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A Small Counter-revolution
A number of readers have asked about the various positive references I have made in recent posts to natural winemakers (here and here). “Isn’t all wine natural?” is the inquiry. Well, no. Far from it — even in France and other Old World nations with a long tradition of viticulture. An article from the website of Tribeca’s Chambers Street Wines, a pioneeering vendor of wines made in a traditional manner, describes what you are too often drinking when you consume modern, industrially produced wines:
Grapes are mostly grown in sterile vineyards, where herbicides, pesticides and fungicides eliminate plant, insect and microbial populations. The vines themselves are modern clones, chosen for certain characteristics, such as disease resistance or high yields, which reduce the genetic variety of the vineyard and can radically change the nature of the wine. Commercial fertilizers are applied that feed the vines a chemical soup on the surface and then run off to pollute local waters. Machine-harvested grapes are then brought to the winery, often containing bunches that are unripe, rotten or dirty, which are hopefully sorted out before the crush. The grape must (juice) is then sulfited to prevent spoilage and to kill off unwanted wild yeasts. Then selected yeast strains are added to start the fermentation process. These yeasts are selected to create certain flavors or characteristics in the wine. “…the ICV D47 wines were fruity and floral, compared to the QA 23, which were predominated by tropical fruits and spices.” Nutrients and enzymes are added to increase viscosity, “mouthfeel”, and to assist the selected yeasts. Roto-fermenters and other mechanical manipulations are used to extract the maximum color and concentration, and sugars are added to increase alcohol production if necessary. The resulting product has the desired aromatics, a dark color with supple mouth-feel, an intense palate (with gobs of lush hedonistic fruit) and, well, not usually much of a finish… Wines made in this style tend to taste very much the same, no matter where they are made or with what grape.
The age-old French drinking toast is Santé — To your health. It is needed more in certain circumstances than in others.
Addendum: I am put in mind of a witty English pre-dinner prayer from the days, not that long ago, really, when it was hard to get a good meal in England:
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own interviews, a review of…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…