The vast Australian continent is home to incredibly diverse climate zones that have resulted in surreal desert landscapes, tropical rainforests and snow capped mountains. Huge expanses of the country are also dedicated to agriculture and farming, which has been the backbone of the Australian economy since foundation of the nation.
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.
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.
Can I enjoy a red wine (or two) at night yet still keep in good physical shape? Do I need to eliminate wine from my diet in order to win the battle of the bulge? If I can’t see the calories, does that mean they don’t exist? Is red wine fattening, or is it just the mirror playing tricks with my mind? These kinds of questions often arise prior to embarking on a weight loss or health regimen but before you throw out that untrustworthy mirror, let’s examine the facts and consider incorporating sensible wine drinking practices into your daily ritual.