Red wine is the perfect companion for special occasions. It is sipped at a leisurely pace that invites a growing sense of happiness and camaraderie among friends. Red wine relaxes inhibitions, fosters conversation and stimulates the mind and body with a warm and comforting glow. Speaking of temperature, did someone just say they prefer their red wine chilled? All eyes turn to the culprit as the convivial conversation quickly escalates into a debate, then a riot, as the sacred principle of warm red wine is foolishly challenged.
The names are similar. In fact, Syrah and Shiraz wines are made from the same variety of red grape. This leads many people to believe they are the same red wine with different names – called Syrah in France (and almost everywhere else) and Shiraz in Australia. However, as important as the grape is to wine production, it’s not the only thing that determines the taste. So what else is involved? Let’s backtrack a little and investigate Syrah and Shiraz.
Medical science is confirming what red wine drinkers have believed for decades – red wine drunk in moderation is good for you. The good-for-you / bad-for-you red wine debate has for a long time polarised opinions, mostly due to over zealous proponents from both sides, but when we put our prejudices aside a clearer picture begins to emerge. We all know that drinking too much alcohol of any type can be harmful but new evidence citing sensible and moderate drinking habits supports the health benefits of red wine.
From the beginning of British colonisation of Australia in the late 1700s, beer was already playing a significant role in the development of this fledgling nation. Within a few short years of settlement by British ex-pats, early governors and their convict charges the first hops were successfully grown and the first Australian pubs opened. The taste for beer and the varieties available have grown steadily in the ensuing years, and the favourably warm climate and outdoor lifestyle of Australia lends itself to the reputation of an Australian people who enjoy an ice-cold beer at the end of a hard-working day. In Australia, beer drinking has been an evolution rather than a revolution, with favourite brands steadfastly promoted by their loyal customers.
There are more than 3,000 breweries in the USA and although the majority of beer drunk by Americans is produced by large-scale manufacturers, the craft brewing industry is booming. Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice for most Americans, outstripping the sale of wine and spirits, and brewers are producing a greater range of styles than ever before. Beer is big business in America, and although once derided for producing only pale lager, America is now a brewing powerhouse capable of capturing a sizeable share of the global beer market. Continue Reading…
It’s only since the 19th century that beer was reinvented in China after an interlude of several thousand years when the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties prevailed. However, the Chinese have taken to the beer revolution with a zeal typical of its people, and Chinese consumption has grown dramatically. It’s predicted that this populous nation will become the world’s leading beer market by 2017, and it comes as no surprise that the best-selling beer brand in the world is Chinese. As with other Asian countries, the pairing of appropriate beverages with food is part of culture and heritage, with regional ingredients playing an important role in the beer brewing process.
Among countries where beer is a significant feature of cultural identity, Germany stands tall. From famous brewing regions, world renowned festivals, and a prohibition-free history of production since the bronze age, beer has been consistently identifiable with the German people. Germany boasts around 1,200 breweries and 5,000 styles of beer, with pilsner holding a 60% market share around the country. However, local allegiances are strong, and favouritism for local beer varieties ensures the beer produced in regional homelands has a dedicated following.
There are a huge range of white wine varieties with characteristic colourings that can range from straw-yellow to almost golden. Surprisingly, white wines are manufactured from the pulp of both light and dark-skinned grapes. Most grapes, regardless of skin colour, have white pulp, and white winemakers avoid using the dark skin that gives red wine its colour. Wine grapes have become established in all corners of the globe where climatic conditions are suitable, and although there are hundreds of varieties, only a handful are commonly used in large-scale wine production.
Red wine is made from black (dark coloured) grape varieties. The colour of the wine is often associated with aging of the finished product and younger wines are often of violet hue while older wines more often brick-red or almost brownish. Most black grapes have greenish-white flesh and juice, therefore red wine production is reliant on processing red pigments in the grape’s skin. In fact, much of the flavour of red wine is achieved by extracting and blending components of the skin. There are many red wine types, all with their own special characteristics suited to pairing with foodstuffs and stimulating the palate.
The Irish are well known for their love of Guinness and other stout beers that are thick, dark and frothy. Further investigation reveals that stout is only part of the Irish beer culture, accounting for one third of beer consumption on the Emerald Isle. Lager is the overwhelming favourite among Irish beer drinkers, resulting in around 60% of all production, while ale takes 6% of the market share. Irish beer, especially Guinness, has become incorporated as part of Irish folklore alongside the shamrock (clover), leprechauns and traditional music celebrations. The number of Irish breweries has dropped significantly during the past century, although microbreweries are on the rise and some of the world’s most iconic beer brands are still in production.