The AmeriCU Â Wine & Chocolate Festival is Saturday, April 21st from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m at the Utica Auditorium in Utica, New York. Â Try some of the best wines from New York State and get a free commemorative wine glass! One dollar from every bottle of wine sold goes to support the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. Tickets are sold in advance and at the door. Designated drivers get a discount. Go to the event website for more information here.
Archives for April 2012
Â Those of us who live in the Finger Lakes region know that we have some pretty amazing wineries, and the beauty of the eleven-finger lakes surrounded by rolling hills rivals anything that can be seen in Europe or Napa Valley. Now the rest of the world is catching on.
The Atlantic recently published a pieceÂ on how the Finger Lakes is the next up-and-coming region, Â especially because of its Rieslings.
Caroline Helper, writing for the Atlantic, describes a wine region that’s been playing a game of catch-up with the well-established regions in California, Oregon and Washington. Helper credits the local food movement with people turning to their own communities for products and the region’s stellar Rieslings for the growing interest in Finger Lakes wineries.
The Riesling, first introduced to the region in 1962 by Ukrainian immigrant Dr. Konstantin Frank, is the most planted grape in the region, according to the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. Finger Lakes Rieslings are noted for their dryness and pairing perfectly with meals.
The region also earned some buzz in 2011 when famous winemaker, Paul Hobbs, an Upstate New York native, announced that he’d like to make wines in the Finger Lakes.
So why has it taken so long for the Finger Lakes region to start earning national recognition? Helper writes that many of the local producers blame legislation for the Finger Lakes’ slow ascent into winemaking stardom. Prohibition, which was overturned in 1933, and the Farm Winery Act of 1976, which allowed numerous small and medium-size wineries to flourish, gave the region its slow start. Bob Madill of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance told Helper:
“In general terms, prohibition slowed everything down and we’re still working our way out of it. For example, New York is one of the few large producing and consuming states that doesn’t allow the sale of wine in grocery stores and that is a historical vestige of the idea that sales of alcohol needs to be controlled.”
TheÂ Atlantic article also describes how Finger Lakes winemakers take a collaborative approach to producing wine. The region’s winemakers get together throughout the year and compare notes — they tell each other how they made their wines in the spirit of bettering the entire region. Many of the area’s winemakers are self-taught or trained in the local wineries. Many started out as growers. As Will Ouweleen of Eagle Crest Vineyards said:
Â “If you work in a vineyard you know that you can always do better. It builds character, integrity, and honesty and that expresses itself in the wine.”
I’m not really one for beauty pageants, but I think Germany’s Wine Queen pageant is one I can get behind.
The Vinography blog met up with the 2012 Â German Wine Queen, Annika Strebel, at ProWein, Europe’s largest wine exhibition. Becoming the German Wine Queen is no joke.
”The wine queen program is a remarkably savvy idea that celebrates many of the best things about wine and culture without falling prey to the trashier aspects of many beauty pageants. By celebrating beautiful, intelligent young women that are passionate about wine, the program both serves to attract younger people to the culture of wine, while at the same time demystifying and glamorizing it.”
Wine queens not only have to be lovely and enchanting in evening gowns, but these women must also be serious wine connoisseurs. Wine Queen contenders must pass a series of tests to win the crown. Vinography reports that the hopeful Wine Queen must give an impromptu speech on a randomly chosen German wine region; she must be able to answer questions about the differences between wine regions and grape varieties; perform a blind sensory analysis of a sample of wines; describe winemaking techniques for any type of wine; and make a speech about German wine in English using key words provided by the jury. Phew. Â I’d stumble over that like a certain 2007 Miss Teen USA contender from South Carolina every single time.
The Wine Queen devotes an entire year to her reign, and according to Vinography, it’s a huge time commitment. Past queen Mandy Grossgarten told Vinography that being wine queen ”pretty much turns your world upside down.” Many wine queens are students who must take a year off from their studies to participate in hundreds of publicity engagements. Strebel recounted that she participated in an underwater wine tasting in SCUBA gear as part of her queenly duties.
Strebel, who is taking a year off from her studies at the Â prestigious viticulture and enology program at Geisenheim in Hessen, Germany, plans to eventually take over winemaking at her family’s Weingut Strebel winery.
Researchers at Purdue UniversityÂ report that a compound found in red wineÂ can block the development and growth of fat cells. The compound, piceattanol, is similar in structure to resveratrol, which is also found in red wine, and is thought to fight cancer and heart disease; it converts to piceattonal after consumption.
Piceattonal is found in both red grape seeds and the skins, as well as in blueberries and passion fruit.
Kee-Hong Kim, an assistant professor of food science at Purdue, and coauthor of the study, explains:
“PiceatannolÂ actually alters the timing of gene expressions, gene functions and insulin action during adipogenesis, the process in which early stage fat cells become mature fat cells. In the presence of piceatannol, you can see delay or complete inhibition of adipogenesis.”
The Purdue researchers say they plan to do more research on this compound and whether it could be used as a method to counteract obesity.