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Answer: False.

Many people think of Parmigiano as something you grate over pasta and imagine washing it down with a humble house red out of a straw-wrapped jug (this was a recent Wine Word—do you remember? WineSpeed 03-06-2020). But in Italy, eating chunks of this cheese accompanied by nothing more than a glass of good sparkling wine is considered one of the great gastronomic experiences. True Parmigiana-Reggiano is powerfully flavored, complex, nutty, and salty, and has an almost sweet richness. This combination actually sinks many red wines, making them taste hollow and bland. But a dry sparkler’s cleansing acidity and refreshing bubbles, stand up perfectly to the complexity of the cheese. There are many delicious options available, from Prosecco Superiore de Conegliano Valdobbiadene (WineSpeed 07-26-2019) to Lambrusco and Franciacorta (all Italian), to something like our Wine to Know this week—Roger Goulart Cava.

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Answer: True.

The world’s oldest wine still in barrel is a white wine from Alsace vinified in 1472. When tested by Agence France Presse, it was found to have “astonishing spriteliness and a very fine aroma.” Many white wines that age phenomenally well do so because of their acidity—rieslings in particular and some chardonnays from cooler regions such as Burgundy. Fortified white wines such as Madeira and Sherry—some of the longest-lived wines on earth—age well because of high alcohol and acidity, and Sauternes and eiswein benefit from their high sugar content.

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Answer: True.

French wine laws are famously restrictive, dictating everything from how the grapes for the wine must be grown to which grape varieties can be grown. But while the regulations may stipulate certain aging requirements, there are none that require French winemakers to use French oak versus, say, American, or Hungarian.

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Answer: False.

Women are more susceptible than men to the effects of wine—and of all other types of alcohol—even when weight is eliminated as a factor. Women have less aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2), the enzyme in the lining of the stomach that begins to break down and metabolize alcohol. Also, women’s bodies are 45% – 50% water, while a man’s is about 55% – 65%. As a result of both, when a man and a woman each drink the same amount of wine, more alcohol winds up in the bloodstream of the woman. According to one blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) study, 30 minutes after a 150-lb man and a 150-lb woman consume one drink with 0.6oz of alcohol, the man’s BAC is 0.018 and the woman’s is 0.027.

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Answer: False.

Grappa is the clear brandy that results when the pulpy mash of stems, seeds, and skins left over from winemaking is refermented and then distilled. In most parts of the world, this leftover stuff is thrown away or spread on the ground as fertilizer. But in Italy, nothing gastronomical is wasted—even if it sometimes tastes like a grenade has just exploded in your throat. Historically, grappa, was a specialty of the cold, northern part of the country, where people put a small shot of it into their morning coffee. The best grappas today are usually made from the skins and stems of a single aromatic white grape variety, such as riesling, moscato, or gewürztraminer.

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Answer: False.

Although it may be tempting to rinse your glass with water between wines when you are at a wine tasting, doing so is actually counterproductive. Even a little leftover water in the glass will dilute a wine, making it taste unbalanced and discombobulated. If you think the next wine will be influenced by the previous wine, the best bet is to rinse your glass with a few drops of the wine to come. Interestingly, in Italy they don’t consider a washed glass prepared to even receive wine until they (as I like to think of the ritual) “baptize” it with rinse wine, a process known as avvinare i bicchieri (ah-vee-NAH-reh ee bee-kee-AIR-reh). There is one big exception to the “rinsing with wine” idea. If a wine is flawed, it’s best to abandon that glass altogether and proceed with a new, fresh glass for the next wine.

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Answer: True.

In 2015, China overtook France as the second-largest wine grower in the world by vineyard area (Spain is still in first place).  In the early 1950s, China had only about 8000 acres (3,200 hectares) of grapes. By 2016 it had two million (847,000). This 250% growth has been helped by technological advances as well as climate change. According to data from the Chinese Meteorological Administration, average temperatures in China have risen 0.5-0.8C in the last century, making it possible to cultivate wine grapes 60-100 miles further north.  In the arid mountainous region of Ningxia some 550 miles west of Beijing, for example, the government has reclaimed desert-like expanses, irrigated them with water from the Yellow River, and planted them with cabernet sauvignon, marselan, and merlot.  Ningxia has been called “The Napa Valley of China.”

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Answer: True.

At least it’s one of the leading theories behind glass clinking. This theory considers that at the time of the Roman Empire, poisoned beverages were the modus operandi for assassinating unwanted political or economic rivals.  By the Middle Ages, a kind of “poison epidemic” had grown, stimulated by the increased availability of medicinally-suspect ingredients from apothecaries throughout Europe. At about the same time, Arabs developed an odorless and transparent form of arsenic; woe to the Crusaders.  Thus, self-preservation dictated that a visitor would insist his host drink some of what was poured for the visitor himself.  Once the host drank “successfully,” the guest could imbibe with confidence.  Eventually, in situations when the guest trusted the host, the process was done away with and supplanted by clinking—an acknowledgement that all was safe.

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Answer: False.

Answer: False. A château is a single estate composed of vineyards surrounding a building where the wine is made. The word château is commonly used in Bordeaux, and some châteaux can be quite palatial (although they don’t have to be). The word domaine is generally used in Burgundy. A domaine is a collection of vineyard parcels, all of which are owned by the same person or entity. Usually these parcels are small and are not connected to one another.

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Answer: True.

But just barely. A glass of wine is typically 5 ounces. A 5-ounce glass of red wine averages about 110 calories, whereas a glass of white wine usually clocks in around 104 calories. Hey, it’s the holidays! You can diet (or better yet, exercise more) later in January.

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Answer: True.

Sometimes known as the Grog Mutiny, the 1826 Eggnog Riot is a tale largely unknown to the Military Academy’s current students, according to the school’s historian.  At the annual Christmas party in 1826, students smuggled in a bootlegger’s load of whiskey to spike the eggnog, despite the fact that the Superintendent, Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, had banned alcohol from campus earlier that year.  Several hours into the evening, all hell broke loose.  Two officers were assaulted; banisters were torn from stairways, and windows, furniture and tableware were smashed.  Within a month, 19 of the 90 cadets involved were court-marshaled and ultimately, 11 were expelled.  An “eggnog defense” was not mounted, although it may have simply been the last straw for the cadets after enduring other prohibitions on tobacco, novels, and dueling.

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Answer: False.

The names are so similar, that it’s easy to confuse these two wines. But they are made from different grapes and grown in different places. Pouilly Fuissé (poo-EE FWE-say) is made from chardonnay grapes and comes from France’s Burgundy region. It is characteristically round and sumptuous, with a slightly nutty and floral aroma. Pouilly Fumé (poo-EE FOO-may), on the other hand, is made from sauvignon blanc grapes grown in the Loire Valley. It tends to be lean and crisp, with a refreshingly flinty and mineral character. Pouilly Fuissé and Pouilly Fumé do have one thing in common: the pair fantastically well with shrimp, lobster, and other shellfish.

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Answer: False.

Although 750 milliliters is the standard capacity for wine bottles today, this wasn’t always the case. Historically, wine was stored in many different types of vessels of varying sizes. During the Middle Ages, as the wine trade increasingly fell under governmental regulations, measurements became somewhat standardized. The impetus for this was financial. Governments realized that by standardizing the contents of bottles, wine could be more easily counted. And if it could be counted easily, it could also be taxed easily. But why 750 milliliters exactly? There are several hypotheses. One popular theory holds that 750 milliliters correlates with the average ability of a glass-blower’s lungs to create a bottle in one steady blow.

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Answer: False.

The British word claret comes from the French clairet, referring to a light red wine. Historically, the British used the term to distinguish Bordeaux wine from Port which of course was usually much darker in color. And in any case, the term could probably not refer to a medieval French name for cabernet sauvignon since cabernet sauvignon is not thought to have existed before the beginning of the 16th century.

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Answer: False.

These two terms are commonly used in Burgundy, and although both delineate a plot of land, they mean slightly different things. A lieu dit (le DEE) is a place defined by its topography or history. (The words lieu dit mean “place name”). The word climat (klee-MA) is used to describe a place by its climate and soil.

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Answer: False.

The indispensable ingredient in a martini, vermouth was first created and commercially sold in the Piedmont region of Italy in the 1700’s. Until it was banned, in the early 20th century due to its potential psychoactive toxicity, vermouth commonly contained wormwood. In fact, the word vermouth comes from the German word wermut, meaning “wormwood.”

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Answer: True.

We know, it sounds bad; but it isn’t. Isinglass, a substance obtained by drying the bladders of sturgeons, is sometimes used in winemaking, particularly for clarifying and fining wines. Winemakers can use a number of substances for this purpose—among them, casein (a milk protein), egg whites, and bentonite (an absorptive clay).

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Answer: True.

With 42 DOCs (Denomination of Controlled Origin) and 17 DOCGs (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), Piedmont has the largest number of DOC/G wines in Italy.  The region is considered among the best when it comes to wine quality. Piedmont was one of the first regions in Italy to focus on single-vineyard wines and the region wins the highest number of important wine awards per year of any region in Italy. (Tuscany is the only other region that comes close).

 

New True or False questions are posted every Thursday on my Facebook & Twitter pages.

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Answer: False.

Both sparkling wines and Champagne can be “corked”—that is, tainted with TCA, the chemical that creates a funky odor that makes wines smell like a wet dog sitting on wet newspapers in a damp cellar. In fact, according to the French consulting oenologist and TCA expert Dr. Pascal Chatonnet, TCA is actually easier to smell in sparkling wines than in still wines. This is because sparklers are more aromatically delicate and also because the bubbles have the effect of volatilizing the compound, that is, making it smell more pronounced. 

According to Dr. Chatonnet, TCA can be smelled in still wines at a threshold of 2 to 5 nanograms per liter, whereas TCA can be smelled in sparklers at a threshold of 1 to 1.5 nanograms per liter.