Iberian Links Around the Web and Catavino’s September Newsletter | Catavino
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Iberian Links Around the Web and Catavino’s September Newsletter

Iberian wine news

Where do I begin this rambling and nonsensical post, filled with random bits of information that don’t really deserve a full post onto themselves, but that still need to be said? Well, where else than our “Iberian Links Around the Web”! Similar to your kitchen junk drawer, this post is filled with interesting bits of information that you may not ever need, but may come in use when you least expect it.

The Sixth….Taste

Granted, although we don’t have Haley Joel Osment scaring us with his momentary episodes of seeing dead people, we can be equally freaked out the next time your buddy turns to you after drinking a glass of wine and says, “I’m not really getting a bitter flavor here, but maybe more of a calcium-y taste”. According to Science Daily, beyond sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (similar to savory), humans also have a sixth taste receptor for foods that taste, well, like calcium – a flavor bordering between sour and bitter. It explains why foods that are generally high in calcium such as bok choy, kale and collards, generally come off as bitter if not cooked in a few sticks of butter so that the calcium can bind to the fat cells; whereby, preventing you from tasting it. In relation to wine, it just may explain why some wines are described as more minerally/calcium-y, and can therefore, be monitored in order to obtain a better taste profile. Can you pick out the sixth calcium-y taste in a wine?

Hey, That’s What We Needed! Another Roadblock to Enjoying Sherry!

Chef Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck Restaurant in London, and scientist Professor Don Mottram of Reading University, have uncovered a series of compounds called, diketopiperazines, in Sherry. Evidently, these compounds are known to enhance the flavor and taste of savory, or umami rich, foods. What does this mean for Sherry? On the positive side, you can impress all your friends by sharing your great wisdom as Four Sherries on the Roofto how Fino Sherry marries perfectly with chicken stir-fry as a result of the diketopiperazines. However, on the negative side, since no one cares, or can even pronounce diketopiperazine without sounding drunk, I don’t think this bit of ridiculous news will help increase Sherry sales. Instead, I fear it will only make those who are hesitant to drink sherry only more intimidated by this completely misunderstood style of wine. What do you think? Will the discovery of diketopiperazines help in the promotion of Sherry wine?

The Good, The Bad and the Additives. Do We Need Them?

Hank at Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook has recently published a piece on his first big crush having bought a few hundred pounds of Touriga Nacional from Ron Silva of Silvaspoons Vineyards in California. Why Touriga Nacional? Because our friend Hank is a big fan of Portuguese wines, and therefore knows his indigenious Portuguese grapes, clearly wanting to craft something similar for himself.

However, what I found interesting in his post was his bold statement regarding additives:

What? You mean I add things to my wine? You bet. And anyone who doesn’t is either very, very lucky, or very, very stupid..if anything is out of balance, you add things. Low in sugar? Add some. Too much sugar? Add water. Not acidic enough? (low-acid wines do not age well and can taste flat) Add tartaric acid…Then there are the freaky additives. I add something called Booster Rouge to get a better mouthfeel and softer tannins in my wine. I add something called Lallezyme EX to get better extraction of flavors from the grape skins…All of this is meant to convey some sense of the reality of winemaking. It is not terribly romantic, nor is it pretty.

What do you think of Hank’s statement regarding the manipulation of wine? Do you think winemakers are either lucky or stupid if they don’t add things to their wine? Can we place additives in the same boat as sugar, acidity, wood chips, etc.?

Navarra Winemakers Join Forces to Promote Their Wines

Clos FigueresRecently published in Decanter, Técnicos Vino Navarra (TEVINA) consisting of 48 members to date, is divided into groups devoted to one of the following areas: viticulture, legislation, brand expansion for the region, research and PR and events. Adriana Ochoa of Bodegas Ochoa explains that the intention of the organization is to use their strength in numbers to further promote a high quality Spanish wine region, ‘We believe that Navarra’s wines are good and that we will be able to make great progress. There has never been so much communication between the producers.’

From our perspective, we feel that collaboration is always more effective than competition, and wish TEVINA the best of luck in promoting both their region and their wine. The sad part is don’t bother looking for info online, it appears all this collaboration does not include a website. If you find one let us know!

Gweneth Paltrow Does Spain

Wow, I’m all full of innuendos this week 😉 Yes, our dear Ms. Paltrow has joined forces with chef Mario Batali, food writer Mark Bittman and Spanish television actress Claudia Bassols in a whirlwind 13 week food and travel adventure throughout Spain for American Public Television called, Spain – On the Road Again. If successful, their goal is to make full on series in countries throughout the world. Since we don’t have access to American Public TV here in Spain, I have been following their progress through their website; and have to admit, I’ve enjoyed it. I like watching their short 3 minute videos and savoring their delicious sounding Spanish recipes such as Mixed Catalan Grill and Cocido Madrileño! It’s fun, upbeat and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I can’t speak for the television show itself, which runs in NY on Channel 13 at 3 p.m on Sundays, or on Channel 21nationwide on Mondays at 10 p.m, but the website is at least entertaining. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Catavino’s September Newsletter

Ah, the time has finally come to publish Catavino’s quarterly newsletter. Although intended to be monthly, with only two of us, I doubt we’ll ever get there. But at least our quarterly is far from lacking in information, and if you are interested in learning more about Catavino and thousand and one different projects typically not published on our site, sign up for newsletter in the sidebar.

Off to Valencia

Over the past few days, we’ve had another avid Iberian wine lover in our wee little Catalan home. Michael Grisley of PR Grisley wines has graced us with his presence and off the wall humor. Since Monday morning, we have literally drank and eaten our way through Barcelona, and tonight will only round off his visit with a brined pork loin, grilled artichokes and goat cheese and walnut salad to compliment the dozen or so wines we’ll be tasting through from the EWBC Keynote Tasting. Then, we’re off tomorrow for more off the wall adventures including a wine blogger’s dinner in Valencia on Thursday night. If you are interested in joining us, please don’t hesitate to drop a line and let us know!


Gabriella Opaz

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  • I don’t think additives are in the same boat as sugar, acidity, wood chips, etc. even though I can’t find a perfect technical reason for it. It’s more of a philosophic point of view. And sugar, acidity, wood chips are also additives!As for food I love to use only natural ingredients and master the use of them. Do you doubt that you can do food as tasty as the one processed with flavor or color enhancers? Maybe it requires more commitment from the cooker or winemaker.My idea of wine is what might be called “slow wine”. Toady wine is being made to taste all the same. I prefer a unique wine, a wine that is a product of specific local conditions and traditions. It might be a psychological thing but to me local food pairs better with local wine…

  • I need more ADD posts such as these. The constant change of new information. I feel like I got my money's worth reading this (please, ignore the fact that I've read it for free and see the compliment I'm attempting to propose).As far as diketopiperazines go (yes, I copied and pasted it in fear of typing it myself). I don't know if using that term will be as important as the actual pairing with savory foods. That kind of promotion, given to the right community (chef and cooking community) will likely take advantage of this factor if they haven't already. You would even have the potential of prix fixe meals doing Sherry Pairings with the more savory dishes.+1 for Sherry.

  • Patti Anderson

    Love the “On the Road” series as it airs on Sundays at 6:00 pm on PBS in Minnesota. I really enjoy Mark Bitteman who has his own show and writes for the NY Times. He makes difficult recipes into easy to prepare ones. Bitteman loves Spain and has visited it often talking about their wonderful Market In Barcelona (which I think is one of the best in the world!)…and their wonderful wines. Am looking forward to the Sunday series….lovely scenery also included.

  • I live in Austin, TX and “On The Road” comes on every Friday night. Unfortunately I missed the first episode last week but I believe this week they are in Galicia which will be fun to see. Gwyneth Paltrow actually study abroad in Spain when she was a teenager and has always had a 'carino' for the country dating way back. I'm willing to bet her enthusiasm in this series which will make it better.

  • Thanks for the hat tip — if you look at my latest post, I am indeed making a “slow wine” with some El Dorado County Mourvedre (Monastrell) grapes. As to the additives thing, if I am on my own “estate” and can watch my grapes day by day until they are precisely ready, then get a crew (friends, family, etc) out to pick and crush, then I would not really need to add much beyond a little sulfite and yeast. And don't get me started on those who look down their noses at *those* additions…The other additives are there to fix flaws in a wine. Every winemaker will do this within his or her own personal boundaries. At what point does tinkering become full-on engineering? There are mass-market wines specifically engineered to have the same flavor profiles as very expensive wines; California cabernet is notorious for this. I say that's too much. But adding a little tannin? An enzyme to get me a bit more color? Those additions bring more out of these particular grapes — they heighten terroir and what goodness is within, IMHO. Think of them like thyme or salt: Both add more to the finished dish than just their own flavors.Anyhoo, that's my $0.02.

  • There is obviously a lot for me to discover outside of my books. Thanks for the fantastic read,

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