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Answer: True.

Roughly 35% of women are classified as supertasters in comparison to only 10% of men. Being a supertaster is not considered a positive trait, however. Often supertasters live in such a vivid and neon world of flavor impression that some flavors are often too intense to enjoy. According to Dr. Hildegarde Heymann, professor and enologist at University of California Davis supertasters usually dislike the taste of broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and sprouts; hot curry and chili; grapefruit and lemon; cigarettes; coffee; and (oh no) alcohol. Good-bye wine. Whether or not one is a super taster can be determined through a simple test where researchers administer a small sample of the nontoxic compounds 6-n-propylthiouracil (known as PROP) or phenyl thio carbamate (known as PTC).

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Answer: False.

It might seem like that would be the case since more than 60% of all the vines in New Zealand are sauvignon blanc. But the most recent sauvignon total for New Zealand comes to just over 62,000 acres (25,000 hectares). By comparison, France has 86,000 acres (35,000 hectares) of sauvignon blanc (which represents just 3.7% of France’s entire vineyard area. Who else grows a lot of sauvignon? Chile—37,000 acres (15,000 hectares); and South Africa 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares).

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Answer: False.

Sherry is fortified and undergoes some controlled oxidation. But Sherry is not maderized. Maderization means the wine was intentionally heated. The wine that is fortified, oxidized, and maderized, not to mention sometimes aged for decades, is Madeira. Arguably the world’s longest-lived wine, Madeira at its best is a wine of such spellbinding complexity it’s almost hard to fathom. Great Madeiras do not sit in your glass; they scream with tangy deliciousness. Madeira comes from a small cluster of steeply rugged volcanic islands, the largest and most important of which is also called Madeira—from ilha da madeira, “island of the woods.” Although Madeira and its tiny sister islands are geographically part of Africa (about 310 miles off the Moroccan coast), they are nonetheless a province of Portugal (about 620 miles to the northeast).

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Answer: True.

True. Burgundy got its name early in the sixth century, in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire, when the wandering Germanic tribe known as the Burgondes established a settlement in the area. They called it Burgundia. In 534, Burgundia was absorbed into another Germanic entity, the Frankish kingdom established by Clovis, the king of the Franks. Clovis eventually went on to unify the numerous Germanic tribes that operated throughout what was then called Gaul. With Clovis’s coronation, modern France (the name is derived from Franks) was born, and Clovis’s eventual conversion to Christianity established France as a Christian nation. With Christianity in place, the course of Burgundy’s history changed, as it went on to become a nucleus for Catholicism and monastic power.

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Answer: True.

Although it has been called “America’s grape,” scientists have known for decades that zinfandel (just like chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and dozens of other varieties) originally came from Europe. The question was where in Europe? Thanks to DNA typing of grapevines, we know that zinfandel’s original home was the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Sometime around the 1820’s, what we now call zinfandel was brought to the United States (to Long Island) under a variety of names (zenfendel and black St. Peter’s being two). Curiously, zinfandel was also brought from Croatia to Italy, where it was named primitivo. So if you see an Italian primitivo in the wine shop, guess what? It’s zinfandel.

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Answer: False.

It is a common misconception that wine need only be blessed by a rabbi to make it kosher (Yiddish, from Hebrew kāshēr, meaning “proper” or “fit”). To be kosher, a wine must also contain only kosher ingredients. For example, fining agents may not be derived from animal by-products, which rules out egg whites, casein (a dairy derivative), and isinglass (air bladders of fish). The wine can only be handled—from the vine to the wineglass—by Sabbath-observant Jews unless the wine is mevushal (Yiddish for “cooked”), which involves heating the wine until it is pasteurized. During Passover, Jews drink four cups of wine (for the four promises the Lord makes to His people in Exodus 6:6-7) at the Seder meal, which occurs on the first two nights of the holiday—March 27-April 4 in 2021. To be kosher for Passover, wines must also be free of certain additives, such as corn syrup, which producers of concord grape wines (such as Manischewitz) sometimes add.

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Answer: True.

The first Underwater Wine Congress was held in 2019. Led by expert oenologist Antonio Palacio, the conference attracted more than 50 wine experts, oenologists and winemakers. Advocates, including some winemakers and sommeliers, are convinced that wine aged underwater yields smoother, more complex wines in less time due to consistent temperature, high pressure, and limited exposure to light. In February 2020, Patagonian brand Wapisa became the first winery in Argentina to try the technique. After nine months at depths between 20 and 50 feet (6-15 meters), “the underwater-aged wine and the cellar-aged counterparts were tasted blind, and the difference was stunning: the former was rounder, more elegant and with fresher fruit,” said Wapisa owner Patricia Ortiz. Since 2005, Italian winery Bisson has cellared its Abissi sparkling wines for 12-18 months 200 feet down in a bay close to Portofino.

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Answer: True.

Since Neolithic times, tannins derived from the bark of trees were used to prevent the spoilage of animal skins. The word “tanning” is derived from the Latin tannum, “oak bark.” Plant tannins have antimicrobial properties that help to preserve the hide and astringent properties that draw out moisture, turning the hide into durable leather.

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Answer: False.

For most of its history, Port was matured in the lodges by law—a system that effectively insured that the big Port shippers monopolized the trade and that small growers were excluded from creating their own brands. That changed in 1986, and today Port can be, and often is, aged, bottled, and shipped directly from the farm estate (called in Portuguese a quinta). Today there are more than 100,000 vineyard properties in Portugal’s Douro Valley, the region from which all Port comes. These are owned by the shippers themselves, as well as the region’s roughly forty thousand growers, each of whom owns, on average, no more than a scant acre of vines.

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Answer: True.

The westernmost part of the Loire, hard up against the cold, wet Atlantic coast, is known for one wine alone—Muscadet, the leading wine of the Loire by volume . A dry, lean, fresh, stainless-steel-fermented white meant for casual drinking,. Muscadet’s claim to fame has always been its easy partnership with seafood—especially homey French classics like moules frites (a pot of mussels steamed in wine with a tangle of thin French fries on top). Muscadet is made from the melon de Bourgogne grape, often referred to simply as melon. Virtually all of the tastiest Muscadet wines come from the Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine subzone, or from one of the three small areas allowed to append their name to Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine: Gorges, Clisson, and Le Pallet.

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Answer: False.

While grape varieties that grow well in various countries are often known by different names, these titles identify winds both feared and revered in the wine regions where they blow (the Canary Islands, South Africa, Spain, and Argentina, respectively). Like their more well-known cousins, France’s Mistral, North Africa’s Sirocco, and Southern California’s Santa Anas, these winds can bring both destruction and relief from heat or humidity. Although a gentle breeze is almost always good (it cools the grapes and promotes air circulation as a guard against rot), a slashing wind is another story. Right after flowering, a severe wind can prevent flowers from setting properly, scattering them in the air so that they never fertilize and become grapes. Bludgeoning wind can break off tender parts of the vines, damage the canes, bruise the leaves, and even rip away the fruit. Lastly, a harsh wind may cause the vine to close its stomata, microscopic holes in the undersides of the leaves that are responsible for evaporation. With the stomata closed, the vine ceases to draw water through its root tips. Eventually, all growth comes to a halt.

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Answer: True.

There is a growing body of research that supports the heart-healthy benefits of flavonoids, compounds found in unsweetened chocolate. A 2019 Harvard study found that dark chocolate, the kind that contains at least 50 to 70 percent cacao (the solids of the cocoa bean) lowered blood pressure in all 1,000 participants. It also found some evidence that dark chocolate causes a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. Flavonoids (which cause dilation of the blood vessels) are abundant in cacao, so chocolate with a higher proportion—like unsweetened or dark chocolate—will contain more flavonoids. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Answer: False.

In most cases, this conventional winemaking wisdom is sound practice. But it is the actual invitation to oxygen that makes some of the world’s most hauntingly delicious and complex wines possible, including certain styles of Sherry, Port, Madeira, and Marsala, as well as some of the dry table wines of the Jura region of France.

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Answer: True.

It was in France that the fundamental concept of terroir as the dominant factor shaping a wine’s character became pervasive and flourished. Indeed, historically, the French have been so convinced that Nature makes the wine that there has never been an exact French word for winemaker. Instead, the term commonly used, vigneron, portrays man’s role as more humble. Vigneron means “grape grower.”

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Answer: True.

As most wine drinkers know, wine can taste pleasantly salty—even when there’s no actual sodium chloride in it. Certain grape varieties, for example, can taste a bit salty (sangiovese is one), and wines made from grapes growing near a sea coast can, too. So maybe it was only a matter of time, but several winemakers in France and Portugal are now experimenting with adding salt to their wines, a practice that was described in ancient Roman texts. In particular, adding seawater was typical since it helped preserve the perishable beverage, in the same way that salt was used to preserve meat. Contemporary vintner Hervé Durand’s family estate, Mas des Tourelles, in the southern Rhône Valley, stands atop the remains of a Gallo-Roman winery. Known for his “Archeological Roman Wines,” Durand makes a version of Turriculae, a wine made from an ancient recipe that includes seawater as well as ground fenugreek and iris flowers. In Portugal, Port producer Dirk Niepoort learned of the practice from a traditional wine producer in the Azores and convinced fellow vintners Anna Jorgensen and Anselmo Mendes to join him in experimenting with salt. Filling their fermentation vessels to 1% seawater, they found the results had a tangy, saline flavor that gave “more life” to the wine without overly diluting it. “As it is common with food, a pinch of salt is important to ‘awaken’ other flavors,” says Mendes. He has a point.

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Answer: True.

As most wine drinkers know, wine can taste pleasantly salty—even when there’s no actual sodium chloride in it. Certain grape varieties, for example, can taste a bit salty (sangiovese is one), and wines made from grapes growing near a sea coast can, too. So maybe it was only a matter of time, but several winemakers in France and Portugal are now experimenting with adding salt to their wines, a practice that was described in ancient Roman texts. In particular, adding seawater was typical since it helped preserve the perishable beverage, in the same way that salt was used to preserve meat.

Contemporary vintner Hervé Durand’s family estate, Mas des Tourelles, in the southern Rhône Valley, stands atop the remains of a Gallo-Roman winery. Known for his “Archeological Roman Wines,” Durand makes a version of Turriculae, a wine made from an ancient recipe that includes seawater as well as ground fenugreek and iris flowers. In Portugal, Port producer Dirk Niepoort learned of the practice from a traditional wine producer in the Azores and convinced fellow vintners Anna Jorgensen and Anselmo Mendes to join him in experimenting with salt. Filling their fermentation vessels to 1% seawater, they found the results had a tangy, saline flavor that gave “more life” to the wine without overly diluting it. “As it is common with food, a pinch of salt is important to ‘awaken’ other flavors,” says Mendes. He has a point.

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Answer: False.

As a matter of fact, in order to maximize you Champagne’s effervescence, leaving a tiny bit of lint in your glass is paramount. As we all know, popping a Champagne cork reduces the tremendous pressure maintained in the thick bottle and releases the carbon dioxide dissolved in the wine. The gas molecules come suddenly out of solution and must collect together in order to form a bubble. Gerard Liger-Belair, a physicist (or “fizzisist”?) at the University of Reims and the world’s leading authority on bubbles, filmed Champagne using high-speed video and a microscope, and discovered that bubbles can form at a rate of 400 per second. Most bubbles form on imperfections or microscopic particles inside the glass, such as pieces of lint that floated into the glass or were left behind by a towel. Molecules of CO2 collect on the particle until together they become buoyant enough to detach and float to the surface as a single bubble. Another bubble of collected CO2 molecules then forms in its place, resulting in the telltale fine lines racing up through the wine. So for optimal effervescence, we recommend wiping Champagne and sparkling wine glasses with a clean, dry (but not lint-free) cloth before using them.

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Answer: False.

This is a concept that is often misunderstood. The three categories of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary aromas and flavors do not indicate the timing of when you perceive them, but rather, where they originated from in the overall winemaking process. Primary aromas and flavors come from the grapes themselves and remain unchanged in the wine. Pyrazines (those green bell pepper aromas and flavors), for example, are primary aromas/flavors. Secondary aromas and flavors are those that come as a result of fermentation (either the primary alcoholic fermentation or malolactic fermentation). The aroma and flavor of bread dough in Champagne, for example, is a secondary aroma/flavor that results from contact with the lees (spent yeast cells). And finally, tertiary aromas and flavors are those that come as a result of a wine’s storage or aging. Wines stored in oak barrels, for example, possess aromas and flavors (vanilla, baking spices, roasted coffee notes etc.) attributable to the oak.

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Answer: False.

The furry gray mold-covered grapes that make Sauternes may look like miniature mice, but that Botrytis cinerea mold (also known as pourriture noble or noble rot) is not washed off or in any other way removed before fermentation. In fact, it contributes to a Sauternes’ flavor—and not in a way that seems like something left too long in the back of the refrigerator. Botrytis adds an extra dimension, sometimes described as being faintly like sweet corn or mushrooms, to the overall complexity of the wines. The influence of Botrytis actually begins in the vineyard, as the beneficial mold punctures the grapes’ skins in search of water to germinate its spores, the water begins to evaporate and the grapes dehydrate. Inside the shriveled berries, the sugar in the juice becomes progressively more concentrated. The botrytis also alters the structure of the grapes’ acids, but the amount of acidity in the wine is not diminished—of crucial importance to balance the heightened sweetness in the finished wine.

 

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Answer: True.

The influence of the France on the wine industry of the Priorat goes back to at least 1136, when the Cartoixa d’Escaladei Priory was established. The resident Carthusian monks, who had learned vineyard techniques in Provence, tended the land in the region for nearly 700 years until 1835, when lands were claimed by the Spanish government and redistributed. Following the ravages of phylloxera and a mass exodus of the population to find work in the cities, many of the vineyards were abandoned to the elements. That was until the early 1980s, when a group of enthusiastic young wine visionaries arrived in the region, led by René Barbier, Bordeaux-trained descendent of French viticulturists. Together with his friend, Rioja-born Alvaro Palacios, Barbier set about recruiting a handful of like-minded winemakers to join them in their quest to revive the area. They introduced fine winemaking techniques (like small new French oak barrels) and, in addition to indigenous Spanish varieties, used French grape varieties—including cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot. They adopted the French-inspired site-specific term of clos, meaning “protected” or “walled” vineyard in their winery names. These original five labels—Clos Mogador, Clos Dofí (now Finca Dofí), Clos de L’Obac, Clos Martinet , and Clos Erasmus–all received international acclaim for their outstanding wines in the middle 1990s, and have been making stellar wines ever since.