Okana­gan Wine School Les­son #1: Al­co­hol

Western Living - - FOOD -

Okay, let’s start with an over­sim­pli­fied ver­sion of the science be­hind wine. The riper a grape is, the more nat­u­ral sug­ars it con­tains, and those sug­ars cre­ate more al­co­hol dur­ing fer­men­ta­tion. Hot cli­mates— think South Aus­tralia—can make very ripe grapes and very al­co­holic wines, while cool ones—think Cham­pagne—less so. The Okana­gan was tra­di­tion­ally thought of as a cool cli­mate re­gion and, as a re­sult, its early wine­mak­ers pur­sued max­i­mum ripeness with a rookie’s zeal. But at this stage in the Okana­gan’s evo­lu­tion, there’s a grow­ing cadre of vint­ners who are em­brac­ing the world­wide trend away from big wines in favour of lower-al­co­hol wines that value fresh­ness over power. Some of the pi­o­neers here in­clude Ezra Cipes at Sum­mer­hill, who’s been craft­ing sub-12-per­cent ries­ling for years, and Matt Du­mayne at Okana­gan

Crush Pad, whose 12-per­cent gamay noir sets the stan­dard for reds. Why should you care? Be­cause cut­ting through the rich­ness of a turkey breast with mashed pota­toes and gravy is the purview of a low-al­co­hol scalpel, not a high-al­co­hol sledge­ham­mer.

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