Reviews & Recognition

What you can learn about wine from the makers

By Bill St. John, Chicago Tribune, July 17, 2015

I'm lucky to regularly meet winemakers and winery owners from all over the world. Their conversations with me pass on so much about wine — what it means to them, what they themselves have learned about it and how better to appreciate it.

I'd like to share some of these conversations, passing on to you what these folk first gave to me.

About alcohol levels

"You see the level of alcohol by volume on a label of wine because that's the law; but there are so many other chemical things that make the wine what it is, such as its acidity, the pH, polyphenols, tannins — more than 20 families of elements. Wine is a synergy of all of these. When one of them is out of whack, then the wine isn't going to be pleasurable. Looking at alcohol alone is an American reductionist perspective. … What if the wine wanted it to be that way? … You can have a wine that is at 13 (percent alcohol by volume) that tastes 'hot,' but also one that's 16 that is yummy. It's about the balance, the ratio, the interaction of all these things that are in the wine."

— Kale Anderson, director of winemaking, Pahlmeyer; and co-owner and winemaker, Kale Wines, both Napa Valley

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