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The Beverage Alcohol Report
Vol 1.4 – August 2005

Organically Wine
Although the USDA led National Organic Program defines organic wine as, “a wine made from organically grown grapes and without any added sulfites”, there are two schools of thought when it comes to organic wine. The first is wine made from organically grown grapes – no chemicals in the field, thus producing more naturally hardy and resistant vegetation.

Harvest is done by hand to allow for only the ripest and healthiest grapes to be chosen.

The second school of thought follows this process to the cellar where any added chemicals, sulfur included is forbidden. Most organic winemakers do agree that minimal sulfite addition is necessary to keep the stability of the wines. Some producers will even use wild yeasts and keep filtering to a minimum allowing for a truly natural wine to form. For those who are die-hard organic followers, there are even recommendations on packaging and labeling – corks are regulated.
For a complete list of recommended organic practices, see

The USDA poses its national standards for certification and several states have followed suit to create more specific regulations for organic labeling. To view what Michigan proposes, visit

Wine is subjective whether it is organic or not and there are those who say that organic wine is more flavorful and clean. As consumer tastes evolve and wine practices improve, there is more and more support and like for organic wines.

West Side Organic Choices
Washington State - Badger Mountain
Cabernet Sauvignon and Johannisberg Rielsling

California - Frey Wines
Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Red Table Wine (blend) and White Table Wine (blend)

Wine Words
Acidity - Tartaric, malic, citric, and lactic acids occur naturally in wine. These acids help to maintain the wine’s freshness. However, too much acid will make the wine unbalanced, overpower the natural flavors and make it taste sour or tart. You’ll find higher acidity levels in younger wines as well as wines produced in cool, rainy seasons. Acidity is found on labels as a percentage with dry wines falling between 0.6% and 0.75% per volume. Sweet wines should not be less than 0.70% of the volume.

Big Reds
So I have been pushing “summer” wines in hopes that it will turn into summer weather, but now it is time to be honest. Here are some great reds I have found and enjoyed this season...

Jacob’s Creek Shiraz 2000 - This Australian choice runs about $14. The cherries, plums and peppery varietal flavors combined with the smooth tannins makes this an ideal choice for BBQ beef.

Fleur Du Cap Pinotage 2000 - Lighter red from South Africa. A bit on the smoky side but still ok for $13.

Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - This wine is about $34 and is definitely worth it. It presents Napa Valley at its best. Blackberry, cassis, chocolate, oak - it has it all.

Coppola Zinfandel - Another great pick from Napa Valley. Zinfandel is the oldest variety planted on Coppola’s vineyard. It is one of the Director / Winemaker’s favorites. This Zinfandel is powerful with ripe fruit - let it breath as the tannins can be strong.

Michigan State Wine Competion
27 wineries won a total of 195 medals 35 Golds, 68 Silvers and 92 Bronzes

Best of Class:
Best Dry White: Bel Lago Chardonnay 2001
Best Red: Bowers Harbor Vineyards ‘2896 Langley’ 2002
Best Sparkling: L. Mawby Conservancy
Best Dessert/Specialty: St. Julian Solera Cream Sherry
Judges’ Special Award: Peninsula Cellars 2002 Gewurztraminer
For a complete list visit

Beverage Facts
The most popular beverage in the world is tea; beer is second. India makes the most tea and as nation drinks the most. The Irish are the world’s top individual totalers at 3 kilograms of tea per person per year. Americans only drink about 0.3 kilograms of tea per annum. China produces the most beer at about 24 million metric tons. America makes approximately 22 million metric tons of beer. The United States drinks the most total beer but is 13th in per capita consumption with the Czech Republich drinking close to 170 liters per person per year.

As (red) wine ages or sits on a shelf, sediment from the liquid will settle to the bottom of the bottle. Also, red wine needs some airing before serving to help mellow the tannins. One of the classier methods to serve wine and to remove the sediment and begin the aeration is to decant the wine. This process is done by carefully pouring the wine from a bottle to a clean (glass) vessel. Be careful to leave the sediment in the bottle. For those who are skilled, a candle can be held under the bottle to help see the deposit before it flows to the awaiting bottle.

The Beverage Alcohol Report (The BAR) is published on a monthly basis compliments of Liana Bennett.  It main purpose is to further the knowledge, appreciation and general enjoyment of all alcoholic beverages.  Your comments, questions and tasting stories can be sent to .  Please feel free to share this e-newsletter with your friends or forward their email address to Liana to be added to the list. Thank you and of course, I hope you have enjoyed The BAR and have learned something new! 



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