Saturday, April 5, 2008
After a couple of days at Peregrine
Busy, Busy, Busy. First thing I learned on the job is that 12 hour days are not just common here, they are expected. Boy, was that right. A 12 and a 13 hour days straight off the bat - and when you are doing manual labor you get tired to the bone. Sleep feels very deserved.
It has been enjoyable working on some new varieties of grapes for me. Yesterday we processed Gewürztraminer - a very aromatic German variety. The flavors that most associate with this variety is lychees and turkish delight (rosewater flavored jellied sweets). The berries are a mauvy-grey color - not quite white, not quite red. It is also best tasting wine grape I have ever had - extremely moreish and very hard to stop eating when lunch is hours away! One thing about getting to eat wine grapes is that you can never enjoy table grapes again - they are so bland and watery in comparison.
Gewürztraminer is an interesting grape to make wine from. For every white I can think of it is very important to get the juice off the skins as soon as possible after crushing (despite its violent name, it is actually a rather gentle breaking of the skins so that the juice can flow from the berries) because the skins often have unwanted phenolics (some of them being green, vegetal flavors - one common one being capsicum). Gewürztraminer, on the other hand, has very desirable floral . and thus after crushing and destemming the juice that has been released from the berries and the skins are both pumped into a tank for a few days to intermingle (official winemaking term being skin contact). This allows the aromatic compounds in the skin that is so prized in Gewürztraminer to leach slowly into the juice over a couple of days.
Today we will press the juice in a wine press (a bladder gently squeezes the rest of the juice that remains in the skins) and then put all the juice into a tank for fermentation. I'll try and get a photo of the Gewürztraminer being pressed so you can get a better idea.
Gewürztraminer is often a great pairing for Asian food. The little bit of sweetness from the residual sugar cuts the spiciness and the aromatics often complement the pungent aromas of Asian cuisine. A Thai Green curry is a classic match. Personally I enjoy a chilled Gewürztraminer on a lovely summers day, sitting under an umbrella with a wicked selection of antipasti. Try some with your chorizos, salumis and anchovies - Gewürztraminer just laps up all that fatty goodness!