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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

What’s So “Natural” About Natural Wines?

November 14th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

As a general rule, technology is a good thing. Right? It’s a tangible example of human’s progression— how we improve our lives and surroundings. The wine industry has certainly seen massive benefits from advances in technology. From vineyard to glass, we have tinkered with everything from fertilizer to fermentation. Adding sugars, tweaking yeast; modern winemakers work hard to scientifically engineer every step of the process. Even here at Skolnik, we seek to improve the wine production process with control and waste-reduction provided by our stainless steel wine barrels.

There has, however, been a new trend in the wine industry that rejects technology. Rather than embrace the advances at our disposal, natural wines forgo them entirely. Instead, they seek a return to simpler, more traditional times. These vineyards make wine as their ancestors once did, by merely harvesting grapes, crushing them, and allowing them to ferment. The end result is a straightforward snapshot of that particular vineyard in that particular year. It also means that any irregularities or impurities, flaws or faults all make it into the end product, warts and all.

Of course, how one defines “warts” is part of the experience. While a drinker could devalue natural wine if it’s cloudy or oxidative, another could celebrate the diversity and find their new favorite bottle among the variety of previously unexplored flavors. It’s also very attractive to anyone who is wary of all the chemicals and additives used in modern winemaking and for those concerned that we are becoming less and less attune with nature as we seek control over every single step of production.

Much discussion has been had about the legitimacy of this movement, with equal part supporters and detractors, but the biggest challenge it faces is the lack of accreditation. At this point, anyone can claim to produce natural wine, and there is not yet a governing body to confirm or deny those claims. There is progress towards rectifying that, and establishing quality charters will do a lot to help the legitimacy of the wines

Despite any negative opinions though, in a GMO, pesticide and additive-wary culture, natural wine is a growing industry. Perhaps adopting stainless steel wine barrels is the modern touch the movement needs to push it to mass consumption, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. After all, the beauty of stainless steel is that it protects against impurities or unwanted additives. Regardless, it seems that natural wine is here to stay. With about 400 natural winemakers in France alone, and many more around the world, this return to a simpler process and the results it produces has enough fans to sustain it for now. For information about our complete line of stainless steel wine drums, check out www.skolnikwine.com

Cork vs Screw Cap Debate Continues

October 10th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

The pop of a cork is a celebrated sound across the world, but new research has found that the sound of a cork popping can actually make us think our wine tastes better. The first of its kind, the study was designed by Professor Charles Spence of Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, and looked to test whether the sound and sight of a cork-stopped and screw-capped wine being opened would influence the perception of the wine inside the bottle. 140 participants were asked to try two identical wines, and give them ratings after having been played the sound of a cork popping, then again after having heard a screwcap being opened. They were then asked to actually open both bottles and rate the wines again. Overall, participants rated the same wine as 15% better quality when served under a cork than a screwcap. The wine under a cork was also rated as more appropriate for a celebration (+20%) and more inciting of a celebratory mood (+16%). The cork versus screwcap debate has raged in the wine industry for decades, with experts, sommeliers and producers from across the world deeply divided in their opinions. This experiment is the first empirical demonstration that a cork closure provides a more positive drinking experience. While some wine experts have criticized cork due to the occurrence of the chemical compound TCA, huge advancements in technology in recent years have brought the number of wines affected by TCA down to between 0.8% and 1.2%. As such, top winemakers across the world are increasingly choosing cork as their closure of choice, with 7 out of 10 wine bottles now sealed with a natural cork. Click here to see our complete line of Stainless Steel Wine Barrels.

Crushing the Stigma of Canned Wine

September 12th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Nielsen announced earlier this year that sales of canned wine increased from $6.4 million to $14.5 million in 2016, a whopping 125 percent jump. The same report notes that canned wine dollar sales soared 170 percent, versus a six percent increase in the more established box wine business for the same period. Melanie Virreira, marketing team leader for Ball Corporation in North and Central America, attributes the growth in canned wine consumption primarily to millennials, who continue to break patterns all over the alcohol beverage map. “What’s driving wine in can growth today is the combination of consumer trends and recognition of can advantages and capabilities,” Virreira attests. “We have a new wave of younger drinkers who are very receptive to new packaging types and unconcerned with the traditional ways of consuming their favorite beverage. Ultimately, they want to drink wine and they are asking for a package that allows them to do that where they want to and how they want to.” It’s worth noting that wine in cans is not a new concept. In 2000, Francis Ford Coppola broke ground in the industry by launching the popular Sofia Minis; sparkling wine in a can, complete with an attached pink sipping straw. Other wineries followed suit and the canned wine revolution continued. This past year, Coppola’s winery released three new versions of its well-known Diamond brand wines in cans: the Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. According to Jennifer Leitman, Coppola’s Senior Marketing VP, the growth in canned wine and response to the newest Diamond wine in cans has been “amazing,” which she chalks up to businesses successfully tracking and responding to contemporary lifestyles. “Our industry isn’t immune to larger trends,” Leitman notes. “People take their music, their entertainment, their food, their phone … everywhere. Computers are a great example. From giant desktop computers, to laptops, to smartphones and tablets. They’re getting smaller and more portable. You can work from about anywhere now … why not drink wine in more places too? Blending experiences together is big.”Virreira and Leitman will be bringing their insights and perspectives about the canned wine industry to the 2017 WIN Expo, taking place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA on November 30, in a conference session called “Canned Wine: Crushing the Stigma by Raising the Quality.” Virreira will be moderating the session and Jim Doehring, Founder of Backpack Wine Co. and Ashley Sebastionelli, President and Co-Founder of Lucky Clover Packaging will join Leitman on the panel. For more information and registration, go to: wineindustryexpo.com.

Check out the Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels here.

How to Package Sustainability

August 8th, 2017 by Jason Snow

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Wineries and vineyards have worked for years to adopt more sustainable winemaking and grapegrowing practices, but the packaging that protects wine during its trip from winery to consumer is of equal importance. From closure origins to recycled paper stock and bottle weight, winery staff make dozens of decisions that affect the sustainability of wine packaging before the materials are even ordered. Next month, Allison Jordan, executive director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, will lead a panel of winery supply chain and marketing professionals in a discussion about how to find the most sustainable packaging options to meet your brand’s needs. The event is part of the Wines & Vines Packaging Conference taking place Aug. 16 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Joining Jordan on stage will be Ramon Ware, vice president of supply chain for Wente Family Estates; Rhonda Motil, vice president of marketing for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and Mimi Gatens, marketing manager at Trefethen Vineyards. The group will tackle the subjects of light-weighting bottles, alternative packaging, closure options and the value of printing sustainable certification logos on labels. With a combined 226 years in business between them, the panelists’ three wineries prove how sustainability is a key element to success in business. Wente, for example, uses only recycled cardboard and works with soy- and water-based inks. J. Lohr recycles its packaging and operational materials including shrink wrap and wood pallets, and Trefethen was an early participant in the wine-in-kegs movement. The “How to Package Sustainability” session is just one part of the all-day Wines &amp Vines Packaging Conference. Other topics include a panel on making bottling day run more smoothly. Steve Lamoureux of The Nielsen Co. will reveal the results of a consumer-research study conducted exclusively for the conference to reveals real-life impressions of wine packaging redesigns. More sessions involve restaurant and retail wine buyers offering opinions about what sells and what doesn’t when it comes to wine packaging and consumers. The event will feature other opportunities such as free consultations with designers and the chance to vote for finalists of the Packaging Design Awards. To learn more about the conference and register, visit wvpack.com. As you prepare for harvest, make sure to check our Skolnik sustainable options for Stainless Steel Wine barrels at www.skolnikwine.com.