Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Wine by Any Other Name….

Wine isn’t as narrow a category as most people seem to think. It can in fact be made from almost any type of fruit and the market out there is so much more varied than you might think. That’s why this week the Ideal Wine Company blog explores how fruit wine has helped shape the entire market.
The modern market is dominated by wines that are primarily made from grapes; it’s so embedded into our perception of the world’s most common drink, that most people don’t realise that it’s far  more complex than that.

Ideal Wine Company’s Introduction to Fruit Vintages
At its most basic, wine is just fermented fruit. This is because it is the sugar in fruit that turns into alcohol, and that’s why grapes work in the first place. The production of wine actually goes back thousands of years and across a breadth of cultures. Back in the age of antiquity, our forebears didn’t restrict themselves to grape wine.
From this we can see that it really is possible to get any type of wine; tea, elderberry, raspberry, pineapple, orange, apple etc. It’s a very broad category. You can even get them on the open market in countries like Japan, Korea, the US; even here in the UK to some extent. The US actually has somewhat of a penchant for plum wine, for example.
The thing is though, that our market is practically saturated with grape varieties of wine, so could fruit wine actually have any effect on the luxury bottles of the type that Ideal Wine Company feature. Yes it can, and it’s all to do with blending flavours.

The Influence of Fruit
In the modern market, the idea of a blended vintage is hardly something new. It’s actually pretty common to blend two complementary grape varieties together to craft something more superior to the sum of its parts. That, for example, is how the reputation of Chardonnay has been rescued by Vintners in recent years.
However what is less commonly known is that the wine market has taken to blending different fruit varieties to market their vintages to a new audience. In the slightly more risqué bottle of modern dry white, for instance, you might find anything from elderflower to pineapple as a compliment to the standard grape flavouring.

For the Ideal Wine Company this quick exploration of the impact fruit wines have had on the modern market has emphasised the need of the industry to open itself up to new ideas. Innovation leads to change and change is the reason luxury wine still fascinates buyers the world over in 2014. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Would Wine Work in a Coffee Shop?

Industry experts have heard this week that coffee chains such as Starbucks are planning to feature wines on their evening menus. Considering the typical atmosphere of the traditional coffee shop, is this something that could ever work?

At the Ideal Wine Company we know that financially, this would be a very viable move for the wine industry. Take Starbucks as our example. They’re everywhere. They’re in every town centre and on every high street. If they began offering wine then growers bank balances would probably double overnight.

In fact this is the case as Starbucks have already started offering, in some cases, wine or beer on their evening meals. They plan to introduce more of this into more of their chains. Other coffee shops in the US state of Arizona such as Urban Beans, 32 Shea, Sip Coffee & Beer House, Lux and Cartel Coffee Lab have already caught onto this trend, according to local news sources.

It’s a growing thing over in the states and logic dictates that it would only be a matter of time until coffee chains here in the UK follow. But would UK consumers really be interested? Almost any idea can work in a culture as vast as the US, and it’s one that’s been common in the EU for a while, but that doesn’t mean it’ll translate over here. 

Despite what most people think, Britain is in fact the birthplace of the modern coffee house. They were first established in the capital in the early days of Empire and the nations coffee houses actually acted as the country’s first stock exchanges. It’s a strong and robust tradition and the modern coffee house experience is one that could be conductive to wine and beer sales.

However we also have pub culture. Pub culture is a very uniquely British thing and it’s the reason why alcohol sales in coffee houses have never really been a thing before. Whilst over in the states alcohol is only sold in rowdy bars, in Britain, consumers already have a choice between high energy bars and more sedate pubs.

Basically; the nature of the local pub and of the local coffee house have some crossover in the British psyche and this is a reason why any such move might not work in a British market. However the nature of luxury wines, that aren’t often sold in pubs, means that they could be sold in coffee houses more effectively.

At the Ideal Wine Company we recognise that this industry is one that is fuelled on creativity and innovation. Whether this idea works or not, it is certainly an intriguing one that we’ll be keeping tabs on it as it blossoms. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

New York Wines: An underestimated quantity?

Finger Lakes International Wine Competition founder Peter Parts has revealed that a number of New York wines have scored major medals in the world renowned expo this year. Have New York wines been an unknown quantity all this time?

When we talk about quality luxury wines, we usually talk about Europe; France, Italy, Spain etc. If we do have to turn our attention to America, we tend to talk about California, the nation’s most popular wine growing region. New York is often left out in the cold.

Cold is the exact reason we don’t tend to consider it a major wine growing region in the U.S. As a state nestled into the lower North-East of the Union, New York tends to experience deeply cold winters that’d stifle a grape on the vine before it ever even got the chance to grow to fruition.

However this may be a short sighted assessment of New York viticulture, as Peter Parts would attest to. According to the competition’s founder, New York wines scored big this year.

Wines from Anthony Road Wine Co led the pack scoring two double gold and gold medals collectively. Swedish Hill Winery followed up in second place, with one double gold and three gold medals. Hazlitt 1852 Vineyard followed up in third place, earning one double gold and two gold medals. In total New York Wines won over 80 medals at the event.

You may think that since the event actually takes place in Finger Lakes, a region of the state of New York, that this is somewhat biased.  However even factoring that in, you have to admit that there must be something to New York wines that the rest of the world has missed.

New York State actually has a robust wine growing culture and has four major viticulture regions; Lake Erie, Finger Lakes itself, the Hudson River region and the eastern end of Long Island. New York is actually the country’s third largest wine growing region, behind California and Washington State.

It’s a centuries old tradition that was first introduced to the state by French Huguenot immigrants and Dutch settlers. The result is that the New York wine scene tends to be dominated by French hybrids.

So are New York wines an unknown quantity? Perhaps. They’re not likely to be featured on the Ideal Wine Company product list anytime soon, but it is clear that perhaps they’ve been unfairly eclipsed in the past by their Californian rivals.