bottles of wine! However, since that time, wine consumption has fallen by around 10.5% per capita.

Vinexpo and the International Wine and Spirits Record have now predicted that wine consumption will start to increase over the next five years. However, consumption is not set to reach the 2008 levels ‘in the foreseeable future’. Instead, a slow recovery over the next 5 years is expected.

Guillaume Deglise, CEO of VINEXPO, says, “We can say confidently that 2015 will show that the UK wine recession is over. While the UK market shed 9.6m cases between 2008 and 2013, it is now past its low point. The UK wine trade is building value and many leading marketers report progress at the premium end”.

It is noteworthy that the outstanding success since 2008 is sparkling wine. A large proportion of that success is down to Prosecco, which has seen a growth of 43% of UK imports. Between 2008 and 2018 UK drinkers are forecast to increase consumption of Prosecco to 2.2 litres per person, per annum.

So let’s raise a glass (of Prosecco) to the end of the wine recession!

Image is “Prosecco sparkling wine” by tracy ducasseFlickr: [1]. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Italian Sparkling Wine On Tap, Is It Prosecco?

Prosecco, the Italian cousin to France’s champagne, has quickly been gaining in popularity in the UK, but are you enjoying the real thing? Not if your prosecco is served on tap apparently.

Last year global sales of Prosecco overtook Champagne for the first time. In the UK, Prosecco achieved a 74.6% uplift in sales in the year to 20th July 2014 according to Kantar Worldpanel. There was similar staggering double-digit growth in 2013 with an increase in sales of £70 million.

Such is the staggering popularity of this sparkling gem that many eateries and pubs in the UK have started to sell it on tap. The advantage being a super sparkly glass of fizz without having to order a full bottle. However, according to EU Regulations, Prosecco must be produced in the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area of north-east Italy (just as champagne must come from the Champagne region of France) and must be marketed exclusively in traditional glass bottles. So if it arrives on tap, it is not Prosecco.

The trend of pubs selling Prosecco from barrels so alarmed Italian producers that they contacted the Food Standards Agency asking them to stop the sale of prosecco on tap. The Food Standards Agency has confirmed that it is not an acceptable practice to sell prosecco in this way. As such, it is perfectly permissible to serve Italian sparkling wine on tap, but it cannot be called Prosecco.

So if you simply want a glass of Italian sparkling wine, by all means order from the tap, but if you want the real thing, buy a bottle!

Image is “Prosecco vineyards” by John W. Schulze is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wine Based Drinks: 75% Wine, 25% Egg And Milk?

We aren’t fans of buying wine in supermarkets. It’s a bit of a minefield as we wrote about recently. Now the consumer has another complication to deal with.

A few of the big supermarkets are now stocking wine based drinks. They come in wine bottles. They are in the wine aisle. But are they wine? I guess that depends on your definition of wine.

Wine based drinks are defined by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) as products consisting of at least 75% wine. What’s the other 25% then? Well, you might hope it is water however the photos supplied by The Daily Mail suggest otherwise, namely milk and eggs… honest, take a look!

As a totally irrelevant aside, The Daily Mail article lists the OIV as the European industry body, which isn’t quite right. Various European member states are part of the OIV. However, the European Union itself is an observer of work from the OIV through participating organisations such as the International Federation of Wines and Spirits (FIVS)… aside complete!

Let us pretend that we can live with the fact that if we buy one of these drinks and drink it, we are drinking something that is 75% wine and 25%… well we aren’t sure. Let us also pretend we don’t care if that 25% is water, or eggs or milk… Wouldn’t you be ever so slightly annoyed if, in an impulse purchase you picked up a bottle of wine on an aisle end, took it to a party and someone noticed that in tiny print on the back of the bottle it says “wine based drink”?

The Daily Mail claims supermarkets stocking these products are misleading their customers and we would agree. If it isn’t wine, make it clear on the front of the bottle. Or, put it somewhere else more appropriate, perhaps the dairy section.

Image is “Wine” by Christine592 licensed under CC BY 2.0

Britons To Spend More On Wine Than The French

Since the credit crunch of 2008 we might be drinking less in Blighty but that hasn’t stopped the value of the UK wine market increasing by 15% to around £10.6 billion in 2014.

At this point, you could rightly conclude that if we are drinking less wine but spending more then its because of tax.

Tax on wine has gone up considerably in the UK since 2008, by almost 60% (£1.56 to £2.47 inc. VAT). Thats quite a lot, and the third highest in Europe behind Ireland and Finland (they have VAT at 23% and 24% respectively!) In France you’d pay just 3 pence in duty on a bottle of wine… sigh…

However, its not just tax, our spending habits have changed. Apparently the biggest growth is in the premium wines area for bottles costing between £7 and £14.

So we are drinking less but prepared to spend more to get a better product. If we continue to do that then by 2018 we will be spending £11.3 billion a year according to forecasts by Vinexpo, and we will have displaced France as the world’s second biggest still wine market. The US is the biggest and currently bigger than the French and British markets combined.

Full story in the FT.

Rioja Classifications: know Your Reserva From Your Crianza

Here at Charles Rose Wines we love Rioja. There a few different types when classified by age.

If you have ever wondered about the difference between Reserva and Crianza then let us fill you in!

Oak

There are four classifications of Rioja. The differences centre on how long they have been left to age in oak.

It is impossible to talk about Rioja without mentioning oak.

Oak has been a part of Rioja production for around three centuries and is key in producing a Rioja’s hallmark vanilla flavours.

Originally it was French oak barrels which were used. Increasingly, American oak is now a popular alternative. Many producers use both. How many oak barrels might a winery own? Probably around 10,000… at least!

So, the four classifications of Rioja are as follows.

Rioja

Wines labelled as simply ‘Rioja’ have spent less than a year in an oak ageing barrel.

Crianza

Red wines must have been aged for a minimum of two years.

White and rosé wines must have been aged for at least a year.

For all three types a minimum of six months must be spent ageing in oak.

Reserva

Red wines must have been aged for a minimum of three years with at least a year in oak.

White and rosé wines must have been aged for at least two years with a minimum of six months in oak.

Gran Reserva

Red wines require a minimum of five years of ageing with at least 18 months in oak.

White and rosé wines require at least four years of ageing with a minimum off six months in the bottle.

What do we stock?

We carry our favourite Rioja, a Beronia Rioja Reserva because we believe it is offers the best balance between taste and price. This particular wine is aged in French and American oak for 20 months with a further 18 months in the bottle.

If you have a favourite Rioja then let us know! Get in contact by email or leave a comment.

The Benefits Of “Mushroom Management” For Wine

Mushroom Management is the last thing any organisation wants to be accused of practicing. However, being kept in the dark is great if you are a wine. For wine, light damage is a very real threat.

Premium wines, that are intended to be stored, are usually contained in tinted or coloured bottles. Darker coloured glass prevents light in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum from breaking down elements of the wine that are desirable. Wines that are intended to be consumed soon after bottling often go into clear glass bottles. After all, hopefully they won’t be around long enough to get light damaged!

Shockingly, the group that produce the Wotwine app are claiming that over a third of the wines stored in clear glass bottles, from some 6,000 wines they sampled in the last two years, had suffered light damage.

Remarkably, they also claimed that around 4% of the wine they purchased from supermarkets was light damaged. If true that would be far more prevalent than cork taint, which is thought to only affect around 1% of bottles.

Their reasonable theory is that the fluorescent lighting prevalent in supermarkets often is of a wavelength close to UV, and hence may damage wine within a few hours of it being on the shelf.

Their advice is to pick up a bottle from within the wine aisle and to avoid bottles on aisle ends as these are more likely to be light damaged.

Of course, once you have purchased your wine, no matter where you got it, keep it a cool dark place until you are ready to drink it.

Full story in Harpers.

Image by Philip Larson (originally posted to Flickr as DSC02022) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Why Is It Important To Let Wine Aerate Or Breathe?

“Let it breathe!”

If you thought that was something people said to make it look like they know about wine… you are probably right.

There is some science behind this though! Aerating a wine and allowing it to breathe ultimately means mixing it with air. Doing this is a great way to improve the your wine drinking experience

Why should I aerate?

The alcohol in wine is ethanol, a byproduct of yeast metabolising sugar in the grapes. Ethanol is an interesting substance, particularly as you can find it in interstellar clouds. Intergalactic it might be but it smells a bit unappetising.

Aerating allows a wine with a higher concentration of ethanol to lose any hint of “alcohol hand wash” it might have through evaporation.

If you can detect a hint of matches or flame then you are picking up on the sulfites in your wine. This is sulphur dioxide, which is added to the wine to prevent further fermentation and act as a preservative. If you let your wine air you will likely find this hint disappears as the sulfites evaporate.

If you get a hint of rotten eggs or onions then you are detecting the presence of sulfides. Again, this should lessen and disappear with aerating if it is present at all.

Letting your wine air allows it to oxidise and warm up. If it has heavy or powerful aromas these should soften. Airing also allows the flavour of the wine to mellow and improve.

How should I aerate my wine?

Contrary to popular belief, simply removing the cork is not enough. Doing this only exposes the small amount of wine at the top of the bottle to the air.

Decanting is the usual method of doing this, although pouring into a glass can work just as well. Doing this mixes air into your wine. If you want to look really fancy, gently swirling it around the glass also helps to add air.

You can purchase special aeration devices which fit on the end of the bottle. Whether or not they speed up the aeration process is a matter of personal opinion.

Which wines should I aerate?

Typically red wines benefit the most from aeration. White wines typically have a higher sulfite content then reds, so it can be beneficial to aerate these too.

How long should I wait?

Typically the younger the wine the longer you should wait. So, perhaps an hour for something young and full bodied.

If you are drinking an older vintage wine of seven years or more then it is best to decant, at least to remove any sediment. Be careful not to wait too long, 15 minutes is probably enough. After that may start to lose the best flavours of the wine.

If you have a particular method of aerating your wine, or you own a special device to do so, comment or get in touch, and let us know all about it.

What’s up DOC?

Ever wondered what the Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOC) statement on the label of a Rioja means?

Spain has more land dedicated to vineyards than any other country in the world. In 1932 it introduced laws governing the quality of Spanish wine.

Spanish wines are divided into four categories; two that have Quality Wines Produced in a Special Region (QWPSR) status and two that do not.

QWPSR is an EU classification which protects the geographical origins of products. It guarantees that Champagne can only be called so if it comes from the Champagne region.

The four Spanish classifications are as follows:

Vino de Mesa; literally table wine. The lowest grade available often made from a blend of wines from different regions and can only say ‘Product of Spain’ on the label.

Vino de la Tierra – VdlT or VT; indicating wine of the country. Made from wine from a specific region and may use the name of that region on the label.

Denominación de Origen – DO; QWPSR status dictates that wines with this classification are sourced from designated wine growing regions and are produced to exacting standards.

Denominación de Origen Calificada – DOC / DOCa / DOCq; this is reserved for the DO regions that produce wines of exceptional quality. Only two of the 89 regions in Spain have achieved this, Rioja and Priorat.

If Rioja is your thing make sure it has a label on it like the one below.

Seal

If you are interested in Rioja then why not try our Beronia Reserva.