Ryan Quinonez

My World

Month: April 2017

What makes wine so different?

Every wine is different. The same wine can taste different just hours apart from each sip – this is probably the greatest characteristic about this drink. With soda or beer, one knows what they will taste. The mystery behind every bottle of wine makes it so special.

As science has progressed so has the chemistry of viticulture. With the ability to separate yeast strains, winemaking can now be controlled to get a desirable outcome.No matter how fancy or expensive the bottle, every wine is compromised of mostly water and alcohol – only 2 percent of the chemical composition allows for any variety. But oh, how that 2 percent can vary.

Last week I went to a restaurant in Sorrento, Italy and tried these two different wines. The one on the left was a 2013 Chianti red ($5/glass) and the one to the right was the house red wine ($8/liter). Although I know nothing about the origin of the house wine on the right, I could tell it was a young wine, most likely from 2015. It was not the sweetest of wines. It did have a high acidity which means the alcohol content was lower; this was also represented in the slow viscosity from the tears on the side of the wine glass. Acidity in wine is the taste of tart and zesty. The glass on the left had a dark body, rich and complex. It had a low acidity and was sweet. It also had a bitter and dry aftertaste. This is due to tannins that dry out your tongue.

Each wine had its pro’s and con’s. The red wine to the left was complex and sweet but had a very bitter and dry aftertaste. The wine to the right was very acidic but also fruity. However, my favorite was the one to the left since it had a greater complexion and was less acidic which is what I like in a wine.


Carnival vs Halloween

Carnival in Italy is a big deal. Throughout the month of February, almost every city in Italy is invaded with costumes, masks, confetti, and a ton of parties that creates a very exciting atmosphere. Carnival is the last celebration before lent begins where Catholics give up something for 40 days until Easter in April. Many compare Carnival to Mardi Gras since they are during the same time period and have the same purpose. In America, Mardi Gras is a celebration where people party in crazy costumes, masks and beads all throughout the night. However, what many didn’t know is the many similarities and differences between Italian Carnival and Halloween. Carnival is important in Italy because it celebrates the Italian tradition that is slowly disappearing. Halloween shows the innovation of fashion based on movies, people and trends.

For both Halloween and Carnival, everyone dresses up in costumes. In America, the costumes are very creative, but for Carnival, everyone wears very traditional costumes that dates back centuries. Of course for Halloween, people party a lot but Carnival is on a whole different level. For Carnival, there are block parties all around the city, subways and buses are packed with drunk people, and many streets are blocked off to people drinking in the streets. Another similarity I noticed was that many people in both situations celebrate each tradition greatly and go all out. The main difference in these two traditions is their purpose. Carnival and Halloween are celebrated in totally different months and seasons.

One thing that I learned was that in Italy, Halloween is adjusting and becoming more popular, and in some cases, more popular than carnival. Of course in cities like Venice, Viareggio, and a few others where carnival is a serious matter it hasn’t, but in many cities, the towns do not invest much into their celebration as compared to Halloween. Many Italians will say that Halloween is slowly taking the place of carnival. But overall Carnival was a great experience. The entire city of Venice, and in a similar case Arezzo, erupted with music, life, costumes, and it became a huge party.

Tuscan Wineries

In the past two weeks, my Culinary Chemistry class has visited two wineries throughout Tuscany, Pomaio and La Vialla. Although both wineries are similar, each one has very different approaches to how they make their wine.

The first winery we visited was Pomaio. Pomaio is an eco-friendly/green winery estate with a very elegant and professional approach to their wine tour. In this wine haven, the organic vineyards are cultivated 550 meters above sea level with great exposure to sunlight and receives adequate amounts of rainfall. Throughout the tour, our guide introduced us to the different philosophies of wine cultivation, explained to us the importance of the wine cellar and how its eco-designed layout is similar to the method the Etruscans used, and a wine tasting coupled with the appropriate food to match the taste of the wine. Although they are a small micro-winery, they still produce around 15,000-20,000 bottles of wine per year, mostly of Sangiovese grape. Their production features 5 different labels of wine and two varieties of grapes, Merlot and Sangiovese. During the wine tasting, my favorite wine was the Porsenna which was 100% Sangiovese Cru because of the complex, fruity and structured taste.

La Vialla, although a green/eco-friendly winery like Pomaio, was much different than Pomaio in both their method of making the wine and their approach to how they do their tours. This winery is on a  3,316 acre, family-run agricultural vineyard, and is one of the oldest biodynamic and organic farm wineries in the chianti region. Since La Vialla has a much larger production of both red and white wines, their wine cellar was much larger than Pomaio’s. However, both Pomaio and La Vialla both had similar fermentation and production methods.

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